Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part II, Chapter VIII
Our Lord makes known to the Soul that she had merited nothing, having employed in purifying herself the time which was given her to increase in grace and glory. - Also he shows her that without his help she could have done nothing.
The Lord. My daughter, hitherto you have followed the odor of my perfumes, which have guided and supported you thus far upon your way; but without me you could have done nothing. In this way, my grace assisting, you are purged from your sins, despoiled of your affections, habited in virtue, burning with love, and as it were, united with me in love, and so full of delight, both inwardly and outwardly, that you seem to yourself to be in paradise.
But understand that hitherto you have merited nothing, for whatever you have done in the way of penance, fasting, alms, and prayers, you were obliged to do; it was needful for you to perform them all by my light in order to cancel your debts. And having not the means wherewith to satisfy, I have granted you these through love for you, that you might by them make satisfaction: and know, that all this time which you have spent in satisfying for your sins is as if it were lost, for it was given you that you might increase in love, grace, and glory; therefore, you have merited nothing, although it may seem to you that you have done great things, and such as are highly esteemed by those who do not understand them.
It was also necessary that you should be clothed with the virtues which attract love, that they might protect you from evil and prepare you to receive greater light; and knowing that of yourself you were unfit for any good work and also incapable of it, I have given you (in order that you might work and persevere in work) a hidden love, by whose operations all your facilities and also your bodily senses should be voluntarily disposed to make satisfaction. I have given you, moreover, the power to love me, in order to detach you from every other love, and finally I have conducted you to the portals of my true and perfect love, beyond which you have not advanced, for to do so is beyond your strength. And with all this you are not yet content, for you have the instinct to advance, although you know not even what you desire.