Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part I, Chapter XXI
The Spirit brings Humanity to consent to take up her abode in a hospital, where she served the sick in the humblest manner, doing everything that she was ordered to do. - When she became accustomed to whatever she naturally most abhorred, she was made directress of the hospital, and was gifted with the prudence necessary for this office. - How the burning flame of love ever increased within her.
The Spirit now obliged Humanity to take another step, requiring great submission of mind and body; namely, she was directed to live in the hospital, with her husband, and devote herself to the service of the sick; and here she was under the authority of these who governed, as if she had been their servant, hardly daring to speak, living quietly in one of the apartments, and obedient to all that was imposed upon her. When a charge was given her she fulfilled it with alacrity, although she was held in no esteem by the inmates. But of all this she had no interior recognition, for she was wholly lifted above herself, and hereupon said to the Spirit:
Humanity. If you wish me to perform these works, give me the power to do them. I refuse none of them, but they must of necessity be done with some little accidental love, or they will be ill done.
Accordingly some interest in her work was granted her, for which and with which she continued it, but it was only given just at the point where the work in which she was engaged required it, then it was taken from her, together with the memory of the work; and in these employments, and in great poverty, the Spirit left her for many years.
When the Spirit had disciplined Humanity, by such trials and humiliations, until she was able to look not only without disgust upon things which at first she naturally loathed, but busied herself unweariedly and willingly with whatever was most offensive, she was put to another trial, being placed as superior in charge of this hospital, that it might be seen if her humanity would anywhere discover itself, by reason of this elevation. She was tried by the Spirit, in this way, for many years, aided by him, however, with all needed hints and suggestions, without which she could not have fulfilled this charge. And with all these employments she remained recollected in that love which was secretly increasing as Humanity was destroyed, for just so far as she became rid of Self-Love, did she become possessed by pure love, which penetrated and filled her in proportion as she became dead to self. And thus this soul, burning with pure love, melted in that divine flame, and as this continually increased, the soul was always consuming with love; therefore she discharged all her duties with alacrity, never resting, that she might forget the flame that devoured her more and more. She never could speak of this to any one, but she talked of it to herself, unheard by others.
Now the Spirit having thus taken possession of her, said: "I will no longer call her a human creature, so entirely do I behold her in God, and with nothing human remaining."