aA
aA
aA
Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa
« Prev CHAPTER XIV Next »

CHAPTER XIV

How she was entirely transformed in God, and hated to say me or mine.—What pride is.—Of the error of man who seeks for plenty and happiness on earth, where they cannot be found.—What a misfortune it is to be without love.

And continuing her discourse, she said: “I have always seen, and I am ever seeing more and more clearly, that there is no good except in God, and that all lesser goods which can be found are such only by participation; but pure and simple love cannot desire to receive from God anything, however good it may be, which is merely a good of participation, because God wishes it to be as pure, great, and simple as he is himself, and if the least thing were wanting to this perfection, love could not be contented, but would suffer as if in hell. And therefore I say that I cannot desire any created love, that is, love which can be felt, enjoyed, or understood. I do not wish love that can pass through the intellect, memory, or will; because pure love passes all these things and transcends them.” She said also:

“I shall never rest until I am hidden and enclosed in that divine heart wherein all created forms are lost, and, so lost, remain thereafter all divine; nothing else can satisfy true, pure, and simple love. Therefore I have resolved so long as I live to say always to the world that it may do with my exterior as it wills, but with my interior this cannot be allowed, because it cannot, it will not occupy itself except in God, nor could it possibly wish to do otherwise, for he has locked it up within himself and will discover it to no one.

“Knowing that with all his power he is continually striving to annihilate this humanity, his creature, both inwardly and outwardly, in order that when it is entirely destroyed, the soul may issue with him from the body and thus united ascend to heaven; in my soul, therefore, I can see no one but God, since I suffer no one else to enter there, and myself less than any other, because I am my own worst enemy.”

“If, however, it happens to be necessary to speak of myself, I do so on account of the world, which would not understand me should I name myself otherwise than as men are named, yet inwardly I say: my self is God, nor is any other self known to me except my God.

“And likewise when I speak of being, I say: all things which have being, have it from the essence of God by his participation: but pure love cannot stop to contemplate this general participation coming from God, nor to consider whether in itself, considered as a creature, it receives it in the same way as do the other creatures which more or less participate with God. Pure love cannot endure such comparison; on the contrary, it exclaims with a great impetus of love; my being is God, not by participation only but by a true transformation and annihilation of my proper being.

“Now take an example: the elements are not capable of transformation, for it is their nature to remain fixed, and, because this is the law of their being, they have not free-will, and it is impossible for them to vary from their original state. But every one who desires to remain firm in his own mind must have God as his chief end, who arrests every creature at that end for which he has created it, otherwise it would be impossible to detain it; it is insatiable until it has reached its true centre, which is God himself.

“Now although man is created for the possession of happiness, yet, having deviated from his true end, his nature has become deformed and is entirely repugnant to true beatitude. And on this account we are forced to submit to God this depraved nature of ours which fills our understanding with so many occupations, and causes us to deviate from the true path, in order that he may entirely consume it until nothing remains there but himself; otherwise the soul could never attain stability nor repose, for she was created for no other end.

“Therefore, whenever God can do so, he attracts the free-will of man by sweet allurements, and afterwards disposes it in such a manner that all things may conduce to the annihilation of man’s proper being. So that in God is my being, my me, my strength, my beatitude, my good, and my delight. I say mine at present because it is not possible to speak otherwise; but I do not mean by it any such thing as me or mine, or delight or good, or strength or stability, or beatitude; nor could I possibly turn my eyes to behold such things in heaven or in earth; and if, notwithstanding, I sometimes use words which may have the likeness of humility and of spirituality, in my interior I do not understand them, I do not feel them. In truth it astonishes me that I speak at all, or use words so far removed from the truth and from that which I feel. I see clearly that man in this world deceives himself by admiring and esteeming things which are not, and neither sees nor esteems the things which are. Listen to what Fra Giacopone says about this in one of his lauds, that one which commences: O love of poverty. He says: What appears to thee, is not, so great is that which is; pride is in heaven; humility condemns itself. He says what appears, that is, all things visible and created are not and have no true being in themselves; so great is that which is, namely God, in whom is all true being. Pride is in heaven; that is, the true greatness is in heaven and not on earth; humility condemns itself, that is, the affections placed on things created which are humble and vile, not having in themselves any true being.

“But let us consider more attentively this matter namely this human blindness which takes white for black and holds pride for humility and humility for pride, and from which springs the perverse judgment which is the cause of all confusion. Let us see what pride may be. I say, according to what I see with the interior eye, pride is nothing else but an elevation of the mind to things which surpass man and are above his dignity, and whenever man abandons that which is, and which knows, and which is powerful, for that which in truth has neither existence, knowledge, nor power, this is not pride.

“This degrades him, and it generates that pride accompanied by presumption, self-esteem, and arrogance which occasions so many sins against charity for the neighbor; for man believes himself to be such as he appears in his disordered mind which is so full of miseries. Therefore God says to this proud man: If thou seekest, according to the nature of the created soul, for such great things as seem at present to be good and for that happiness which belongs to earth, know that they are not, they cannot satisfy nor afford contentment seek rather in heaven, where pride is lawful, and where it is not placed in things empty and vain, but in those which are really great, which always remain and which cause a sinless pride; but if thou seekest after worthless things thou shalt never find them and shalt lost those which thou shouldst have sought.

“If man’s eyes were pure, he would see clearly that things which pass away so quickly as do those which in this world are esteemed beautiful, good, and useful, could not truly be said to be so, such words being suitable only for things which have no end. Hence, man, if he prides himself upon temporal things, becomes unable to attain those that are celestial and eternal, degenerates into a vile and humble creature whose greatness is lost and who is degraded to the condition of the things he has always sought. Think, alas, what will become of this spirit so generous, created for the highest dignity and felicity, when it is immersed in the vile filth of its own depraved desires and held by its own demerits in abominations which will ever grow worse, but which will never end and which have no remedy? Alas! what pain, what anguish, and what desperate tears shall then be to this poor soul!

“We see and know by experience that only two causes could enable the spirit to remain in a place of torture: one of these is force, and the other the hope of a great reward for such endurance. What despair then will not man suffer when the force which detains him in hell shall never cease, and the pain shall have no remuneration? It is certain that our spirit was created for love and for felicity and this is what it is constantly seeking in all things; it can never find satiety in temporal things and yet is ever hoping that it may there attain it. Finally it deceives itself and loses that time which is so precious, and which was given it that it might seek God, the supreme good, in whom may be found the true love and the holy satisfaction which should be its true satiety and full repose. But what will it do in the end, when, having lost all its occupations, and discovered all its illusions and its vain hopes, and lost all its time, it remains deprived of every good, and, though contrary to its nature, must forever remain forcibly deprived of all love and felicity? This one thing alone is so painful and terrible to contemplate that to speak of it makes me tremble with fear.

“By this I comprehend what hell and heaven may be, because, as I see that man by love becomes one with God, in whom he finds all happiness, so, on the contrary I see that, deprived of love he remains as full of woes as he would have of joys (and that is infinitely) if he had not been so mad. Therefore, although we hear it said that hell is a great punishment, yet this does not appear to me to express it, nor can its gravity be truly told or comprehended, neither could it be represented to one as I understand it; only by the greatness of love in, the true and omnipotent God, can that which is opposed to it be measured.

“When I consider the blindness of those who, for the sake of things so vile and little, allow themselves to be stupidly led away into the abyss of such horrible and infinite woe, all that is within me is moved by a great compassion. In this connection I recall a possessed person who was forced by a religious to declare who he was: he cried out with great force: ‘I am that wretch who is deprived of love.’ He said this with a voice so piteous and penetrating that inwardly I was filled with pity, especially when I was hearing those words, Deprived of love.”

« Prev CHAPTER XIV Next »

Advertisements


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |