Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part II, Chapter IV
God sends into that heart another ray of love, which, diffusing itself, fills the soul and revives the body. - There is nothing but exceeding love and joy, until this love, which is wholly from God, has completed its work.
God once more infused into the Soul another ray of love, and by its superabundance the body also was refreshed, and there was nothing but love and rejoicing of heart, for the Soul believed herself in paradise. In this state the Soul continued until every love except that of God was entirely consumed, and with his love alone she remained until she was wholly absorbed in him. He bestowed upon her many graces and sent her many sweet consolations, upon which she fed as do all those who share the divine love. He spoke to her also in those loving words which, like flame, penetrate the hearts of those who hear them. The body, moreover, was so inflamed, that it seemed as if the Soul must quit it in order to unite herself with her Love. This was to her a season of great peace and consolation, for all her nourishment was the food of eternal life.
In this state she feared neither martyrdom nor hell nor any opposition or adversity that might befall her, for it seemed to her that with this love she could endure all things. O loving and rejoicing heart! O happy soul that has tasted this love! Thou canst no longer enjoy or behold aught beside, for thou hast attained thy rest for which thou wert created! O sweet and secret love: whoever tastes thee can no longer exist without thee! Thou, O man! who wert created for this love, how canst thou be satisfied and at peace without it? How canst thou live? In it is comprised all that can be desired, and it yields a satisfaction so entire that man can neither obtain it for himself nor even conceive it until he has experienced it. O love! in which are united all bliss and all delight, and which satisfies all desire!
Whoever could express the emotions of a heart enamored of God, would break every other heart with longing, although it were harder than the diamond and perverser than the devil. O flame of love! thou dost consume all rust, and so completely removest every shadow of defect that the least imperfection disappears before thee. So perfectly dost thou thy work in the Soul, that she is cleansed even from those defects that are seen by thine eye alone, to which even that which seems to us perfection is full of faults.
O Love! thou dost wholly cleanse and purify us; thou dost enlighten and strengthen our understanding, and dost even perform for us our necessary works, and this through thy pure love alone which meets with no return from us.
And now this Soul, filled with astonishment at beholding God so enamored of her, questions him concerning his love.