the writings of Saint Catherine of Genoa
Of many illuminations received
by the Soul, and of the pure love of God.Of conscience, and the remorse
which God awakens in it.
hen God wills to
purify a soul from self-love, He first sends her
His divine light, that by it she may discern a spark of that pure love wherewith
He loves her, and how much He has done and still does by means of this love; for
He has need of us in nothing, not even the least thing. We are His enemies, not
only by our nature, which is inclined to evil, but by our manifold offences,
which we are ever ready to repeat.
He also discovers to her that
our sins can never excite anger so far that He
ceases to do us good while we are in this world; rather does it seem that
the more our sins remove us from Him, so much the more does He seek to draw
us toward Himself by many incentives and inspirations, in order that His
continued love and His benefits may keep us still in His love. The better
to effect this, He uses countless ways and means, so that every soul, beholding
what He has done for her, may exclaim, full of admiration: What am
I that God seems truly to have no care for any one but me?
And, among other things, He discovers
to her that pure love with which He created us,
and how He requires nothing of us but that we should love Him with that same
love wherewith He has loved us, and that we should remain ever with Him,
expecting no return except that He may unite Himself to us. . . .
God, moreover, made known to
this Soul that He had created man for the highest good, namely, that with
soul and body he might enter into his heavenly
He also showed her how great
an evil is sin, into which she had herself fallen,
and for which there was no remedy but another manifestation of His love,
which He was obliged to make in her behalf. And He further instructed her
in that ardent love for us of which our Lord Jesus Christ gave such proof
on the earth, from the Incarnation even unto the Ascension, and all to save
us from eternal damnation.
All this did God, by His most
pure act, reveal in an instant to the Soul. . . .
He allowed her to see the great
patience with which He had waited for her, and borne with so many of her
sins, in which, if she had died, she would have been lost forever.
He reminded her how often she
had been in danger of death; and how, through pure love alone, He had rescued
her, that she might have time to know her error and escape eternal
He also reminded her of the many
inspirations He had given her to save her from sin, and although she had
not only disregarded, but even gone contrary to His will, yet in His goodness,
He did not cease to send them, now in one way, now in another, and so allured
her free-will, that He had, as it were, forced her
to do that which in His goodness He required. And this, too, He did so gently
and patiently, that no example of human love was ever known on earth, which
could compare with it.
God also made known to this Soul
that, by reason of the great love He bears him, there is never anger against
man, but that He always loves him, and is ever seeking to unite him
to Himself in love; and that on His side this instinct never fails, so that
His pure love, which ever burns yet never consumes, is always active on our
behalf, and He shows himself terrible only toward
sin. Moreover He hates nothing but sin, which alone
prevents His love from doing its work in us; for even the devils, if it were
not for the heinousness of their sins, would burn with divine love.
God made plain to her, also,
how He is always waiting to inflame and penetrate the hearts of men with
burning rays of love, and how He is thwarted by sin. Therefore, if sin is
taken away, all things are in peace; where sin
is, there is never aught but strife.
She saw, likewise, the love of
God for man, which, however great a sinner he may be, is never so entirely
extinguished as not to bear with him while life lasts; beyond that, all is
hatred and never-ending doom. . . .
This Soul also beheld a certain
ray of love issuing from that divine fountain, and darting towards man with
a force as if to annihilate him; and she saw that when it found impediments,
then, if it were possible for God to feel pain, He would suffer the greatest
of all grief. This ray aimed only to penetrate the soul, and it was her own
fault if she were not penetrated by it, for the ray surrounded her on all
sides, seeking entrance; but the soul,
blinded by self-love, did not perceive
it. And when God saw a soul self-condemned, who through her willfulness would
not give entrance to the light, He seemed to say: So great is the love
which I bear to this soul, that I desire never to abandon
her. . . .
She was then shown how she had
lived without the knowledge of this great love, and how great were the faults
in which she saw herself, and what she could do to correspond to this pure
love; and so humbled was she in her own eyes
that she would have publicly proclaimed her sins through the whole city,
and could do nothing but incessantly repeat these words: O Lord! no
more world, no more sin, with a cry of inward
anguish which came from the depths of her heart. . . .
Yet she did not estimate her
sins according to the punishment they merited, but rather as committed against
the great mercy of God, for she saw His pure love
for the Soul, and it remained always in her heart, continually drawing her
towards God, from whom it descended. This love so melted her that all her
actions were done with that purity which now dwelt in her; and she continued
so united with that ray, that nothing inferior to God could come between
that light and the soul, either as to the will or its effects.
Saint Catherine of Genoa,
Spiritual Dialogue, Part 1, Chapter VIII