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Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (Classics of Western Spirituality)

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The books are beautifully, almost lavishly presented and scholars of the highest caliber have taken part in the work of editing.... This is a comprehensive attempt to make the spiritual tradition of large areas of mankind more generally accessible to the ordinary interested reader." A. M. Allchin in Church Times Catherine of Siena-The Dialogue translation and introduction The books are beautifully, almost lavishly presented and scholars of the highest caliber have taken part in the work of editing.... This is a comprehensive attempt to make the spiritual tradition of large areas of mankind more generally accessible to the ordinary interested reader." A. M. Allchin in Church Times Catherine of Siena-The Dialogue translation and introduction by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., preface by Giuliana Cavallini "If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbor's love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: indeed, it will always be full." Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380 This is the crowning spiritual work of the only woman other than Teresa of Avila to be granted the title of Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. This volume was simply called "my book" by the fourteenth-century Italian saint. The aim of her book (one of the first books to see print in Spain, Germany, Italy, and England), says Dr. Noffke in her Foreword, was "the instruction and encouragement of all those whose spiritual welfare was her concern." Catherine was "a mystic whose plunge into God plunged her deep into the affairs of society, Church and the souls who came under her influence." Professor Noffke goes on to call The Dialogue "a great tapestry to which Catherine adds stitch upon stitch until she is satisfied that she has communicated all she can of what she has learned of the way of God." In this, the sixth centenary of the great Dominican's death, we live in a time so badly in need of her sense of institutional reform as flowing from Divine truth, love and charity. Dr. Noffke says: "In the opening pages of The Dialogue Catherine presents a series of questions or petitions to God the Father each of which receives a response and amplification. There is the magnificent symbolic portrayal of Christ as the bridge. There are specific discussions of discernment, tears (true and false spiritual emotion), truth, the sacramental heart ('mystic body') of the Church, divine providence, obedience.... It is not so much a treatise to be read as it is a conversation to be entered into with earnest leisure and leisurely earnest.


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The books are beautifully, almost lavishly presented and scholars of the highest caliber have taken part in the work of editing.... This is a comprehensive attempt to make the spiritual tradition of large areas of mankind more generally accessible to the ordinary interested reader." A. M. Allchin in Church Times Catherine of Siena-The Dialogue translation and introduction The books are beautifully, almost lavishly presented and scholars of the highest caliber have taken part in the work of editing.... This is a comprehensive attempt to make the spiritual tradition of large areas of mankind more generally accessible to the ordinary interested reader." A. M. Allchin in Church Times Catherine of Siena-The Dialogue translation and introduction by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., preface by Giuliana Cavallini "If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbor's love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: indeed, it will always be full." Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380 This is the crowning spiritual work of the only woman other than Teresa of Avila to be granted the title of Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. This volume was simply called "my book" by the fourteenth-century Italian saint. The aim of her book (one of the first books to see print in Spain, Germany, Italy, and England), says Dr. Noffke in her Foreword, was "the instruction and encouragement of all those whose spiritual welfare was her concern." Catherine was "a mystic whose plunge into God plunged her deep into the affairs of society, Church and the souls who came under her influence." Professor Noffke goes on to call The Dialogue "a great tapestry to which Catherine adds stitch upon stitch until she is satisfied that she has communicated all she can of what she has learned of the way of God." In this, the sixth centenary of the great Dominican's death, we live in a time so badly in need of her sense of institutional reform as flowing from Divine truth, love and charity. Dr. Noffke says: "In the opening pages of The Dialogue Catherine presents a series of questions or petitions to God the Father each of which receives a response and amplification. There is the magnificent symbolic portrayal of Christ as the bridge. There are specific discussions of discernment, tears (true and false spiritual emotion), truth, the sacramental heart ('mystic body') of the Church, divine providence, obedience.... It is not so much a treatise to be read as it is a conversation to be entered into with earnest leisure and leisurely earnest.

30 review for Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (Classics of Western Spirituality)

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    Second only to Divine Mercy in My Soul, this book had the greatest impact on my spiritual reformation. This opening line, God speaking to St. Catherine, captured my heart and soul: "Open the eye of your intellect, and gaze into Me, and you shall see the beauty of My rational creature." It is absolutely mesmerizing in its shape-shifting metaphors which often mix together in such a way that only one's spirit can grasp the meaning. The core metaphor in this book is of The Bridge, who is Christ joining Second only to Divine Mercy in My Soul, this book had the greatest impact on my spiritual reformation. This opening line, God speaking to St. Catherine, captured my heart and soul: "Open the eye of your intellect, and gaze into Me, and you shall see the beauty of My rational creature." It is absolutely mesmerizing in its shape-shifting metaphors which often mix together in such a way that only one's spirit can grasp the meaning. The core metaphor in this book is of The Bridge, who is Christ joining us to God through his dual nature of humanity and divinity. Other important metaphors are the soul described as a tree, and the taking up of the Christian life as the breaking of a thorn by pressing oneself into it, absorbing the pain, and persisting. This book is miraculous, like the life of my favorite Saint, Catherine of Siena.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    A vibrant simplicity, reminiscent of Augustine, at times, fills this series of treatises in which St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church and mystic hears God the Father answering her requests in order to receive help to be saved. Between the most important aspects of the books are the community aspect of salvation, the refutation of a sola fide approach (200 years before the Reformation) and that of Pelagianism, the urge to trust God's Mercy, readily being penitent but also to remember tha A vibrant simplicity, reminiscent of Augustine, at times, fills this series of treatises in which St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church and mystic hears God the Father answering her requests in order to receive help to be saved. Between the most important aspects of the books are the community aspect of salvation, the refutation of a sola fide approach (200 years before the Reformation) and that of Pelagianism, the urge to trust God's Mercy, readily being penitent but also to remember that penance is a mean to approach God, and must be done with this in mind, rather than something you should take pleasure in. Same with prayer, this should not be done mechanically like a chore, but out of one's heart and yet it should be consistent. Quick to shut down any scrupulosity and an excellent manual to sainthood.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary Alice

    I'm not sure if it was the translation I had or just my mood. But this was not an easy read. I just read it in small doses, which is why it took me so long to read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence Jakows

    The words which St. Catherine of Siena receives from God the Father are loving, moving and challenging. This Doctor of the Church and mystic should be read. Her Letters as well. I've included several passages from Dialogue in my book, "Jesus: Perfect Love." "Be who God meant you to be, and you shall set the world on fire."- St. Catherine of Siena.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Youmna

    This qualifies as one of the best books of all times, in my humble opinion. It is fulfilling and life-changing, and satisfied my craving for knowledge, bringing one of those feelings of contentment and joy you can only feel in the heart. It is insightful, and at the same time not too complex for our limited minds. Despite her enlightenment, Saint Catherine of Sienna communicates her thoughts with clarity. The book itself answers questions I have long searched for, to which answers have never bee This qualifies as one of the best books of all times, in my humble opinion. It is fulfilling and life-changing, and satisfied my craving for knowledge, bringing one of those feelings of contentment and joy you can only feel in the heart. It is insightful, and at the same time not too complex for our limited minds. Despite her enlightenment, Saint Catherine of Sienna communicates her thoughts with clarity. The book itself answers questions I have long searched for, to which answers have never been satisfactory nor complete. Questions I still hear everyday, like why is there misery in the world? Why does God let innocent people suffer? Why does he let clergymen do awful things? How should we react to such events?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amicizia

    Catherine of Siena, the second woman to be named a Doctor of the Church, had a complex and beautiful theology, fully Trinitarian yet alternating the focus between Father, Son and Spirit. This book is actually a compilation of several discourses on such topics as: The way of perfection Christ the bridge Truth The Mystical body of Christ Providence Obedience Much of Catherine's meditations were Scripturally based, so this complements such reading quite well. We recommend it for anyone seeking some Catherine of Siena, the second woman to be named a Doctor of the Church, had a complex and beautiful theology, fully Trinitarian yet alternating the focus between Father, Son and Spirit. This book is actually a compilation of several discourses on such topics as: The way of perfection Christ the bridge Truth The Mystical body of Christ Providence Obedience Much of Catherine's meditations were Scripturally based, so this complements such reading quite well. We recommend it for anyone seeking some insight from this remarkable woman, particularly on our relationship as humanity with God our Creator. Enjoy!

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Miller

    This amazing book is a dialogue between a devout soul (surely Catherine herself) and God the Father. The clear and vigorous prose tasted like strong wine for my mind, compared to the flaccid mushiness of what passes for so much of Catholic thought today. She considers the soul's freedom: All the Devil's stratagems and temptations and all the demons in Hell can't compel anybody to commit so much as the smallest sin. We are free; to obey God, or disobey. She considers Christ's body as bridge from This amazing book is a dialogue between a devout soul (surely Catherine herself) and God the Father. The clear and vigorous prose tasted like strong wine for my mind, compared to the flaccid mushiness of what passes for so much of Catholic thought today. She considers the soul's freedom: All the Devil's stratagems and temptations and all the demons in Hell can't compel anybody to commit so much as the smallest sin. We are free; to obey God, or disobey. She considers Christ's body as bridge from the disordered river of life in the world to a beatific life in heaven. The soul drowning in the river first climbs up by Christ's feet on the Cross: renouncing sin and reforming her life. Then she reaches Christ's side: embracing the virtues. Then she reaches His lips: union with Our Lord. She considers the sad state of those who refuse to walk onto the bridge; preferring to stay in the water, or not even realizing there is any other state. She considers the height of sanctification reached by holy priests, doctors, and teachers; and the depths of depravity reached by the unworthy; yet all ministers of the Church bring us Christ's body and blood which wash clean our sins, so we owe the most desperate sinner among them the dignity of his office. The Blood of Christ is her constant refrain; that refreshes us and saves us. And the Father's constant description of Himself is "The Sea Pacific", the safe embrace of His love.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judith Babarsky

    I had been meaning to read this for quite awhile. I'm glad I read it, but can't say that it had a "wow" impact on me -- it feels sacrilegious to say that! There were parts that I found more engaging, but other parts I found it difficult to connect to. If I hadn't had a basic familiarity with Catherine's life, I think I would have been mostly lost. Compared to a more "modern" diary/dialogue such as Faustina or Terese of Liseaux, I found the Dialogue slow-moving and redundant. Overall, I liked the I had been meaning to read this for quite awhile. I'm glad I read it, but can't say that it had a "wow" impact on me -- it feels sacrilegious to say that! There were parts that I found more engaging, but other parts I found it difficult to connect to. If I hadn't had a basic familiarity with Catherine's life, I think I would have been mostly lost. Compared to a more "modern" diary/dialogue such as Faustina or Terese of Liseaux, I found the Dialogue slow-moving and redundant. Overall, I liked the analogy that Catherine used of Jesus Christ as the "bridge" between our sinful state and perfection; her dialogue about the challenges of crossing the bridge and the various requirements. Many of her analogies (the bridge is just one) were brilliant and served to provide helpful imagery of the Christian path. It is these images that will most likely remain with me far beyond some of the more "descriptive" explanations of various steps in the religious life. Her references to the orders and discussion of Dominic and Francis were engaging. Again, glad I read it and I'm sure I will read parts of it again. It's one of those books that resonates in different ways, I'm sure, depending on the circumstances of the moment in one's life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brett Folkman

    I really enjoyed reading St. Catherine's writings while under the influence of the spirit. I found much to ponder and many eternal truths resonated with my spirit. Theologically, for the time period, she was ahead of her time. I love her four petitions and the answers a loving Heavenly Father gave her based on her understanding and knowledge. Her writings reinforce a loving Heavenly Father who sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem and save us through his infinite atoni I really enjoyed reading St. Catherine's writings while under the influence of the spirit. I found much to ponder and many eternal truths resonated with my spirit. Theologically, for the time period, she was ahead of her time. I love her four petitions and the answers a loving Heavenly Father gave her based on her understanding and knowledge. Her writings reinforce a loving Heavenly Father who sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to redeem and save us through his infinite atoning sacrifice. The focus on LOVE throughout is the key to this life. I highly recommend this classic of the amazing Christian mystical writings. Brett Folkman Doctor of Ministry

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tri Ma gia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Profound, deep, informative yet simple but powerful- I read quickly years ago, now reread is so meaningful and and beautiful of God presence in every circumstances in my life. I love to include her quotes into my spiritual work like: " Be who God meant you to be and you will the world on fire" " Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring" or "speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills" Every thought is worth meditation. St Catherine of Siena, Save us on this pandemic as Profound, deep, informative yet simple but powerful- I read quickly years ago, now reread is so meaningful and and beautiful of God presence in every circumstances in my life. I love to include her quotes into my spiritual work like: " Be who God meant you to be and you will the world on fire" " Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring" or "speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills" Every thought is worth meditation. St Catherine of Siena, Save us on this pandemic as you had done in the past.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Humphrey

    A lot of really lovely stuff here, though I admit that I dragged a bit midway (topical though this material is). St. Catherine's articulation of sin as nothingness is powerfully insightful; her systematic critique of selfishness is pressing; and her explanation the Dominican tradition of the elevation of the virtue of obedience is illuminating.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Petra

    Hence this is for grad thesis research, no rating. The Dialogue is typical piece of writing in the line of medieval female mystics, filled with sensual tension and eating and food related metaphors. Research topic wise nothing really new but as a historical source of the religion at its' time, very interesting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    It's hard to not to give this book five stars considering the message came straight from God through St. Catherine. This book had some good insights on prayer, sin, growing in your faith and just doing God's will in your life.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Raborg

    The Words of God to a Devout Soul This book is of immense value. I think that souls striving for perfection or even in a state of sin but who desire to repent would prosper greatly from reading this. A few typos in this version, but the translation reads very smoothly.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Absolutely incredible. Very, very deep.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    A profound reading experience. I plan on reading it again next year (God willing) during the Lenten season. So helpful on one's spiritual journey.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Fantastic. Deep. I will read again.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tina Beattie

    Complex, passionate, turbulent, extravagant, over the top - Catherine of Siena's Dialogue is a glorious romp with God.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    An excellent book! Takes a lot of thought, so it took me a long time to finish but well worth the time and effort.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Fernando Munoz lc

    A book full of teachings for who wants to live a profound spirit life. A woman who knew how to lived a deep love to our Lord and a life completly surrended to her brothers in need.

  21. 4 out of 5

    K. P.

    what a figure of history, when mystics were valued for wise guidance. A bit terrifying at times, but worth the meditation.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holden Marshall

    Dialogue is a rich text-- a wealth of theological knowledge. From St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena delivers a work that reproduces theological doctrines but with a particular theme: Love! 3 stars because the repetition is overwhelming at times and I feel as though this book should be shorter than what it is now. Abridged version if available, however read the full if you are a Catherinean scholar?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Lang

    Catherine of Siena was a mystic activist and influenced the church at the time. She found ways to assert herself in a patriarchal system that suppressed the voices of women. The Dialogue is poetic and prophetic, with passages that feel truly inspired. She writes about God's truth and love that compel her to live a life of virtue, charity being the greatest virtue. Some of her ideas about virtue and suffering are indicative of overall moral ethics in the fourteenth century. However, Catherine's p Catherine of Siena was a mystic activist and influenced the church at the time. She found ways to assert herself in a patriarchal system that suppressed the voices of women. The Dialogue is poetic and prophetic, with passages that feel truly inspired. She writes about God's truth and love that compel her to live a life of virtue, charity being the greatest virtue. Some of her ideas about virtue and suffering are indicative of overall moral ethics in the fourteenth century. However, Catherine's passion for faith and call for all of us to live humble lives in service of the greater good have relevance even today.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Mark

    One of the books that altered my life yet again! St. Catherine was a firehose of the Holy Spirit, a candle burning on both ends for Jesus. This is her conversation with God the Father as dictated in ecstasy over the course of several encounters. I recommend reading Sigrid Undset's "Catherine of Sienna" before reading if you know nothing about St. Catherine. Otherwise you may write her off--but I can guarantee everything written here is true. Every saint since her death has referenced St. Catheri One of the books that altered my life yet again! St. Catherine was a firehose of the Holy Spirit, a candle burning on both ends for Jesus. This is her conversation with God the Father as dictated in ecstasy over the course of several encounters. I recommend reading Sigrid Undset's "Catherine of Sienna" before reading if you know nothing about St. Catherine. Otherwise you may write her off--but I can guarantee everything written here is true. Every saint since her death has referenced St. Catherine as an inspiration for them; she has made an unforgettable impression in history for a reason!

  25. 5 out of 5

    J.

    Well this book was deep and profound, I would anticipate a mystical conversation with God to be that much, God using her hand and pen, speaks through her and shares those more impressive mysteries of the spiritual life and devotionals. She shows how the Holy Trinity is working through both the Just and Wicked. The book at times though does feel like as if it was running on at times, but I suppose if one believes God spoke to this Saint, these "run-ons" are only there to further emphasize the poi Well this book was deep and profound, I would anticipate a mystical conversation with God to be that much, God using her hand and pen, speaks through her and shares those more impressive mysteries of the spiritual life and devotionals. She shows how the Holy Trinity is working through both the Just and Wicked. The book at times though does feel like as if it was running on at times, but I suppose if one believes God spoke to this Saint, these "run-ons" are only there to further emphasize the point.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

    Over the past few years I've been reading medieval Catholic spiritual writers as part of my devotional time. I've enjoyed Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Benedict of Nursia and some others. Now I would have to put Catherine of Siena at the top of that list. While her book was challenging, I found it easier to follow then some others. There is a lot of spiritual depth here to meditate on. If you are looking for a book to read a few pages of each day, to learn from a spirit Over the past few years I've been reading medieval Catholic spiritual writers as part of my devotional time. I've enjoyed Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Benedict of Nursia and some others. Now I would have to put Catherine of Siena at the top of that list. While her book was challenging, I found it easier to follow then some others. There is a lot of spiritual depth here to meditate on. If you are looking for a book to read a few pages of each day, to learn from a spiritual master, check this one out.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie Marquette

    A difficult read, but well worth it. Over the past year I have become a great admirer of Catherine, even as I remained critical of some of her extreme practices. This work proves how sophisticated of a mystic she was and how advanced her own personal theology became near the end of her life. Stunning.

  28. 4 out of 5

    I keep putting it back on the shelf without finishing. Was she a nutcase or a true mystic? The accounts of her are more interesting than her little talks, but clearly indicate the latter. Am I being a bit biased here liking my language clean and simple? See what you can do with it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    This book was a refreshing discovery with so much teachings. It is no wonder it sat as the towns must-have coffee table book leading right into the Renaissance period. I've read it twice and would read it again anytime. It is religious and it is very good.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    Catherine tends to repeat herself a bit, but her use of metaphors is quite remarkable.

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