Containing some questions concerning the love of God towards man, proposed by the Soul to her Lord, and his loving answers, the truth of which was afterwards entirely proved by the Blessed One herself.


The Soul inquires of God the reason of his great love for man, who is so opposed to him; and also what is man, for whom he cares so much.

     Soul. O, Lord, when I see thee so enamored of man, I long to know the cause of this great love, especially as in his manner of life, man is so opposed to thy will, estranged from thy love, averse to thy operations, contrary to thee in all things, full of this world, blind, deaf, dumb, and stupid, without the power and without the means of acting according to thy will. I confess, O Lord, that I know not what is this man of whom thou art so mindful; I know not whether thou art his master or his servant; it seems to me as if love had so blinded thee that thou seest not the depth of his miseries. I pray thee, O my Lord, to satisfy me fully in this matter.

     The Lord. You demand a thing beyond your comprehension; yet, in order to satisfy your understanding, which in these matters is weak and uninformed, I will show you a scintillation of this love which if you should behold clearly you could not live if I did not sustain you by my grace.

     Know then, in the first place, that I am God, with whom there is no change; and know too that I loved man before I created him. I loved him with a love which is infinite, pure, simple, and sincere, and without any cause; it is impossible that I should not love those whom I have created and designed for my glory, each in his own degree. I have also provided him amply with all needful means of attaining his end, both with natural gifts and supernatural graces, and on my part these never fail him. I am ever surrounding him with my infinite love, now in one way and now in another, that I may bring him under my care. I find in him nothing which is contrary to me but the free-will which I have given him, and this I am always combating through love, until he yields it to me, and when I have accepted it I reform it little by little by my secret operations and loving care, and never abandon him until I have conducted him to his appointed end.

     To your other question, as to why I love man, who is opposed to me and laden with sins that are so hateful in the sight of heaven, I answer, that by reason of the infinite bounty and pure love with which I love him, I can neither see his defects nor fail to accomplish my work, which is purely to benefit him; I cast such a light on his defects that perforce he sees them, and doing so he bewails them, and bewailing them he purges himself from them. He offends me only when he puts hindrances in the way by which I am endeavoring to lead him to his end; that is, when he hinders me, by mortal sin, from accomplishing my loving designs according to his necessities. But that love which you desire to know is beyond your comprehension, for it has neither form nor limit; neither can you know it through the intellect, for it is not intelligible; it is in part made known by its effects, which are small or great in proportion to the measure of love which is brought into action.

     If one who had not lost faith should desire to see the effects of this work which is accomplished in man by that spark of love which infuses into his heart, be assured that he would be so inflamed by love that he could not live, for so great would be its power that he would melt away and be no more. Though men are for the most part forever in ignorance of it, yet, for this hidden love, you see those who abandon the world, leave their possessions, friends, and kindred, and hold in abhorrence all other loves and joys. For this love men have sold themselves as slaves, and remained in bondage to others until death; and its force increases so continually that they would suffer martyrdom for it a thousand times, as they have often done and will ever continue to do.

     You see this love transforms beasts into men, men into angels, and angels becoming God, as it were, by participation. You see men changed from earthly into heavenly, and devoting themselves with both soul and body to the practice of spiritual things. Their whole life and manner of speech are altered, and they do and say the contrary of what was formerly their custom. All are surprised at this, and yet it seems good to all, and men are almost envious of it.

     But unless by experience, no one comprehends how this has been brought about. That deep sweet, and penetrating love which man feels in his heart is unknown, and can neither be described nor understood except by the light of the affections in whose exercise he feels himself occupied, bound, transformed, in peace and harmony with the bodily sensations, and without any contradiction, so that he has nothing, wills nothing, and desires nothing. He remains quiet and satisfied in his inmost heart, knowing this love and knowing it alone. He is kept closely bound by a very subtle thread, held secretly by the hand of God, who leaves him to struggle and combat with the world, the devils, and himself, while fainting weak, and helpless, he fears ruin on every side but God does not let him fall.

     The true love which you are striving, O Soul, to comprehend, is not this, but is seen only when I have consumed the imperfections of man by every mode of human misery, both exterior and interior. As for that which cannot be seen, this is my mode of action. I let down into the heart of man the slender, golden thread of my hidden love, to which is attached a hook which enters the heart, and man feels himself wounded, but knows not by whom he is bound and taken. He neither moves nor wishes to move, because his heart is drawn by me, its object and its end, although he does not comprehend it; but it is I who hold the thread in my hand, and draw it even closer with a love so penetrating and so subtle, that man is conquered and subdued and entirely taken out of himself.

     As the feet of one who has been hanged do not touch the earth, but his body remains attached to the cord by which he received his death, so the Spirit remains suspended by the slender thread of love whereby all the subtle and hidden imperfections of man receive their death: all that he now loves he loves by virtue of the tie by which he is bound. All his actions are done by means of that love and through sanctifying grace, because it is now God who works alone, by his pure love and without man's assistance. And God, having thus taken man into his own keeping, and drawn him entirely to himself, so enriches him with his favors that when he comes to die he finds himself drawn unconsciously by that thread of love into the divine abyss. And although man in this state appears a lifeless, lost, and abject thing, yet his life is hidden in God amid the treasures of eternal life; nor can it be told or imagined what God has prepared for this beloved Soul.

     The Soul, hearing all this, is so inflamed by ardent love that she breaks forth into exclamations:


Exclamations of the Soul.--Our Lord demands the cause of her surprise, and questions her concerning her enjoyment in the company of spiritual persons, and of the pleasing conversations held with them.

     Soul. O tongue, why dost thou speak, when thou canst find no fitting words for the love felt by my heart? O heart, inflamed with love, why dost thou not consume the body where thou dwellest? O Spirit, what dost thou, thus bound upon the earth? Seest thou not that vehemence of love wherewith God attracts and desires thee? Destroy this body, that each may go to his own place!

     And God, when he beheld the Soul kindled with a flame so great and limitless, desiring in some measure to restrain her, showed her one spark of that love with which he loves man, and which is so pure, simple, and sincere that the Soul when she beheld it was wellnigh overpowered with astonishment; then the Lord demanded of her, saying:

     The Lord. Why do I behold you thus changed? What new thing have you seen that kindles in you such a flame of love? Hitherto you have seemed ready to break through the body in order to find your love, by reason of the great delight and sweet enjoyment you tasted, together with many other of your friends, with whom you were united in the bonds of that sweet and winning love; but now I see you pausing and bewildered, and caring to converse with no one.

     Until now this Soul had often occupied herself in conversing with her spiritual friends on the divine love, until it seemed to them as if they were already in paradise. Oh, how sweet were these colloquies! Both he who spoke and he who listened were fed alike upon that spiritual, sweet, and delicious food, and were not satisfied to see time pass so quickly while they talked, but all inflamed and burning, could neither speak nor separate, and seemed as if beside themselves. O feasts of love! O food most exquisite! What delicious viands, what sweet union, what divine company! They spoke only of the love of God, of its operations, and how all hindrances to it might be removed. All that took place between them was so clearly seen to be from God and for the benefit of souls, that no one could think otherwise, and hence the Soul responded:


The Soul discovers that what she had been doing, as if for God, proceeded truly from Self-Love.--She is filled with astonishment at the sight of pure love, and inquires concerning its nature.--Our Lord answers her that she could not understand it, and that he himself, being love, can be comprehended only in his effects.

     Soul. Thou hast shown me, O Lord, another light in which I have seen that it is Self-Love which has hitherto moved me, and that all which has had the semblance of being wrought so lovingly for thee and in thee was self-defiled and of my own doing, and secretly appropriated to myself. It was hidden in me, my God, beneath thy shadow, under which I rested. But now that I behold thy simple, pure, and ardent love, with its operations, I am lost and bewildered, and all other loves seem to me worse than selfish. O divine love, where shall I find words to speak of thee? I am conquered and subdued by thee; I am dying of love and I do not feel love; I am annihilated in love and I do not know love; I feel love acting within me, and its action I do not understand; I feel my heart burning with love, and yet I do not see the flame of love.

     O my God, I cannot cease to search for tokens of thy care; and although I am wholly overpowered by the new light which thou hast shown me, I do not yet despair of knowing more fully this love which, containing within itself everything that is desirable in heaven and on earth, satisfies man without satiating him, and even constantly increases the appetite which feeds upon it. It is so sweet and gentle, this pure and simple love, and so adapted to the heart of man, that he who has once enjoyed it, though but a little, would never cease to seek it, though the search should cost him a thousand lives. What is this love which conquers all things? Thou, Lord, hast told me many things concerning it, but they all seem to me to fall short; and since thou hast given me the burning desire to penetrate it more deeply, I will not believe that it can be in vain. Thou hast promised me a fuller satisfaction than I have attained. Thou hast shown me a spark of thy pure and simple love, and it has kindled in my heart a flame that devours me. Nowhere on earth can I find repose, nor can I feel or see aught beside. I am lost and beside myself; I am led captive and wounded nigh unto death, and wait only on thy providence, which will satisfy every one of my desires, which is in the order of salvation.

     The Lord. O Soul, my beloved, thou art seeking to know what thou canst not comprehend. Thy instinct and thy desire, so far as the natural man is concerned, are supernatural; but as concerning the spiritual, and the end for which thou wert created, they are natural, because love is thy beginning, thy middle, and ought to be thy end. Thou canst not live without love, for it is thy life, both in this world and in the other. It is for this reason that the desire consumed thee to know what love may be, but thou canst not comprehend it with the intellect, nor with the Spirit, nor with all the love thou mayest possess; even those who are in heaven, their home, know it only according to the measure of grace and charity they have had in this life.

     For love is God himself, who cannot be comprehended, except by the wonderful effects of the great love which he is ever manifesting, and which can neither be estimated nor imagined. And when I reveal to the Soul but one spark of my pure love, she is constrained to return me that love, whose power compels her to do her all for me, even, if need were, to suffer torture and a thousand deaths. How much love may be infused into the hearts of men, can be learned from what men have done for love of me. But I see, my beloved, that thou seekest not this operative love in its effects, but those gentle drops that I pour into the hearts of my elect, and which melt the Soul, the Spirit, and even the bodily powers, so that they act no longer. By these drops the Soul remains immersed in the sweetness of that love, and is incapable of performing any action: she is lost in herself and alienated from every creature: serene in the depths of her heart, at peace with all, and passive, she is absorbed with that love, which satisfies her, without nourishment; hence she exclaims in her ardor:

     Soul. O food without taste, O taste without flavor, O flavor without food, O food of love on which angels, saints, and men are nourished! O beatific food, he who tastes thee knows not what thou art! O real food, satisfying the appetite, thou dost destroy every other desire! He who enjoys this food esteems himself already blessed even in this life, where God communicates it but in the smallest measure: if he should bestow only a little more, man would die of that subtle, penetrating love, for the Spirit would be so inflamed that the weak body would perish. O celestial love! O divine love! thou hast sealed my lips: I know not how to speak, nor will I seek what never can be found. I am conquered and overpowered.


That he whose heart is pure knows the love of God.--How that love works secretly, subtly, and without exterior occupation.--Some of its effects.--Exclamations of the Soul upon this love.--Of its properties.

     The Lord. O beloved Soul, knowest thou who it is that employs my love? He whose heart is pure and empty of every other love. When he has found it, he remains content and satisfied, although he knows not my mode of operation nor his own condition; because love works in secret and subtly, without external show.

     Such a one is continually occupied, yet without occupation; he is bound, yet knows not who holds him, he is in a prison without an outlet. The Soul can avail herself of neither her understanding, her memory, nor her will, and seems like a thing insensate, dumb, and blind, because the divine love has overpowered all the sensibilities of both Soul and Body. And therefore the Soul and Spirit, finding themselves so transformed from their wonted habit of loving and acting, and secretly and strongly swayed by a higher love, are constrained to ask: "O Lord, what manner of love is this? What is this love which is ever changing man from good to better, continually bringing him nearer to his end, and yet, as he approaches it more closely, plunges him into ever profounder ignorance of his situation?"

     Man in this state is kept alive by the rays of love with which God pierces his heart, and which return to heaven in ardent sighs. If he did not find this relief he would die through the vehemence of this fire. Sometimes it so restrains him that he can neither speak nor sigh, in order that its work may be more quickly done; but it does not hold him long in this condition, because he could not remain in it and live. Then the Soul, enlightened, inflamed with divine love, and filled with sweetness and delight, exclaims:

     Soul. O love, the Soul that feels thee, begins even in this world to possess eternal life; but thou, Lord, dost conceal this work even from its possessor, lest he should spoil it by making it his own. O love, he who feels thee understands thee not; he who desires to comprehend thee cannot know thee. O love, our life, our blessedness, our rest! Divine love brings with it every good and banishes every evil. O heart, wounded with divine love, thou art forever incurable, and dying of this sweet wound, thou dost enter upon never-ending life. O fire of love, what doest thou in man? Thou purifiest him as gold is purified by fire, and dost conduct him with thee to that country and that end for which he was created.

     Love is a divine flame: and as material fire ever burns and consumes, according to its nature, so in man the love of God is by its nature ever working toward its end, and for its part never ceases to benefit and serve him whom it holds so dear; he who does not know its power has but himself to blame, since God never tires of doing good to man while he is in this life, and has always the most tender love for him.

     O love, I can no longer be silent, and yet I cannot speak as I desire of thy sweet and gentle operation, for I am filled with love which inspires me with the wish to speak but deprives me of the power. Within myself I speak with the heart and with the mind, but when I would pronounce the words, something checks me, and I find myself betrayed by this poor tongue. I would be silent but I cannot, for still the instinct for speech urges me on. If I could utter that love of which my heart is full, I think that every other heart would be inflamed, however remote from love it might be. Before I leave this life I long to speak once of this love, to speak of it as I feel it within me, of its effects in me, and of what it requires of him into whom it is infused, and whom it fills to overflowing with a sweetness above all sweetness, and with an indescribable content, so great that for it one would willingly be burned alive; for God unites a certain zeal with this love, by the power of which man disregards all contradictions how great soever.

     O love, powerful and sweet, happy is he who is possessed by thee, for thou dost strengthen, defend, and preserve him from all ills of body and soul. Thou gently guidest all things to their end, and never dost abandon man. Thou art ever faithful, thou givest light against the deceite of the devil, the malice of the world, and against ourselves, who are so full of self and so perverse. This love is so illuminative and efficacious that it draws all imperfections from their secret caverns, that we may apply the remedy and purge ourselves from them.

     This love, which rules and governs our will, in order that it may grow strong and firm to resist temptation, so occupies the affections and the intellect that they desire naught beside. The memory is engrossed, and the powers of the soul are satisfied, so that love remains her sole possessor and inhabitant, and she allows nothing else to enter there. Love exhales a continual sweet perfume, by which man suffers himself to be allured, and so powerful is this fragrance that however great may be the torments through which he passes to salvation, there is no martyrdom he would not suffer gladly to attain it.

     O love, no words of mine can express the sweetness and delight with which thou fillest the heart; it remains enclosed within, and by speaking it is inflamed. Whoever hears or reads these words without the sentiment of love, makes little account of them, and they pass by him like the wind. But if I could express the joy, the pleasure, and the peace which it brings to the beloved heart, all men who hear or read these words would surrender without resistance. For it is so adapted to the human heart that at its first touch it opens wide its door, although man never can receive this celestial gift till he is free from every other love. If the heart receives but the smallest drop, it so earnestly desires to increase it that it rates as nothing all the goods of this world. With this love, man conquers the evil habits which are a hindrance to him, and in its strength he stands ever ready to perform great deeds.


Other effects of love.--What it accomplishes at its will.--The work is all its own.--Of works wrought through love, in love, and by love, with some explanation of them.

     O love, with thy sweetness thou breakest the heart that is harder than adamant, and meltest it like wax in the fire. O love, thou makest great men to esteem themselves as the least of the earth, and the richest as the poorest. O love, thou causest wise men to appear as fools, and thou takest their knowledge from the learned and givest them an understanding surpassing all other understanding. O love, thou banishest from the heart all melancholy, hardness, and natural inclinations, and all delight in worldly things. O love, thou makest bad men good, and artful men simple. Thou dost ingeniously deprive men of their free will, so that they are contented to be guided by thee alone, because thou art our guide.

     O love, thine operations are alien to this earth; and therefore thou changest man from earthly to celestial, and, depriving him of every human mode of operation, dost unfit him for all earthly occupations. O love, thou dost accomplish the whole work of our salvation, which we neither know how to do nor are able to do without thee. O love, thy name is so sweet that it imparts sweetness to all things. Sweet is the mouth that names thee, most of all when the words proceed from a heart full of thy liquid sweetness, which makes man benign, meek, gracious, joyous, bountiful, and ready, so far as may be, to serve all men. O love, when by any way thou art able to penetrate the heart of man with thy sweet and gracious darts, if it be unoccupied by any other love, however slight may be thy flame, it is powerful enough to make him abandon all things else for thee.

     This love makes every affliction and contradiction appear sweet. O love, what sweet quiet, and what quiet sweetness thou bringest with thee! As thou belongest to all, the more thou art diffused among creatures, so much the more fully is thy will accomplished; the more man feels and comprehends thy gentle warmth, the more he is inflamed with desire, and he neither asks for any proof beyond his own feeling, nor knows how to give any other reason for it: but love carries with it its own reason, and the will likewise, and remains lord of the whole man, subjecting him entirely to its will according to its pleasure, and this work is wholly its own; for then its operations are effected through love, in love, and by love.

     By works done through love, those works are understood which man performs through the love of God, when God gives him an instinctive desire to work for the benefit of himself or his neighbor; in this first state of love, God causes man to undertake many and various useful and necessary works, which he performs with a pious intention. The works of the second state of love are done in God; these are such as are done with no view either to the advantage of one's self or of one's neighbor, but rest in God, with no motive in him who does them. Here man perseveres in good works through the habits of virtue which he has formed, although God has deprived him of that share in them which gave him aid and pleasure. This work is more perfect than the other, for in that there were many motives which nourished both soul and body. The works done by love are more perfect than the other two, because man has no part whatever in them; love has so subdued and conquered him that he finds himself drowned in the sea of love, and knows not where he is, but is lost in himself and left without the power to act. In this case it is love itself which works in man, and its works are works of perfection, inasmuch as they are not wrought by human power, and are works of sanctifying grace, and God accepts them all.

     This sweet and pure love takes possession of man, absorbs him and deprives him of himself. It keeps possession of him and continually works within him, solely for his benefit and advantage, and without any thought or care on his part.

     O love, what a sweet companion and faithful guide art thou! Neither speech nor thought can do justice to thy excellence. Blessed is the heart possessed and occupied by thee. Love makes men just, simple, pure, rich, wise, and contented, and with its sweetness lessens every grief.

     O love, all that is done through thee is done with ease, with gladness and goodwill; and though the toil be great, thy sweetness tempers every trial. Oh, the torment of working without love! It is beyond belief. Love gives a sweet flavor to every viand. if it is bad it makes it good, and if good it makes it better. According to the grade and the capacity of the subject, God infuses love into the heart of man.

     Oh, how sweet a thing it would be to speak of this love, if fitting words were found to express the delight with which it fills the heart. But because the Soul is immortal, and capable of greater love than it can feel in this life, on account of the weakness of the body, which does not allow the Soul to support all that it desires, it remains ever craving, and in this life can never be fully satisfied.

     O love, thou fillest the heart, but thou art so great that it cannot contain thee; it remains filled but not satisfied: by the road of his heart thou takest possession of the entire man and permittest none but thyself to find entrance; with a strong bond thou bindest all the facilities of soul and body. O sweet servitude of love, which gives man freedom and contentment in this life, and eternal blessedness in the other!

     O love, thy bonds are so sweet and so strong that they bind angels and saints together, and so firm and close that they are never broken; men who are bound by this chain are so united that they have but one will and one aim, and all things among them are in common, both temporal and spiritual. In this union there is no difference between rich, and poor, between nation and nation; all contradiction is excluded, for by this love crooked things are made straight and difficulties reconciled.


The Soul asks various questions of our Lord.--What the martyrs have suffered for this love.--That charity is the shortest and most secure road to salvation, and that without it the Soul would rather cast itself into a thousand hells than enter the presence of God.

     O sweet Jesus, my Love, what has brought thee from heaven to earth? Love. What has caused thee to suffer such great and terrible torments, even unto death? Love. What has induced thee to give thyself as food to thy beloved Soul? Love. What moved thee to send us, what still continually moves thee to send us, the Holy Spirit for our support and guide? Love.

     Many other things can be said of thee. Through love thou didst appear in this world so poor, so abject, and so humiliated in the eyes of men, that thou wast not esteemed a God, but scarcely as a man. A servant, however faithful and loving, could not endure so much for his master, even were he to promise him heaven itself, because without that interior love which thou bestowest upon man he cannot patiently suffer any torment either of soul or body.

     But thou, Lord, hast brought from heaven the sweet manna, this delicious food, which has in itself such vigor that it gives strength for every trial: as we have witnessed frist in thee, our most sweet Master, and afterwards in thy saints. Oh, how much they have done and suffered in the strength of the love infused by thee into their hearts, and by which they were so inflamed and united to thee, that no torture could separate them from thee! For in the midst of their torments a zeal was kindled that increased with their sufferings, and by it they were kept from yielding to the most cruel martyrdoms that tyrants could invent. The spectators saw only the weakness of the body, but the sweet and powerful love which God infused into the heart, and which is so vital and strong that he who abandons himself to it can never be lost, was hidden from them.

     There is no briefer or securer way of salvation than this sweet nuptial robe of charity, which gives such confidence and vigor to the Soul that she enters the presence of God without misgiving. But if at death she is found destitute of charity, she is left in such an abject and wretched condition that she would seek the gloomiest and most wretched spot, rather than appear in the divine presence. For God, who is simple and pure, can receive into himself nothing but pure and simple love; and being a sea of love in which all the saints are plunged, it is impossible that even the slightest imperfection should enter therein: hence the Soul, naked of charity when she is separated from the body (aware of her condition), would cast herself into hell rather than approach so bright and pure a presence.

     O pure love! Every stain of evil, even the least, is a great hell to thee, and even, by reason of thy vehemence, mere cruel that that of the damned. None but those who have experienced thee can understand and believe this. This love of which I speak, although in itself infinite, can be described in its gracious and familiar action in the beloved Soul, even as if it were one with her.


Our Lord questions the Soul concerning the love she feels and on what he has said to her.--The Soul responds according to her ability, but cannot express the intensity of her love.--She asks our Lord how the loving Soul can live on earth, and concerning her condition.

     The Lord. What hast thou to say, O my Soul, of this sweet love, so dear to thee, which never leaves thee to thyself, is always speaking to thee comforting thee, inflaming thee, and revealing to thee some new and celestial beauty, that so thy affection for it may become more and more ardent? Tell me some of those loving words it speaks to thee when thou art with it alone.

     Soul. I find myself repeating certain words which are understood in the depths of my heart, which is glowing with an amorous flame. These words, and this sentiment of love, I do not understand and am unable to express, for they are unlike other words. Love opens my heart and is ever making such gracious communications to it that it is wholly inflamed and dissolved in love; yet in particular can discern neither words, flames, nor love; the heart is seized, possessed, and held fast by a loving satisfaction.

     Yet the Soul does not comprehend this work, although she perceives that in this visitation, love bestows all possible caresses upon the beloved Soul that a true lover can give when his affection is the greatest that can be conceived. This operation melts the Soul, detaches her from earth, purifies her, makes her simple, strengthens her, and draws her deeper and deeper into its loving flame. But she is not allowed to remain long in this great and penetrating fire, for humanity could not endure its vehemence; yet in the heart there remains always the impression that she is living in that love with God.

     O love! thou absorbest this heart into thyself and leavest Humanity deserted on the earth, where it finds no resting place. It appears an exiled creature, with no object either in heaven or in this world.

     O love, how burning and enamored is this Soul in which thou art performing such a work of love! I would that I knew how this creature lives upon the earth, both as to her body and her Soul, and how it is that she has her conversation as well with heaven as with creatures; I see her living a life very different from that of others, and one more for admiration than for edification. She sets no value upon anything: she appears like the mistress of heaven and the queen of earth, although she has nothing of her own; few can understand her; she is very free and fearless, and dreads not that anything can ever be wanting to her; she has nothing, and yet, to her seeming, all things are hers.

     The Lord. The answer is not for men, blind and deprived of celestial light, who having their intellects occupied with earthly things, cannot comprehend my words; yet, I will answer for those who, aided by the divine ray, will be able to understand it. My love so delights the Soul that it destroys every other joy which can be possessed by man here below. The taste of me extinguishes every other taste; my light blinds all who behold it; all the facilities of the Soul are so possessed and bound by love that she is lost and understands neither what she has done nor what she should do. She is raised above herself and bereft of reason, memory, and will.

     Creatures like these no longer take part in the things of this world, save through necessity, and then as if they knew them not. They are always occupied interiorly, and this prevents their being nourished by temporal things. God sends into their hearts rays and flames of love so subtle and penetrating that they know not where they are, but remain silently plunged in the serene depths of that love. And if God did not sometimes deprive them of this vehement love, the Soul could not remain in the body; yet, when he thus departs, he leaves the Soul so sweetly occupied in him that naught beside is seen, known, or understood. Rarely does she remember anything but what she has felt, and until the impression grows weaker it is impossible for her to think of her own affairs, however pressing they may be.


Of the condition of the loving Soul.--How God delays imparting to her the knowledge of her defects, since she could not endure it.--She has no repose so long as she suspects the existence of any fault by which her Spirit is hindered of its satisfaction.

     The state of the Soul is this: she is very sensitive, so that her mind cannot endure the least suspicion of defect, because pure love cannot remain where there is even the slightest fault, and the loving Soul, unable to endure it, would be thrown into intolerable pain. In this world man cannot be wholly free from imperfections, but at times God keeps him in ignorance of them, because he could not support the sight; at other times he reveals them all; and in this way man is purified.

     If a suspicion of sin falls upon this Soul, she cannot be pacified nor at rest until her mind is satisfied. The Soul which dwells in that amorous peace cannot be disturbed either by herself or by others; if any misunderstanding arises between herself and another, she is unquiet until she has done all in her power to remove it. And when souls habituated to divine love are, for any cause, permitted by God to be disturbed, for the time they are wretched at being cast out of the tranquil paradise in which they are accustomed to abide; and if God did not return them to their accustomed state it would be impossible for them to live. They live in great liberty and take little heed of earthly things. They are in a manner taken out of themselves, especially as they near the close of this life, of which they are stripped remaining immersed in that love into which the Soul has already found by long experience that God, by the operation of his gracious love, has taken both Soul and body, so that he allows them to want for nothing.

     God shows the Soul also, that all the benefits bestowed on her by creatures (whether spiritual or temporal) are given because God moves them to it; and hence she learns to take no heed of creatures, what service soever they may have rendered her, for she perceives clearly that it is God who has done it by the action of his providence. By this vision the Soul is more and more inflamed, and finally abandons herself to love, casting aside all creatures, and finding in God such fulness that she can regard nothing else but him.

     And although such a Soul may seem to have some affection for exterior things, do not believe it. It is impossible that any love should enter into hearts like these, except the love of God, unless God himself permits it by reason of some necessity either of the soul or the body. And should this occur, all love and care, coming from such a source, would be no impediment, and would not touch the depths of the heart; but would only be ordered of God for some necessity, because it is needful that pure love should be free from every exterior and interior concern; for, where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty.

     O that we could behold this sweet correspondence, and hear those burning words with their joyous vigor, where one can distinguish neither God nor man, but the heart remains in such a state that it seems a little paradise, given by God to souls that are dear to him, as a foretaste of that true and glorious paradise, but hidden from all except those lovers who are absorbed and lost in the ocean of divine love.

     O love! the heart which thou possessest becomes through peace of mind so great and so magnanimous, that it would rather suffer martyrdom to gain thee than without thee to be in possession of every other good in heaven or earth. Yet, this is beyond the comprehension of all who have not felt and tasted thee. A heart which finds itself in God sees all created things beneath itself, not through pride or conceit of self, but by reason of its union with God, which makes all that is God's appear to be its own, and beside him it sees, know, and comprehends nothing. A heart enamored of God is unconquerable, for God is its strength; hell does not affright it nor heaven allure it, for it is so disposed that it receives all that befalls as from the hand of God, remaining with him in immovable peace, and inwardly strengthened and fortified by him.

     Soul. O Love! how namest thou these beloved souls?

     The Lord. I have said, Ye are gods, and all children of the Most High (Psalm 81).

     Soul. O Love! thou annihilatest thy lovers in themselves, and then restorest them to a true and perfect liberty, and makest them masters of themselves. They wish nothing but what God wishes and finds all things else a grave impediment to them.

     O Love! I find no words to express thy benign and joyous sway, thy strong and assured freedom, thy sweet and gentle goodness: but all that thy true lover could express would be unequal to what he would desire to say. He seeks everywhere for loving words appropriate to that love, and finds them nowhere; for love and its effects are infinite, and the tongue is not only finite but very feeble, and is always dissatisfied and confused by its powerlessness to say what it desires. And although all that he says is as nothing, yet when man speaks of this love as he feels it in his heart, it relieves him that so he may not die of love. What sayest thou, my Lord, of this thy beloved Soul, who is so enamored of thee?

     The Lord. That she is wholly mine. And thou, my Soul, what sayest thou of thy heart?

     Soul. That I am wounded, O my God, with love, in which I live joyful and at peace.


Of the condition of the Body, and in what suffering Humanity found itself, living as though dead.--How God provided for it.--Of the joy experienced by the Soul in the interchange of love, and how she is left like one dead when deprived of it.

     As the state of a Soul enkindled and glowing with divine love has been explained, something now remains to be said of the condition of the body. The body cannot live on love, like the Soul, but it is nourished by material food. And as God has willed to separate the Soul from earthly things and from her body, and engage her wholly in spiritual operations, therefore it is left without vigor and almost without nourishment, for all communication having ceased between it and the Soul, without which it has no strength, it becomes like a Soul deprived of God, like one dead, without enjoyment, without vigor, and without aid or comfort. And if God should for a long time keep the Soul thus vehemently occupied within herself, it would be impossible in the nature of things for the body to survive.

     But God, who sees all things, provides for all necessities, and although, by reason of the union of the Soul with God, Humanity has little comfort, and can neither smile, nor relish food, nor sleep, nor take delight in the emotions of the Soul or the sensations of the body, nor in any earthly thing, yet God concedes it a sufficiency for the support of its wearisome life. And in order that every imperfection which exists in man may die in God (while man still lives upon the earth), God seems to open a vien and let out the blood of Humanity, the Soul meanwhile remaining as if in a bath, and when there is no more blood within the body, and the Soul is wholly transformed in God, then each goes to its own place, the Soul to her rest in God and the body to the grave; and this work is done in secret and by love alone. If you know how harassed and besieged is this poor Humanity, you would in truth believe that no creature suffers so greatly as itself; but because this is invisible it is neither credited nor understood, nor has any one compassion for it, especially as it is endured for the love of God. But I say (with all this for the love of God), it is necessary that this creature should live always as if dead, like a man hanging by his feet, who, notwithstanding, lives. And though it may be said, and truly, that the heart is contented, yet what enjoyment can the body have? Thus Humanity, no longer able to live according to its nature, appears to me to be always tortured and greatly afflicted. It lives, but knows not how it lives, nor on what food. It desires nothing, but remains in God, who pierces often this beloved heart with darts of love so keen that they almost destroy the body by the ardor of their penetrating and amorous flame, and absorbs the Soul in an obscure and hidden satisfaction from which she would never part, since in it she finds her own proper repose and natural beatitude, which God often reveals to the heart he loves.

     But the body, constrained to follow the Soul (without which it cannot live or do aught, not being Spirit), remains during this time as if without a Soul and without human comfort, in almost mortal weakness, and knows not how to aid itself. Therefore in this necessity it is assisted by others or secretly provided for by God himself, for otherwise this creature would be as helpless as a little child, who having no one to care for it, can do nothing but weep until its wants are supplied. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that for creatures like this, God should provide particular persons to assist them, by whose means all their necessities both of Soul and body are supplied, for otherwise they would die. Behold how our Lord Jesus Christ left his beloved Mother to the special care of St. John; he did the same for his disciples, and does it still for other devout persons; in such a manner that one succors another both in spiritual and temporal things with this divine union. And because people in general do not understand these operations, and have no such union, therefore particular persons are needed for such cares, through whom God may operate by his grace and light.

     Those who behold such creatures and do not understand them, admire, rather than are edified by them; do not judge them, then, if you do not wish to err. But consider how besieged and how afflicted is this Humanity, living as if without life. She lives because God gives her the grace to live; but by nature her life would be impossible. When the Soul was able to give love for love, that love yielded Humanity a certain satisfaction which sustained it; but now, when the Soul is deprived of all sensible and active love, Humanity is left abandoned and forsaken, like one dead. But God performs another loving work, so secret and so subtle that the Soul becomes more noble and more perfect than before, by reason of the destitution and the nakedness in which God leaves her, so that without other support she rests, firm and stable, on him alone.


How the Soul, the heart, and the Spirit of this creature are devoid of form, and employed in an occupation which cannot be known by their means.--That the heart becomes the tabernacle of God, into which he infuses many graces and consolations, which produce admirable fruits.--That few creatures are led by this road.--Of the nudity of the Spirit and of its union with God.

     The Lord. What will you do, O Soul, thus naked and despoiled? What will you do, O heart and mind, which are both so empty? How is it with you in this state, before unknown to you?

     Soul. I know not where I am; I have lost will, understanding, memory, love, and all enjoyment; I can give no reason for myself, and am lost, and can neither place myself nor seek or find any other thing.

     The heart and the mind of this creature being deprived of all the ways by means of which heaven seemed to make an entrance, now exclaim: We are absorbed in an operation too subtle and secret to be made known by us, but in that occupation a loving and ethereal spirit is hidden and restrained which fills the whole man so entirely, that Soul, heart, mind, and body, every bone and nerve and vein, are overflowing with it, so that all are absorbed with such a secret and concentrated force, that every sigh struggling from the heart is felt interiorly as a vehement flame. But the body, unable to endure the action of so powerful a flame, grieves, yet finds no words to express its grief; the mouth is filled with burning sighs and amorous conceits, which rise from the heart, and seem ready to break forth in words powerful enough to break a heart of stone. But they find no utterance; the true and loving colloquy is going on within, and its sweetness cannot be conceived. The heart is made the tabernacle of God, into which, by himself and also by others, many graces are infused, which bear in secret wondrous fruits. This creature has a heaven within herself.

     If such as she (and they are rare in this world) were understood, they would be adored upon earth; but God hides them from themselves and from all others until the hour of death, at which time the true and false are made known. Oh, how few creatures are conducted by this road of secret and penetrating love, which keeps both Soul and body in such subjection that it leaves no imperfection in them, for pure love can comport with none, however slight; and it perseveres in its sweet action in the Soul until it purifies her entirely, so that she can reach her proper end without passing through purgatory.

     O Soul, O mind, bound and imprisoned in that divine flame! who could comprehend that beauty, that wisdom, that amorous care wrought in you by divine love and for love--those colloquies so sweet, so loving, and so gracious--and not feel his heart melt within him, though it were harder than a stone.

     O love! thou art called love until all that love is perfected which God has infused into the heart of man, in which he rests inebriated and immersed until he knows no longer what love is; for then it becomes Spirit and unites with the Spirit of man, so that he becomes spiritual. And the Spirit, being invisible and inscrutable to all the powers of the Soul, man is conquered and subdued, and knows no longer where he is, where he should be, nor whither he should go. But by reason of this secret and intimate union with God, there remains in the Soul a sweet impression, so firm and assured a satisfaction, that no torture, however cruel, could overpower it, and a zeal so ardent that a man, had he a thousand lives, would risk them all for that hidden consciousness which is so strong that hell itself could not destroy it. O Spirit, naked and invisible, none is able to lay hold of thee, by reason of thy nakedness! Thy habitation is in heaven, albeit with thy body thou yet remainest on the earth. Thou knowest not thyself, nor art thou known by others in this world. All thy lovers and thy kindred who are in heaven are known to thee only by virtue of an interior instinct implanted within thee by the Spirit of God.

     O that I could find words fitting to describe that gracious friendship and that vanished union. Vanished, I say, because so far as man is concerned he has lost completely all expressions, that is, of love, union, annihilation, transformation, sweetness, softness, goodness; has lost, in short, all forms of speech by means of which the absolute union of two separate things could be expressed and comprehended, where nothing remains but one pure Spirit, active, and simple, and incomprehensible.


Of the secret means used by God for the purification of man.--Of the loving care he takes of him.--How he sweetly leads him by love, and does not allow him to work for his own advantage.--That true nakedness of spirit cannot be expressed by words.

     O sweetest, my Lord, in how many hidden ways thou workest in man when thou desirest to purify him by means of thy most pure love, which removes all rust from the Soul and prepares it for the most holy union with thee! Oh, vast and happy country, unknown to wretched mortals, but for which they were created by God!

     O infinite God, how is it possible that thou shouldst not be known and loved by him whom thou hast made capable of knowing and enjoying thee, unless solely by reason of the little taste and feeling which by thy grace thou hast bestowed upon him! For, if in this world man possessed thee, he would leave all things beside.

     O Lord, what loving care thou takest, day and night, of man, who knoweth not himself, and much less knoweth thee, although thou lovest him so much, seekest him with such diligence, and waitest for and bearest him with so much patience, out of thy divine love!

     Thou art that great most high God of whom we can neither speak nor think, because of the ineffable supereminence of thy glory, wisdom, power, and infinite goodness: and all these thou employest in the service of man, who is so vile, but whom thou wouldst make so great and worthy; and therefore thou art ever luring him with thy love because thou art unwilling to force the free-will which thou hast given him. Thou drawest him to thee by love, and desirest that he consent to thee through love. Thou workest in him by love and with thy love. Thou wouldst have the whole man act through love, that so, without thy love he might do nothing. Thou, who art our God and Lord, hast disregarded thine own ease, both of soul and body, that thou mightest save man; and thou willest that he also should disregard all ease of soul and body that he may do thy will: and this chiefly because thy will is our best good: but this, by blind and miserable man is never understood.

     I have not spoken well of the nakedness of the Spirit. It is because there are no words by which this nakedness might be expressed, and the soul which finds herself in that condition has in her mind a fulness, a repletion, of which she knows not how to speak: and yet by reason of the vehemence of her emotions she is forced to speak, and in a language more fitting than she is aware. This language is like the ink, black and unseemly, and yet by its means many thoughts are made plain which could not otherwise be understood.

     Alas! if man could comprehend what it is that the mind feels in such a state, these words would indeed appear to him dark and unseemly. What, then, are these hearts and tongues to do which cannot utter their thoughts? So secret and hidden are they that to him who feels them it seems impossible that he should find any who can understand, and much less express them. Will he then remain silent wonder? No, for he is unable to be silent, finding his heart ever more inflamed by the marvelous operations of divine love, which God increased day by day within him, and which bind him so closely by the invisible chains of love that Humanity can hardly endure it, more especially when it sees the madness of men, who are so wrapped in exterior things that they neither know, conjecture, nor comprehend this divine operation. But God loves us so much that although he sees us so blind and deaf to our own advantage, yet he does not for that reason cease to knock continually at our hearts by his holy inspirations, that so he may enter and make therein tabernacles for himself into which creatures can never enter more.


Exclamations of the Soul upon the blindness which creatures offer to the love of God.--Of the secret operations of God in man, arousing and admonishing him with love.--The Soul inquires concerning this work, and desires to know what grace is, and what is the ray of love.

     Alas! how few and rare are they in whom God abides by these operations! O God, thou retainest thy love within thyself because thou canst not infuse it into creatures so occupied with earthly affairs.

     O earth, earth, what wilt thou do with those whom thou dost so absorb? The Soul lost and the body corrupted, all things are lost in infinite and incredible torments. Reflect upon this, O Soul! Reflect, and no longer lose the time and the power which are now given thee to escape all danger; thy God is now gracious and propitious to thee. He is very anxious for thy salvation, and is ever seeking and calling thee with measureless love. The operations which God is continually working on our behalf are so many and great, that they can neither be recounted nor imagined: but all the good which he has done to us, is still doing, will do, and desires to do, will result in our condemnation and our confusion if we fail to cooperate with him in the time which we so undervalue.

     Soul. Show me, O my Lord, if it please thee, how thou dost work within man by thy secret love, in which he is taken captive by thee, not knowing how, nor understanding in what manner, but only finding himself a prisoner of love and greatly satisfied.

     The Lord. I move with my love the heart of man, and with that movement give him light by which he sees that I am inspiring him to well-doing; and in that light he ceases to do ill, and struggles with his evil inclinations.

     Soul. What is this movement, and how does it begin in man, who knows not of its existence and asks not for it?

     The Lord. The pure, simple, and boundless love which I bear toward all men, impels me to grant him this grace, to knock at his heart, to see whether he will open and give me entrance, that so I may make my abode there and banish all things else.
     Soul. And what is this grace?

     The Lord. It is an inspiration which I send him by means of a ray of love, with which I give him also the instinct of love; it is impossible for him not to love, and although he knows not what he loves, yet he learns it by little and little.

     Soul. What is the ray of love?

     The Lord. Behold the rays of the sun, which are so subtle and penetrating that human eyes cannot behold them without losing their sight; such are the rays of my love which I send into human hearts, and which deprive man of all knowledge and all delight in worldly things.

     Soul. And these rays, how do they enter into the hearts of men?

     The Lord. Like darts directed at this one and at that; they touch the heart in secret, inflame it, and make it heave with sighs; man knows not what he wishes, but finding himself wounded with love can give no account of his condition, and remains lost in wonder.

     Soul. And what is this dart?

     The Lord. It is a scintillation of love which I infuse into man, which softens his obduracy and melts him as wax is melted by the fire. I give him also the instinct to refer to me all the love which I infuse.

     Soul. And what is this scintillation?

     The Lord. It is an inspiration sent by me which sets on fire the human heart, and so ardently and powerfully inflames it, that it can do nothing but love. By its power man is kept constantly intent on me, and is continually admonished by it within his heart.

     What this interior inspiration is, which works so secretly, cannot be told in words. Ask of the heart which feels it. Ask of the intellect which understands it. Ask of the mind filled with the operations which God effects by means of it, for the least conception that can be formed of it is that given by the tongue. God fills man with love; he draws him to himself by love, and by its force enables him to overcome the world, the devils, and himself; but man cannot understand this love nor put it into words.


That love cannot be comprehended, and that the heart filled with it lives content.--Of the great mercy which God shows man in this life.--That his justice becomes apparent at the moment when the Soul leaves the body and passes to its destined place.--That the Soul can find repose in God only.

     O my heart, what sayest thou of this love? What kindest thou? I say: My words are an interior jubilee, but they have no appropriate utterance. Neither by exterior signs, nor yet by sufferings (although endured for the love of God), can this love be made comprehensible; he only who has felt it can somewhat understand it. All that can be said of love is nothing, for the further one advances, the less he knows; but the heart, filled and satisfied, seeks and desires naught else but what it feels. All his words are heartfelt, glowing, and delightful, and so penetrating and in such subtle harmony with that which inspires them, that they can be comprehended only by those whose hearts are also united with God. God only comprehends them fully; the heart feels but understands not, and the work is that of God alone, while the benefit belongs to man. But the intimate, amorous relation which God sustains with the heart of man is a secret between him and the heart.

     The Lord. O Soul, what hast thou to say touching this operation?

     Soul. I find my will so strong and my liberty so vivid and so great, that I fear no impediments between me and my object, and in it I rest content. My intellect is greatly enlightened and daily becomes more calm; daily are manifested to it things so new and processes so delightful, that it is satisfied to remain ever thus employed, and seek no further since here it finds its rest; but it is impossible for it to explain these operations. The memory is satisfied to be employed in spiritual things, and can with difficulty recall any others. The affections which are natural to man are overshadowed by a supernatural love, which alone satisfied him, and makes him desire no other food, since in it he finds all that he requires. And yet man can render no account of the way in which he is conquered by an operation surpassing all his powers.

     What more shall I say concerning this work of love? I am forced to silence, yet have an instinctive wish to speak, although I cannot speak as I desire. Let him who wishes to experience these things abstain, as St. Paul commands, from every appearance of evil. Whenever man does this, at once God infuses into his soul some gift of grace, which he increases with so much love that the man is lost, absorbed, transformed, and overpowered. And however difficult it may appear to abstain from evil, no one would allow any hindrance to prevent him from doing everything for God, who could see the readiness with which he comes to the help of man, and the loving and watchful care with which he aids him and defends him from his adversaries. But when man has once entered the straight road, he learns that is is God who works all that is good in us, by his gracious inspirations and the love infused into the Soul, which acts without hindrance by reason of the satisfaction which God mingles with lll her toils. It is enough for man not to act in contradiction to his conscience, for God inspires all the good he would have us do, and gives the instinct and the strength for it, otherwise man could do no good thing. For this God gives all the facilities and the means, so that he enables us to do all things with pleasure, even those that to others seem the greatest penances.

     O how great is the love, the kindness, and the mercy which God shows to man in this wretched world! Justice is made known afterwards at the moment when the soul leaves the body; then, if she has not to undergo purgation, God receives her into himself, where she is transformed by his burning love, and thus transformed remains in him forever. At that moment also she goes to purgatory or to hell, if there is aught within her to be purged or to be punished: this is accomplished by the divine decree which sends each one to his own place. Every one carries within himself his own sentence, and is by himself condemned. If souls did not then find the places ordained for them by God, their torments would be even greater, for they would have violated the divine order; and as there is no place which his mercy does not visit, when they are within his order, their sufferings are less than they would otherwise be. The soul was created by God for himself, and is governed by him, and it can find no repose but in him alone. The condemned in hell are in the order of God through justice. Could they be outside of it they would be in a still greater hell by their violation of the divine order, which gives them the terrible instinct to go directly to their appointed place. Elsewhere their sufferings would be redoubled, and therefore they go thither, not indeed that they may suffer less, but impelled by that supreme and infallible decree of God, which cannot err.



The divine fire which St. Catherine experienced in herself, made her comprehend the state of souls in purgatory, and that they are contented there although in torment.


The state of souls in purgatory.--They are exempt from all self-love.

     This holy soul, while still in the flesh, was placed in the purgatory of the burning love of God, in whose flames she was purified from every stain, so that when she passed from this life she might be ready to enter the presence of God, her most sweet love. By means of that flame of love she comprehended in her own soul the condition of the souls of the faithful in purgatory, where they are purified from the rust and stain of sins, from which they have not been cleansed in this world. And as in the purgatory of that divine flame she was united with the divine love and satisfied with all that was accomplished in her, she was enabled to comprehend the state of the souls in purgatory, and thus discovered concerning it:

     "As far as I can see, the souls in purgatory can have no choice but to be there; this God has most justly ordained by his divine decree. They cannot turn towards themselves and say: `I have committed such and such sins for which I deserve to remain here;' nor can they say: `Would that I had refrained from them, for then I should at this moment be in paradise;' nor again: `This soul will be released before me;' or `I shall be released before her.' They retain no memory of either good or evil respecting themselves or others which would increase their pain. They are so contented with the divine dispositions in their regard; and with doing all that is pleasing to God in that way which he chooses, that they cannot think of themselves, though they may strive to do so. They see nothing but the operation of the divine goodness which is so manifestly bringing them to God that they can reflect neither on their own profit nor on their hurt. Could they do so, they would not be in pure charity. They see not that they suffer their pains in consequence of their sins, nor can they for a moment entertain that thought, for should they do so it would be an active imperfection, and that cannot exist in a state where there is no longer the possibility of sin. At the moment of leaving this life they see why they are sent to purgatory, but never again, otherwise they would still retain something private, which has no place there. Being established in charity, they can never deviate therefrom by any defect, and have no will or desire, save the pure will of pure love, and can swerve from it in nothing. They can neither commit sin, nor merit by refraining from it.


The joy of souls in purgatory.--The saint illustrates their ever increasing vision of God.--The difficulty of speaking about their state.

     "There is no peace to be compared with that of the souls in purgatory, save that of the saints in paradise, and this peace is ever augmented by the inflowing of God into these souls, which increases in proportion as the impediments to it are removed. The rust of sin is the impediment, and this the fire continually consumes, so that the soul in this state is continually opening itself to admit the divine communication. As a covered surface can never reflect the sun, not through any defect in that orb, but simply from the resistance offered by the covering, so, if the covering be gradually removed, the surface will by little and little be opened to the sun and will more and more reflect his light.

     "So it is with the rust of sin, which is the covering of the soul. In purgatory the flames incessantly consume it, and as it disappears, the soul reflects more and more perfectly the true sun who is God. Its contentment increases as this rust wears away, and the soul is laid bare to the divine ray, and thus one increases and the other decreases until the time is accomplished. The pain never diminishes, although the time does, but as to the will, so united is it to God by pure charity, and so satisfied to be under his divine appointment, that these souls can never say their pains are pains.

     "On the other hand, it is true that they suffer torments which no tongue can describe nor any intelligence comprehend, unless it be revealed by such a special grace as that which God has vouchsafed to me, but which I am unable to explain. And this vision which God revealed to me has never departed from my memory. I will describe it as far as I am able, and they whose intellects our Lord will deign to open will understand me.


Separation from God is the greatest pain of purgatory.--In this, purgatory differs from hell.

     "The source of all suffering is either original or actual sin. God created the soul pure, simple, free from every stain, and with a certain beatific instinct toward himself. It is drawn aside from aim by original sin, and when actual sin is afterwards added, this withdraws it still farther, and ever as it removes from him its sinfulness increases because its communication with God grows less and less.

     "And because there is no good except by participation with God, who, to the irrational creatures imparts himself as he wills and in accordance with his divine decree, and never withdraws from them, but to the rational soul he imparts himself more or less, according as he finds her more or less freed from the hindrances of sin, it follows that, when he finds a soul that is returning to the purity and simplicity in which she was created, he increased in her the beatific instinct, and kindles in her a fire of charity so powerful and vehement, that it is insupportable to the soul to find any obstacle between her and her end; and the clearer vision she has of these obstacles the greater is her pain.

     "Since the souls in purgatory are freed from the guilt of sin, there is no barrier between them and God save only the pains they suffer, which delay the satisfaction of their desire. And when they see how serious is even the slightest hindrance, which the necessity of justice causes to check them, a vehement flame kindles within them, which is like that of hell. They feel no guilt however, and it is guilt which is the cause of the malignant will of the condemned in hell, to whom God does not communicate his goodness, and thus they remain in despair and with a will forever opposed to the good will of God.


The difference between the state of the souls in hell and that of those in purgatory.--Reflections of the saint upon those who neglect their salvation.

     "It is evident that the revolt of man's will from that of God constitutes sin, and while that revolt continues, man's guilt remains. Those, therefore, that are in hell, having passed from this life with perverse wills, their guilt is not remitted, nor can it be, since they are no longer capable of change. When this life is ended, the soul remains forever confirmed either in good or evil according as she has here determined. As it is written: Where I shall find thee, that is, at the hour of death, with the will either fixed on sin or repenting of it, there I will judge thee. From this judgment there is no appeal, for after death the freedom of the will can never return, but the will is confirmed in that state in which it is found at death. The souls in hell, having been found at that hour with the will to sin, have the guilt and the punishment always with them, and although this punishment is not so great as they deserve, yet it is eternal. Those in purgatory, on the other hand, suffer the penalty only, for their guilt was cancelled at death, when they were found hating their sins and penitent for having offended the divine goodness. And this penalty has an end, for the term of it is ever approaching. O misery beyond all misery, and the greater because in his blindness man regards it not!

     "The punishment of the damned is not, it is true, infinite in degree, for the all lovely goodness of God shines even into hell. He who dies in mortal sin merits infinite woe for an infinite duration; but the mercy of God has made the time only infinite, and mitigated the intensity of the pain. In justice he might have inflicted much greater punishment than he has done.

     "Oh, what peril attaches to sin willfully committed! For it is so difficult for man to bring himself to penance, and without penitence guilt remains and will ever remain, so long as man retains unchanged the will to sin, or is intent upon committing it.


Of the peace and joy which are found in purgatory

     "The souls in purgatory are entirely conformed to the will of God; therefore, they correspond with his goodness, are contented with all that he ordains, and are entirely purified from the guilt of their sins. They are pure from sins, because they have in this life abhorred them and confessed them with true contrition, and for this reason God remits their guilt, so that only the stains of sin remain, and these must be devoured by the fire. Thus freed from guilt and united to the will of God, they see him clearly according to that degree of light which he allows them, and comprehend how great a good is the fruition of God, for which all souls were created. Moreover, these souls are in such close conformity to God, and are drawn so powerfully toward him by reason of the natural attraction between him and the soul, that no illustration or comparison could make this impetuosity understood in the way in which my spirit conceives it by its interior sense. Nevertheless I will use one which occurs to me.


A comparison to express with how great violence of love the souls in purgatory desire to enjoy God.

     "Let us suppose that in the whole world there were but one loaf to appease the hunger of every creature, and that the bare sight of it would satisfy them. Now man, when in health, has by nature the instinct for food, but if we can suppose him to abstain from it and neither die nor yet lose health and strength, his hunger would clearly become increasingly urgent. In this case, if he knew that nothing but the loaf would satisfy him, and that until he reached it his hunger could not be appeased, he would suffer intolerable pains, which would increase as his distance from the loaf diminished; but if he were sure that he would never see it, his hell would be as complete as that of the damned souls, who, hungering after God, have no hope of ever seeing the bread of life. But the souls in purgatory have an assured hope of seeing him and of being entirely satisfied; and therefore they endure all hunger and suffer all pain until that moment when they enter into eternal possession of this bread, which is Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, and our Love.


Of the marvelous wisdom of God in the creation of purgatory and of hell.

     "As the purified spirit finds no repose but in God, for whom it was created, so the soul in sin can rest nowhere but in hell, which by, reason of its sins, has become its end. Therefore, at that instant in which the soul separates from the body, it goes to its prescribed place, needing no other guide than the nature of the sin itself, if the soul has parted from the body in mortal sin. And if the soul were hindered from obeying that decree (proceeding from the justice of God), it would find itself in a yet deeper hell, for it would be outside of the divine order, in which mercy always finds place and prevents the full infliction of all the pains the soul has merited. Finding, therefore, no spot more fitting, nor any in which her pains would be so slight, she casts herself into her appointed place.

     "The same thing is true of purgatory: the soul, leaving the body, and not finding in herself that purity in which she was created, and seeing also the hindrances which prevent her union with God, conscious also that purgatory only can remove them, casts herself quickly and willingly therein. And if she did not find the means ordained for her purification, she would instantly create for herself a hell worse than purgatory, seeing that by reason of this impediment she is hindered from approaching her end, which is God; and this is so great an ill that in comparison with it the soul esteems purgatory as nothing. True it is, as I have said, like hell; and yet, in comparison with the loss of God it is as nothing.


Of the necessity of purgatory, and of its terrific character

     "I will say furthermore: I see that as far as God is concerned, paradise has no gates, but he who will may enter. For God is all mercy, and his open arms are ever extended to receive us into his glory. But I see that the divine essence is so pure--purer than the imagination can conceive--that the soul, finding in itself the slightest imperfection, would rather cast itself into a thousand hells than appear, so stained, in the presence of the divine majesty. Knowing, then, that purgatory was intended for her cleaning, she throws herself therein, and finds there that great mercy, the removal of her stains.

     "The great importance of purgatory, neither mind can conceive nor tongue describe. I see only that its pains are as great as those of hell; and yet I see that a soul, stained with the slightest fault, receiving this mercy, counts its pains as naught in comparison with this hindrance to her love. And I know that the greatest misery of the souls in purgatory is to behold in themselves aught that displeases God, and to discover that, in spite of his goodness, they had consented to it. And this is because, being in the state of grace, they see the reality and the importance of the impediments which hinder their approach to God.


How God and the soul reciprocally regard each other in purgatory.--The saint confesses that she has no words to express these things.

     "All these things that I have said, in comparison with those which have been represented to my mind (as far as I have been able to comprehend them in this life), are of such magnitude that every idea, every word, every feeling, every imagination, all the justice and all the truth that can be said of them, seem false and worthless, and I remain confounded at the impossibility of finding words to describe them.

     "I behold such a great conformity between God and the soul, that when he finds her pure as when his divine majesty first created her he gives her an attractive force of ardent love which would annihilate her if she were not immortal. He so transforms her into himself that, forgetting all, she no longer sees aught beside him; and he continues to draw her toward him, inflames her with love, and never leaves her until he has brought her to that state from whence she first came forth, that is, to the perfect purity in which she was created.

     "When the soul beholds within herself the amorous flame by which she is drawn toward her sweet Master and her God, the burning heat of love overpowers her and she melts. Then, in that divine light she sees how God, by his great care and constant providence, never ceases to attract her to her last perfection, and that he does so through pure love alone. She sees, too, that she herself, clogged by sin, cannot follow that attraction toward God, that is, that reconciling glance which he casts upon her that he may draw her to himself. Moreover, a comprehension of that great misery, which it is to be hindered from gazing upon the light of God, is added to the instinctive desire of the soul to be wholly free to yield herself to that unifying flame. I repeat, it is the view of all these things which causes the pain of the suffering souls in purgatory, not that they esteem their pains as great (cruel thought they be), but they count as far worse that opposition which they find in themselves to the will of that God whom they behold burning for them with so ardent and so pure a love.

     "This love, with its unifying regard, is ever drawing these souls, as if it had no other thing to do; and when the soul beholds this, if she could find a yet more painful purgatory in which she could be more quickly cleansed, she would plunge at once therein, impelled by the burning, mutual love between herself and God.


How God makes use of purgatory to complete the purification of the soul.--That she acquires therein a purity so great that if she were yet to remain after her purification she would cease to suffer.

     "From that furnace of divine love I see rays of fire dart like burning lamps towards the soul; and so violent and powerful are they that both soul and body would be utterly destroyed, if that were possible. These rays perform a double office; they purify and they annihilate.

     "Consider gold: the oftener it is melted, the more pure does it become; continue to melt it and every imperfection is destroyed. This is the effect of fire on all materials. The soul, however, cannot be annihilated in God, but in herself she can, and the longer her purification lasts, the more perfectly does she die to herself, until at length she remains purified in God.

     "When gold has been completely freed from dross, no fire, however great, has any further action on it, for nothing but its imperfections can be consumed. So it is with the divine fire in the soul. God retains her in these flames until every stain is burned away, and she is brought to the highest perfection of which she is capable, each soul in her own degree. And when this is accomplished, she rests wholly in God. Nothing of herself remains, and God is her entire being. When he has thus led her to himself and purified her, she is no longer passable, for nothing remains to be consumed. If when thus refined she should again approach the fire she would feel no pain, for to her it has become the fire of divine love, which is life eternal and which nothing mars.


The desire of souls in purgatory to be purified from every stain of sin.--The wisdom of God in veiling from them their defects.

     "At her creation the soul received all the means of attaining perfection of which her nature was capable, in order that she might conform to the will of God and keep herself from contracting any stain; but being directly contaminated by original sin she loses her gifts and graces and even her life. Nor can she be regenerated save by the help of God, for even after baptism her inclination to evil remains, which, if she does not resist it, disposes and leads her to mortal sin, through which she dies anew.

     "God again restores her by a further special grace; yet, she is still so sullied and so bent on herself, that to restore her to her primitive innocence, all those divine operations which I have described are needful, and without them she could never be restored. When the soul has reentered the path which leads to her first estate, she is inflamed with so burning a desire to be transformed into God, that in it she finds her purgatory. Not, indeed, that she regards her purgatory as being such, but this desire, so fiery and so powerfully repressed, becomes her purgatory.

     "This final act of love accomplishes its work alone, finding the soul with so many hidden imperfections, that the mere sight of them, were it presented to her, would drive her to despair. This last operation, however, consumes them all, and when they are destroyed God makes them known to the soul to make her understand the divine action by which her purity was restored.


How joy and suffering are united in purgatory

     "That which man judges to be perfect, in the sight of God is defect. For all the works of man, which appear faultless when he considers them feels, remembers, wills and understands them, are, if he does not refer them to God, corrupt and sinful. For, to the perfection of our works it is necessary that they be wrought in us but not of us. In the works of God it is he that is the prime mover, and not man.

     "These works, which God effects in the soul by himself alone, which are the last operations of pure and simple love in which we have no merit, so pierce and inflame the soul that the body which envelops her seems to be hiding a fire, or like one in a furnace, who can find no rest but death. It is true that the divine love which overwhelms the soul gives, as I think, a peace greater than can be expressed; yet this peace does not in the least diminish her pains, nay, it is love delayed which occasions them, and they are greater in proportion to the perfection of the love of which God has made her capable.

     "Thus have these souls in purgatory great pleasure and great pain; nor does the one impede the other.


The souls in purgatory are not in a state to merit.--How they regard the suffrages offered for them in this world.

     "If by repentance the souls in purgatory could purify themselves, a moment would suffice to cancel their whole debt, so overwhelming would be the force of the contrition produced by the clear vision they have of the magnitude of every obstacle which hinders them from God, their love and their final end.

     "And, know for certain that not one farthing of their debt is remitted to these souls. This is the decree of divine justice; it is thus that God wills. But, on the other hand, these souls have no longer any will apart from that of God, and can neither see nor desire aught but by his appointment.

     "And if pious offerings be made for them by persons in this world, they cannot now note them with satisfaction, unless, indeed, in reference to the will of God and the balance of his justice, leaving to him the ordering of the whole, who repays himself as best pleases his infinite goodness. Could they regard these alms apart from the divine will concerning them, this would be a return to self, which would shut from their view the will of God, and that would be to them like hell. Therefore they are unmoved by whatever God gives them, whether it be pleasure or pain, nor can they ever again revert to self.


Of the submission of the souls in purgatory to the will of God

     "So hidden and transformed in God are they, that they rest content with all his holy will. And if a soul, retaining the slightest stain, were to draw near to God in the beatific vision, it would be to her a more grievous injury, and inflict more suffering, than purgatory itself. Nor could God himself, who is pure goodness and supreme justice, and the sight of God, not yet entirely satisfied (so long as the least possible purification remained to be accomplished) would be intolerable to her, and she would cast herself into the deepest hell rather than stand before him and be still impure."


Reproaches of the soul in purgatory to persons in this world

     And thus this blessed Soul, illuminated by the divine ray, said: "Would that I could utter so strong a cry that it would strike all men with terror, and say to them: O wretched beings! why are you so blinded by this world that you make, as you will find at the hour of death, no provision for the great necessity that will then come upon you?

     "You shelter yourselves beneath your hope in the mercy of God, which you unceasingly exalt, not seeing that it is your resistance to his great goodness which will be your condemnation. His goodness should constrain you to his will, not encourage you to persevere in your own. Since his justice is unfailing it must needs be in some way fully satisfied.

     "Have not the boldness to say: `I will go to confession and gain a plenary indulgence and thus I shall be saved.' Remember that the full confession and entire contrition which are requisite to gain a plenary indulgence are not easily attained. Did you know how hardly they are come by, you would tremble with fear and be more sure of losing than of gaining them.


Showing that the sufferings of the souls in purgatory do not prevent their peace and joy.

     "I see that the souls in purgatory behold a double operation. The first is that of the mercy of God; for while they suffer their torments willingly, they perceive that God has been very good to them, considering what they have deserved and how great are their offences in his eyes. For if his goodness did not temper justice with mercy (satisfying it with the precious blood of Jesus Christ), one sin alone would deserve a thousand hells. They suffer their pains so willingly that they would not lighten them in the least, knowing how justly they have been deserved. They resist the will of God no more than if they had already entered upon eternal life.

     "The other operation is that satisfaction they experience in beholding how loving and merciful have been the divine decrees in all that regards them. In one instant God impresses these two things upon their minds, and as they are in grace they comprehend them as they are, yet each according to her capacity. They experience thence a great and never-failing satisfaction which constantly increases as they approach to God. They see all things, not in themselves nor by themselves, but as they are in God, on whom they are more intent than on their sufferings. For the least vision they can have of God overbalances all woes and all joys that can be conceived. Yet their joy in God does by no means abate their pain.


Which concludes with an application of all that has been said concerning the souls in purgatory to what the saint experiences in her own soul.

     "This process of purification to which I see the souls in purgatory subjected, I feel within myself, and have experienced it for the last two years. Every day I see and feel it more clearly. My soul seems to live in this body as in a purgatory which resembles the true purgatory, with only the difference that my soul is subjected to only so much suffering as the body can endure without dying, but which will continually and gradually increase until death.

     "I feel my spirit alienated from all things (even spiritual ones) that might afford it nourishment or give it consolation. I have no relish for either temporal or spiritual goods through the will, the understanding, or the memory, nor can I say that I take greater satisfaction in this thing than in that.

     "I have been so besieged interiorly, that all things which refreshed my spiritual or my bodily life have been gradually taken from me, and as they departed, I learned that they were all sources of consolation and support. Yet, as soon as they were discovered by the spirit they became tasteless and hateful; they vanish and I care not to prevent it. This is because the spirit instinctively endeavors to rid itself of every hindrance to its perfection, and so resolutely that it would rather go to hell than fail in its purpose. It persists, therefore, in casting off all things by which the inner man might nourish himself, and so jealously guards him, that no slightest imperfection can creep in without being instantly detected and expelled.

     "As for the outward man, for the reason that the spirit has no correspondence with it, it is so oppressed that nothing on earth can give it comfort according to its human inclinations. No consolation remains to it but God, who, with great love and mercy accomplishes this work for the satisfaction of his justice. I perceive all this, and it gives me a great peace and satisfaction; but this satisfaction does by no means diminish my oppression or my pain. Nor could there possibly befall me a pain so great, that it could move me to swerve from the divine ordination, or leave my prison, or wish to leave it until God is satisfied, nor could I experience any woe so great as would be an escape from his divine decree, so merciful and so full of justice do I find it.

     "I see these things clearly, but words fail me to describe them as I wish. What I have described is going on within my spirit, and therefore I have said it. The prison which detains me is the world; my chains, the body; the soul, illuminated by grace, comprehends how great a misery it is to be hindered from her final end, and she suffers greatly because she is very tender. She receives from God, by his grace, a certain dignity which assimilates her to him, nay, which makes her one with him by the participation of his goodness. And as it is impossible for God to suffer any pain, it is so also with those happy souls who are drawing nearer to him. The more closely they approach him the more fully do they share in his perfections.

     "Any delay, then, causes the soul intolerable pain. The pain and the delay prevent the full action both of what is hers by nature, and of that which has been revealed to her by grace; and, not able as yet to possess and still essentially capable of possessing, her pain is great in proportion to her desire of God. The more perfectly she knows him, the more ardent is her desire, and the more sinless is she. The impediments that bar her from him become all the more terrible to her, because she is so wholly bent on him, and when not one of these is left she knows him as he is.

     "As a man who suffers death rather than offend God does not become insensible to the pains of death, but is so illuminated by God that his zeal for the divine honor is greater than his love for life, so the soul, knowing the will of God, esteems it more than all outward or inward torments, however terrible; and this for the reason that God, for whom and by whom the work is done, is infinitely more desirable than all else that can be known or understood. And inasmuch as God keeps the soul absorbed in himself and in his majesty, even though it be only in a slight degree, yet she can attach no importance to anything beside. She loses in him all that is her own, and can neither see nor speak, nor yet be conscious of any injury or pain she suffers, but as I have said before it is all understood in one moment as she passes from this life. And finally, to conclude all, understand well, that in the almighty and merciful God, all that is in man is wholly transformed, and that purgatory purifies him."

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