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

ISBN : 9780199344512

Grazia Mangano Ragazzi
224 ページ
148 x 215 mm

Grazia Mangano Ragazzi offers an in-depth examination of the concept of discretion in the spiritual writings of Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), who is honored as one of the few female "Doctors" of the Catholic Church and who in 2000 was named a co-patroness of Europe by Pope John Paul II. Despite her illiteracy, which necessitated that she dictate to a scribe, Catherine is revered for her writings, which reveal spiritual reflection of remarkable depth. At the same time she is an inspiring example of one who remained active in the political and ecclesiastical life of her time without sacrificing an intense contemplative life. This book investigates the concept of "discretion," to which Catherine dedicates chapters IX to XI of her Dialogue and letter 213. Discretion, Ragazzi argues, is a helpful tool for interpreting the whole edifice of Catherine's spirituality. The term evades precise definition but can be summarized as a form of self-knowledge that leads to an authentic knowledge of God. Ragazzi first examines the role played by scribes in the composition of Catherine's writings, and whether it is possible to consider such writings as authentic representations of her thought, then provides a detailed analysis of Catherine's works to determine the meaning and importance of discretion in her spirituality, and how it relates to the concept of prudence. Ragazzi finds that the clearest influence on Catherine's thought was that of Dominican spirituality: her spiritual director, Raymond of Capua, was a Dominican, as was the majority of those belonging to her circle. But Franciscan mysticism, which was prevalent in religious life during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, also seems to have exerted considerable influence. Ragazzi's meticulous study shows how Catherine's way of being a theologian exemplifies the principle that any person authentically striving to live a Christian life, if gifted with great faith and intellectual ability, can engage in theology in a creative manner without the abstract and specialized speculation reserved for academic theologians.


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


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.