Desire and affetto

Affetto (translated often as affection) and desire are two terms which Catherine uses frequently throughout her writings, and which are important to a full understanding of her wisdom about the spiritual journey.  Affetto, for instance, appears in 52% of her letters.  As I have explained a number of times, Catherine’s wisdom is best understood through literary analyses.  In this tab, I examine her wisdom about the spiritual journey through her use of the word affetto, which Catherine uses with several meanings, and the related concept of desire.  In what follows, I explain the meaning of these terms in the spirituality of the Middle Ages and then examine several passages where Catherine expresses her wisdom using these terms.


The concept of desire in the relationship of the person with God is ancient.  In Christian writings Augustine (5th c) contributed to its meaning.  Bernard, the Cistercian Benedictine (11th c) used the term in his writings which were highly influential in much medieval spirituality.  The Franciscan theologian closest to the time of St. Francis, Bonaventure (13th c) also used the term desire to elaborate on the nature of the spiritual journey.

To understand this Patristic [1] and medieval meaning, which is the meaning that influenced Catherine, we must start with the theological anthropology [2] that informed the theologically and philosophically based thought of these authors. [See Theological anthropology]
These authors assumed that persons are created with an innate desire for God because they are created out of love and for love, and therefore, intended to be in relationship with the God of love.  In other words, desire for God, desire to know God and be in relationship with God is an inherent dynamic of all humans (though it might not be conscious), and it is this inherent desire for God that draws the person towards knowing God and being in relationship with God.

Many will have heard the often-quoted words of Augustine, that the person is restless until they rest in God or find God.  This concept presupposes that we are made for relationship with God, with a capacity for closeness to God.  And precisely because of this capacity there is a dynamism in humans that pushes them or draws them towards God who is always there waiting to relate to us.  Part of the dynamism pushing us towards conscious connection with God is this desire for God.

It is important to note that while the Patristic and medieval authors presupposed that desire for God was inherent in all persons, they would have acknowledged that such desire would not be consciously recognized without some form of quiet and prayer.

Catherine used the word desire in a manner congruent with these classical masters of the Christian spiritual life as they were highly influential in 14th century Tuscany.  At the same time, Catherine internalized what she heard in her own way, so that she gave the concept desire her own “spin,” one based on her experience rather than any philosophical or theological system.  We remember Catherine would not have studied or read these authors, rather she would have absorbed their ideas and language through the oral formation she received. [3]

Catherine used the word desire to mean the movement emerging in the depth of the person motivated by her capacity for love, and directed towards a person, object or action.  Desire could be a desire for God and the good, or desire for that which is disordered in God’s eyes.

Of crucial importance for us 21st century persons is awareness that the Patristic and medieval meaning of desire had a deep-rooted connotation that referred to that which emerges from the core of a person, from the depth of the heart and soul.  Desire did not mean wanting something in a day-to-day manner, from a rather surface part of our consciousness, as in, I desire to go on vacation, or I desire to eat some ice cream, or I desire to read a book. Thus, in order to accurately understand Catherine’s wisdom, we must keep in mind the above meaning as well as the explanations I offer in the excerpts below.

A contemporary analogy can help in grasping Catherine’s use of desire.  For instance, if someone joins Doctors without Borders and serves in a conflict zone at the risk of their life and does so with care and dedication, one could say that such a person’s desire to serve is a movement of the inherent human desire for the good, and in that sense a desire for God.


This concept is an almost identical twin of desire and was most developed by Cistercian Benedictines in the 11th and 12th centuries.  Their language, like that about desire made its way into spiritual wisdom in medieval times and was undoubtedly heard by Catherine.

Scholars of the Cistercian Benedictines point out that affectus, the 12th century Latin version of the Italian, affetto, cannot be translated by a single English word.  Affection, the most obvious translation, with its English connotation can mislead regarding the important meaning of affetto with all its nuances. For this reason, in my writing about Catherine I use this term in its original Italian; there is no English word that catches its multiple meanings in Catherine’s work.

What does affetto mean?  Like desire, the meaning of affetto supposes the theological anthropology that persons are created with a capacity for God.  In order to fill this capacity for God, our nature has a drive, a motivation that seeks God and awaits being filled by God; this drive-motivation is affetto.  Put another way, affetto is the energy emerging from our deepest, transcendent self, reaching out to God, to be filled by God.
This foundational meaning of affetto, however, had various related nuances.  That persons are created in the image of God means God dwells within us, so that affetto can also refer to the movement of love by God dwelling within us reaching out to our affetto or capacity for God.

In some medieval texts affetto indicated the movements of the heart.  In medieval spirituality the heart referred to the core of the person in all her complexity: cognitive abilities, moral sensitivity, depth of feeling, capacity to connect to God.  Accordingly, affetto, emerging from the heart refers to a deep, complex motivation of the total person—not a superficial emotion.

And yet, affetto was also used in a general way to refer to a motivational drive that impels choices and perceptions originating in our self-centeredness.  The exact meaning of affetto, then, depends on the context.

Catherine’s use of affetto overlapped with the above meanings and at times she used affetto and desire with the same meaning, as we shall see in the excerpts below.

The three powers of the soul

Catherine’s wisdom regarding affetto and desire was often intertwined with another Patristic and medieval concept, namely the three powers of the soul, memory, understanding, and will. While the concept of the three powers had a number of connotations, most centrally it described the spiritual dimension of the person as created in the image of the Trinity and therefore composed of three interrelated dimensions.  Memory most essentially referred to the capacity to become conscious of God’s presence, i.e., to “remember God.” Understanding foundationally referred to the capacity to comprehend truth and spiritual reality with the depth of our total self, that is our spiritual, affective and cognitive capacity.  In this usage, understanding does not mean to comprehend as in, “having read these instructions I now understand them,” but to a comprehension with the heart and soul, with the depth of our affective and spiritual self.  Will is the capacity to act based on understanding and memory; it is the drive that emerges from deep within the person to move towards a person or goal.  Will includes the connotations of will power and determination (though it is more than these).
Because these are powers of the soul, they refer to capacities that have root in the spiritual transcendent dimension of the person and are expressed through the total person, who is body and soul; these three powers make possible the actualization of the person’s transcendental potential.

The journey of transformation: affetto, desire and the three powers of the soul

Catherine asserts that ordering affetto, desire and the three powers of the soul is the goal of the spiritual journey.  “Ordering” means that the capacity and directionality of these dimensions of the person are directed towards that which reflects God’s love and truth and away from that which is self-centered.  We will see details about this general teaching in the examination of the excerpts below.

[1] Term that refers to the first centuries of the history of Christianity and to the important authors of that period, for instance, St. Augustine of Hippo.

[2] We recall that theological anthropology is the specialty that reflects on who persons are in relationship to God.  Such reflection is based on Revelation and philosophy but is ultimately faith based.  That is, it presupposes a particular interpretation of Christian belief.

[3] In the 14th century only a tiny minority learned to read so that religious formation and instructing was oral.


Affetto and understanding

The following paragraph emphasizes that affetto is a deep-seated drive rooted in the transcendent capacity of the person as capable of love.

The soul cannot live without love; she always seeks to love, because she is made of love as I created her for love.  And so I told you that affetto moves understanding; it’s as if understanding could speak and say, “I want to love, for the food that nourishes me is love.”  Then, understanding finding itself awakened by affetto, arises and if it could speak would say, “If you want to love, I will give you that which you can love.”  And so affetto is nourished by love opening the mouth of holy desire. . . On the other hand, if affetto is self-centered and wishes to love what is disordered, then the eye of understanding moves into action with self-centered love, bringing up as objects to love only that which is transitory; this implies aversion to virtue and preference for vice, pride and impatience.  Memory is only filled with that which affetto brings before it.  (Dialogue 51) [DLV translation]

First, Catherine asserts her foundational conviction about the person.  We are created with capacity for love and so there is an inherent drive in our deepest selves that seeks love and to love.  This drive is affetto moving our understanding or “awakening” our understanding.  That is, the dynamism of love rooted in our being infuses our capacity to comprehend love; we are able to comprehend that God is love and that we have a capacity for love.  This comprehension then leads us to desire ordered objects to love.  Catherine further tells us “Affetto is nourished by love, opening the mouth of holy desire.” Here, somewhat nuancing the use of the word affetto, Catherine suggests that when ordered, our motivational drive surfacing from our spiritual/transcendent self, moves us to desire that which is good, that which is congruent with God’s love and truth. However, when this same motivational drive is self-centered, then the objects of our desire are likely to be disordered.  Transformation, therefore, involves conversion of those desires moved by the depth of our motivation; which means that the depth of our motivation, affetto, must be converted and transformed.

This passage is profound and invites us to a meditative appropriation of this wisdom.  For it is through meditation and use of our imagination that we can best internalize this wisdom which is not expressed in sequential logic and the meaning of key words such as affetto are not consistent.

Knowledge of self and God, and affetto and desire

Catherine’s use of affetto and desire are connected to her wisdom about knowledge of God and self, as she explains to Bartolomea, a nun.

And so it is necessary that we fill our affetto and desire with true knowledge of ourselves; and that we open the eye of understanding to know within ourselves the goodness of God and the ineffable love that he has for us.  For the understanding grasping and seeing [God’s love] cannot keep affetto from loving her benefactor, or memory from staying present to him. And so love draws love to itself.  [And later in the letter]  She demonstrates yearning desire for God’s honor in her concern for the salvation of others and in bearing with their failings; she cries with the sinner who repents and shows remorse . . . She is willing to pass through any suffering to help sinners become persons who rejoice and are in love with true, sweet virtues. (Letter 182, October 1377)

Affetto, or the depth of our motivational drive must be nurtured with knowledge of God’s love through relationship with God (not knowledge about God), and as a result of  knowledge of God’s merciful, unconditional love.  The latter is learned through knowledge of ourselves as in need of God. For it is such heartfelt knowledge (understanding), such deeply held conviction, that informs and energizes affetto and therefore moves our desires and actions.  Catherine expresses the power of this dynamic by stating that we will inevitably love God if we know God (understanding cannot keep affetto from loving…).  Accordingly, we are called to know God and ourselves so that our desires and affetto are directed towards God; and so that our capacity for presence to God (memory) will increase as we are more and more present to God.

At the same time, as our capacity to consciously experience the presence to God increases, our desire for God will become more present to our consciousness in a way that drives our actions (our memory of God is perfected).  And this dynamic implies a deeper felt experience of God’s love and the transformation that follows.  Such transformation will impel us, will motivate and move us towards love of our fellow human beings, towards becoming involved in mediating their knowledge of God’s love and towards laboring for their transformation (here the will, which executes our desires, comes into play).

Our affetto united to that of God

Catherine offers additional nuances about the dynamic of transformation of affetto as a result of knowledge of God in a letter to one of her noble, lay followers.

When she comes to know herself as a being with reason, created in the image and likeness of God, and created anew in the blood of God’s son, then her affetto becomes one with the affetto of Christ crucified.  With love she attracts love. This means that her love is ordered, having risen above self-centered love, and so draws the overwhelming love of Christ crucified. For when our heart is in love with divine love, it acts as a sponge that draws water into itself. Of course, if the sponge is not in the water, it would not draw in or absorb water, even though made for this purpose.  And so I tell you that our heart, though made for love, will never become filled with grace if the light of understanding and the hand of free will do not elevate and unite our heart to the fire of divine charity. (Letter 113, end 1377)

When knowledge of self has led to transformation such that we have internalized that we are created in the image of God and that Jesus gave his life for us, then our affetto becomes one with the affetto of Christ crucified.  What does Catherine mean by this remarkable assertion?  She means, I believe, that as consciousness about God’s care for us becomes clearly and consciously rooted in us, then what we desire, what draws us most deeply and the way we perceive reality, become more and more like Christ, which also means we become less and less self-centered.  Paul asserted something similar when he stated, “I live now not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

Catherine then uses the metaphor of a sponge to further describe this dynamic of being increasingly filled by God’s love.  She tells her follower: as our affetto attracts us to spending more and more time connecting to God’s love; as we become increasingly open to conscious infilling and transformation through God’s love (being in love with God), we are like a sponge placed in water.  God’s love is the water, we are the sponge.  As a sponge absorbs more and more water, God’s love becomes more and more a part of who we are, transforming our perceptions and actions.  This is the case when as a sponge is soaked in water we are immersed in connection with God.  However, if we do not spend time connecting to God and God’s love, then we are like a sponge out of water, we cannot absorb God’s transforming love.  Even though we are made for love as a sponge is made to absorb water, we will not live out of that capacity if we do not immerse ourselves in the experience of God’s love; immersing ourselves in this experience involves our choosing to do so with our will.  And this involves spending time in quiet inward attention to God’s presence.

Affetto of the soul: Grasping that God is “crazy” about us

This passage of The Dialogue is in the voice of Catherine, responding to God.

And why are you so driven (literally “crazy”)?  Because you fell in love with the work of your hands; you were pleased with and delighted in her; you act as one drunk with desire for her salvation.  She flees from you and you go after her; she distances herself and you draw close; indeed you could not have come closer than to have taken on her humanity.  What can I say? . . . for my finite tongue cannot express the affetto of the soul which infinitely desires you. (Dialogue 153) [DLV translation]

Here affetto—paired with soul—is used to mean the depth and breadth of affectivity that moves Catherine towards God.  Catherine starts by using metaphors to express the intensity and magnitude with which God loves us.  God is crazy about us; God acts as someone drunk with desire for our transformation.  God chases after us, despite our running from him.  Such an experience of the magnitude of God’s love, elicits in Catherine a depth and breadth of response that is beyond comprehension.  This response that is beyond words, she describes as affetto of the soul.  In other words, here affetto refers to the depth of feeling, desire, attraction, and movement coming from the core of her transcendent self.

The cross and transformation of affetto

This passage of The Dialogue is presented in the voice of God speaking to Catherine.  Knowledge of God’s love also means understanding that at times the cross must be taken up (i.e., be drowned in the blood).

Those who are willing to take up the cross are submerged and drowned in the blood where they find my overwhelming charity.  This charity is a fire that arises from me and consumes their heart and mind, accepting the sacrifice of their desires.  And so the eye of understanding arises, seeing itself in the mirror of my Godliness, where affetto is nourished and becomes united to me, bringing with it understanding. (Dialogue 84) [DLV translation]

By taking up the cross Catherine means living with and not running from difficulties that may arise from following God’s will; it means learning how to live with the sorrows that life may bring in union with transforming grace.  That is, the transforming power of God’s life within us (the blood) empowers us to accept difficulties and sorrows and can bring new life from suffering.  Catherine then mixes her metaphors to emphasize the same point:  God’s love is not only the salvific blood of Christ; it is also like a fire that consumes.  Both metaphors imply that God’s love obliterates that which is not of God; when the person is so committed to seeking God that she is “drowned in the blood” and “consumed in the fire” of God’s love, she is willing to imitate Jesus in taking up the cross.  She has learned to live through suffering necessary to follow God’s will and give of herself for the good of others.

This knowledge of God’s salvific love involves the transformation of affetto in a manner that unites this deepest motivational drive with God.  That is, the person whose consciousness has been grasped by God’s salvific love comes to desire what God desires with ability to imitate God in giving of herself and going through suffering in order to carry out God’s will.

Self-centeredness rots affetto and desire

In this passage to a priest, Catherine warns of the effects of self-centeredness on affetto. If the soul (the person) is self-centered, she is like a tree whose root is rotten.  If the person is the tree, the root that nourishes the tree is the core motivational drive of the person.  If this root is poisoned by self-centeredness, then the tree is sickened with rot, that is the person is self-centered in her behavior.

Those who carry the tree of death in their soul, that is self-centered love, do the opposite.  That is, their whole life is corrupt because the main root of the affetto of the soul is rotten.  [This is seen in the injustices committed] (Letter 2, October 1378)

Affetto: learning what and whom to love

The following passage presents a similar dynamic, with other nuances.  Here Catherine highlights that learning what and whom to love is a central dynamic of the spiritual journey.  She explains this in terms of affetto, our deepest motivational drive.  We will learn what and whom to love when our affetto is converted away from self-centered concerns to understanding/knowing what is included in love for the good of the other and love for God.  “The more she knows the more she will love,” Catherine tells us.  This wisdom ties back to Catherine’s foundational teaching about knowledge of God and self.

The more the soul becomes engaged in loosening her affetto from her herself [i.e., letting go of that which is self-centered] and instead binding it to me with the light of understanding, the more she will know what should be loved. The more she knows this, the more she will love. (Dialogue 66) [DLV translation]

Transformation of affetto and desire, and family commitments

In this passage Catherine clarifies for a married noblewoman, that directing her affetto and desire to Christ is fully congruent with devoting her love and energy to her family.  The implication is that as her affetto and desire are ordered through knowledge of God’s love in Christ and as she grows in reliance on God, she can live her vocation as wife and mother in a more ordered manner.  This is one of many passages written to married lay persons whom Catherine encouraged to develop time for a relationship with God, learning to know God’s love and recognizing their need for God.

Raise, raise your affetto and desire from what is worldly and place that affetto on Christ crucified; he who is firm and solid, who never fails you and cannot be taken from you unless you so desire.  I am not suggesting that you remove yourself from what is of this world related to your married state, or that you not be engaged in caring for your children and family according to your vocation.  Rather, I mean that you should live in an ordered manner rather that in a disordered way.  (Letter 116, end 1377)


Catherine’s theological anthropology, influenced by Patristic and medieval writers characterized her creative, biblically based wisdom on the spiritual journey.  This anthropology can offer insights for today.  For whether consciously or unconsciously, spiritual journeys are guided by our convictions and perspectives as much as by conscious guidelines for prayer and spiritual growth.  While most of us don’t have a conscious theological anthropology, we do in fact have convictions and beliefs about who we are as persons, and as persons before God.  Often these perspectives are unexamined and at most semi-conscious, having been absorbed from the culture around us.  Examining our unexamined beliefs about who we are as persons before God would benefit our spiritual journeys today.  I propose asking ourselves in a meditative and prayerful way whether we agree with Catherine’s view of the human person.  To what extent do I believe that I am created out of love and for love?  What does this mean to me?  Can I describe to myself specifically how I apply this belief to myself?  Meditating on these questions could help us grow in that all important knowledge of ourselves before God.

Reviewing our meaning of love in the light of Catherine’s wisdom

Examining how we understand love and how we love is central to benefitting from Catherine’s wisdom, and ultimately desire and affetto are concepts through which Catherine teaches about the transformation of our capacity to love.  Understanding in contemporary terms the depth of meaning of these terms and absorbing that we are created to love, would also be a most valuable contribution to a contemporary spiritual journey.  [Catherine uses love and charity interchangeably, so I will refer here to love-charity to differentiate Catherine’s meaning from our everyday connotations of love.]

I suggest the following exercises:

  1. Try to become conscious of the way you understand love in the depth of yourself; I mean here understanding the operative meaning and not an intellectual definition.  Our operative meaning of love is influenced in many ways, some unexamined.  We are influenced through our social and cultural context, as well as through our relational life history.  We are surrounded by uses of the concept “love” that range from the banal to the profound.  Think about how love is used in movies and TV shows; how is love used in advertising.  How have I absorbed these meanings?  For instance, consider the unthinking way some of us say, “love you” at the end of a phone conversation.  Or write love at the end of a note to someone that we may not really love.  Or consider the tendency to refer to sexual attraction and desire as love, irrespective of whether there is truly love in the relationship.
    Our personal experience of human love by parents, other relatives, life partners or friends also has a profound effect—often unexamined—on our concept of love.  Sorting out this type of influence can be difficult and require time to sort out.  Some of us will need support from wise others or psychotherapists in order to fully explore the effects of early relationships on our operational understanding of love.
  2. Based on the foregoing, I sit quietly before God and write down all the connotations love has for me. I allow myself to free associate and write down or record all the associations I have for love, and I then reflect on these in the light of Catherine’s meaning of love-charity.  Clearly this is not a onetime exercise but one that ought to be repeated over time.
  3. I offer my insights to God and ask for his love to transform my understanding of love that I might more consciously seeks transformation of both my understanding of love and the way I love.

As we engage in the above exercise, it is essential to keep in mind that love-charity does not refer to a feeling nor is it a measure of intensity of attachment.  Love-charity, as has been repeated throughout this website, refers to the capacity to perceive the good of the other or the common good and act accordingly.  Love-charity is the capacity to act with a minimum of self-centeredness, irrespective of feelings and intensity of attachment.  (Of course, love-charity does not exclude feelings and intensity of attachment, depending on the context).

Let us take the example of parental love in order to see the difference between love that is fruit of attachment and feelings and the meaning of love-charity in Catherine’s spirituality.  I feel love for my child, the strength of my attachment is deep.  Yet, I might make choices in raising my child that at times are self-centered, lacking in love-charity.  Many times I make choices that are in my child’s best interests, but other times I make choices influenced primarily by my interests even when these are in conflict with those of my child (this can happen very unconsciously).  Also, I may at times act without recognizing and accepting who my child is separate from my expectations for her or him.  Can I let go of these expectations and make choices seeing this particular child’s personality?  The attachment and feelings for my child are certainly an element of love in the ordinary meaning of this word.  However, these feelings are not the measure of the love-charity I am able to offer my child.  The latter is measured by choices in the child’s best interest even at the expense of my own.

It is also important to meditate on the fact that self-centeredness is the opposite of love-charity.  Self-centeredness, as has been said, means the inability to recognize and care for the common good.  Most of us are commonly self-centered in very ordinary ways.  Recycling might help the planet, but some recycling is a pain.  So I don’t bother.  I can’t let go of my perspective on a common project at work, even though something tells me a compromise will benefit the group.  Then there are the ways we are self-centered in our relationships, sometimes in superficial ways others in more profound ways.  At times I act in a way that cares for the other and at times I act out of my needs, wants and priorities without regard for the other or others in the relationship.

Exercise on self-centeredness.  I suggest taking an occasional prayer period where I become quiet then ask God for the grace, for the help of the Spirit to see the moments of self-centeredness in my current life.  I journal about these so they become more real, so I don’t forget.  I ask God to touch these self-centered behaviors with God’s love and bless me with the transformation God desires for me.

Meditating on how I act in my relationships is a foundational element of self-knowledge.  In my prayer I can take time to become centered, to place myself in the presence of God. I then ask for the Spirit to accompany my self-examination regarding my closest relationships, or my collegial relationships.  Perhaps I journal about that which I discover in the depth of myself.  And over time I offer to God for transformation that which I discover requires growth.

Three powers of the soul in today’s spirituality

The understanding of the person as having memory, understanding and will has wisdom to offer us for today in that it points to the fact that the spiritual journey must engage the whole person.  The formulation about the three powers of the soul highlights that thinking, feeling, conscious awareness of our spiritual dimension and choosing are interrelated, and all these dimensions of the person must be subject to the converting power of the Spirit.  For instance, my feelings of attachment or preference must be subject to understanding, that is to evaluation according to the values I hold, and most of all to my knowledge of God as love.  I can choose to simply act out of my feelings and preferences, or I can take time to evaluate my feelings and preferences in the light of my principles and beliefs.  I can choose to connect to God within as I process my feelings, thoughts and acts.  I can choose to prioritize time for the spiritual dimension of who I am and relate this experience in an intentional manner to all the ways in which I live my life.

The reminder that a Christian spiritual journey involves all aspects of who we are also highlights that our beliefs, religious or otherwise influence our deepest motivations as well as the way in which we interpret that which emerges from our deepest self.   These conscious or unconscious influences and interpretations in turn affect our judgments and choices, as well as the intensity or depth with which we act or move towards the goals we set.  Thus, we are invited to consciousness about our beliefs and how these affect the way we live our life.

In short, a Christian spiritual journey implies the transformation of my feelings, my preferences, my values, my judgments and my capacity and responsibility to choose.  All these dimensions of who I am must be submitted to the transforming power of God’s love.  I am invited to go to God in my prayer offering all dimensions of myself and expecting God to show me how all dimensions of myself can change and grow.
This view of the person as a whole suggests a reflective spiritual exercise.  While quiet before God, I ask for help from the Spirit to reflect on how integrated my feelings, thoughts and acts are, and I ask for illumination to notice to what extent these feelings, thoughts and acts are rooted in knowledge of God’s love and that I am created for non self-centered love.  I ask for guidance, strength and purpose in making choices or acting out of the fruits of this exercise.

And a final piece of wisdom: this perspective that all of the self must be surrendered to God and brought to the relationship with God balances any temptation to think of ourselves as advancing spiritually if we only pay attention to spiritual experiences or to how we practice devotions, or what cognitive insights we have about Scripture or to what extent we follow rules or attend church.  Of course, all the latter are important dimensions of a Christian spiritual journey, but they are not at the heart of the transformation to which we are called, and which Catherine so masterfully describes and highlights.


Finally, a word on transformation of affetto/desire.  This motivational drive at the core of the self is related to  who we are psychologically.  Our emotional lacks and wounds have a strong impact on this dimension of ourselves.  Thus, contemporary psychological journeys for self-knowledge and healing can be one dimension of a spiritual journey aiming at transformation of affettoIn other words, bringing the process of a psychological journey to God in prayer is an important way of allowing God’s transforming love into all of who we are.

Meditations with Catherine’s metaphors

I propose one can meditate using Catherine’s metaphors.  These metaphors lend themselves to journaling exercises or exercises using our imagination.  First, of course, I would want to quiet myself and place myself consciously before God.  I ask for the Spirit to guide my exercise.

  1. In this sub tab, the excerpt from chapter 51 of The Dialogue suggests we imagine a dialogue between our conscious everyday self and the part of ourselves convinced that God loves me unconditionally, that is the understanding. I can journal an imaginary dialogue between these two sides of myself.
  2. I could focus on an imaginary inner scene following Catherine’s metaphor of the sponge from letter 113. What would happen if in my meditation I imagine being the sponge?

[1] These suggestions for contemporary applications of Catherine’s spirituality are based on my own personal and pastoral experience.  They reflect my particular point of view on application of Catherine’s spirituality.