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Find an Pennsylvania fall festival to attend in Our events calendar for September, October and November has things to do across Pennsylvania including activities in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie and Scranton.
Our list includes festivals celebrating the local harvest, food, music, beer, Oktoberfest and more. High performance driving and social activities.
If you have attended this event before, please tell us whether it should be considered an oktoberfest and listed here. PA Renaissance Faire - Manheim, PA - Aug 4 to Oct 24, Mount Hope Estate plays host to hundreds of colorfully costumed characters, music, dancing and more, with over 90 stage shows daily, 20 Royal Kitchens, artisan merchants, and more take you back in time!
It has been known for its delicious German sausages and other meats for more than thirty years. Kick off the Oktoberfest season under the Tent for a three day weekend in August that happens annually. Enjoy beer, food, dancing and live music under the Tent that seats more than 1, people.
They also offer other events in fall for visitors to enjoy the German-American cuisine, including the Fall Schlachtfest Buffet at the end of October and the Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner in November.
Alex Meixner, Saturday morning: Joe Kroboth, Saturday night: Throughout the weekend the Shuhplattlers and Alpenhorns. Crawford County Fair - Meadville, PA - Aug 18 to Aug 25, The largest agricultural fair in Pennsylvania features rides, displays, food, truck and tractor pulls, contests of all kinds, live music and more!
Bike rentals, paintball target range, live music, and shuttles to the scenic bike trail in Lehigh Gorge State Park add to the weekend. Free parking and admission!
The beer garden is the block surrounding Lancaster Square and Binns Park. End of summer beer festival at Fonthill Castle, with more than 35 local and regional breweries, plus music, food, and a commemorative beer tasting glass for unlimited beer tastings.
Drake Day Circus - Titusville, PA - Aug 25, Relive the excitement of an oil boom era circus, with jugglers, fire eaters, magicians, acrobats, 19th century games and artisan demonstrations, music, food and more!
Held at the Drake Well Museum, admission fees apply. Dog Days of Summer Manayunk - Philadelphia, PA - Aug 26, Bring your pooch to the Venice Island Amphitheater for an afternoon of pet-friendly vendors, activities, pet adoptions, food vendors, and more!
Train excursions, food tents, model railroads and more, with transportation in between the two events. Features about live musicians on stages. Held in downtown Philadelphia along Ben Franklin Parkway. Advance ticket sales are from May until early September. Two stages of entertainment with live music, dancing and more. Entertainment and vendors, livestock exhibitions, midway amusement rides and games, contests, classes, senior activities, and more come together to create fun for the whole family!
Scale model trains, train rides, food vendors, and more. Admission includes wine tasting bracelet, glass, chance to win a wine basket. West Alexander Fair - West Alexander, PA - Sep 2 to Sep 8, Country fair with agricultural and livestock exhibits, tractor and truck pulls, antique machinery, rodeo, chainsaw carving, demolition derby, live entertainment, food, live entertainment, rides and more! Awards for the top finishers in different age and gender groups, which include cash and trophies!
Art Week Doylestown - Doylestown, PA - Sep 2 to Sep 7, Showcases both permanent and temporary art installations in local museums, galleries, storefronts, restaurants, and more! Enjoy large scale exhibits, live art, collections, and small shows.
Free to attend and participate. Dates back to , the third-oldest tournement on the PGA schedule. Fringe Festival - Philadelphia, PA - Sep 6 to Sep 23, A variety of artistic performances and presentations all across the city and online, including those for families. Held at Historic Joanna Furnace off of Route Enjoy traditional crafts and tradesmen, daily demonstrations and hands-on learning of 18th and 19th century living at the Joanna Furnace ironmaking community.
Since then, it has grown to include live entertainment including programming for the kids , concessions, fair Quenn, contests in horticulture and agriculture, demolition derby, monster trucks and more! Philadelphia Honey Festival - Philadelphia, PA - Sep 7 to Sep 9, Free festival at different venues across the city, featuring kids activities, hive talk, Bee Beard, vendor market place and more. Located at the Gateway Gettysburg Complex.
Enjoy 30 bands performing on 4 stages throughout the day! Held on the weekend after Labor Day. Attendance is estimated at up to , guests. Enjoy 5k, live music, community parade, mushroom cook-off, car show, and more!
Breed display, free demonstrations, workshops, contests and silent auction. Saturday from 11 AM to 10 PM. German Food, Fun and Beer! Rain date is Sunday. Meet vendors who can help with home improvement, building, kitchens, bath, gardens and landscaping, pools and spas, security systems and so much more. Located at Valley Forge Casino Resort, enjoy free admission and free parking!
Come rain or shine, enjoy wine samples, free picnic food, face painting, and balloons. Tents will be provided for shade or protection from the rain. Additional case discounts will be available all weekend. The picnic is from noon to 5 pm. Philadelphia Pizza Festival - Philadelphia, PA - Sep 8, Head to Citizens Bank Park for over 60 pizza restaurants and food trucks for over varieties of pizza, plus a giant beer and wine garden, live entertainment, life size beer pong and baggo, family friendly activities, walk the bases, and more.
Head to one of two brweries back to back, both with a 15 mile and 30 mile race through the beautiful city of Philadelphia. Doylestown Arts Festival - Doylestown, PA - Sep 8 to Sep 9, Follows Art Week in Doylestown with a weeekend of juried artists, live music on 5 stages, local food vendors, live art and demonstrations, and more, with fun for the whole family and free admission for all!
Market of the Macabre - Philadelphia, PA - Sep 8, Head to Laurel Hill Cemetery to peruse antiques, assorted oddities, vintage items, artwork, and homemade items in this outdoor market in an year-old Victorian cemetery, while wondering the scenic grounds and learning its rich history.
Afterparty includes a beer garden, splash pool and more! Pennsburg Community Day - Pennsburg, PA - Sep 8, Live entertainment, face painting and balloons, vendors, crafts, food, car show and more! Apple Days - Bethlehem, PA - Sep 8 to Sep 9, Enjoy everything apple at this two day festival, plus bobbing for apples, cooking and colonial demonstrations, kids games and more! BucksMont Oktoberfest - Warminster, PA - Sep 8, German music groups playing all day long, plus food, beers, kids activities, and more.
Over exhibitors and vendors over a place to learn about living sustainable while having fun. Shop for local green wares, great food, live music, live demonstrations, kid friendly activities and more! A bouncy castle, food trucks, produce stand and CSA sign up, live mural, bike decoration, performances and more. Pickle vendors, gourmet pickle eating contest, pickle inspired foods and drinks, games and more.
Healthy Living Festival - Morrisville, PA - Sep 9, Free admission to a festival filled with vendors and information about living a healthier life, including eco, sustainable, metaphysical, and holistic vendors, plus artists and musicans, organic healthy food, and more!
Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza - Oaks, PA - Sep 13 to Sep 16, Head to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks for the largest and most comprehensive quilt festival in the state, with over quilts and works of textile art on display. Shop the vendors and sock up on everything you need to quilt. Highlights include German music, dancers, beer, food, crafts and artwork.
Parking is available on several local streets and lots. Anticipated attendance is approximately 5, people. This annual event on the third weekend in September is a fundraiser for Building a Better Boyertown.
BBB is a nonprofit organization formed in to promote the community, preserve its historical heritage and attract people. Imported Munich Oktoberfest bier, entertainment and prizes. The brewery provided food and drink at the wedding celebration in Tens of thousands attend every year. It will have German food, beer, live music, Name the Brew contest and Carnival with games and amusement rides.
Ride All Day amusement passes are available. Vendors setup along Pike Street. Pets are not permitted in the festival area. In the past, there has been free parking and a free shuttle service from the Pennsylvania Transformer Technologies lot at 30 Curry Avenue because there is no designated parking from the event within the downtown area. John Barrowman comes to Philly for the Barrowpanel. The Office has a mini reunion, Joe Mangeniello stops by, and more of your favorites from television and movies!
Tickets include a complimentary Taster Glass and Brew Caddy. Green Tree Octoberfest - Pittsburgh, PA - Sep 15 to Sep 16, This annual Pittsburgh Oktoberfest will have a chili cookoff, car cruise and dog parade in addition to the opening ceremony, live music and Sunday night fireworks. The event features great food, beer, silent auction with great deals, entertainment by Don Bitterlich on his amazing accordion and house oompah Band.
Kids activities will be FREE of charge and include a pony ride, face painting, giant slide and much more. All proceeds benefit Lutheran Disaster Response. Tickets include one beverage of choice, a souvenir mug, and a platter of food. VIP tickets get you in 90 miutes earlier for the first tap, General Admission starts at 2pm. Fall Harvest Festival - Waterford, PA - Sep 15 to Oct 31, Farm-tastic fun including 8 acre corn maze, pedal carts, slide mountain, corn box, ball zone, giant slide, hayrides, animals, gem mining, pumpkins and more!
Runners will get a tech shirt, souvenir wine glass, and drink ticket. Rain date is the following weekend. Everything else at Linvilla including you-pick is open as well! Start the day off with a run at 8am, when Born to Run puts on a 5k.
Pottstown Pet Fair - Pottstown, PA - Sep 15, One of the largest free pet fairs in Pennsylvania, with a blessing of the animals, adoptions, vets and clinics, vendors, and more! Village Renaissance Fair - Wrightstown, PA - Sep 15 to Sep 16, A benefit for the Village Library of Wrightstown, this real renaissance fair creates an interactive world for participants to take a stroll through history, encountering knights, aerialists, shows and activities, a working trebuchet, living chess, archery and more!/p>
Bensalem Fall Festival - Bensalem, PA - Oct 6, Annual fall festival at Bensalem Municipal Complex no parking for general public at the event site — grab the free shuttle from parking lots at the high school and senior center.
Enjoy a celebration of community pride, including a concert, animal shows, amusements, business and crafter attractions, fireworks and more! An arts and crafts festival on Veterans Memorial Bridge, which stretches across the Susquehanna River. Enjoy nearly vendors, plus delicious food and beverage and amazing views of the river. Admission is free, parking and shuttle are available form Steel City Raceway, and parking proceeds go to local community organizations.
Midtown Village Fall Festival - Philadelphia, PA - Oct 6, A popular autumn street festival at the Midtown Village shops, where visitors enjoy live music and entertainment, vendors, craftmakers, childrens activities and more! Orchard tours, petting zoo, craftsmen demonstrations, antique cars, crafts, live music and more. Held at the South Mountain Fairgrounds.
The 25th annual Oktoberfest north of Philadelphia in Montgomery County will have a beer garden, food vendors, arts and crafts, live music and kids rides. Board the train for local craft beers and German food, including a menu of bratwurst, pork, sauerkraut, soft pretzels, German chocolate cake or apple dumplings.
We have games, pumpkin decorating, face painting, and bouncy-houses for the kids, plus live music, dancing, bratwurst, and a great beer selection including Victory Oktoberfest for kids-at-heart. We also support Rotary International initiatives such as disaster relief, food and medical services, and the fight to end polio. Concordia Oktoberfest - Cabot, PA - Oct 6, Concordia Lutheran Ministries Cabot campus is transformed into a site for fun, food, friends and family the first Saturday in October each year to enjoy the traditional German Oktoberfest.
Harvest Festival - Bethlehem, PA - Oct 6, Food and craft vendors, live music, beer garden, plus soup, wine and beer tastings. The popular, family-friendly event, presented this year by Roxborough Memorial Hospital, will take place on Saturday, October 6th from 12 noon until 6 p. Runs on Saturday-Sunday over two weekends. FirstGlance Film Fest Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA - Oct 12 to Oct 14, Independent film festival in Philadelphia, offering premiers from all genres and lengths, plus chances to vote for your favorites and meet the filmmakers, cast and crews.
More than 7 stages will be set up around Boyertown, plus local craft beers, ciders,wineries and distilleries, art galleries, local shops, and more celebrating Apple Season! Enjoy all day music and entertainment, hayrides, a craft fair, inflatable amusements, township vehicles on display, pumpkin decorating, and of course a delicious food court.
Stay for the fireworks at dark. Free admission and parking available on site! Free Parking and Admission. Sullivan County Fall Festival - Forksville, PA - Oct 13 to Oct 14, Art expo, apple butter making, lumberjacks and carvers, food, kids activities, quilt expo, and more,. Kennett Brewfest - Kennett Square, PA - Oct 13, Almost breweries with unique and seasonal brews, plus live music, food trucks, vendors, gaming area and more. Bloktoberfest - Philadelphia, PA - Oct 13, Four blocks of South Street from Broad to 18th Street in Philly will be closed to traffic for this non profit event with live music, craft beer and food.
The charming little neighborhood turns into a magical place perfect for witches and wizards of all ages. Walk4Hearing Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA - Oct 21, Empowers and inspires those affected by hearing loss while raising money for national and local programs that provide information, education, support, and advocacy.
Vendors will be on site to provide resources for individuals and families affected by hearing loss. Indoors at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Proceeds benefit local organizations. The bar and wonderful food open at 6 pm.
Another chance for lederhosen, laughter, and libations. Tables of ten are available. Will update with exact date when posted online. We know that you want current events. We leave those events with their link here so that you can look for the new dates yourself.
Interesting venue with cabins, free camping, indoor movie theater, indoor and outdoor workshops, yoga, art, live music, wellness workshops, farmers market and more. German food includes bratwurst, kielbasa, and pulled pork sandwiches, potato pancakes, pretzel knots and more!
Chicken dancing and contests at the Saturday day session. Friday and Saturday night sessions are ages 21 and up only. Sewickley is located west of Pittsburgh. They will live entertainment. And of course there will be German food, beer, and crafts. Jalapeno eating contest, salsa contest, field excursion, live music and more. Admission by suggested donation. Enjoy complimentary beer, wine, live entertainment, dancing, and more! Held at Adams-Ricci Park.
Car show on Saturday. Craft vendors, games, inflatables, contests, food and entertainment. The day includes battle re-enactment, beer garden and traditional Oktoberfest at Grumblethorpe from 4: Celebrate libations, music, food and Lake Augusta on the banks of Sunbury.
Dig your own sweet potatoes. Contests, games and lots of festival food made from sweet potatoes. Harvest Fest at St. Features a 5k run, queen pageant, antique and classic car show, parade, tractor pull, live music, and great food choices. A great day for beer lovers. Held under giant tents at Cannstatter, Academy Rd.
Johnny Appleseed Festival — Sheffield, PA — October , Fireworks, professional lumberjack competition, food, crafts, apple pie baking contest, antique tractor pull, draft horse pull, wine tasting event, antiques appraisal and music. Held at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia is this 8th annual festival. Features family fun and great food choices. Live entertainment all day. Features PA Wineries and craft vendors. Held at Lazy Brook Park. Ran or shine enjoy games, contests, live entertainment, demonstrations, French and Indian War soldier reenactments and so much more.
Held at the Fairgrounds, Route , Forksville. See National Chainsaw Carving Competition, free entertainment, all type of crafts, demonstrations, and food concessions. Features local parade, craft show, fun family activities, great food and more. Where is the Autumn Leaf Festival!?? This is definitely on the list of things that we want to do! Contact me for other information. Thank you The Hanover Chili Cook Off has become a staple for family entertainment, chili tasting and fundraising for local nonprofit organizations, all built around the PA State Chili Cooking Championships.
Not to mention Good food and beverage concessions too! Photo ID required No pets, tents or coolers, please! Follow us on Facebook for more info and tickets: Your email address will not be published.
Log in Remember me. Throughout the weekend the Shuhplattlers and Alpenhorns Crawford County Fair - Meadville, PA - Aug 18 to Aug 25, The largest agricultural fair in Pennsylvania features rides, displays, food, truck and tractor pulls, contests of all kinds, live music and more! Admission includes wine tasting bracelet, glass, chance to win a wine basket West Alexander Fair - West Alexander, PA - Sep 2 to Sep 8, Country fair with agricultural and livestock exhibits, tractor and truck pulls, antique machinery, rodeo, chainsaw carving, demolition derby, live entertainment, food, live entertainment, rides and more!
Phoenixville Blues Festival - Phoenixville, PA - Sep 8, This year, check out the Greg Sover Band at this annual blues festival in Phoenixville Market of the Macabre - Philadelphia, PA - Sep 8, Head to Laurel Hill Cemetery to peruse antiques, assorted oddities, vintage items, artwork, and homemade items in this outdoor market in an year-old Victorian cemetery, while wondering the scenic grounds and learning its rich history.
Blue Mountain Resort An 8 day German festival with beer, food, live music, yodel contest, nailing contest, brat eating contest and cycle party. Oct 4, at 9: Aug 26, at Aug 26, at 8: Sep 21, at 9: Dec 27, at 7: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Subscribe To The Funtober Newsletter. For readers who have an interest in infertility or adoption stories, Corrigan does go over reading recommendations just on this topic that she enjoyed.
Regarding her sharing how she got the NPR job, I thought it was pretty funny that she was initially turned down for the position because NPR told her she seemed too academic. From what I've seen with online reviews, the general consensus for this memoir seems to be mixed. I'd say the one thing I struggled with were the sections where some of the books she discussed seemed pretty obscure to me though she kept referencing them as bestsellers. Also, her favorites in genres are closer to my least favorite.
Can't blame that on the author though! She's writing about her experiences and preferences, not mine. I have to admit, it's a little difficult to maintain interest for that many pages about books I've never heard of and, by Corrigan's description of them, didn't sound like my kind of read.
Aside from that, there was a lot in this memoir that I did enjoy. I especially loved what she had to say in the Introduction essay, where she talks about what makes reading and books so special and what leads some of us to have such an obsession for the written word.
Corrigan also provides a pages-long list of reading recommendations, helpfully sorted by genre. I would recommend taking a look through those titles because it seemed like some of those listed in the back of the book were not ones she mentioned within the actual memoir. Might be worth a look-over to see if anything stirs your curiosity.
Some are not too bad on this front but Corrigan got especially spoiler-heavy with her story. She graduated from Fordham and received a Ph.
D in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Her name is Dr. Since this witty, wise and down to earth academic has reviewed fiction for NPR on their award winning Fresh Air program starring Terry Gross. As an old English major and major league bibliophile I enjoyed every page of this delightful little gem of a book! Corrigan reviews her life of growing up in a working class home in a small apartment in Brooklyn. Her Polish heritage mother was not a reader.
Maureen was shy and reclusive loving such women in extreme adventure novels as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and other great nineteenth century British fictional works by women. Corrigan and her Jewish atheist husband adopted Molly a Chinese born orphan in the late s.
Corrigan spends her life lecturing on literature and writing reviews for Fresh Air and periodicals.. She teaches at Georgetown University in Washington. One chapter of this book deals with Roman Catholic adolescent reading;' other chapters dealt with detective fiction and other delights of the reading obsession.
Her work is warm, witty and wise while at the same time showing her literary acumen in her dissection of many works of fiction. She is a feminist who is a liberal. An excellent work which has induced me to buy her new book on the Great Gatsby.
Corrigan provides a helpful list of some of her favorite books as an appendix to this slim volume. You will finish this book thankful for such scholars as Maureen Corrigan who shares of love of literature with the general public. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I was very bored and disappointed by this book.
For some reason I just could not get interested in the experiences of the author. I love books and read a lot. I Catherine, a useless servant, comfort and bless thee and invite thee to a sweet and most holy patience, for without patience we could not please God.
So I beg you, in order that you may receive the fruit of your tribulations, that you assume the armour of patience. And should it seem very hard to you to endure your many troubles, bear in memory three things, that you may endure more patiently. First, I want you to think of the shortness of your time, for on one day you are not certain of the morrow. We may truly say that we do not feel past trouble, nor that which is to come, but only the moment of time at which we are.
Surely, then, we ought to endure patiently, since the time is so short. The second thing is, for you to consider the fruit which follows our troubles. Paul says there is no comparison between our troubles and the fruit and reward of supernal glory. The third is, for you to consider the loss which results to those who endure in wrath and impatience; for loss follows this here, and eternal punishment to the soul.
Therefore I beg you, dearest brother, to endure in all patience. And I would not have it escape your mind that you should correct you of your ingratitude, and your ignoring of the duty you owe your mother, to which you are held by the commandment of God.
I have seen your ingratitude multiply so that you have not even paid her the due of help that you owe: Have you not considered the sorrow of her labour, nor the milk that she drew from her breast, nor the many troubles that she has had, over you and all the others?
And should you say to me that she has had no compassion on us, I say that it is not so; for she has had so much on you and the other that it costs her dear. But suppose it were true--you are under obligation to her, not she to you. She did not take her flesh from you, but gave you hers. I beg you to correct this fault and others, and to pardon my ignorance.
For did I not love your soul, I would not say to you what I do. Remember your confession, you and all your family. I say no more to you. Dearest and most beloved brother in Christ Jesus: Every great burden becomes light beneath this most holy yoke of the sweet will of God, without which thou couldst not please God, but wouldst know a foretaste of Hell.
Comfort you, comfort you, dearest brother, and do not faint beneath this chastisement of God; but trust that when human help fails, divine help is near. God will provide for you. Reflect that Job lost his possessions and his sons and his health: Patient Job never was perturbed, but would say, always exercising the virtue of holy patience, "God gave them to me, God has taken them from me; the Name of God be blessed.
And I tell you, God will show His benignity and mercy, and will reward you for every affliction which you shall have borne for His love. It is in her letters to persons leading the dedicated life that one can most clearly study Catherine's own inner experience. When warning and consoling them, she is speaking to herself.
This obscure girl had a way of writing to the great of this earth--and indeed to the very Fathers of Christendom--with the straightforward simplicity of a teacher instructing childish minds in the evident rudiments of virtue.
Often the sanctified common sense of her letters to dignitaries is the most noticeable thing about them. But when she turns to a holy hermit, the tone changes. The commonplaces of the moral life are assumed or left behind; she speaks to a soul that has presumably already brought its will into accord with the divine will in regard to all outward happenings, and she takes calmly for granted that this is a light and little thing.
We proceed to the analysis of temptations more subtle and more alluring. Catherine has few superiors among religious thinkers in the power to trace self-will to its remotest lairs, in the deeper reaches of personality.
In letters to such correspondents as Frate Antonio she often gives us, as here, precious records of her intercourse with her Lord. To you, most beloved and dearest father and brother in Christ Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write and commend me in the Precious Blood of the Son of God, with desire to see you kindled and inflamed in the furnace of divine charity and your own self- will--the will that robs us of all life--consumed therein.
Let us open our eyes, dearest brother, for we have two wills--one of the senses, which seeks the things of sense, and the other the self-will of the spirit, which, under aspect and colour of virtue, holds firm to its own way. And this is clear when it wants to choose places and seasons and consolations to suit itself, and says: So many a time the soul receives consolation, and then later feels itself deprived thereof by God; and another experience will harrow it, which will give less consolation and more fruit.
Then the soul, which is inspired by what gives sweetness, suffers when deprived of it, and feels annoyance. Because it does not want to be deprived; for it says, "I seem to love God more in this way than in that. From the one I feel that I bear some fruit, and from the other I perceive no fruit at all, except pain and ofttimes many conflicts; and so I seem to wrong God.
For it would not be deprived of sweetness; with this bait the devil catches it. Frequently men lose time in longing for time to suit themselves, for they do not employ what they have otherwise than in suffering and gloominess.
Once our sweet Saviour said to a very dear daughter of His, "Dost thou know how those people act who want to fulfil My will in consolation and in sweetness and joy? When they are deprived of these things, they wish to depart from My will, thinking to do well and to avoid offence; but false sensuality lurks in them, and to escape pains it falls into offence without perceiving it.
But if the soul were wise and had the light of My will within, it would look to the fruit and not to the sweetness. What is the fruit of the soul? Hatred of itself and love of Me. This hate and love are the issue of self-knowledge; then the soul knows its faulty self to be nothing, and it sees in itself My goodness, which keeps its will good; and it sees what a person I have made it, in order that it may serve Me in greater perfection, and judges that I have made it for the best, and for its own greatest good.
Such a man as this, dearest daughter, does not wish for time to suit himself, because he has learned humility; knowing his infirmity, he does not trust in his own wish, but is faithful to Me. He clothes him in My highest and eternal will, because he sees that I neither give nor take away, save for your sanctification; and he sees that love alone impels Me to give you sweetness and to take it from you. For this cause he cannot grieve over any consolation that might be taken from him within or without, by demon or fellow-creature--because he sees that, were this not for his good, I should not permit it.
Therefore this man rejoices because he has light within and without, and is so illumined that when the devil approaches his mind with shadows to confuse him, saying, 'This is for thy sins,' he replies like a person who shrinks not from suffering, saying, 'Thanks be to my Creator, who has remembered me in the time of shadows, punishing me by pain in finite time.
Great is this love, which will not punish me in the infinite future. But not thus does he whose self-will is lively within, seeking things after his own way! For he seems to think that he knows what he needs better than I. Many a time he says, 'It seems to me that I am wronging God in this: Although all external activities and inward consolations should fail, let goodwill to please God ever remain firm.
Upon this rock is founded grace. If thou sayest, I do not seem to have it, I say that this is false, for if thou hadst it not, thou wouldst not fear to wrong God. But it is the devil who makes things look so, in order that the soul may fall into confusion and disordered sadness, and hold firm its self- will, by wanting consolations, times and seasons in its own way.
Do not believe him, dearest daughter, but let your soul be always ready to endure sufferings in howsoever God may inflict them. Otherwise you would do like a man who stands on the threshold with a light in his hand, who reaches his hand out and casts light outside, and within it is dark. Such is a man who is already united in outward things with the will of God, despising the world; but within, his spiritual self-will is living still, veiled in the colour of virtue.
Therefore I said that I wished and desired that your will should be absorbed and transformed in Him, while we hold ourselves always ready to bear pains and toils howsoever God chooses to send them to us. So we shall be freed from darkness and abide in light. Praised be Jesus Christ crucified and sweet Mary.
Catherine is well aware that the world can be as true a school of holiness as the forest cell. The danger of spiritual self- will forms indeed one of those recurring themes which pervade her letters like the motifs of Wagnerian music--ever the same, yet woven into ever- new harmonies.
But the general subject of this letter is the "Santissima Pazienza," which is still frequently invoked by the common folk of Siena: Patience could hardly have been one of the virtues most native to the woman's valiant spirit, and one feels in her keen and solemn meditations that she had herself known the bitter and corroding power of the sin "that burns and does not consume," and that "makes the soul unendurable to itself.
The little discussion of impatience in human relations, and of the "proud humility" resorted to by a soul ravaged by a sense of neglect, has also a very personal note. But it is still more clear in the letter that Catherine's had become the disciplined nature which can "endure a restless mind with more reverence than a tranquil one," if such be the will of God, and which has entered deeply into the joy that awaits the meek.
Monna Agnese must have stood in special need of these touching exhortations: Her son had been beheaded in , in punishment for heinous sin; and now her only daughter had died. I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His Precious Blood, with the desire to see you established in true patience, since I consider that without patience we cannot please God. For just as impatience gives much pleasure to the devil and to one's own lower nature, and revels in nothing but anger when it misses what the lower nature wants, so it is very displeasing to God.
It is because anger and impatience are the very pith and sap of pride that they please the devil so much. Impatience loses the fruit of its labour, deprives the soul of God; it begins by knowing a foretaste of hell, and later it brings men to eternal damnation: It burns and does not consume, but is evermore renewed--that is, it never grows less, and therefore I say, it does not consume. It has indeed parched and consumed grace in the souls of the lost, but as I said it has not consumed their being, and so their punishment lasts eternally.
The saints say that the damned ask for death and cannot have it, because the soul never dies. It dies to be sure to grace, by mortal sin; but it does not die to existence. There is no sin nor wrong that gives a man such a foretaste of hell in this life as anger and impatience. It is hated by God, it holds its neighbour in aversion, and has neither knowledge nor desire to bear and forbear with its faults.
And whatever is said or done to it, it at once empoisons, and its impulses blow about like a leaf in the wind. It becomes unendurable to itself, for perverted will is always gnawing at it, and it craves what it cannot have; it is discordant with the will of God and with the rational part of its own soul. And all this comes from the tree of Pride, from which oozes out the sap of anger and impatience. The man becomes an incarnate demon, and it is much worse to fight with these visible demons than with the invisible.
Surely, then, every reasonable being ought to flee this sin. But note, that there are two sources of impatience. There is a common kind of impatience, felt by ordinary men in the world, which befalls them on account of the inordinate love they have for themselves and for temporal things, which they love apart from God; so that to have them they do not mind losing their soul, and putting it into the hands of the devils.
This is beyond help, unless a man recognizes himself, how he has wronged God, and cuts down that tree of Pride with the sword of true humility, which produces charity in the soul. For there is a tree of Love, whose pith is patience and goodwill toward one's neighbour. For, just as impatience shows more clearly than any other sin that the soul is deprived of God-- because it is at once evident that since the pith is there, the tree of Pride must be there--so patience shows better and more perfectly than any other virtue, that God is in the soul by grace.
Patience, I say, deep within the tree of Love, that for love of its Creator disdains the world, and loves insults whencesoever they come. I was saying that anger and impatience were of two kinds, one general and one special. We have spoken of the common kind. Now I talk of the more particular, of the impatience of those who have already despised the world, and who wish to be servants of Christ crucified in their own way; that is, in so far as they shall find joy and consolation in Him.
This is because spiritual self-will is not dead in them: This is a little offshoot from Pride, sprouting from real Pride, as a tree sends out a little tree by its side, which looks separated from it, but nevertheless it gets the substance from which it springs from the same tree.
So is self-will in the soul which chooses to serve God in its own way; and when that way fails it suffers, and its suffering makes it impatient, and it is unendurable to itself, and takes no pleasure in serving God or its neighbour. Nay, if any one came to it for comfort or help it would give him nothing but reproaches, and would not know how to be tolerant to his need.
All this results from the sensitive spiritual self-will that grows from the tree of Pride which was cut down, but not uprooted. It is cut down when the soul uplifts its desire above the world, and fastens it on God, but has fastened there imperfectly; the root of Pride was left, and therefore it sent up an offshoot by its side, and shows itself in spiritual things.
So, if it misses consolations from God, and its mind stays dry and sterile, it at once becomes disturbed and depressed, and, under colour of virtue--because it thinks itself deprived of God--it begins to complain, and lays down the law to God. But were it truly humble and had true hate and knowledge of itself, it would deem itself unworthy of the visitation of God to its soul, and worthy of the pain that it suffers, in being deprived, not of God's grace in the soul, but of its consolations.
It suffers, then, because it has to work in its chains; yes, spiritual self-will suffers under the delusion that it is wronging God, while the trouble is really with its own lower nature. Therefore the humble soul, which has freely uprooted with eager love the root of Pride, has annulled its own will, seeking ever the honour of God and the salvation of souls.
It does not mind sufferings, but endures a restless mind with more reverence than a quiet one; having a holy respectful knowledge that God gives and grants this to it for its good, that it may rise from imperfection to perfection.
That is the way to make it attain perfection, for it recognizes better thereby its own defects and the grace of God, which it finds within, in the goodwill that God has given it to hate its mortal sin. Also, by meditating on its defects and faults, old and new, it has conceived hatred for itself, and love for the Highest Eternal Will of God.
Therefore it bears these things with reverence, and is content to endure inwardly and outwardly, in whatever way God grants it. Provided that it can be filled and clothed with the sweetness of the will of God, it rejoices in everything; and the more it sees itself deprived of the thing it loves, whether the consolations of God, as I said, or of its fellows, the more gladsome it grows.
For many a time it happens that the soul loves spiritually; but if it does not find the consolation or satisfaction from the beloved that it would like, or if it suspects that more love or satisfaction is given to another than to itself, it falls into suffering, into depression of mind, into criticism of its neighbour and false judgment, passing judgment on the mind and intention of the servants of God, and especially on those from whom it suffers.
Thence it becomes impatient, and thinks what it should not think, and says with its tongue what it should not say. In such suffering as this, it likes to resort to a proud humility, which has the aspect of humility, but is really an offshoot of Pride, springing up beside it-- saying to itself: I will keep entirely to myself; I do not wish to hurt either myself or them.
Now it ought to perceive that this is scorn, by the impulse to judge that it feels in its heart, and by the complaints of its tongue. It ought not then to do so; for in this fashion it will never get rid of the root of Pride, nor cut off the little son at the side, which hinders the soul from attaining the perfection at which it has aimed.
But it ought to kneel at the table of the Most Holy Cross, to receive the food of the honour of God and the salvation of souls, with a free heart, with holy hatred of itself, with passionate desire: An unfit thing it is that limbs should remain delicate beneath a thorn-crowned Head. So the root shall be pulled up, and by displeasure against itself the soul will drive out displeasure against its neighbour, grieving more over the unregulated instincts of its own heart and thoughts than over the suffering it could receive from its fellows, or any insult or annoyance they could inflict on it.
This is the sweet and holy fashion observed by those who are wholly inspired of Christ; for in this wise they have uprooted perverted pride, and that marrow of impatience of which we said above that it was very pleasing to the devil, because it is the beginning and occasion of every sin; and on the contrary that as it is very pleasing to the devil, so it is very displeasing to God.
Pride displeases Him and humility pleases Him. So greatly did the virtue of humility please Him in Mary that He was constrained to give her the Word His Only-Begotten Son and she was the sweet mother who gave Him to us. Know well, that until Mary showed by her spoken words her humility and pure will, when she said: So then--in the time of labours and persecutions, of insults and injuries inflicted by one's neighbour, of mental conflicts and deprivation of spiritual consolations, by the Creator or the creature, by the Creator in His gentleness, when He withdraws the feeling of the mind, so that it does not seem as if God were in the soul, so many are its pains and conflicts--and by fellow-creatures, in conversation or amusement, or when the soul thinks that it loves more than it is loved --in all these things, I say that the soul perfected by humility says: It has peace and quiet in its mind, and it has found peace in warfare, because it has driven far from it its self-will founded in pride, and has conceived divine grace in its soul.
And it bears in its mind's breast Christ crucified, and rejoices in the Wounds of Christ crucified, and seeks to know naught but Christ crucified; and its bed is the Cross of Christ crucified.
There it annuls its own will, and becomes humble and obedient. For there is no obedience without humility, nor humility without charity. This is shown by the Word, for in obedience to His Father and in humility, He ran to the shameful death of the Cross, nailing and binding Him with the nails and bands of charity, and enduring in such patience that no cry of complaint was heard from Him. For nails were not enough to hold God- and-Man nailed and fastened on the Cross had Love not held Him there.
This I say that the soul feels; therefore it will not joy otherwise than with Christ crucified. For could it attain to virtue and escape Hell and have eternal life, without sufferings, and have in the world consolations spiritual and temporal, it would not wish them; but it desires rather to suffer, enduring even unto death, than to have eternal life in any other way: It has found the table of the Spotless Lamb.
Who would not give himself to death a thousand times, and endure any suffering through desire to win thee? Thou art a queen, who dost possess the entire world; thou dost inhabit the enduring life; for while the soul that is arrayed in thee is yet mortal, thou makest it abide by force of love with those who are immortal. Since, then, this virtue is so excellent and pleasing to God and useful to us and saving to our neighbour, arise, dearest daughter, from the sleep of negligence and ignorance, casting to earth the weakness and frailty of thy heart, that it feel no suffering nor impatience over anything that God permits to us, so that we may not fall either into the common kind of impatience, or into the special kind, as we were saying before, but serve our sweet Saviour manfully, with liberty of heart and true perfect patience.
If we do otherwise, we shall lose grace by the first sort of impatience, and by the second we shall hinder our state of perfection; and you would not attain that to which God has called you. It seems that God is calling you to great perfection. And I perceive it by this, that He takes away from you every tie that might hinder it in you. For as I have heard, it seems that He has called to Himself your daughter, who was your last tie with the outer world.
For which thing I am deeply content, with a holy compassion, that God should have set you free, and taken her from her labours. Now then, I want that you should wholly destroy your own will, that it may cling to nothing but Christ crucified.
In this way you will fulfil His will and my desire. Therefore, not knowing any other way in which you could fulfil it, I said to you that I desired to see you established in true and holy patience, because without this we cannot reach our sweet goal. Two nieces, daughters of Bartolo Benincasa, were nuns in the Convent of Montepulciano. To one of them the following letter is addressed. One can read between the lines a lively solicitude. Never cloistered herself, Catherine had a close intimacy with cloisters, and knew their best and worst.
She held in hearty and loyal respect the opportunities which they offered for leading an exalted life; to this Convent of St. Agnes she was peculiarly attached. At the same time, she was well aware, as other letters beside the present show, that even the best of cloisters afforded at this time scant shelter to young girls from emotional temptation, gross or fine.
Her warnings to her niece have the authoritative tone of anxiety. Let us hope that Eugenia took them to heart; and that, leading the disciplined life of Catherine's desire, she became not unworthy to receive and apprehend in its full beauty the penetrating meditation on Prayer which forms the second part of the letter.
The thoughts of this meditation, like many others in Catherine's letters, will be found amplified in her Dialogue--a colloquy between God and her soul, composed and dictated in trance during the year The following quotation illustrates an interesting passage of the letter: But if it aims simply to complete its number of paternosters , or if it gave up mental prayer for the sake of vocal, it would never arrive at perfection.
Sometimes, when a soul has made a resolution to say a certain number of prayers, I may visit its mind, now in one way, now in another: And the soul will be so ignorant that it will turn from My Visitation, in order to complete its number, from a conscientious scruple against giving up what it began. It ought not to do thus, for this would be a wile of the devil. But at once, when it feels its mind ready for My Visitation, in any way, as I said, it should abandon the vocal prayer.
Then, when the mental has passed, if there is time it can resume the other, which it had planned to say. But if there is not time it must not care nor be troubled or bewildered. I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to thee in His precious Blood, with desire to see thee taste the food of angels, since thou art made for no other end; and that thou mightest taste it, God bought thee with the Blood of His Only-Begotten Son.
But reflect, dearest daughter, that this food is not taken upon earth, but on high, and therefore the Son of God chose to be lifted up upon the wood of the Most Holy Cross, in order that we might receive this food upon this table on high.
But thou wilt say to me: What is this food of angels? I reply to thee: This is a food which while we are pilgrims in this life, draws to itself the fragrance of true and sincere virtues, which are prepared by the fire of divine charity, and received upon the table of the cross.
This is the food that makes the soul angelic, and therefore it is called the food of angels; and also because the soul, separated from the body, tastes God in His essential Being. He satisfies the soul in such wise that she longs for no other thing nor can desire aught but what may help her more perfectly to keep and increase this food, so that she holds in hate what is contrary to it. Therefore, like a prudent person, she looks with the light of most holy faith, which is in the eye of the mind, and beholds what is harmful and what is useful to her.
And as she has seen, so she loves and condemns--holding, I say, her own fleshly nature and all the vices which proceed from it, bound beneath the feet of her affections. She flees all causes that may incline her to vice or hinder her perfection. So she annuls her self-will, which is the cause of all evil, and subjects it to the yoke of holy obedience, not only to the Order and its chief, but to every least creature through God.
She flees all glory and human indulgence, and glories only in the shames and sorrows of Christ crucified: She renounces conversation with fellow-beings, because she sees that they often intervene between us and our Creator, and she flees to the actual and to the mental cell.
To this I summon thee and the others: Otherwise thou wouldst eat upon the earth, and there I have already said to thee, one should not eat.
Reflect that thy Bridegroom, Christ sweet Jesus, wishes naught between thee and Him, and is very jealous. So as soon as He saw that thou didst love any thing apart from Him, He would go from thee, and thou wouldst be made worthy to eat the food of beasts.
And wouldst thou not truly be a beast, and food for beasts, didst thou leave the Creator for the creature, and infinite good for finite and transitory things that pass like the winds, light for darkness, life for death, Him who clothes thee in the sun of justice with the clasp of obedience, and pearls of living faith, firm hope, and perfect charity, for him who robs thee of them?
And wouldst thou not be foolish indeed to depart from Him who gives thee perfect purity--so that the closer thou dost cling to Him, the more the flower of thy virginity is refined--for those who many a time and oft shed a stench of impurity, defiling mind and body? God avert them from thee by His infinite mercy!
And in order that no such thing may ever happen to thee, be on thy guard: For if I were to know or hear it, even if I were much farther away than I am, I would give thee such a discipline that it would stay in thy memory all thy whole life; never mind who may be by. Beware neither to give nor receive, except in case of need, helping every one in common within and without. Be steadfast and mature in thyself.
Serve the sisters tenderly, with all vigilance, especially those whom thou seest in need. When guests pass by and ask for thee at the gratings, abide in thy peace and do not go--but let them say to the prioress what they wanted to say to thee, unless she commands thee to go on thy obedience. Then, hold thy head bowed, and be as savage as a hedgehog. Keep in thy mind the manners which that glorious virgin Saint Agnes made her daughters observe. Go to confession and tell thy need; and when thou hast received thy penance, run.
Beware, moreover, that thy confessors be not from the men who have brought thee up. And do not wonder because I talk so; for many a time thou mayest have heard me say, and it is the truth, that the talk of so-called pious men and women, full of depraved expressions, ruins the souls and the habits and practices of Religious. Beware that thou bind thy heart to none but Christ crucified; for the hour would come when thou wouldst wish to set it free and couldst not, which would be very hard for thee.
I say that the soul which has tasted of the food of angels has seen in the light that this and the other things we were speaking of are an obstacle between itself and its food, and therefore flees them with the greatest zeal.
I say that it loves and seeks what may increase and preserve it. And because it has seen that this food is better enjoyed by means of prayer offered in self-knowledge, therefore it exercises itself therein continually by all the ways in which it can hold closer to God. Prayer is of three sorts. The one is perpetual: Of this it seems that Saint Paul the glorious was talking when he said: The other kind is vocal prayer, when the offices or other prayers are said aloud.
This is ordained to reach the third--that is, mental prayer: But one must exert one's self to hold and establish one's heart in the force of divine charity. And whenever one felt one's mind to be visited by God, so that it was drawn to think of its Creator in any wise, it ought to abandon vocal prayer, and to fix its mind with the force of love upon that wherein it sees God visit it; then, if it has time, when this has ceased, it ought to take up the vocal prayer again, in order that the mind may always stay full and not empty.
And although many conflicts of diverse kinds should abound in prayer, and darkness of mind with much confusion, the devil making the soul feel that her prayer was not pleasing to God--nevertheless, she ought not to give up on account of those conflicts and shadows, but to abide firm in fortitude and long perseverance, considering that the devil so does to draw her away from prayer the mother, and God permits it to test the fortitude and constancy of that soul.
Also, in order that by those conflicts and shadows she may know herself not to be, and in the goodwill which she feels preserved within her may know the goodness of God, Who is Giver and Preserver of good and holy wills: By this means she attains to the third and last--mental prayer, in which she receives the reward for the labours she underwent in her imperfect vocal prayer.
Then she tastes the milk of faithful prayer. She rises above herself--that is, above the gross impulses of the senses--and with angelic mind unites herself with God by force of love, and sees and knows with the light of thought, and clothes herself with truth. She is made the sister of angels; she abides with her Bridegroom on the table of crucified desire, rejoicing to seek the honour of God and the salvation of souls; since well she sees that for this the Eternal Bridegroom ran to the shameful death of the Cross, and thus fulfilled obedience to the Father, and our salvation.
This prayer is surely a mother, who conceives virtues by the love of God, and brings them forth in the love of the neighbour. Where dost thou show love, faith, and hope, and humility?
For thou wouldst never take pains to seek the thing which thou didst not love; but he who loves would ever be one with what he loves--that is, God. By means of prayer thou askest of Him thy necessity; for knowing thyself--the knowledge on which true prayer is founded--thou seest thyself to have great need. Thou feelest thyself surrounded by thine enemies--by the world with its insults and its recalling of vain pleasures, by the devil with his many temptations, by the flesh with its great rebellion and struggle against the spirit.
And thou seest that in thyself thou art not; not being, thou canst not help thyself; and therefore thou dost hasten in faith to Him who is, who can and will help thee in thine every need, and thou dost hopefully ask and await His aid. Thus ought prayer to be made, if thou wishest to have that which thou awaitest. Never shall any just thing be denied thee which thou askest in this wise from the Divine Goodness; but if thou dost in other wise, little fruit shalt thou receive.
Where shalt thou feel grief in thy conscience? Where shalt thou divest thee of the self-love which makes thee impatient in the time of insults and of other pains, and shalt clothe thee in the divine love which shall make thee patient, and shalt glory in the Cross of Christ crucified? Where shalt thou breathe the perfume of virginity and the hunger for martyrdom, holding thee ready to give thy life for the honour of God and the salvation of souls?
In this sweet mother, prayer. This will make thee an observer of thy Rule: This releases thee from conversation with fellow-creatures, and gives thee converse with thy Creator; it fills the vessel of thy heart with the Blood of the Humble Lamb, and crowns it with flame, because with flame of love that Blood was shed. The soul receives and tastes this mother Prayer more or less perfectly, according as it nourishes itself with the food of angels--that is, with holy and true desire for God, raising itself on high, as I said, to receive it upon the table of the most sweet Cross.
Therefore I said to thee that I desired to see thee nourished with angelic food, because I see not that in otherwise thou couldst be a true bride of Christ crucified, consecrated to Him in holy religion. So do that I may see thee a jewel precious in the sight of God. And do not go about wasting thy time. Bathe and drown thee in the sweet Blood of thy Bridegroom. This tender and playful little letter, with its childlike simplicity of fancy and gentle authority of tone, encourages us to believe that Catherine appreciated the full advantages of being an aunt.
We have other indications that the many spiritual ties which held her as she grew older never weakened the bond of any natural affection. Indeed, Catherine re- created each natural bond, when possible, as a spiritual bond, an achievement none too common.
Doubtless, many children grew up around her in the large Benincasa household. We know that at the time of the plague, in , Lapa was bringing up eleven grandchildren in her own house. Of these, eight fell victims to the pestilence, and we have a glimpse of Catherine burying them with her own hands, and saying as she laid them to rest one by one, "This one, at least, I shall not lose.
I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to thee in His precious Blood, with desire to see thee a real bride of Christ crucified, running away from everything which might hinder thee from possessing this sweet and glorious Bridegroom. But thou couldst not do this if thou wert not among those wise virgins consecrated to Christ who had lamps with oil in them, and light was within. See, then, if thou wishest to be a bride of Christ, thou must have lamp, and oil, and light.
Dost thou know what this means, daughter mine? By the lamp is meant our heart, because a heart ought to be made like a lamp. Thou seest that a lamp is wide above and narrow below, and so the heart is made, to signify that we ought always to keep it wide above, through holy thoughts and holy imaginations and continual prayer; always holding in memory the blessings of God, and chiefly the blessing of the Blood by which we are bought.
For Blessed Christ, my daughter, did not buy us with gold or silver or pearls or other precious stones; nay, He bought us with His precious Blood. So one wants never to forget so great a blessing, but always to hold it before one's eyes, in holy and sweet gratitude, seeing how immeasurably God loves us: I said that a lamp is narrow below, and so is our heart:
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