Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part III, Chapter XI
Of the secret means used by God for the purification of man. - Of the loving care he takes of him. - How he sweetly leads him by love, and does not allow him to work for his own advantage. - That true nakedness of spirit cannot be expressed by words.
O sweetest, my Lord, in how many hidden ways thou workest in man when thou desirest to purify him by means of thy most pure love, which removes all rust from the Soul and prepares it for the most holy union with thee! Oh, vast and happy country, unknown to wretched mortals, but for which they were created by God!
O infinite God, how is it possible that thou shouldst not be known and loved by him whom thou hast made capable of knowing and enjoying thee, unless solely by reason of the little taste and feeling which by thy grace thou hast bestowed upon him! For, if in this world man possessed thee, he would leave all things beside.
O Lord, what loving care thou takest, day and night, of man, who knoweth not himself, and much less knoweth thee, although thou lovest him so much, seekest him with such diligence, and waitest for and bearest him with so much patience, out of thy divine love!
Thou art that great most high God of whom we can neither speak nor think, because of the ineffable supereminence of thy glory, wisdom, power, and infinite goodness: and all these thou employest in the service of man, who is so vile, but whom thou wouldst make so great and worthy; and therefore thou art ever luring him with thy love because thou art unwilling to force the free-will which thou hast given him. Thou drawest him to thee by love, and desirest that he consent to thee through love. Thou workest in him by love and with thy love. Thou wouldst have the whole man act through love, that so, without thy love he might do nothing. Thou, who art our God and Lord, hast disregarded thine own ease, both of soul and body, that thou mightest save man; and thou willest that he also should disregard all ease of soul and body that he may do thy will: and this chiefly because thy will is our best good: but this, by blind and miserable man is never understood.
I have not spoken well of the nakedness of the Spirit. It is because there are no words by which this nakedness might be expressed, and the soul which finds herself in that condition has in her mind a fulness, a repletion, of which she knows not how to speak: and yet by reason of the vehemence of her emotions she is forced to speak, and in a language more fitting than she is aware. This language is like the ink, black and unseemly, and yet by its means many thoughts are made plain which could not otherwise be understood.
Alas! if man could comprehend what it is that the mind feels in such a state, these words would indeed appear to him dark and unseemly. What, then, are these hearts and tongues to do which cannot utter their thoughts? So secret and hidden are they that to him who feels them it seems impossible that he should find any who can understand, and much less express them. Will he then remain silent wonder? No, for he is unable to be silent, finding his heart ever more inflamed by the marvelous operations of divine love, which God increased day by day within him, and which bind him so closely by the invisible chains of love that Humanity can hardly endure it, more especially when it sees the madness of men, who are so wrapped in exterior things that they neither know, conjecture, nor comprehend this divine operation. But God loves us so much that although he sees us so blind and deaf to our own advantage, yet he does not for that reason cease to knock continually at our hearts by his holy inspirations, that so he may enter and make therein tabernacles for himself into which creatures can never enter more.