Thursday, September 6, 2007

Catherine of Siena, to Pope Gregory XI, on returning to a humble and spiritual church

Ah, what a shame this is! They [ministers] ought to be mirrors of freely chosen poverty, humble lambs, giving out the Church's possessions to the poor. Yet here they are, living in worldly luxury and ambition and pretentious vanity a thousand times worse than if they belonged to the world! In fact, many layfolk put them to shame by their good holy lives. But it seems supreme eternal Goodness is making us do under coercion what we haven't done for love. It seems he is permitting his bride to be stripped of prestige and luxury, as if to show that he wants holy Church to return to being poor, humble, and meek as she was in those holy early days, when she was concerned only with God's honor and the salvation of souls, taken up not with material things but with the spiritual. For ever since the Church has paid more attention to the material than to the spiritual, things have gone from bad to worse.

But take heart, father, and don't be afraid, no matter what has happened or may yet happen. God is doing it to make the Church perfect once again, so that lambs may feed in this garden instead of the wolves who are devouring the honor that belongs to God by stealing it for themselves.

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