Saint Catherine of Genoa: Spiritual Dialogue
Part III, Chapter XII

18kb jpg Saint Catherine of Genoa holy card, artist unknown
Exclamations of the Soul upon the blindness which creatures offer to the love of God. - Of the secret operations of God in man, arousing and admonishing him with love. - The Soul inquires concerning this work, and desires to know what grace is, and what is the ray of love.

Alas! how few and rare are they in whom God abides by these operations! O God, thou retainest thy love within thyself because thou canst not infuse it into creatures so occupied with earthly affairs.

O earth, earth, what wilt thou do with those whom thou dost so absorb? The Soul lost and the body corrupted, all things are lost in infinite and incredible torments. Reflect upon this, O Soul! Reflect, and no longer lose the time and the power which are now given thee to escape all danger; thy God is now gracious and propitious to thee. He is very anxious for thy salvation, and is ever seeking and calling thee with measureless love. The operations which God is continually working on our behalf are so many and great, that they can neither be recounted nor imagined: but all the good which he has done to us, is still doing, will do, and desires to do, will result in our condemnation and our confusion if we fail to cooperate with him in the time which we so undervalue.

Soul. Show me, O my Lord, if it please thee, how thou dost work within man by thy secret love, in which he is taken captive by thee, not knowing how, nor understanding in what manner, but only finding himself a prisoner of love and greatly satisfied.

The Lord. I move with my love the heart of man, and with that movement give him light by which he sees that I am inspiring him to well-doing; and in that light he ceases to do ill, and struggles with his evil inclinations.

Soul. What is this movement, and how does it begin in man, who knows not of its existence and asks not for it?

The Lord. The pure, simple, and boundless love which I bear toward all men, impels me to grant him this grace, to knock at his heart, to see whether he will open and give me entrance, that so I may make my abode there and banish all things else.

Soul. And what is this grace?

The Lord. It is an inspiration which I send him by means of a ray of love, with which I give him also the instinct of love; it is impossible for him not to love, and although he knows not what he loves, yet he learns it by little and little.

Soul. What is the ray of love?

The Lord. Behold the rays of the sun, which are so subtle and penetrating that human eyes cannot behold them without losing their sight; such are the rays of my love which I send into human hearts, and which deprive man of all knowledge and all delight in worldly things.

Soul. And these rays, how do they enter into the hearts of men?

The Lord. Like darts directed at this one and at that; they touch the heart in secret, inflame it, and make it heave with sighs; man knows not what he wishes, but finding himself wounded with love can give no account of his condition, and remains lost in wonder.

Soul. And what is this dart?

The Lord. It is a scintillation of love which I infuse into man, which softens his obduracy and melts him as wax is melted by the fire. I give him also the instinct to refer to me all the love which I infuse.

Soul. And what is this scintillation?

The Lord. It is an inspiration sent by me which sets on fire the human heart, and so ardently and powerfully inflames it, that it can do nothing but love. By its power man is kept constantly intent on me, and is continually admonished by it within his heart.

What this interior inspiration is, which works so secretly, cannot be told in words. Ask of the heart which feels it. Ask of the intellect which understands it. Ask of the mind filled with the operations which God effects by means of it, for the least conception that can be formed of it is that given by the tongue. God fills man with love; he draws him to himself by love, and by its force enables him to overcome the world, the devils, and himself; but man cannot understand this love nor put it into words.

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