CHAPTER XI

 

OF THE FAMILIAR MANNER IN WHICH JESUS CHRIST,

THE BLESSED VIRGIN, S. CATHERINE OF SIENNA,

 AND HER GUARDIAN ANGEL CONVERSED WITH

HER; AND OF THE VICTORIES WHICH SHE GAINED

 OVER THE DEVILS WHO TEMPTED HER

 

 

IF we separate familiarity from love, we deprive it of its delight and sweetness: and when Aristotle judged that there could be no friendship between God and men, it was because he considered the familiar communications which are inseparable from it, derogatory to the profound respect which they owe to the Divinity, and dangerous on account of the liberty which they might allow themselves, and which would be capable of drawing down His hatred and aversion; and because this philosopher never knew the tenderness of God towards men, nor the mystery of the incarnation, by which He has made Himself like them.  The Christian religion, more enlightened in its sentiments, recognizes a perfect friendship between God and the just man by grace, and believes that God does not only honor by familiarity those souls who love Him tenderly, but that he bestows on them favors which we may call a foretaste of the happiness prepared for them in heaven.  The lives of the Saints are full of examples, and that of our Saint furnishes us with authentic proofs of it.

 

The Son of God did not only appear visibly to the blessed Rose at the time when her trials left her, He frequently visited her when she was reading her spiritual books, working, or embroidering, under the form of a beautiful Infant, stretching out its little arms to caress her, and testify the excess of Its love.  Rose was so accustomed to these visions, that when her Divine Spouse was one moment later than usual in appearing, she made tender complaints to Him; and as love inspires the soul with poetry, she composed elegies to express the pain His delay caused her.  Being once indisposed with a very bad sore throat, Jesus Christ visited her more frequently than usual, and treated her with inconceivable marks of goodness; and as our Saint thought she could not have a more favorable opportunity for soliciting relief from her continual suffering, He granted what she asked, on condition that he should ask something of her.  Rose having agreed, and promised to execute faithfully whatever obedience should require from her, He told her that he wished her to return to her former state of suffering: she consented, provided He would increase her pains, which was the condition of her promise.  When she was on day relating these favors with great innocence and candor to her mother, to console her grief in seeing her always ill, she saw rays dart from the face of her daughter, which so heightened her beauty, that she seemed to her an angel from heaven, and no longer a creature subject to so many infirmities.

 

One night when she was taking her rest in the oratory which was built in the garden, a great faintness came over her; and feeling a great want of some cordial drink to strengthen her, Jesus Christ applied the Wound of His sacred side to her mouth, and this chaste lover imbibed from it a delicious nectar, as S. Catherine of Sienna had formerly done; so that after receiving this extraordinary favor, S. Rose was no longer merely the spiritual daughter of this seraphic lover; she became her foster-sister, having drunk from the same source from which she derived her ardor and love.

 

Being at the house of a lady of quality, after a long conversation on heavenly things, Rose left the lady to go and say her prayers; during her prayer a little girl, of seven years old, saw the Infant Jesus with her, in a human form, dressed in a variously colored garment, caressing her in a thousand ways, which this child related.  In the house of the lady Isabel Mexia, the Infant Jesus was seen walking familiarly with our Saint, speaking to her, and following her everywhere: those who witnessed these innocent familiarities, saw a dazzling light stream from the pavement on which the blessed Rose walked during their conversation.  As this incomparable Spouse gave Himself wholly to her, He wished to be the sole possessor of her heart and its affections; and one day He made known to her that he was jealous of a flower which she was fond of.  When she was walking one day in her garden, in which she cultivated very beautiful flowers, she saw that a quantity had been gathered.  Not knowing who had done her this injury, she complained of it to her Spouse, but was much surprised that, instead of consoling her, he made her this loving reproof: “Why art thou attached to flowers which the sun causes to fade? Am I not, the Flower of the fields, infinitely more precious than all those which thou raisest in thy garden with so much care? Thou art a flower, and thou lovest flowers! O Rose! Give Me they love; know that it is I who pulled them, that thou mayest no longer give any creature a share in that heart which belongs to Me.”

 

The blessed Virgin frequently honored her with the same caresses and familiarity.  This is very evident when we mention that this Queen of Angels took upon herself the care of awaking her.  The continual application of her mind to God, and her extraordinary austerities, had so heated her blood, that she had almost lost the use of sleep.  Her confessors desired her for some time to user every day, lettuce, endive, and poppy seeds, to recover it; but as these remedies only procured a very small portion of necessary repose, she found herself so overcome with drowsiness at her usual hour of rising, that she had the greatest difficulty in waking.  In this necessity she had recourse to the Blessed Virgin, whom the church calls the “Morning Star,” and earnestly entreated her to have the goodness to wake her at the appointed hour.  Our Lady had the goodness to grant her this favor; awakening her, she animated her to rise by these tender words: “Rose, my child, arise; it is time to prepare yourself for prayer.”  She was once so overcome with drowsiness that she fell asleep after having been awakened: the Blessed Virgin came again, and touching her gently, said, “Arise, Rose, and do not be slothful.” When the Blessed Virgin had given her this little reproof, she went away differently from her usual manner of retiring, for she always allowed Rose to see her face till she left the room; and this time she turned her back towards her, in punishment of her idleness.

 

From the time that Almighty God appointed S. Catherine of Sienna to be her mistress, Rose had such frequent conversations with her, that the features of this seraphic virgin seemed to have been transferred to her countenance, as it happened to Moses, who was completely transformed by God after he had spoken with Him on the mountain; for she resembled her so perfectly, that she passed in the opinion of all the people for a second S. Catherine of Sienna.

 

She felt on night when in her hermitage the threatenings of a fainting fit, or some similar attack, and immediately returned to the house, for fear of being taken ill in t hat retired place, where no one could help her.  Her mother, seeing her much changed, and the perspiration on her forehead, thought she was going to die; she told the servant to run to the nearest confectioner’s to buy some chocolate, which at Lima is commonly composed of cocoa, lemons, and sugar, to strengthen her; but our Saint begged her mother not to buy it, assuring her that she should not have long to wait for it.  Her mother grew angry, and told the servant a second time to go immediately to the place she had named. Rose, seeing her eagerness, told her to call her back, and not to trouble herself, for some would be brought to her immediately from the house of the Receiver.  Scarcely had she finished speaking when a servant entered the house, and brought her a large silver cup, full of chocolate, from his Master.  Hr mother, greatly surprised at so seasonable an assistance, ordered her, in virtue of her authority, to tell her how she knew that this remedy would be brought to her.  Rose smiled, and confessed that as her good angel always did what she asked him, she had sent him to the Receiver’s wife to tell her of her illness, an of her want of a little chocolate to restore her strength.

 

Her mother opened the garden gate every night before she went to bed, t hat her daughter might go to her room when she returned a midnight from her hermitage.  She forgot it once; and when Rose was preparing to return she saw from the window a white shadow fluttering, and apparently inviting her to follow it.  She though at once that it was her guardian angel concealed under this form: she followed, and when they arrived together at the closed door, it opened of itself the instant the shadow touched it.

 

She was not only familiar with the holy angel that Almighty God had appointed as her own protector, but with those of others also, as she made known to one of her friends, a religious man, who having a long journey to take, came to recommend himself to her good prayers. He was fortunate at first; but when he had reached the vast plains of Truxillo, which is a fine town near the sea, he underwent great fatigue, and was twice in danger of losing his life. On his return to Lima he complained to the blessed Rose, that she had not helped him in his perils, as he had asked her before he left.  She answered, that these misfortunes happened by his own fault, as he was not then in the same state as when he came to say farewell to her.  She then charitably mentioned to him some things which she could only have known through her guardian angel.

 

If the angels loved and respected her, the devils on the other hand, had so great an aversion for her that there was nothing they did not attempt in order to make her feel the effects of their hatred and fury.  The devil attacked her once in her cell in the form of a giant; he tried for a long time to biter her; but being prevented by the power of God from tearing her in pieces, he seized her and dragged her furiously on the ground, till this chaste virgin entreated the protection of her Divine Spouse by these words of the royal prophet, “Lord, do not abandon to the tyrannical fury of these hellish monsters those who hope in thee.” Then the enemy immediately fled.  Nothing occurs more frequently in the history of her life than the insults she received from the evil spirit.  He appeared to her one day, and when she showed no fear of his malice, he gave her a sever blow on the cheek.  Another time he threw a great stone upon her from above, which struck her, fainting, to the ground.  One night when she was praying at home in a corner, she saw the devil in a large basket, making a horrible noise, to divert her from her application to God.  She blew out the candle, and fortifying herself with the sign of the cross, she courageously challenged him to the combat; he accepted the offer, and changing his form in a moment, he appeared in the shape of a prodigious giant.  He took hold of her by the shoulders, and shook her as if he would tear her in pieces.  She did not lose courage, and though her bones were almost broken, and her nerves relaxed by these rough shocks, she laughed at him, and reproached him with his weakness, that, appearing so strong, he could not even triumph over her firmness.

 

It was observed that she was very often engaged in combat with the enemies of her salvation; and that whenever she was obliged to defend herself from their temptations, she was so intrepid that she never seemed to fear them, though they assumed horrible shapes, capable of freezing the blood in the veins of the boldest and most courageous persons: on the contrary, the more frightful they appeared, the more courageously did she attack them.  She was once, however, obliged to change her method of defense, and gain the factory by flight on the following occasion: - The devil appeared to her on day in her garden, under the form of a beautiful young man.  At the sight of this dangerous enemy she retired without waiting or speaking to him, and by this flight she gained a complete and glorious victory; for taking a thick iron chain which she found, she gave herself a severe discipline; and then, covered with blood, she complained to her dear Spouse that He had abandoned her on this occasion.  Jesus Christ appeared to her immediately, surrounded with brightness, and consoling her, said, “Rose, thou art deceived if thou imaginest that I left thee alone in this extremity.  Know that thou hast only avoided this danger by My grace, and that if I had not been with thee in this dangerous occasion, thou wouldst not have triumphed over the devil, who wished to surprise thee.” This incident in the life of our Saint is very similar to what happened to S. Catherine of Sienna on one occasion.  As Rose was no less cherished and favored by God, He communicated to her, as well as to this seraphic lover, the gift of discernment, to distinguish the true revelations of God from the deceitful illusions of the spirit of darkness.  God had bestowed this grace on her from her early youth, and from that time she prescribed infallible rules for the discernment of spirits, which she drew from the effects produced in souls by them.  Jesus Christ had Himself taught them to S. Catherine of Sienna, and this Sainte to blessed Rose, who became so experienced, that if any one in Peru had held Plato’s opinions regarding the metemsychosis of souls, he would have believed that the soul of S. Catherine of Sienna had passed into the body of Rose, her spiritual daughter and fervent disciple.



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Text from the Fr. Faber translation, Peter F. Cunningham, fourth edition, 1855

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