Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part I, Chapter IX
The Soul speaks to Self-Love and the Body of the truth she had seen, and tells them that she should be lost if she followed them. - She warns them of her purpose to do to them what they had designed to do to her, namely, to subject them to herself. - Of the disgust they felt at this.
After the Soul had seen the many things so skillfully, purely, and carefully wrought in her by love she paused, and said to the Body and Self-Love:
Soul. My brothers, I have come to know that God is about to do a work of love on my behalf and therefore I shall take no more heed of you, your needs, or your words, for I surely know that if I heed you I shall perish, although I would never have believed it, if I had not experienced it. Under the appearance of good and necessity, you have wellnigh led me to the death of sin, and have done all you could to bring me to perdition. Now I intend to do to you what you have wished to do to me, and I shall hold you in no more respect than if you were my deadly enemies. Never expect to be on good terms with me again, - give up all hopes of it as if you were among the lost. I shall strive to return to that path which I first entered, and from which you caused me to swerve by your deceits. I hope, however, through the divine light, that you will deceive me no more, and in the meanwhile I shall do all things in such a manner, that the necessities of each will be satisfied. If you have led me to do what I ought not, in order to satisfy your appetites, I will lead you to what you do not desire, in order to satisfy the spirit. I shall not spare you, even if you are worn out, even as you spared me not when I was so enslaved by you, that you did with me according to your pleasure. I hope to bring you into such subjection to myself as to change your natures.
The Body and Self-Love were greatly displeased when they found that the Soul had received so much light that they could no longer deceive her.
Body and Self-Love. We are subject to you, O Soul! let justice be done, and be the rest according to your pleasure. If we cannot subsist in any other way, we can live by violence; that is, you will oppose us as much as you can, and we will do all we can to injure you, and in the end each will be rewarded according to his deserts.
Soul. I will say one thing for your consolation: for a time you will be greatly dissatisfied, but when I have deprived you of your superfluities (which will distress you very much), you will be satisfied with all I have said and done, and you will participate forever in my welfare; dispose yourselves, therefore, to patience, for in the end we shall all enter into the divine peace. At present I will supply your necessities only, but afterwards you will have everything you desire. I will lead you to a joy so great and so secure, that you will wish for nothing more even in this life. Hitherto you have had nothing whatever in which you could take any satisfaction, and now, having tried all things, I hope to bring you to a place of the greatest happiness, which will have no end. It will begin, and go on increasing, until at length there will be such peace in the soul that the body too will feel it, and it will be enough to mitigate the suffering not alone of one, but of a thousand hells. Before this can be attained, much remains to be done, but (with light and help from God), we shall come out safely on every side; let this suffice for your encouragement. Henceforth I shall not speak, but act.
Body. You appear so terrible to me, and have made so deliberate an attack on me, that I fear you will go to some excess, to the injury of us all. I wish, therefore, to recall some things to your remembrance, and discourse with you concerning them, and then I will leave you to act your own pleasure. I would remind you that after the love of God, comes the love of the neighbor, which begins with one's own body and its concerns, and you are bound to preserve it not only in life but in health. If you fail to do so, you cannot succeed in your designs. I am necessary to your existence, for when I am dead, you will have no means of adding to your glory, nor time to purify yourself from all your imperfections, and purgatory must do this for you. That kind of penance you will find very different from bearing with a body in this world. As to health, when the body is sound, the powers of the soul and the bodily senses are in a better state to receive divine light and inspiration, even through the sense of taste, which, in the soul's esteem, passes for a superfluity. Now, if I am infirm, these things and many others that I could name would fail you, even as time fails me to enumerate them. I have said to you what seems to me most important both for your interest and mine that each may have his due, and both reach the port of salvation, without reproach in heaven or on earth.
Soul. I am made aware of all that is needful to me, interiorly by the divine light, and exteriorly by your reasons, and many more that might be thought of. But, henceforth, let me hear no more reasoning, or external persuasions, for I wish to give my attention to superior considerations, which are of such a sort that they can do injustice to no one, but will rather give to each all that he needs, so that none can complain, except of his own imperfections. Whoever complains, shows that he is not yet well-ordered, and that his appetites are not in subjection to reason. Leave all this to me, O Body, and I will make you change your opinion. You shall live in such content that you could never believe it, did you not experience it.
I was once mistress, when I first turned my thoughts to spiritual things; but afterwards I was deluded into making myself your equal, and we made with Self-Love a compact to do good, but only in such a manner that one should not take advantage of the other; by degrees, however, you so contrived that I became completely enslaved, and could do nothing but what was pleasing to you. Now, I am determined to be mistress again, with this understanding, that if you are willing to become my servant, I shall be contented, and you shall want for nothing that a servant needs. But if you will not be my servant, I shall compel you to become my slave, and so completely my slave, that you will be willing to serve me for love, and thus will all our opposition end, for in every way I will be served, and will be mistress.