A Treatise On Prayer By Saint Catherine Of Sienna
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A TREATISE OF PRAYER
Of the means which the soul takes to arrive at pure and generous love; and here
begins the Treatise of Prayer.

"WHEN the soul has passed through the doctrine of Christ crucified, with true love
of virtue and hatred of vice, and has arrived at the house of self-knowledge and
entered therein, she remains, with her door barred, in watching and constant prayer,
separated entirely from the consolations of the world. Why does she thus shut
herself in? She does so from fear, knowing her own imperfections, and also from
the desire, which she has, of arriving at pure and generous love. And because she
sees and knows well that in no other way can she arrive thereat, she waits, with a
lively faith for My arrival, through increase of grace in her. How is a lively faith to
be recognized? By perseverance in virtue, and by the fact that the soul never turns
back for anything, whatever it be, nor rises from holy prayer, for any reason except
(note well) for obedience or charity's sake. For no other reason ought she to leave off
prayer, for, during the time ordained for prayer, the Devil is wont to arrive in the
soul, causing much more conflict and trouble than when the soul is not occupied in
prayer. This he does in order that holy prayer may become tedious to the soul,
tempting her often with these words: 'This prayer avails you nothing, for you need
attend to nothing except your vocal prayers.' He acts thus in order that, becoming
wearied and confused in mind, she may abandon the exercise of prayer, which is a
weapon with which the soul can defend herself from every adversary, if grasped
with the hand of love, by the arm of free choice in the light of the Holy Faith."
Here, touching something concerning the Sacrament of the Body of Christ, the
complete doctrine is given; and how the soul proceeds from vocal to mental
prayer, and a vision is related which this devout soul once received.
"Know, dearest daughter, how, by humble, continual, and faithful prayer, the soul
acquires, with time and perseverance, every virtue. Wherefore should she
persevere and never abandon prayer, either through the illusion of the Devil or her
own fragility, that is to say, either on account of any thought or movement coming
from her own body, or of the words of any creature. The Devil often places himself
upon the tongues of creatures, causing them to chatter nonsensically, with the
purpose of preventing the prayer of the soul. All of this she should pass by, by
means of the virtue of perseverance. Oh, how sweet and pleasant to that soul and to
Me is holy prayer, made in the house of knowledge of self and of Me, opening the
eye of the intellect to the light of faith, and the affections to the abundance of My
charity, which was made visible to you, through My visible only-begotten Son, who
showed it to you with His blood! Which Blood inebriates the soul and clothes her
with the fire of divine charity, giving her the food of the Sacrament [which is placed
in the tavern of the mystical body of the Holy Church] that is to say, the food of the
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Body and Blood of My Son, wholly God and wholly man, administered to you by the
hand of My vicar, who holds the key of the Blood. This is that tavern, which I
mentioned to you, standing on the Bridge, to provide food and comfort for the
travelers and the pilgrims, who pass by the way of the doctrine of My Truth, lest
they should faint through weakness. This food strengthens little or much, according
to the desire of the recipient, whether he receives sacramentally or virtually. He
receives sacramentally when he actually communicates with the Blessed Sacrament.
He receives virtually when he communicates, both by desire of communion, and by
contemplation of the Blood of Christ crucified, communicating, as it were,
sacramentally, with the affection of love, which is to be tasted in the Blood which, as
the soul sees, was shed through love. On seeing this the soul becomes inebriated,
and blazes with holy desire and satisfies herself, becoming full of love for Me and
for her neighbor. Where can this be acquired? In the house of self-knowledge with
holy prayer, where imperfections are lost, even as Peter and the disciples, while they
remained in watching and prayer, lost their imperfection and acquired perfection.
By what means is this acquired? By perseverance seasoned with the most holy faith.
"But do not think that the soul receives such ardor and nourishment from prayer, if
she pray only vocally, as do many souls whose prayers are rather words than love.
Such as these give heed to nothing except to completing Psalms and saying many
paternosters. And when they have once completed their appointed tale, they do not
appear to think of anything further, but seem to place devout attention and love in
merely vocal recitation, which the soul is not required to do, for, in doing only this,
she bears but little fruit, which pleases Me but little. But if you ask Me, whether the
soul should abandon vocal prayer, since it does not seem to all that they are called to
mental prayer, I should reply 'No.' The soul should advance by degrees, and I know
well that, just as the soul is at first imperfect and afterwards perfect, so also is it with
her prayer. She should nevertheless continue in vocal prayer, while she is yet
imperfect, so as not to fall into idleness. But she should not say her vocal prayers
without joining them to mental prayer, that is to say, that while she is reciting, she
should endeavor to elevate her mind in My love, with the consideration of her own
defects and of the Blood of My only-begotten Son, wherein she finds the breadth of
My charity and the remission of her sins. And this she should do, so that selfknowledge
and the consideration of her own defects should make her recognize My
goodness in herself and continue her exercises with true humility. I do not wish
defects to be considered in particular, but in general, so that the mind may not be
contaminated by the remembrance of particular and hideous sins. But, as I said, I do
not wish the soul to consider her sins, either in general or in particular, without
also remembering the Blood and the broadness of My mercy, for fear that otherwise
she should be brought to confusion. And together with confusion would come the
Devil, who has caused it, under color of contrition and displeasure of sin, and so she
would arrive at eternal damnation, not only on account of her confusion, but also
through the despair which would come to her, because she did not seize the arm of
My mercy. This is one of the subtle devices with which the Devil deludes My
servants, and, in order to escape from his deceit, and to be pleasing to Me, you must
enlarge your hearts and affections in My boundless mercy, with true humility. You
know that the pride of the Devil cannot resist the humble mind, nor can any
confusion of spirit be greater than the broadness of My good mercy, if the soul will
only truly hope therein. Wherefore it was, if you remember rightly, that, once,
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when the Devil wished to overthrow you, by confusion, wishing to prove to you
that your life had been deluded, and that you had not followed My will, you did that
which was your duty, which My goodness (which is never withheld from him who
will receive it) gave you strength to do, that is you rose, humbly trusting in My
mercy, and saying: 'I confess to my Creator that my life has indeed been passed in
darkness, but I will hide myself in the wounds of Christ crucified, and bathe myself
in His Blood and so shall my iniquities be consumed, and with desire will I rejoice
in my Creator.' You remember that then the Devil fled, and, turning round to the
opposite side, he endeavored to inflate you with pride, saying: 'You are perfect and
pleasing to God, and there is no more need for you to afflict yourself or to lament
your sins.' And once more I gave you the light to see your true path, namely,
humiliation of yourself, and you answered the Devil with these words: 'Wretch that
I am, John the Baptist never sinned and was sanctified in his mother's womb. And I
have committed so many sins, and have hardly begun to know them with grief and
true contrition, seeing who God is, who is offended by me, and who I am, who
offend Him.' Then the Devil, not being able to resist your humble hope in My
goodness, said to you: 'Cursed that you are, for I can find no way to take you. If I put
you down through confusion, you rise to Heaven on the wings of mercy, and if I
raise you on high, you humble yourself down to Hell, and when I go into Hell you
persecute me, so that I will return to you no more, because you strike me with the
stick of charity.' The soul, therefore, should season the knowledge of herself with
the knowledge of My goodness, and then vocal prayer will be of use to the soul who
makes it, and pleasing to Me, and she will arrive, from the vocal imperfect prayer,
exercised with perseverance, at perfect mental prayer; but if she simply aims at
completing her tale, and, for vocal abandons mental prayer, she will never arrive at
it. Sometimes the soul will be so ignorant that, having resolved to say so many
prayers vocally, and I, visiting her mind sometimes in one way, and sometimes in
another, in a flash of self-knowledge or of contrition for sin, sometimes in the
broadness of My charity, and sometimes by placing before her mind, in diverse ways,
according to My pleasure and the desire of the soul, the presence of My Truth, she
(the soul), in order to complete her tale, will abandon My visitation, that she feels,
as it were, by conscience, rather than abandon that which she had begun. She should
not do so, for, in so doing, she yields to a deception of the Devil. The moment she
feels her mind disposed by My visitation, in the many ways I have told you, she
should abandon vocal prayer; then, My visitation past, if there be time, she can
resume the vocal prayers which she had resolved to say, but if she has not time to
complete them, she ought not on that account to be troubled or suffer annoyance
and confusion of mind; of course provided that it were not the Divine office which
clerics and religious are bound and obliged to say under penalty of offending Me, for,
they must, until death, say their office. But if they, at the hour appointed for saying
it, should feel their minds drawn and raised by desire, they should so arrange as to
say it before or after My visitation, so that the debt of rendering the office be not
omitted. But, in any other case, vocal prayer should be immediately abandoned for
the said cause. Vocal prayer, made in the way that I have told you, will enable the
soul to arrive at perfection, and therefore she should not abandon it, but use it in
the way that I have told you.
And so, with exercise in perseverance, she will taste prayer in truth, and the food of
the Blood of My only-begotten Son, and therefore I told you that some
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communicated virtually with the Body and Blood of Christ, although not
sacramentally; that is, they communicate in the affection of charity, which they taste
by means of holy prayer, little or much, according to the affection with which they
pray. They who proceed with little prudence and without method, taste little, and
they who proceed with much, taste much. For the more the soul tries to loosen her
affection from herself, and fasten it in Me with the light of the intellect, the more
she knows; and the more she knows, the more she loves, and, loving much, she
tastes much. You see then, that perfect prayer is not attained to through many
words, but through affection of desire, the soul raising herself to Me, with
knowledge of herself and of My mercy, seasoned the one with the other. Thus she
will exercise together mental and vocal prayer, for, even as the active and
contemplative life is one, so are they. Although vocal or mental prayer can be
understood in many and diverse ways, for I have told you that a holy desire is a
continual prayer, in this sense that a good and holy will disposes itself with desire to
the occasion actually appointed for prayer in addition to the continual prayer of holy
desire, wherefore vocal prayer will be made at the appointed time by the soul who
remains firm in a habitual holy will, and will sometimes be continued beyond the
appointed time, according as charity commands for the salvation of the neighbor, if
the soul see him to be in need, and also her own necessities according to the state in
which I have placed her. Each one, according to his condition, ought to exert himself
for the salvation of souls, for this exercise lies at the root of a holy will, and
whatever he may contribute, by words or deeds, towards the salvation of his
neighbor, is virtually a prayer, although it does not replace a prayer which one
should make oneself at the appointed season, as My glorious standard-bearer Paul
said, in the words, 'He who ceases not to work ceases not to pray.' It was for this
reason that I told you that prayer was made in many ways, that is, that actual prayer
may be united with mental prayer if made with the affection of charity, which
charity is itself continual prayer. I have now told you how mental prayer is reached
by exercise and perseverance, and by leaving vocal prayer for mental when I visit
the soul. I have also spoken to you of common prayer, that is, of vocal prayer in
general, made outside of ordained times, and of the prayers of good-will, and how
every exercise, whether performed in oneself or in one's neighbor, with good-will,
is prayer. The enclosed soul should therefore spur herself on with prayer, and when
she has arrived at friendly and filial love she does so. Unless the soul keep to this
path, she will always remain tepid and imperfect, and will only love Me and her
neighbor in proportion to the pleasure which she finds in My service."
Of the method by which the soul separates herself from imperfect love, and attains
to perfect love, friendly and filial.
"Hitherto I have shown you in many ways how the soul raises herself from
imperfection and attains to perfection, which she does after she has attained to
friendly and filial love. I tell you that she arrives at perfect love by means of
perseverance, barring herself into the House of Self-Knowledge, which knowledge
of self requires to be seasoned with knowledge of Me, lest it bring the soul to
confusion, for it would cause the soul to hate her own sensitive pleasure and the
delight of her own consolations. But from this hatred, founded in humility, she will
draw patience, with which she will become strong against the attacks of the Devil,
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against the persecutions of man, and towards Me, when, for her good, I withdraw
delight from her mind. And if her sensuality, through malevolence, should lift its
head against reason, the judgment of conscience should rise against it, and, with
hatred of it, hold out reason against it, not allowing such evil emotions to get by it.
Though sometimes the soul who lives in holy hatred corrects and reproves herself,
not only for those things that are against reason, but also for things that in reality
come from Me, which is what My sweet servant S. Gregory meant, when he said
that a holy and pure conscience made sin where there was no sin, that is, that
through purity of conscience, it saw sin where there was no sin.
"Now the soul who wishes to rise above imperfection should await My Providence
in the House of Self-Knowledge, with the light of faith, as did the disciples, who
remained in the house in perseverance and in watching, and in humble and
continual prayer, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. She should remain fasting
and watching, the eye of her intellect fastened on the doctrine of My Truth, and she
will become humble because she will know herself in humble and continual prayer
and holy and true desire."
Of the signs by which the soul knows she has arrived at perfect love.
"It now remains to be told you how it can be seen that souls have arrived at perfect
love. This is seen by the same sign that was given to the holy disciples after they had
received the Holy Spirit, when they came forth from the house, and fearlessly
announced the doctrine of My Word, My only-begotten Son, not fearing pain, but
rather glorying therein. They did not mind going before the tyrants of the world, to
announce to them the truth, for the glory and praise of My Name. So the soul, who
has awaited Me in self-knowledge as I have told you, receives Me, on My return to
her, with the fire of charity, in which charity, while still remaining in the house
with perseverance, she conceives the virtues by affection of love, participating in My
power; with which power and virtues she overrules and conquers her own
sensitive passions, and through which charity she participates in the wisdom of My
Son, in which she sees and knows, with the eye of her intellect, My Truth and the
deceptions of spiritual self-love, that is, the imperfect love of her own consolations,
as has been said, and she knows also the malice and deceit of the devil, which he
practices on those souls who are bound by that imperfect love. She therefore arises,
with hatred of that imperfection and with love of perfection, and, through this
charity, which is of the Holy Spirit, she participates in His will, fortifying her own to
be willing to suffer pain, and, coming out of the house through My Name, she
brings forth the virtues on her neighbor. Not that by coming out to bring forth the
virtues, I mean that she issues out of the House of Self-Knowledge, but that, in the
time of the neighbor's necessity she loses that fear of being deprived of her own
consolations, and so issues forth to give birth to those virtues which she has
conceived through affection of love. The souls, who have thus come forth, have
reached the fourth state, that is, from the third state, which is a perfect state, in
which they taste charity and give birth to it on their neighbors, they have arrived at
the fourth state, which is one of perfect union with Me. The two last-mentioned
states are united, that is to say, one cannot be without the other, for there cannot be
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love of Me, without love of the neighbor, nor love of the neighbor without love of
Me."
How they who are imperfect desire to follow the Father alone, but they who are
perfect desire to follow the Son. And of a vision, which this holy soul had,
concerning diverse baptisms, and of many other beautiful and useful things.
"As I have told you, these latter have issued forth from the house, which is a sign
that they have arisen from imperfection and arrived at perfection. Open the eye of
your intellect and see them running by the Bridge of the doctrine of Christ crucified,
which was their rule, way, and doctrine. They place none other before the eye of
their intellect than Christ crucified, not the Father, as they do who are in imperfect
love and do not wish to suffer pain, but only to have the delight which they find in
Me. But they, as if drunken with love and burning with it, have gathered together
and ascended the three steps, which I figured to you as the three powers of the soul,
and also the three actual steps, figured to you as in the Body of My only Son, Christ
crucified, by which steps the soul, as I told you, ascended, first climbing to the Feet,
with the feet of the soul's affection, from thence arriving at the Side, where she
found the secret of the Heart and knew the baptism of water, which has virtue
through the Blood, and where I dispose the soul to receive grace, uniting and
kneading her together in the Blood. Where did the soul know of this her dignity, in
being kneaded and united with the Blood of the Lamb, receiving the grace in Holy
Baptism, in virtue of the Blood? In the Side, where she knew the fire of divine
Charity, and so, if you remember well, My Truth manifested to you, when you
asked, saying: 'Sweet and Immaculate Lamb, You were dead when Your side was
opened. Why then did You want to be struck and have Your heart divided?' And
He replied to you, telling you that there was occasion enough for it; but the principal
part of what He said I will tell you. He said: Because My desire towards the human
generation was ended, and I had finished the actual work of bearing pain and
torment, and yet I had not been able to show, by finite things, because My love was
infinite, how much more love I had, I wished you to see the secret of the Heart,
showing it to you open, so that you might see how much more I loved than I could
show you by finite pain. I poured from it Blood and Water, to show you the baptism
of water, which is received in virtue of the Blood. I also showed the baptism of love
in two ways, first in those who are baptized in their blood, shed for Me, which has
virtue through My Blood, even if they have not been able to have Holy Baptism,
and also in those who are baptized in fire, not being able to have Holy Baptism, but
desiring it with the affection of love. There is no baptism of fire without the Blood,
because the Blood is steeped in and kneaded with the fire of Divine charity, because,
through love was It shed. There is yet another way by which the soul receives the
baptism of Blood, speaking, as it were, under a figure, and this way the Divine
charity provided, knowing the infirmity and fragility of man, through which he
offends, not that he is obliged, through his fragility and infirmity, to commit sin
unless he wish to do so; but, falling, as he will, into the guilt of mortal sin, by which
he loses the grace which he drew from Holy Baptism in virtue of the Blood, it was
necessary to leave a continual baptism of Blood. This the Divine charity provided in
the Sacrament of Holy Confession, the soul receiving the Baptism of Blood, with
contrition of heart, confessing, when able, to My ministers, who hold the keys of the
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Blood, sprinkling It, in absolution, upon the face of the soul. But, if the soul be
unable to confess, contrition of heart is sufficient for this baptism, the hand of My
clemency giving you the fruit of this precious Blood. But if you are able to confess, I
wish you to do so, and if you are able to, and do not, you will be deprived of the fruit
of the Blood. It is true that, in the last extremity, a man, desiring to confess and not
being able to, will receive the fruit of this baptism, of which I have been speaking.
But let no one be so mad as so to arrange his deeds, that, in the hope of receiving it,
he puts off confessing until the last extremity of death, when he may not be able to
do so. In which case, it is not at all certain that I shall not say to him, in My Divine
Justice: 'You did not remember Me in the time of your life, when you could, now
will I not remember you in your death.'
"You see then that these Baptisms, which you should all receive until the last
moment, are continual, and though My works, that is the pains of the Cross were
finite, the fruit of them which you receive in Baptism, through Me, are infinite.
This is in virtue of the infinite Divine nature, united with the finite human nature,
which human nature endures pain in Me, the Word, clothed with your humanity.
But because the one nature is steeped in and united with the other, the Eternal Deity
drew to Himself the pain, which I suffered with so much fire and love. And
therefore can this operation be called infinite, not that My pain, neither the actuality
of the body be infinite, nor the pain of the desire that I had to complete your
redemption, because it was terminated and finished on the Cross, when the Soul
was separated from the Body; but the fruit, which came out of the pain and desire
for your salvation, is infinite, and therefore you receive it infinitely. Had it not been
infinite, the whole human generation could not have been restored to grace, neither
the past, the present, nor the future. This I manifested in the opening of My Side,
where is found the secret of the Heart, showing that I loved more than I could show,
with finite pain. I showed to you that My love was infinite. How? By the Baptism of
Blood, united with the fire of My charity, and by the general baptism, given to
Christians, and to whomsoever will receive it, and by the baptism of water, united
with the Blood and the fire, wherein the soul is steeped. And, in order to show this,
it was necessary for the Blood to come out of My Side. Now I have shown you (said
My Truth to you) what you asked of Me."
How worldly people render glory and praise to GOD, whether they will or no.
"And so perfect is her vision that she sees the glory and praise of My Name, not so
much in the angelic nature as in the human, for, whether worldly people will or no,
they render glory and praise to My Name, not that they do so in the way they
should, loving Me above everything, but that My mercy shines in them, in that, in
the abundance of My charity, I give them time, and do not order the earth to open
and swallow them up on account of their sins. I even wait for them, and command
the earth to give them of her fruits, the sun to give them light and warmth, and the
sky to move above them. And in all things created and made for them, I use My
charity and mercy, withdrawing neither on account of their sins. I even give equally
to the sinner and the righteous man, and often more to the sinner than to the
righteous man, because the righteous man is able to endure privation, and I take
from him the goods of the world that he may the more abundantly enjoy the goods
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of heaven. So that in worldly men My mercy and charity shine, and they render
praise and glory to My Name, even when they persecute My servants; for they prove
in them the virtues of patience and charity, causing them to suffer humbly and offer
to Me their persecutions and injuries, thus turning them into My praise and glory.
"So that, whether they will or no, worldly people render to My Name praise and
glory, even when they intend to do Me infamy and wrong."
How even the devils render glory and praise to GOD.
"Sinners, such as those of whom I have just spoken, are placed in this life in order
to augment virtues in My servants, as the devils are in Hell as My justiciars and
augmenters of My Glory; that is, My instruments of justice towards the damned, and
the augmenters of My Glory in My creatures, who are wayfarers and pilgrims on
their journey to reach Me, their End. They augment in them the virtues in diverse
ways, exercising them with many temptations and vexations, causing them to
injure one another and take one another's property, and not for the motive of
making them receive injury or be deprived of their property, but only to deprive
them of charity. But in thinking to deprive My servants, they fortify them, proving
in them the virtues of patience, fortitude, and perseverance. Thus they render praise
and glory to My Name, and My Truth is fulfilled in them, which Truth created
them for the praise and glory of Me, Eternal Father, and that they might participate
in My beauty. But, rebelling against Me in their pride, they fell and lost their vision
of Me, wherefore they rendered not to Me glory through the affection of love, and I,
Eternal Truth, have placed them as instruments to exercise My servants in virtue in
this life and as justiciars to those who go, for their sins, to the pains of Purgatory. So
you see that My Truth is fulfilled in them, that is, that they render Me glory, not as
citizens of life eternal, of which they are deprived by their sins, but as My justiciars,
manifesting justice upon the damned, and upon those in Purgatory."
How the soul, after she has passed through this life, sees fully the praise and glory of
My Name in everything, and, though, in her the pain of desire is ended, the
desire is not.
"Thus in all things created, in all rational creatures, and in the devils is seen the
glory and praise of My Name. Who can see it? The soul who is denuded of the body
and has reached Me, her End, sees it clearly, and, in seeing, knows the truth. Seeing
Me, the Eternal Father, she loves, and loving, she is satisfied. Satisfied, she knows
the Truth, and her will is stayed in My Will, bound and made stable, so that in
nothing can it suffer pain, because it has that which it desired to have, before the
soul saw Me, namely, the glory and praise of My Name. She now, in truth, sees it
completely in My saints, in the blessed spirits, and in all creatures and things, even
in the devils, as I told you. And although she also sees the injury done to Me, which
before caused her sorrow, it no longer now can give her pain, but only compassion,
because she loves without pain, and prays to Me continually with affection of love,
that I will have mercy on the world. Pain in her is ended, but not love, as the
tortured desire, which My Word, the Son, had borne from the beginning when I
sent Him into the world, terminated on the Cross in His painful death, but His love
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-- no. For had the affection of My charity, which I showed you by means of Him,
been terminated and ended then, you would not be, because by love you are made,
and had My love been drawn back, that is, had I not loved your being, you could not
be, but My love created you, and My love possesses you, because I am one thing with
My Truth, and He, the Word Incarnate with Me. You see then, that the saints and
every soul in Eternal Life have desire for the salvation of souls without pain,
because pain ended in their death, but not so the affection of love.
"Thus, as if drunk with the Blood of the Immaculate Lamb, and clothed in the love
of the neighbor, they pass through the Narrow Gate, bathed in the Blood of Christ
crucified, and they find themselves in Me, the Sea Pacific, raised from imperfection,
far from satiety, and arrived at perfection, satisfied by every good."
How after Saint Paul was drawn to the glory of the blessed, he desired to be loosened
from the body, as they do, who have reached the aforesaid third and fourth
states.
"Paul, then, had seen and tasted this good, when I drew him up into the third
heaven, that is into the height of the Trinity, where he tasted and knew My Truth,
receiving fully the Holy Spirit, and learning the doctrine of My Truth, the Word
Incarnate. The soul of Paul was clothed, through feeling and union, in Me, Eternal
Father, like the blessed ones in Eternal Life, except that his soul was not separated
from his body, except through this feeling and union. But it being pleasing to My
Goodness to make of him a vessel of election in the abyss of Me, Eternal Trinity, I
dispossessed him of Myself, because on Me can no pain fall, and I wished him to
suffer for My name; therefore I placed before him, as an object for the eyes of his
intellect, Christ crucified, clothing him with the garment of His doctrine, binding
and fettering him with the clemency of the Holy Spirit and inflaming him with the
fire of charity. He became a vessel, disposed and reformed by My Goodness, and, on
being struck, made no resistance, but said: 'My Lord, what do You wish me to do?
Show me that which it is Your pleasure for me to do, and I will do it.' Which I
answered when I placed before him Christ crucified, clothing him with the doctrine
of My charity. I illuminated him perfectly with the light of true contrition, by which
he extirpated his defects, and founded him in My charity."
How the soul who finds herself in the unitive state desires infinitely to have the
barren earthly state and unite herself to GOD.
"And when I depart from the soul in the aforesaid way that the body may return a
little to its corporal sentiment, the soul, on account of the union which she had
made with Me, is impatient in her life, being deprived of union with Me, and the
conversation of the Immortals, who render glory to Me, and finding herself, amid
the conversation of mortals, and seeing them so miserably offending Me. This
vision of My offense is the torture which such souls always have, and which, with
the desire to see Me, renders their life insupportable to them. Nevertheless, as their
will is not their own, but becomes one with Mine, they cannot desire other than
what I desire, and though they desire to come and be with Me, they are contented to
remain, if I desire them to remain, with their pain, for the greater praise and glory of
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My Name and the salvation of souls. So that in nothing are they in discord with My
Will; but they run their course with ecstatic desire, clothed in Christ crucified, and
keeping by the Bridge of His doctrine, glorying in His shame and pains. Inasmuch as
they appear to be suffering they are rejoicing, because the enduring of many
tribulations is to them a relief in the desire which they have for death, for
oftentimes the desire and the will to suffer pain mitigates the pain caused them by
their desire to quit the body. These not only endure with patience, as I told you they
did, who are in the third state, but they glory, through My Name, in bearing much
tribulation. In bearing tribulation they find pleasure, and not having it they suffer
pain, fearing that I reward not their well-doing or that the sacrifice of their desires is
not pleasing to Me; but when I permit to them many tribulations they rejoice, seeing
themselves clothed with the suffering and shame of Christ crucified. Wherefore
were it possible for them to have virtue without toil they would not want it. They
would rather delight in the Cross, with Christ, acquiring it with pain, than in any
other way obtain Eternal Life. Why? Because they are inflamed and steeped in the
Blood, where they find the blaze of My charity, which charity is a fire proceeding
from Me, ravishing their heart and mind and making their sacrifices acceptable.
Wherefore, the eye of the intellect is lifted up and gazes into My Deity, when the
affection behind the intellect is nourished and united with Me. This is a sight which
I grant to the soul, infused with grace, who, in truth, loves and serves Me."
How they, who are arrived at the aforesaid unitive state, have the eye of their
intellect illuminated by supernatural light infused by grace. And how it is
better to go for counsel for the salvation of the soul, to a humble and holy
conscience than to a proud lettered man.
"With this light that is given to the eye of the intellect, Thomas Aquinas saw Me,
wherefore he acquired the light of much science; also Augustine, Jerome, and the
doctors, and my saints. They were illuminated by My Truth to know and
understand My Truth in darkness. By My Truth I mean the Holy Scripture, which
seemed dark because it was not understood; not through any defect of the Scriptures,
but of them who heard them, and did not understand them. Wherefore I sent this
light to illuminate the blind and coarse understanding, uplifting the eye of the
intellect to know the Truth. And I, Fire, Acceptor of sacrifices, ravishing away from
them their darkness, give the light; not a natural light, but a supernatural, so that,
though in darkness, they know the Truth. Wherefore that, which at first appeared to
be dark, now appears with the most perfect light, to the gross or subtle mind; and
everyone receives according as he is capable or disposed to know Me, for I do not
despise dispositions. So you see that the eye of the intellect has received
supernatural light, infused by grace, by which the doctors and saints knew light in
darkness, and of darkness made light. The intellect was, before the Scriptures were
formed, wherefore, from the intellect came science, because in seeing they discerned.
It was thus that the holy prophets and fathers understood, who prophesied of the
coming and death of My Son, and the Apostles, after the coming of the Holy Spirit,
which gave them that supernatural light. The evangelists, doctors, professors,
virgins, and martyrs were all likewise illuminated by the aforesaid perfect light. And
everyone has had the illumination of this light according as he needed it for his
salvation or that of others, or for the exposition of the Scriptures. The doctors of the
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holy science had it, expounding the doctrine of My Truth, the preaching of the
Apostles, and the Gospels of the Evangelists. The martyrs had it, declaring in their
blood the Most Holy Faith, the fruit and the treasure of the Blood of the Lamb. The
virgins had it in the affection of charity and purity. To the obedient ones is declared,
by it, the obedience of the Word, showing them the perfection of obedience, which
shines in my Truth, who for the obedience that I imposed upon Him, ran to the
opprobrious death of the Cross. This light is to be seen in the Old and New
Testament; in the Old, by it, were seen by the eye of the intellect, and known the
prophecies of the holy prophets. In the New Testament of the evangelical life, how
is the Gospel declared to the faithful? By this same light. And because the New
Testament proceeded from the same light, the new law did not break the old law;
rather are the two laws bound together, the imperfection of the old law, founded in
fear alone, being taken from it, by the coming of the Word of My only-begotten Son,
with the law of Love, completing the old law by giving it love, and replacing the fear
of penalty by holy fear. And, therefore, said My Truth to the disciples, to show that
He was not a breaker of laws: 'I came not to dissolve the law, but to fulfill it.' It is
almost as if My Truth would say to them -- The Law is now imperfect, but with My
Blood I will make it perfect, and I will fill it up with what it lacks, taking away the
fear of penalty, and founding it in love and holy fear. How was this declared to be
the Truth? By this same supernatural light, which was and is given by grace to all,
who will receive it? Every light that comes from Holy Scripture comes and came
from this supernatural light. Ignorant and proud men of science were blind
notwithstanding this light, because their pride and the cloud of self-love had
covered up and put out the light. Wherefore they understood the Holy Scripture
rather literally than with understanding, and taste only the letter of it, still desiring
many other books; and they get not to the marrow of it, because they have deprived
themselves of the light, with which is found and expounded the Scripture; and they
are annoyed and murmur, because they find much in it that appears to them gross
and idiotic. And, nevertheless, they appear to be much illuminated in their
knowledge of Scripture, as if they had studied it for long; and this is not remarkable,
because they have of course the natural light from whence proceeds science. But
because they have lost the supernatural light, infused by grace, they neither see nor
know My Goodness, nor the grace of My servants. Wherefore, I say to you, that it is
much better to go for counsel for the salvation of the soul, to a holy and upright
conscience, than to a proud lettered man, learned in much science, because such a
one can only offer what he has himself, and, because of his darkness, it may appear
to you, that, from what he says, the Scriptures offer darkness. The contrary will you
find with My servants, because they offer the light that is in them, with hunger and
desire for the soul's salvation. This I have told you, my sweetest daughter, that you
might know the perfection of this unitive state, when the eye of the intellect is
ravished by the fire of My charity, in which charity it receives the supernatural light.
With this light the souls in the unitive state love Me, because love follows the
intellect, and the more it knows the more can it love. Thus the one feeds the other,
and, with this light, they both arrive at the Eternal Vision of Me, where they see and
taste Me, in Truth, the soul being separated from the body, as I told you when I
spoke to you of the blissfulness that the soul received in Me. This state is most
excellent, when the soul, being yet in the mortal body, tastes bliss with the
immortals, and oftentimes she arrives at so great a union that she scarcely knows
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whether she be in the body or out of it; and tastes the earnest-money of Eternal Life,
both because she is united with Me, and because her will is dead in Christ, by which
death her union was made with Me, and in no other way could she perfectly have
done so. Therefore do they taste life eternal, deprived of the hell of their own will,
which gives to man the earnest-money of damnation, if he yield to it."
How this devout soul seeks knowledge from God concerning the state and fruit of
tears.
Then this soul, yearning with very great desire, and rising as one intoxicated both by
the union which she had had with God, and by what she had heard and tasted of the
Supreme and Sweet Truth, yearned with grief over the ignorance of creatures, in
that they did not know their Benefactor, or the affection of the love of God. And
nevertheless she had joy from the hope of the promise that the Truth of God had
made to her, teaching her the way she was to direct her will (and the other servants
of God as well as herself) in order that He should do mercy to the world. And, lifting
up the eye of her intellect upon the sweet Truth, to whom she remained united,
wishing to know somewhat of the aforesaid states of the soul of which God had
spoken to her, and seeing that the soul passes through these states with tears, she
wished to learn from the Truth concerning the different kinds of tears, and how
they came to be, and whence they proceeded, and the fruit that resulted from
weeping. Wishing then to know this from the Sweet, Supreme and First Truth, as to
the manner of being and reason of the aforesaid tears, and inasmuch as the truth
cannot be learnt from any other than from the Truth Himself, and nothing can be
learnt in the Truth but what is seen by the eye of the intellect, she made her request
of the Truth. For it is necessary for him who is lifted with desire to learn the Truth
with the light of faith.
Wherefore, knowing that she had not forgotten the teaching which the Truth, that
is, God, had given her, that in no other way could she learn about the different states
and fruits of tears, she rose out of herself, exceeding every limit of her nature with
the greatness of her desire. And, with the light of a lively faith, she opened the eye
of her intellect upon the Eternal Truth, in whom she saw and knew the Truth, in
the matter of her request, for God Himself manifested it to her, and condescending
in His benignity to her burning desire, fulfilled her petition.
How there are five kinds of tears.
Then said the Supreme and Sweet Truth of God, "Oh, beloved and dearest daughter,
you beg knowledge of the reasons and fruits of tears, and I have not despised your
desire; open well the eye of your intellect and I will show you, among the aforesaid
states of the soul, of which I have told you, concerning the imperfect tears caused by
fear; but first rather of the tears of wicked men of the world. These are the tears of
damnation. The former are those of fear, and belong to men who abandon sin from
fear of punishment, and weep for fear. The third are the tears of those who, having
abandoned sin, are beginning to serve and taste Me, and weep for very sweetness;
but since their love is imperfect, so also is their weeping, as I have told you. The
fourth are the tears of those who have arrived at the perfect love of their neighbor,
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loving Me without any regard whatsoever for themselves. These weep and their
weeping is perfect. The fifth are joined to the fourth and are tears of sweetness let
fall with great peace, as I will explain to you. I will tell you also of the tears of fire,
without bodily tears of the eyes, which satisfy those who often would desire to weep
and cannot. And I wish you to know that all these various graces may exist in one
soul, who, rising from fear and imperfect love, reaches perfect love in the unitive
state. Now I will begin to tell you of these tears in the following way."
Of the difference of these tears, arising from the explanation of the aforesaid state of
the soul.
"I wish you to know that every tear proceeds from the heart, for there is no member
of the body that will satisfy the heart so much as the eye. If the heart is in pain the
eye manifests it. And if the pain be sensual the eye drops hearty tears which
engender death, because proceeding from the heart, they are caused by a disordinate
love distinct from the love of Me; for such love, being disordinate and an offense to
Me, receives the meed of mortal pain and tears. It is true that their guilt and grief are
more or less heavy, according to the measure of their disordinate love. And these
form that first class, who have the tears of death, of whom I have spoken to you,
and will speak again. Now, begin to consider the tears which give the
commencement of life, the tears, that is, of those who, knowing their guilt, set to
weeping for fear of the penalty they have incurred.
"These are both hearty and sensual tears, because the soul, not having yet arrived at
perfect hatred of its guilt on account of the offense thereby done to Me, abandons it
with a hearty grief for the penalty which follows the sin committed, while the eye
weeps in order to satisfy the grief of the heart.
"But the soul, exercising herself in virtue, begins to lose her fear, knowing that fear
alone is not sufficient to give her eternal life, as I have already told you when
speaking of the second stage of the soul. And so she proceeds, with love, to know
herself and My goodness in her, and begins to take hope in My mercy in which her
heart feels joy. Sorrow for her grief, mingled with the joy of her hope in My mercy,
causes her eye to weep, which tears issue from the very fountain of her heart.
"But, inasmuch as she has not yet arrived at great perfection, she often drops
sensual tears, and if you ask Me why, I reply: Because the root of self-love is not
sensual love, for that has already been removed, as has been said, but it is a spiritual
love with which the soul desires spiritual consolations or loves some creature
spiritually. (I have spoken to you at length regarding the imperfections of such
souls.) Wherefore, when such a soul is deprived of the thing she loves, that is,
internal or external consolation, the internal being the consolation received from
Me, the external being that which she had from the creature, and when temptations
and the persecutions of men come on her, her heart is full of grief. And, as soon as
the eye feels the grief and suffering of the heart, she begins to weep with a tender
and compassionate sorrow, pitying herself with the spiritual compassion of selflove;
for her self-will is not yet crushed and destroyed in everything, and in this way
she lets fall sensual tears -- tears, that is, of spiritual passion. But, growing, and
exercising herself in the light of self-knowledge, she conceives displeasure at herself
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and finally perfect self-hatred. From this she draws true knowledge of My goodness
with a fire of love, and she begins to unite herself to Me, and to conform her will to
Mine and so to feel joy and compassion. Joy in herself through the affection of love,
and compassion for her neighbor, as I told you in speaking of the third stage.
Immediately her eye, wishing to satisfy the heart, cries with hearty love for Me and
for her neighbor, grieving solely for My offense and her neighbor's loss, and not for
any penalty or loss due to herself; for she does not think of herself, but only of
rendering glory and praise to My Name, and, in an ecstasy of desire, she joyfully
takes the food prepared for her on the table of the Holy Cross, thus conforming
herself to the humble, patient, and immaculate Lamb, My only-begotten Son, of
whom I made a Bridge, as I have said. Having thus sweetly traveled by that Bridge,
following the doctrine of My sweet Truth, enduring with true and sweet patience
every pain and trouble which I have permitted to be inflicted upon her for her
salvation, having manfully received them all, not choosing them according to her
own tastes, but accepting them according to Mine, and not only, as I said, enduring
them with patience, but sustaining them with joy, she counts it glory to be
persecuted for My Name's sake in whatever she may have to suffer. Then the soul
arrives at such delight and tranquillity of mind that no tongue can tell it. Having
crossed the river by means of the Eternal Word, that is, by the doctrine of My onlybegotten
Son, and, having fixed the eye of her intellect on Me, the Sweet Supreme
Truth, having seen the Truth, knows it; and knowing it, loves it. Drawing her
affection after her intellect, she tastes My Eternal Deity, and she knows and sees the
Divine nature united to your humanity.
"Then she reposes in Me, the Sea Pacific, and her heart is united to Me in love, as I
told you when speaking of the fourth and unitive state. When she thus feels Me,
the Eternal Deity, her eyes let fall tears of sweetness, tears indeed of milk,
nourishing the soul in true patience; an odoriferous ointment are these tears,
shedding odors of great sweetness.
"Oh, best beloved daughter, how glorious is that soul who has indeed been able to
pass from the stormy ocean to Me, the Sea Pacific, and in that Sea, which is Myself,
the Supreme and Eternal Deity, to fill the pitcher of her heart. And her eye, the
conduit of her heart, endeavors to satisfy her heart-pangs, and so sheds tears. This is
the last stage in which the soul is blessed and sorrowful.
"Blessed she is through the union which she feels herself to have with Me, tasting
the divine love; sorrowful through the offenses which she sees done to My
goodness and greatness, for she has seen and tasted the bitterness of this in her selfknowledge,
by which self-knowledge, together with her knowledge of Me, she
arrived at the final stage. Yet this sorrow is no impediment to the unitive state,
which produces tears of great sweetness through self-knowledge, gained in love of
the neighbor, in which exercise the soul discovers the plaint of My divine mercy,
and grief at the offenses caused to her neighbor, weeping with those who weep, and
rejoicing with those who rejoice -- that is, who live in My love. Over these the soul
rejoices, seeing glory and praise rendered Me by My servants, so that the third kind
of grief does not prevent the fourth, that is, the final grief belonging to the unitive
state; they rather give savor to each other, for, had not this last grief (in which the
soul finds such union with Me), developed from the grief belonging to the third
state of neighborly love, it would not be perfect. Therefore it is necessary that the
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one should flavor the other, else the soul would come to a state of presumption,
induced by the subtle breeze of love of her own reputation, and would fall at once,
vomited from the heights to the depths. Therefore it is necessary to bear with others
and practice continually love to one's neighbor, together with true knowledge of
oneself.
"In this way will she feel the fire of My love in herself, because love of her neighbor
is developed out of love of Me -- that is, out of that learning which the soul obtained
by knowing herself and My goodness in her. When, therefore, she sees herself to be
ineffably loved by Me, she loves every rational creature with the self-same love with
which she sees herself to be loved. And, for this reason, the soul that knows Me
immediately expands to the love of her neighbor, because she sees that I love that
neighbor ineffably, and so, herself, loves the object which she sees Me to have loved
still more. She further knows that she can be of no use to Me and can in no way
repay Me that pure love with which she feels herself to be loved by Me, and
therefore endeavors to repay it through the medium which I have given her,
namely, her neighbor, who is the medium through which you can all serve Me. For,
as I have said to you, you can perform all virtues by means of your neighbor, I
having given you all creatures, in general and in particular, according to the diverse
graces each has received from Me, to be ministered unto by you; you should
therefore love them with the same pure love with which I have loved you. That
pure love cannot be returned directly to Me, because I have loved you without being
Myself loved, and without any consideration of Myself whatsoever, for I loved you
without being loved by you -- before you existed; it was, indeed, love that moved Me
to create you to My own image and similitude. This love you cannot repay to Me,
but you can pay it to My rational creature, loving your neighbor without being loved
by him and without consideration of your own advantage, whether spiritual or
temporal, but loving him solely for the praise and glory of My Name, because he has
been loved by Me.
"Thus will you fulfill the commandment of the law, to love Me above everything,
and your neighbor as yourselves.
"True indeed is it that this height cannot be reached without passing through the
second stage, namely the second stage of union which becomes the third (and final)
stage. Nor can it be preserved when it has been reached if the soul abandon the
affection from which it has been developed, the affection to which the second class
of tears belongs. It is therefore impossible to fulfill the law given by Me, the Eternal
God, without fulfilling that of your neighbor, for these two laws are the feet of your
affection by which the precepts and counsels are observed, which were given you, as
I have told you, by My Truth, Christ crucified. These two states united nourish your
soul in virtue, making her to grow in the perfection of virtue and in the unitive
state. Not that the other state is changed because this further state has been reached,
for this further state does but increase the riches of grace in new and various gifts
and admirable elevations of the mind, in the knowledge of the truth, as I said to
you, which, though it is mortal, appears immortal because the soul's perception of
her own sensuality is mortified and her will is dead through the union which she
has attained with Me.
"Oh, how sweet is the taste of this union to the soul, for, in tasting it, she sees My
secrets! Wherefore she often receives the spirit of prophecy, knowing the things of
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the future. This is the effect of My Goodness, but the humble soul should despise
such things, not indeed in so far as they are given her by My love, but in so far as she
desires them by reason of her appetite for consolation, considering herself unworthy
of peace and quiet of mind, in order to nourish virtue within her soul. In such a
case let her not remain in the second stage, but return to the valley of selfknowledge.
I give her this light, My grace permitting, so that she may ever grow in
virtue. For the soul is never so perfect in this life that she cannot attain to a higher
perfection of love. My only-begotten Son, your Captain, was the only One who could
increase in no perfection, because He was one thing with Me, and I with Him,
wherefore His soul was blessed through union with the Divine nature. But do you,
His pilgrim-members, be ever ready to grow in greater perfection, not indeed to
another stage, for as I have said, you have now reached the last, but to that further
grade of perfection in the last stage, which may please you by means of My Grace."
How the four stages of the soul, to which belong the five aforesaid states of tears,
produce tears of infinite value: and how God wishes to be served as the
Infinite, and not as anything finite.
"These five states are like five principal canals which are filled with abundant tears
of infinite value, all of which give life if they are disciplined in virtue, as I have said
to you. You ask how their value can be infinite. I do not say that in this life your
tears can become infinite, but I call them infinite, on account of the infinite desire of
your soul from which they proceed. I have already told you how tears come from
the heart, and how the heart distributes them to the eye, having gathered them in
its own fiery desire. As, when green wood is on the fire, the moisture it contains
groans on account of the heat, because the wood is green, so does the heart, made
green again by the renovation of grace drawn into itself among its self-love which
dries up the soul, so that fiery desire and tears are united. And inasmuch as desire is
never ended, it is never satisfied in this life, but the more the soul loves the less she
seems to herself to love. Thus is holy desire, which is founded in love, exercised,
and with this desire the eye weeps. But when the soul is separated from the body
and has reached Me, her End, she does not on that account abandon desire, so as to
no longer yearn for Me or love her neighbor, for love has entered into her like a
woman bearing the fruits of all other virtues. It is true that suffering is over and
ended, as I have said to you, for the soul that desires Me possesses Me in very truth,
without any fear of ever losing that which she has so long desired; but, in this way,
hunger is kept up, because those who are hungry are satisfied, and as soon as they
are satisfied hunger again; in this way their satiety is without disgust, and their
hunger without suffering, for, in Me, no perfection is wanting.
"Thus is your desire infinite, otherwise it would be worth nothing, nor would any
virtue of yours have any life if you served Me with anything finite. For I, who am
the Infinite God, wish to be served by you with infinite service, and the only infinite
thing you possess is the affection and desire of your souls. In this sense I said that
there were tears of infinite value, and this is true as regards their mode, of which I
have spoken, namely, of the infinite desire which is united to the tears. When the
soul leaves the body the tears remain behind, but the affection of love has drawn to
itself the fruit of the tears, and consumed it, as happens in the case of the water in
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your furnace. The water has not really been taken out of the furnace, but the heat of
the fire has consumed it and drawn it into itself. Thus the soul, having arrived at
tasting the fire of My divine charity, and having passed from this life in a state of
love towards Me and her neighbor, having further possessed that unitive love
which caused her tears to fall, does not cease to offer Me her blessed desires, tearful
indeed, though without pain or physical weeping, for physical tears have
evaporated in the furnace, becoming tears of fire of the Holy Spirit. You see then
how tears are infinite, how, as regards the tears shed in this life only, no tongue can
tell what different sorrows may cause them. I have now told you the difference
between four of these states of tears."
Of the fruit of worldly men's tears.
"It remains for Me to tell you of the fruit produced by tears shed with desire, and
received into the soul. But first will I speak to you of that first class of men whom I
mentioned at the beginning of this My discourse; those, that is, who live miserably
in the world, making a god of created things and of their own sensuality, from
which comes damage to their body and soul. I said to you that every tear proceeded
from the heart, and this is the truth, for the heart grieves in proportion to the love it
feels. So worldly men weep when their heart feels pain, that is, when they are
deprived of something which they loved.
"But many and diverse are their complainings. Do you know how many? There are
as many as there exist different loves. And inasmuch as the root of self-love is
corrupt, everything that grows from it is corrupt also. Self-love is a tree on which
grow nothing but fruits of death, putrid flowers, stained leaves, branches bowed
down, and struck by various winds. This is the tree of the soul. For you are all trees
of love, and without love you cannot live, for you have been made by Me for love.
The soul who lives virtuously, places the root of her tree in the valley of true
humility; but those who live thus miserably are planted on the mountain of pride,
whence it follows that since the root of the tree is badly planted, the tree can bear no
fruits of life but only of death. Their fruits are their actions, which are all poisoned
by many and diverse kinds of sin, and if they should produce some good fruit
among their actions, even it will be spoiled by the foulness of its root, for no good
actions done by a soul in mortal sin are of value for eternal life, for they are not
done in grace. Let not, however, such a soul abandon on this account its good works,
forevery good deed is rewarded, and every evil deed punished. A good action
performed out of a state of grace is not sufficient to merit eternal life, as has been
said, but My Justice, My Divine Goodness, grants an incomplete reward, imperfect as
the action which obtains it. Often such a man is rewarded in temporal matters;
sometimes I give him more time in which to repent, as I have already said to you in
another place. This also will I sometimes do, I grant him the life of grace by means
of My servants who are pleasing and acceptable to Me. I acted in this way with My
glorious apostle Paul, who abandoned his infidelity, and the persecutions he
directed against the Christians, at the prayer of St. Stephen. See truly, therefore, that,
in whatever state a man may be, he should never stop doing good.
"I said to you that the flowers of this tree were putrid, and so in truth they are. Its
flowers are the stinking thoughts of the heart, displeasing to Me, and full of hatred
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and unkindness towards their neighbor. So if a man be a thief, he robs Me of honor,
and takes it himself. This flower stinks less than that of false judgment, which is of
two kinds. The first with regard to Me, by which men judge My secret judgments,
gauging falsely all My mysteries, that is, judging that which I did in love, to have
been done in hatred; that which I did in truth to have been done in falsehood; that
which I give them for life, to have been given them for death. They condemn and
judge everything according to their weak intellect; for they have blinded the eye of
their intellect with sensual self-love, and hidden the pupil of the most holy Faith,
which they will not allow to see or know the Truth. The second kind of false
judgment is directed against a man's neighbor, from which often come many evils,
because the wretched man wishes to set himself up as the judge of the affections and
heart of other rational creatures, when he does not yet know himself. And, for an
action which he may see, or for a word he may hear, he will judge the affection of
the heart. My servants always judge well, because they are founded on Me, the
Supreme Good; but such as these always judge badly, for they are founded on evil.
Such critics as these cause hatreds, murders, unhappinesses of all kinds to their
neighbors, and remove themselves far away from the love of My servants' virtue.
"Truly these fruits follow the leaves, which are the words which issue from their
mouth in insult to Me and the Blood of My only-begotten Son, and in hatred to
their neighbors. And they think of nothing else but cursing and condemning My
works, and blaspheming and saying evil of every rational creature, according as
their judgment may suggest to them. The unfortunate creatures do not remember
that the tongue is made only to give honor to Me, and to confess sins, and to be used
in love of virtue, and for the salvation of the neighbor. These are the stained leaves
of that most miserable fault, because the heart from which they proceeded was not
clean, but all spotted with duplicity and misery. How much danger, apart from the
spiritual privation of grace to the soul, of temporal loss may not occur! For you have
all heard and seen how, through words alone, have come revolutions of states, and
destructions of cities, and many homicides and other evils, a word having entered
the heart of the listener, and having passed through a space not large enough for a
knife.
"I say that this tree has seven branches drooping to the earth, on which grow the
flowers and leaves in the way I have told you. These branches are the seven mortal
sins which are full of many and diverse wickednesses, contained in the roots and
trunk of self-love and of pride, which first made both branches and flowers of many
thoughts, the leaves of words, and the fruits of wicked deeds. They stand drooping
to the earth because the branches of mortal sin can turn no other way than to the
earth, the fragile disordinate substance of the world. Do not marvel, they can turn
no way but that in which they can be fed by the earth; for their hunger is insatiable,
and the earth is unable to satisfy them. They are insatiable and unbearable to
themselves, and it is conformable to their state that they should always be unquiet,
longing and desiring that thing which they have to satiety. This is the reason why
such satiety cannot content them, because they (who are infinite in their being) are
always desiring something finite; because their being will never end, though their
life to grace ends when they commit mortal sin.
"Man is placed above all creatures, and not beneath them, and he cannot be satisfied
or content except in something greater than himself. Greater than himself there is
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nothing but Myself, the Eternal God. Therefore I alone can satisfy him, and, because
he is deprived of this satisfaction by his guilt, he remains in continual torment and
pain. Weeping follows pain, and when he begins to weep the wind strikes the tree of
self-love, which he has made the principle of all his being."
How this devout soul, thanking God for His explanation of the above-mentioned
states of tears, makes three petitions.
Then this soul, eager with the greatness of her desire, through the sweetness of the
explanation and satisfaction which she had received from the Truth, concerning the
state of tears, said as one enamored -- "Thanks, thanks be to You, Supreme and
Eternal Father, Satisfier of holy desires, and Lover of our Salvation, who, through
Your Love, gave us Love Himself, in the time of our warfare with You, in the
person of Your only-begotten Son. By this abyss of Your fiery Love, I beg of You grace
and mercy that I may come to You truly in the light, and not flee far in darkness
away from Your doctrine, of which You have clearly demonstrated to me the truth,
so that, by the light thereof, I perceive two other points, concerning which I fear that
they are, or may become, stumbling-blocks to me. I beg, Eternal Father, that, before I
leave the subject of these states of tears, You would explain these points also to me.
The first is -- when a person desirous of serving You, comes to me, or to some other
servant of Yours to ask for counsel, how should I teach him? I know, Sweet and
Eternal God, that You replied above to this question -- 'I am He who takes delight in
few words and many deeds.' Nevertheless, if it please Your Goodness to grant me a
few more words on the subject, it will cause me the greatest pleasure. And also, if on
some occasion, when I am praying for Your creatures, and in particular for Your
servants, and I seem to see the subjects of my prayer, in one I find (in the course of
my prayer) a well-disposed mind, a soul rejoicing in You; and in another, as it might
seem to me, a mind full of darkness; have I the right, O Eternal Father, to judge the
one soul to be in light, and the other in darkness? Or, supposing I should see that
the one lives in great penance, and the other does not, should I be right to judge that
he who does the greater penance has the higher perfection? I pray You, so that I may
not be deceived through my limited vision, that You would declare to me in detail,
what You have already said in general on this matter. The second request I have to
make is, that You will explain further to me about the sign which You said the soul
received on being visited by You -- the sign which revealed Your Presence. If I
remember well, oh, Eternal Truth, You said that the soul remained in joy and
courageous virtue. I would gladly know whether this joy can consist with the
delusion of the passion of spiritual self-love; for if it were so, I would humbly
confine myself to the sign of virtue. These are the things which I beg You to tell me,
so that I may serve You and my neighbor in truth, and not fall into false judgment
concerning Your creatures and servants. For it seems to me that the habit of judging
keeps the soul far from You, so I do not wish to fall into this snare."
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