Catherine of Genoa: Benefits and Love

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

“God shows the soul also, that all the benefits bestowed on her by creatures (whether spiritual or temporal) are given because God moves them to it; and hence she learns to take no heed of creatures, what service soever they may have rendered her, for she perceives clearly that it is God who has done it by the action of his providence. By this vision the soul is more and more inflamed, and finally abandons herself to love, casting aside all creatures, and finding in God such fulness that she can regard nothing else but him.”

Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) in Spiritual Dialogues 3.7 as part of Life And Doctrine of Saint Catherine Of Genoa (New York: CPAP, 1907).

As I think about factors that hinder generosity, my mind goes to the fact that we, as souls, often cherish the gifts of God more than God. When this happens our love shifts from the Benefactor to the benefits. We serve them instead of allowing them to provide a service to us.

Lest any of us allege immunity to this, just think of statements we have all made. I need coffee. I need that car or that phone. Hear me, souls, that it’s great to enjoy coffee, cars, and phones. We must, as Catherine notes (echoing James), they are just gifts from our loving God.

When we relate to them in this way, it positions us to steward them according to the Master’s generous wishes. Sit with the Holy Spirit. Is there any benefit to which you have disordered love? Pause and label it as a gift from God. What happens in your heart?

Father, may your heavenly light help us have clear vision and captivate our souls so that we are filled with gratitude for your providence and so we may overflow with love and generosity because our souls have found all we need in you. Amen.

I am thankful for the gift of my brother, David today. He turns 59. Happy Birthday David. May you cast aside all created things and find your fulness in God, and may we all who are reading this, do it with you, as it marks the way to life, freedom, and joy.