Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part II, Chapter V
The Soul asks concerning this love. - Our Lord in part answers her and discourses to her upon its greatness, nature, properties, causes and effects.
Soul. O Lord! what is that soul which thou holdest in such esteem and which we value so little? I would that I knew the cause of thy great and pure love for the rational creature whom I behold so contrary in all things to thee!
Our Lord listened favorably to her request and thus replied: "If you were to know how much I love the soul, you would never know aught further, for you would either die or continue to live by a miracle. And if you were able to compare your own misery with that great love and goodness which I never cease to exercise toward man, you would live in despair. So powerful is my love that the knowledge of it would annihilate not only the body but the soul of man, if that were possible. My love is infinite, and I cannot but love that which I have created; my love is pure, simple, and sincere, neither can I love except with such a love.
"To him who could in the least understand this, every other love would seem, what in truth it is, an aberration. The cause of my love is only love itself; and because you cannot comprehend, it be at peace and seek not for what you cannot find. This, my love, is better comprehended by an interior sense than by any other way, and to acquire this the action of love must wholly detach man from himself, for he is his own worst impediment. This love destroys malice and fits man to understand the nature of love."
O admirable work of love, which gives God to man that he may do all that is needful to attain that perfection for which he is designed! God gives him, too, all needful light and grace, increasing them gradually in such a manner and to such a degree that they never fail and never exceed; for if they fell short, man might excuse himself from doing his part because grace was wanting to him, and if they exceeded, the work he might have done through their means but failed to do, would be his punishment.
Grace increases in proportion as man makes use of it. Hence it is evident that God gives man from day to day all that he needs, no more and no less, and to each according to his condition and capacity. All this he does for the love and benefit of man; but because we are so cold and negligent in our endeavors, and because the instinct of the spirit is to arrive quickly at perfection, it seems as if grace were insufficient. Yet it is not so, and the fault is wholly ours, in not cooperating with the grace already received, which therefore ceases to increase.
O wretched man! how shall you be excused for failing to correspond with that great love and care which God has always bestowed and still bestows upon you? At the hour of death you will behold and know all this, and you will then be speechless through astonishment. Then the truth will be made plain and you will have no power to contradict it. Shame will overpower you for having failed to do your part in response to all this aid, this grace, this loving care of your Lord, who, in order to satisfy your other request, speaks to you thus: