April 29, 2010

St. Catherine of Siena and Spiritual Thirst

"If you would make progress, then, you must be thirsty, because only those who are thirsty are called:  "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink."

"Those who are not thirsty will never persevere in their journey.  Either weariness or pleasure wil make them stop.   They cannot be bothered with carrying the vessel that would make it possible for them to draw water.  And though they cannot travel alone, they do not care for company.  So at the first sight of any prick of persecution they turn back.   They are afraid because they are alone.  If they were with the company, they would not be afraid."    St. Catherine of Siena The Dialogue trans Suzanne Noffke, O.P.

Catherine believed that God the Father spoke these words to her to encourage her to abide ever more deeply in Jesus.   Spiritual thirst, desire for God, is the energy that pushes us to the Lord.  It comes from the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit actually communicates into our hearts the desire of Jesus for the Father and the desire of the Father for Jesus.  If we do not feel this thirst, we should ask for it.   The fact is, without God Himself, we are perishing like people lost in a desert.  When these holy desires are in us, we begin to yearn for God, and we have strength to seek Him the more.  

At the same time, this yearning makes us vulnerable.  When one realizes he is dying of thirst, he can no longer be self-sufficient.   He must beg the help of others.   He also discovers that there are others suffering the same thirst - they need his help.  And how can he be indifferent to their plight?  Thus thirst also draws us close together - we realize that we can only come to quench our thirst through the support of holy fellowship.  We protect, encourage and sometimes admonish one another not to lose heart.  Only together can we find Him for whom our heart aches.