Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa - The publication of the Life of St Catherine of Genoa at this moment is, for several reasons, opportune.
The reading of it will correct the misconceptions of many who honestly fancy that the Catholic Church encourages a mechanical piety, fixes the attention of the soul almost, if not altogether, on outward observances, and inculcates nothing beyond a complete submission to her authority and discipline.
The life of our Saint is an example of the reverse of that picture. It makes clear the truth that the immediate guide of the Christian soul is the Holy Spirit, and that her uncommon fidelity to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, made this holy woman worthy of being numbered by the Church among that class of her most cherished children, who have attained the highest degree of Divine love which it is possible for human beings to reach upon earth.
The mistake of the persons above spoken of arises from their failing to see that the indwelling Holy Spirit is the divine life of the Church, and that her sacraments have for their end to convey the Holy Spirit to the soul. It arises also from their not sufficiently appreciating the necessity of the authority and discipline of the Church, as safeguards to the soul from being led astray from the paths of the Holy Spirit.
Without doubt God could have, if He had so pleased, saved and sanctified the souls of men in spite of their ignorance, perversity, and weakness, by the immediate communication and action of the Holy Spirit in their souls, independently of an external organization like the Church. But such was not His pleasure, or His plan. For His own wise reasons, He chose to establish a Church which He authorized to teach the world whatsoever He had commanded, which He promised to be with unto the end of all time, whose ministry, sacraments, and government should serve Him, as His body had, to continue and complete, by a visible means, the work of man's redemption.
Hence it is an entirely false view of the nature and design of the Church to suppose that it was intended to be, or is in its action, or ever was, or ever can be, a substitute for the authority of Christ, or the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Christian soul.