The following was shared by Sue
With Texts from St. Catherine of Siena's The Dialogue and
The Prayers of Catherine of Siena, Trans. by Suzanne Noffke, O.P. (New York: Paulist Press)
GENERAL INTENTION: That through the intercession of the Blessed Mother and St. Catherine of Siena, the Lord in His infinite mercy will grant to our beloved priests a mighty outpouring of the purifying power of the Holy Spirit for the reform of Holy Church and the renewal of her mission to the world; and may God soon grant to American Catholics the joy of seeing a great harvest of conversions and vocations to the priesthood as the fruit of the visit of His Holiness/ Pope Benedict XVI, to our country.
INTENTION: For our young and newly-ordained priests, that they will be filled by the Holy Spirit with zeal for the mission entrusted to them, advance quickly in virtue and be protected by the holy angels and the prayers of the faithful from every form of worldly temptation.
Catherine prays to the Father: 0 eternal Father, I remember your telling me once, when you were speaking of the ministers of holy Church, that at another time you would talk more at length about the sins these ministers are committing this very day. Therefore if it would please your goodness say something about this, so that I may have reason to intensify my sorrow and compassion and restless longing for their salvation. For I recall that you have already said that through the suffering and tears and sorrow, the sweat and constant prayers of your servants, you would refresh us by reforming the Church with good and holy ministers. Therefore 1 make my petition so that this may grow in me.
Then God eternal looked on her with mercy. He did not spurn her desire but accepted her petition. Wishing to fulfill this last request that she had made because of his promises, he said:
0 dearest daughter whom I so love! I will fulfill your desire in what you have asked of me only if you for your part will not be foolish or indifferent. . . . Make it your concern, then, to offer prayers for all people and for the mystic body of holy Church and for those 1 have given you to love with a special love. Do not be guilty of indifference about offering prayers and the example of your living and the word of teaching. Reprove vice and commend virtue. Do all this to the greatest extent of your power.
[The Dialogue #108-109]
0 Godhead! Godhead! Eternal Godhead!. . . . You are a fire always burning. Yet, though you always consume all that the soul possesses apart from you, you never consume the things that are pleasing to you. Burn with the fire of your Spirit and consume, root out from the bottom up, every fleshly love and affection from the hearts of the new plants you have kindly seen fit to set into the mystic body of holy Church. Transplant them away from worldly affection, and give them a new heart with true knowledge of your will. Make them despise the world and themselves and selfish love. Fill them with your love's true fervor and make them zealous for faith and virtue. And so, once they have left behind the false desires and pretenses of this passing world, let them follow you alone in purest purity and glowing charity. (Prayer 7)
NOVENA PRAYER (see below)
INTENTION: For the Catholic faithful, that they will not lose heart in the face of scandal but will be inspired through the promptings of the Holy Spirit to pray ever more fervently for the Holy Father, for their priests and for the success of the mission of Holy Church.
Christ speaks to Catherine: You will recall that I already told you I would fulfill your desire by giving you refreshment in your labors, that 1 would satisfy your anguished longings by reforming holy Church through good and holy shepherds. I will do this, as 1 told you, not through war, not with the sword and violence, but through peace and calm, through my servants' tears and sweat. I have set you as workers in your own and your neighbors' souls and in the mystic body of holy Church. In yourselves you must work at virtue; in your neighbor and in the Church you must work by example and teaching. And you must offer me constant prayer for the Church and for every creature, giving birth to virtue through your neighbors. ... Never cease offering me the incense of fragrant prayers for the salvation of souls, for I want to be merciful to the world. With your prayers and sweat and tears 1 will wash the face of my bride, holy Church. [The Dialogue, #86]
To you, 0 heavenly doctor, my soul's boundless love, I sigh mightily.... I cry out to you: wait no longer, but through the merits of this pilot of your ship St. Peter, I mean—with the fire of charity and the deep abyss of eternal wisdom come to the aid of your bride who is waiting for help. . . . 0 worker of peace, guide this ship into the port of peace and direct your servants toward yourself so that the darkness may be lifted and the dawn may appear- the dawn which is the light of those who have been planted in your Church out of pure desire for the salvation of souls. . . .
So listen to us as we pray for the guardian of this chair of yours. ... Make your vicar whatever sort of successor you would have him be to your dear elder Peter, and give him what is needed for your Church. I am the witness that you have promised to grant my desires soon; with even more confidence then I beg you to wait no longer to fulfill these promises, 0 my God. (Prayer 8)
INTENTION: That the Holy Father will receive from the Holy Spirit the strength, courage and wisdom needed to restore confidence in the Church and effect reforms in the priesthood.
God speaks to Catherine: 0 dearest daughter, I have told you all this so that you may better know how 1 have dignified my ministers, and thus grieve the more over their wickedness. If they themselves had considered their dignity, they would not have fallen into the darkness of deadly sin nor muddied the faced of their souls. Not only have they sinned against me and against their own dignity, but even had they given their bodies to be burned they would not have been able to repay me for the tremendous grace and blessing they have received, for it is impossible to have a greater dignity than theirs in this life.
They are my anointed ones and I call them my "christs," because I have appointed them to be my ministers to you and have sent them like fragrant flowers into the mystic body of holy Church. No angel has this dignity, but I have given it to those men whom 1 have chosen to be my ministers. I have sent them like angels, and they ought to be earthly angels in this life. [The Dialogue, #"113]]
I acknowledge, eternal God... that you see me and know me.... and 1 see that you see your bride's need and your vicar's good will. But who is keeping him from making it effective by doing something? In your light I have seen that you know these things, for nothing is hid from your eyes....
You saw too within yourself that, even after you had freed us from our sickness, we would still fall into sin every day because of our weakness. So you gave us help for this in the sacrament of holy penance, where the minister pours over the soul's face the blood of the humble Lamb. Just as you saw that our chief help lay in reconciling us to yourself through the Word, so also you saw all these other helps we would need for our salvation....
I beg you, then: Since you breathe into the spirits of your servants eager and blazing desires for the reform of your bride and make them cry out with continual prayer, listen to their cry. Preserve and intensify your vicar's good will, and let the true perfection you require of him be realized in him. (Prayer 14)
INTENTION: That through the power of the Holy Spirit our priests will be strengthened in the virtue of chastity, that they will embrace their call to be celibate and find in their vocations the fulfillment of every worthy desire.
God speaks to Catherine: I demand purity and charity of every soul, a charity that loves me and others, and helps others in whatever way it can, serving them in prayer and loving them tenderly. But much more do I demand purity in my ministers, and that they love me and their neighbors, administering the body and blood of my only-begotten Son with burning love and hunger for the salvation of souls, for the glory and praise of my name.
Just as these ministers want the chalice in which they offer this sacrifice to be clean, so I demand that they themselves be clean in heart and soul and mind. I want them to keep their bodies, as instruments of the soul, in perfect purity. 1 do not want them feeding and wallowing in the mire of impurity, nor bloated with pride in their hankering after high office, nor cruel to themselves and their neighbors—for they cannot abuse themselves without abusing their neighbors. If they abuse themselves by sinning, they are abusing the souls of their neighbors. [The Dialogue, #113]
I beg you to guide toward yourself the heart and will of the ministers of holy Church, your bride, so that they may follow you, the Slain Lamb, poor, humble and meek, along the way of the most holy cross- in your way, not their own. Let them be angelic creatures, earthly angels in this life, for they must administer the body and blood of your only-begotten Son, the spotless Lamb. Let them not be senseless beasts, for beasts are irrational and are not worthy of this. Bring them together now and wash them, divine compassion, in the calm sea of your goodness, so that they may not dawdle any longer, losing what time they do have for the time they do not have. (Prayer 2)
INTENTION: That the Blessed Virgin Mary will intervene in a decisive way to guide the Holy Father and the hierarchy in this time of trial and that selfless devotion to the Immaculate Conception and to the triumph of her Immaculate Heart will permeate the priesthood.
God speaks to Catherine: I have already told you that I have made [Christ] a bridge for you so that all of you would be able to reach your goal. But in spite of all this, … people do not trust me, though I want nothing other than their sanctification. It is to this end, with great love, that I give and permit everything. But they are always scandalized in me, and I support and bear with them in great patience because I loved them without their ever loving me. And they are forever hounding me with great impatience and hatred, with complaining and infidelity. They with their blinded vision want to set themselves up as investigators of my hidden judgments, which are made justly and out of love. And they do not yet even know themselves, so they see falsely. For those who do not know themselves do not know me or my justice in truth.
Referring to someone who had apparently been condemned to death by the authorities, God continues: I want you to know that 1 permitted this to happen to rescue him from the sentence of eternal damnation under which he stood, so that he might have life through his own blood in the blood of my Truth, my only-begotten Son. For I had not forgotten the reverence and love he had for Mary, my only-begotten Son's most gentle mother. For my goodness, in deference to the Word, has decreed that anyone at all, just or sinner, who holds her in due reverence will never be snatched or devoured by the infernal demon. She is like a bait set out by my goodness to catch my creatures. So it was in mercy that I did this. (The Dialogue, #138-139]
To you, I appeal, Mary, and to you I offer my petition for the dear bride of Christ your most gentle Son and for his vicar on earth. May he be given light so that he may with discernment take the necessary steps to reform holy Church. May the people be united and their heart conformed with his, so that they may never rise up against their head. It seems to me, eternal God, that you have made him an anvil, for many people are striking him with their tongues and, as much as they can, with their actions. (Prayer 8)
INTENTION: That an increased fervor for the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, may become the basis for an authentic reformation of the clergy and a new evangelization of the laity.
God speaks to Catherine: I want you to know that [my ministers] give you incomparably more than you give them, for there is no comparison between the finite and passing things with which you help them, and myself, God, who am infinite and have appointed them in my providence and divine charity to minister to you. With all your material possessions you could never repay the incomparable spiritual gifts you receive—not only this mystery, but everything whatever that is administered to you by anyone as a spiritual favor, whether through prayer or any other means. [The Dialogue, #ll3]
And how, gentlest love, do you want me to contemplate myself in you? You want me to contemplate your gift to me your gift of creation in your image and likeness. In that creation, supreme eternal purity, you joined yourself with the mire of our humanity. You were driven by the fire of your charity, and with that same fire you left yourself as food. And what food is this? Food of the angels, supreme eternal purity! This is why you want and demand such purity of the soul who receives this most sweet sacrament- such purity that if it were possible for the angelic nature to be purified (a nature that has no need of purification), such a great mystery would demand that it be purified. And how shall the soul be purified? In the fire of your charity and by washing her face in the blood of the only-begotten Son. 0 my wretched soul! How dare you approach such a great mystery without purification? (Prayer 12)
INTENTION: That the true dignity of the priesthood will once again be recognized and restored.
God speaks to Catherine: [I]f you should ask me why I said that this sin of those who persecute holy Church is graver than any other sin, and why it is my will that the sins of the clergy should not lessen your reverence for them, this is how I would answer you: Because the reverence you pay to them is not actually paid to them but to me, in virtue of the blood I have entrusted to their ministry. If this were not so, you should pay them as much reverence as to anyone else, and no more. It is this ministry of theirs that dictates that you should reverence them and come to them, not for what they are in themselves but for the power I have entrusted to them, if you would receive the holy sacraments of the Church. For if you refuse these when it is in your power to have them, you would live and die condemned.
So the reverence belongs not to the ministers, but to me.. . . And just as the reverence is done to me, so also is the irreverence. . .. For this reason no one has excuse to say, "I am doing no harm, nor am I rebelling against holy Church. I am simply acting against the sins of evil pastors." Such persons are deluded, blinded as they are by their own selfishness. They see well enough, but they pretend not to see so as to blunt the pricking of conscience. If they would look, they could see that they are persecuting not these ministers, but the blood. It is me they assault, just as it was me they reverenced. To me redounds every assault they make on my ministers: derision, slander, disgrace, abuse. Whatever is done to them 1 count as done to me. [The Dialogue, #116]
We blind ourselves, then, when we put over our eyes that cloud of cold and damp, our selfishness. When we do this we know neither you nor any true good. We call good evil and evil good. And so we become ungrateful and most ignorant. And it is worse for us to lose the light once we have known the truth, than before we had received the light. Such false Christians are worse than unbelievers....
People such as these, my Lord, are persecutors of the fruit of your cross, persecutors of your blood. They do not follow you, Christ crucified, but they hound you and your blood- especially those who rebel against your cellarer who holds the keys to the wine cellar where your precious blood is stored... . They get into this rebellion and every sort of sin because they have lost the light of your truth, the light acquired through faith in you. (Prayer 24)
INTENTION: For those priests who have fallen into grave sin and betrayed the grace of their ordination and the trust of their flocks—and for those bishops who refused to call them to account – that they may truly repent and receive the grace of conversion; and for the victims of clerical abuse, that justice will be done and the wounds inflicted on them will be healed.
God speaks to Catherine: Now you see how blind people are, especially these wretches [faithless priests], because they have received more from me and been more enlightened by Holy Scripture, they are so much the more obligated. So they reap more unbearable confusion. Because they knew more of Holy Scripture in their lifetime, in death they know more clearly how greatly they have sinned and are allotted greater torment than others, just as the lot of good [ministers] is more magnificent. .. .
But these wretches do not know this. For if they had the least regard for their position they would never have come to such an evil pass. They would have been what they should have been. But they are not. Indeed, the whole world is corrupt, and they behave much more badly than their worldly peers. With their filthiness they defile the face of their own souls and corrupt their subjects and suck the blood of my bride, holy Church. By their sins they have left her pallid. The loving charity they ought to have had for this bride they lavished on themselves, thinking of nothing but snitching her grapes one by one, taking her high offices and lucrative positions when they should have been seeking after souls. Thus their evil lives lead the laity (though they are not thereby excused) to irreverence and disobedience toward Holy Church. [The Dialogue, #132)
Catherine prays to the Father: Oh, you are a good shepherd to have given us your only-begotten Son to be our true shepherd who in obedience to you laid down his life for your little sheep and made of his blood a bath for us. It is this blood that your servants, hungry as they are, are asking for at this door. They are asking you through this blood to be merciful to the world and make holy Church blossom again with the fragrant flowers of good and holy shepherds whose perfume will dispel the stench of the putrid evil flowers.
You said, eternal Father, that because of your love for your creatures and through the prayers and innocent sufferings of your servants, you would be merciful to the world and reform holy Church, and thus give us refreshment. Do not wait any longer, then, to turn the eye of your mercy. Because it is your will to answer us before we call, answer now with the voice of your mercy.... To you Eternal Father, everything is possible. [ The Dialogue, #134]
INTENTION: For the grace to persevere in prayer for our priests and to trust, never doubting, that through the power of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the angels and saints, the suffering endured by the Faithful in this time of trial will be transformed into a glorious victory for Christ and His bride. Holy Church.
Christ speaks to Catherine: I tell you… the more the mystic body of holy Church is filled with troubles now, the more it will abound in delight and consolation. And this shall be its delight: the reform of good holy shepherds who are flowers of glory, who praise and glorify my name, offering me the fragrance of virtue rooted in truth. This is the reform of the fragrant blossoming of my ministers and shepherds—not that the fruit of this bride needs to be reformed, because it never spoils or is diminished by the sins of its ministers. So be glad, you and your spiritual father and my other servants, in your bitterness. For I, eternal Truth, promise to refresh you, and after your bitterness I will give you consolation along with great suffering, in the reform of holy Church. [The Dialogue, #12]
And you, dearest children, since we are committed, it is time to work for Christ's Church, the true mother of our faith. So I urge you who have already been planted in this Church to be like pillars for her. Let all of us together, having cast off all selfish love and laziness, work for that in this garden of saving faith with the fervor of prayer and with our deeds, that we may perfectly fulfill the will of God eternal, who has called us to this for our own salvation and that of others, and for the unity of this Church in which is our souls' salvation.
Amen. (Prayer 8)
Come, Holy Spirit, Overflowing Well of Living Water, and drench the troubled hearts of our faithful priests in an endless stream of prayer. Bear them up in this time of trial on waves of gratitude and grace.
Come, Pentecostal Flame, and sear with a burning zeal for holiness the tepid hearts of those priests who have made peace with the world. Dissolve in the white heat of your love every self-indulgent impulse, every hint of indifference and every trace of complacency.
Come, Wind of Heaven, and free from the haze of confusion those priests whose minds have been darkened by dissent or whose hearts are paralyzed by fear of public rebuke.
Grant them clarity of vision, strength of soul and the courage they need to cherish the Gospel and speak the truth to error.
Come, Lord and Giver of Life, raise from the dead the adulterous hearts of those priests who have sinned gravely and betrayed their Bride, Holy Church. Remove from their eyes the grave cloth of self-justification so that they may see the true nature of their deeds and come quickly to repentance.
Come, Comforter of the Afflicted, and heal the broken hearts of the faithful, whose trust in their shepherds has been shattered by scandal. Bring the healing that comes with forgiveness to those who have been injured and hope to their embittered souls.
Come, Pillar of Cloud, and lead the shepherds of this your flock safely through the desert of disgrace and perplexity in which they now find themselves. Shield them from the temptation to compromise in the face of unremitting criticism and strengthen their anguished hearts with the manna of wisdom, fidelity and courage.
Holy Virgin Catherine, we call upon you to appeal once again to all Heaven for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the reform of the clergy and the renewal the sacred mission of Holy Church.
Mother of God, we beg you to intercede for us. With St. Michael and all the heavenly host, wage war against the evil one who seeks so relentlessly to destroy Holy Church by assaulting her priests, and wrest from this crisis a blessing beyond all imagining.