Humility & Freedom
Catherine explains that even though nobody can avoid physical pain in this life because of the fragility of our bodies, the deeper pain is rooted in the opposition of our will to God’s will. As our will comes into greater and greater conformity with God’s will—one of the definitions of holiness used by many of the saints—the spiritual and psychological anguish of being in opposition to God subsides and the physical pain can be more easily endured, as all the virtues grow.
This is why I told you that they suffer physically but not spiritually, because their sensual will—which afflicts and pains the spirit—is dead. Since they no longer have a selfish will, they no longer have this pain. So they bear everything with reverence, considering it a grace to suffer for me. And they want nothing but what I will … They pass through life joyfully, knowing themselves and untroubled by suffering.
Catherine strikingly describes the freedom and joy that can come to those who are made perfect in detachment and humility, willing what God wills in complete trust.
They may suffer at the hands of others, or from illness or poverty or the instability of the world. They may lose their children or other loved ones. All such things are thorns the earth produced because of sin. They endure them all, considering by the light of reason and holy faith that I am goodness itself and cannot will anything but good. And I send these things out of love, not hatred.… They learn that all suffering in this life is small with the smallness of time. Time is no more than the point of a needle, and when time is over, so is suffering—so you see how small it is. Therefore they endure it patiently.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me
and heard my cry. (Ps. 40:1)
Martin, Ralph. (2006). The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints (pp. 244–245). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.