Obeying the Truth Discretion in the Spiritual Writings of Saint Catherine of Siena

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2014-01-15
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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In the last century St. Catherine of Siena, an Italian lay woman and mystic of the fourteenth century, was named first a Doctor of the Church and then one of six patron saints of Europe. This recognition of her life and spirituality has been accompanied by increased interest in her writings. Obeying the Truth addresses the key concept of discretion in Catherine's spiritual works. This concept, synonymous with prudence, interacts on many levels with crucial aspects of her teaching. Grazia Mangano Ragazzi argues that discretion, to which Catherine dedicates several passages in her writings, is a helpful, even decisive, tool for interpreting the whole edifice of the saint's spirituality.
Providing a textual analysis of discretion in Catherine's major works, Mangano Ragazzi situates Catherine historically through comparison with her predecessors: Augustine, Cassian, Benedict, Gregory the Great, Bernard, Richard of St. Victor, and Thomas Aquinas; and some contemporaries: Domenico Cavalca, Bridget of Sweden, John Colombini, and Raymond of Capua. She goes on to demonstrate how discretion unifies Catherine's spiritual reflection. The book includes a scrupulously selected bibliography of works in English, Italian and French.
This is both a focused monograph on discretion and an ideal introduction to the saint's writings. Catherine's insistence that the virtuous life is a pre-requisite for any genuine spiritual experience is a warning that is more necessary today than ever.

Author Biography

Grazia Mangano Ragazzi is an Italian national and independent researcher who has lived in Italy, England and France, with theological degrees in three languages. She has been living in DC since 1994.

Table of Contents

General Introduction

Part 1: Textual Criticism
1. Textual criticism of Catherine's writings
2. Composition and authenticity of the Letters
3. Composition and authenticity of the Dialogue
4. Composition and authenticity of the Prayers

Part 2: Analysis
5. A first approach: discretion in the Dialogue
6. A different perspective: discretion in the Letters
7. A final step: discretion in the Prayers

Part 3: Comparison in Historical Perspective
8. A brief sketch of the tradition of discretio (including discretio spirituum)
9. From Augustine to Aquinas's synthesis of the tradition of discretio with the Aristotelian teaching on prudence
10. Domenico Cavalca and some contemporaries of Catherine

Part 4: Synthesis
Discretion Between Mysticism and Morality
11. Catherine's reflection as an exemple of supernatural Christian mysticism
12. The central role of discretion in Catherine's spirituality
General Conclusions

Select Bibliography

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