Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part I, Chapter IV
The Soul, the Body, and Self-Love pursue their journey, during which the Soul cannot complete her whole week, and the Body encroaches upon it. - The Soul allows herself to be persuaded by Self-Love under pretext of the necessities of her two companions. - The Soul laments her condition and proposes not to take her turn again.
Body. Let us go straight forward on our journey, and thus traveling through the world in harmony, each will accomplish his own business, seeking, according to his condition, support, food, and pleasure.
Soul. My turn has come again, but alas! I cannot do as I did at first. I find myself drawn to earth by the pressing necessities of others, for which I am bound to provide; and thus my time passes only half-improved, while I live with these my companions on the best terms I can. It seems to me a heavy mortification to be obliged to leave so great a thing as divine contemplation, in order to employ myself in providing food for animals; so that the difference between this week and the other is as great as between light and darkness.
Body. This is my week, and I find myself almost famished through the fastings imposed upon me by the Soul. Yet I see that she condescends to my necessities, and therefore, I must take good care of myself and gain all the strength I can. Indeed I feel better already. In this way, I need not fear what the Soul may do to harm me during her week, especially as she is not able to keep the high stand she took at first, and thus I have not only my own week, but half of hers; and my needs, which she cannot but supply, are growing greater every day.
Soul. O Self-Love! I see that I am robbed of my rights by condescending to your endless necessities, and leaving the right path by permitting myself to be led by you, who are so self-seeking; in the end, we may find ourselves all astray. Will you, then, who are the umpire, tell me candidly what you think?
Self-Love. Soul, you have, without any cause, become so estranged from us, that you think it a great matter to condescend to the needs of others, especially from the height to which you had ascended. By degrees, however, you will become more settled; and keeping company with us will not appear so great a hardship to you as it now does. Have no doubts - God will provide. You are not to enjoy perfect happiness in this life, but in the next. Now take what you can get, and do the best you can.
Soul. I see not how I can defend myself, since I live with you, and you are united against me. It does me no good to take my turn, for your wants are so incessant that you allow me not a day's rest, and so engrossing that I have no time for myself.
And when your turn comes, you wish to have everything according to your own pleasure and proclaim yourselves masters. I cannot but be a loser in the end, and therefore, I think seriously that I will try this plan no longer, but will let each one provide for himself, and find food where he can. I shall try to bear myself toward each of you in the best way I am able, since I have no choice in the matter, but must, perforce, remain with you.
Body and Self-Love. In our judgment this will answer very well. We can all live peaceably without quitting our own spheres, the more easily, since you, O Soul! have at length discovered your mistake.