The fidelity of St. Catherine led her to the practice of the loftiest and most heroic virtues.
Nevertheless, we know that the virtues in a heroic degree cannot be practiced by the soul of itself. The action of the Holy Spirit is needed.
But God does not let Himself be out-done in generosity, and if the soul does what it can, God does all that He wishes and He perfects the soul, leading it to the heights.
The GIFTS -- herein is the secret.
We cannot move them of ourselves; we know this.
This seven-fold instrument needs a most delicate touch, so to speak.
The Holy Spirit alone is their Artist.
But the Holy Spirit was not given to us for nothing. He acts; and if He is impeded, "He groans with unspeakable groanings", wishing to move His gifts; and He does move them freely.
We cannot make the gifts act but we can paralyze them -- tragic power that we have when we wrongly use this great gift of our freedom!
St. Catherine of Siena gave the Holy Spirit full freedom in her soul, and the Holy Spirit unfurled His powerful sails in our virgin's little boat.
The Gift of Fear
Let us look into the supernatural and divine effects caused in her soul by the gifts.
At first sight, we see that the Gift of Fear is very pronounced in her soul.
The experience of being Nothing is, in St. Catherine, something out of the ordinary. It is not that she sees 'nothingness' or that she discovers the contrast of the ALL. Rather, she experiences, radically, her nothingness.
She knows herself as nothing.
She knows herself to be an abyess of nothingness.
The Lord has permitted her to experience it with irresistible force. She knows it; she enjoys it; she savours it in the depth of her being.
The felling becomes more profound. She submerges herself more and more in the abyss and the Voice of God comes to confirm her in this radical nothingness, pronouncing in the centre of her soul, the phrase that leaves an indelible impression on the life of the saint.
"You are she who is not"Negation of being! One cannot arrive at more, or better said, less.
Experience of the nothing! What must it be?
By contrast, she has encountered the abyss of BEING, "You are she who is not; I am HE WHO IS." You are the exact opposite to Me. You are negation of being. My negation. I am BEING, affirmation, your complement. I have abundance of life for Me and for you. In my abyss there is room for both of us. Your abyss of shadows is filled with light from the resplendence of My rays. Your nothingness receives My Life!
And the soul of the Saint trembled!
The Gift of Fear made her tremble before the presence of sin. The word sin pierced her soul like a sharp sword. She fled from sin; even from the least shadow of sin. She could not tolerate imperfections; rebellion.
She felt the power of the Majesty of God, and shadows seem to her as abysses of darkness. The smallest infidelities made her cry out with pain, "My sins; my sins are the cause of all the evils in the world."
She fled from everything that could seduce her, by the extreme vigilence that the horror of sin produced in her soul.
Absolute detachment is the logical consquence; no threads to hold the soul back; freedom of heart! Nothing must hold her back.
She goes out of her nothingness, as an arrow from the bow, directly to its point -- God.
God was drawing her and it was the imperious necessity of her life that she reach Him.
Her fear did not separate her from God; on the contrary, it submerged her in hope.
She hoped, confidently and secure; with much more security, knowing that her eternity depended more on God than on herself.
She has experienced His Infinitude and she knows that His pardon and bounty are also Infinite.
She hopes and trusts, and is secure. She knows in Whom she has confided and she will never doubt.