The Pope recently spoke of Saint Catherine of Bologna and her approach to spiritual life as a series of spiritual battles.
In her small treatise The Seven Spiritual Weapons, St. Catherine of Bologna (1413-1463) describes herself as a yelping puppy, a cagnola latrante. If St. Catherine is a barking puppy in the world of the spirit, I’m not sure what that makes me: perhaps a bungling tortoise or a slithering worm. But it is for those less perfect that St. Catherine wrote her helpful, simple, and short treatise.
In truth, the treatise is written for women religious–those who entered into the Poor Clare convent in Ferrara of which she was the superioress–but, contrary to most such writings, this one is very easily applied to the spiritual life of the laity.
The seven spiritual arms identified by St. Catherine of Bolgna should be taken up by every Christian. They ought to be standard issue for everyone in the Church militant. One really cannot live the Christian life without them.
St. Catherine views the spiritual life as a series of battles – a series of battles wherein we seek to conquer self for the love of God. Our standard in these battles is the cross upon which hung “Jesus Christ our savior, who died on the field of battle in order to give us life.”
St. Catherine advocates seven spiritual arms be used in this battle: zealous diligence, distrust of self, confidence in God, recollection of Christ’s passion and death, awareness that one must die, habitual keeping in mind the glory of our future life in God, and, lastly, a firm and constant dedication to Holy Scripture.