“Consumed in Grace” by Catherine of Siena

I first saw God when I was a child, 
six years of age.
 The cheeks of the sun were pale before Him,
 and the earth acted as a shy
 girl, like me.

Divine light entered my heart from His love
 that did never fully wane,

though indeed, dear, I can understand how a person's faith 
 can at times flicker,

for what is the mind to do
 with something that becomes the mind's ruin:
 a God that consumes us
 in His grace.

I have seen what you want;
 it is there,

a Beloved of infinite

This is a poem we must read stanza by stanza. If you stop in the opening lines, you’ll notice the way she is using poetic imagery to praise the greatness of God and the way in which all things pale in their shyness before God.  The blazing sun can’t compare to divine light, which consumes the speaker. It actually ruins her mind, but ironically, that is a wonderful thing!  At the end the poem takes a turn to address someone, someone in want of something.  Perhaps someone whose faith is flickering.  The speaker offers reassurance with her testimony: what we seek is there–a Beloved of infinite tenderness.


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