Under this tab and its sub-tabs, I present key themes of Catherine’s wisdom regarding the spiritual journey by analyzing excerpts from her writings. I will also suggest ways in which Catherine’s wisdom can apply to a spiritual journey today.
As already mentioned, Catherine’s communications are more akin to sermons aimed to move and motivate, rather than essays systematically setting forth a topic. She expresses her wisdom in a literary form, through images and metaphors. One must use one’s imagination and affective response to the images in order to deepen understanding. Further, Catherine repeats her wisdom in different contexts, at times with new analogies and images. Similar wisdom may appear in different letters though with new metaphors which disclose nuances of her thought. Accordingly, to glean the fullness and complexity of her teaching one has to unpack or exegete several texts. Another way of thinking about Catherine’s wisdom is that it is like a crystal with different facets. One gets a full picture of the crystal after examining all the different facets, even though these may resemble each other.
Accordingly, in the subsequent tabs on Catherine’s wisdom I will present texts that disclose significant themes of her teaching, and I will offer explanations of these texts. This is not a linear presentation of her wisdom, but rather a layered presentation, that inevitably involves repetition but aims to offer depth and complexity, and an appreciation of the metaphors she uses to communicate about spiritual experience.
While this tab and its sub-tabs describe essential elements of Catherine’s wisdom regarding the spiritual journey, they do not include all the themes present in her wisdom. For Catherine repeats the same insights using different metaphors, symbols and rhetorical formulations. For instance, authors over the centuries have highlighted the theme of Jesus’ blood as a key to Catherine’s spirituality. While this is a key metaphor, I do not emphasize this, as it requires a greater effort of interpretation and imagination shift for contemporary persons. Other authors have examined her writings through the theme of truth. My reading of Catherine is that truth is closely related to love and is not a concept significant to the spiritual journey apart from love. Accordingly, I have discussed truth as part of Catherine’s teaching about love. Almost all the themes or metaphors in Catherine’s wisdom eventually lead to teaching about the transformation in capacity to love, the main goal of the spiritual journey.