>I suppose my objection to her - which is poorly founded and
>half-hearted, really - is that she impresses me as a female version of
>Bernard of Clairvaux, whom I also find somewhat repellent. The Oxford
>Dictionary of Saints says it well: "Like Bernard, Catherine had
>prophetic vision [that's OK] and personal intransigence [that's not];
>these led both of them to identify God's cause with their own." Then
>there's the grotesque display of her head... And, of course, I firmly
>believe, with Jung, that what we find objectionable in others is what we
>see of our own shadow in them. Now that really gives me pause......
>p.s. I also deeply resent the dismissal of C. of Alexandria. How someone
>revered almost since the beginning can be said not to have existed...
Apologies if I came across as harsh. I was honestly just curious,
though I am a big fan of Catherine's. And it's interesting that you
and the Oxford Dictionary of Saints liken her to Bernard, another
association I would not have made. Personal intransigence, perhaps,
but in her case I view it more as personal strength, strength she
needed to take an active role in the world, especially as a woman and
a tertiary. I see Catherine's cause as an active apostolate to all,
particularly reaching out to those whom society had rejected or
marginalized, helping them realize their inherent self-worth and
fostering love, peace and justice; whether or not that's God's cause,
I think it's a very good one. I could definitely see a criticism of
Bernard that accuses him of imposing his own views as if they were
God's (to wit, his case against Abelard), but I don't see it with
Catherine, perhaps because I appreciate her in most cases far more
than I do Bernard. Since Hildegard of Bingen was brought up in
connection with this conversation, I see her much more along those
lines, most forcefully when she strenuously objected to her most
intimate friend Richardis leaving her to become abbess of Birsim,
even invoking her prophetic voice in her losing battle to keep
Richardis with her, but on several other occasions as well. As much
as I admire and respect Hildegard, I definitely see her as imperious,
but Catherine I don't. By the way, as to the whole whom do you
prefer, Abelard or Bernard, controversy, speaking purely with regard
to their Latin, give me Bernard over Abelard any day!
Before you give up on Catherine, you might want to read Karen Scott's
article in the book that's been the subject of other postings today
and earlier, Lay Sanctity, ed Ann Astell. Not that I've read it
myself, but I've read other works by her and it's all good.
You've got a great name saint (several, actually). I'd be proud.