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St. Catherine of Siena
The Dialogue of Saint Catherine

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Of the difference between the death of a just man and that of a sinner, and first of the death of the just man.
"Having told you how the world and the devils accuse these wretches, which is indeed the truth, I wish to speak to you in more detail on this point (so that you may have greater compassion on these poor wretches), telling you how different are the struggles of the soul of a just man to those of a sinner, and how different are their deaths, and how the peace of the just man's death is greater or less according to the perfection of his soul. For I wish you to know that all the sufferings which rational creatures endure depend on their will, because if their will were in accordance with mine they would endure no suffering, not that they would have no labors on that account, but because labors cause no suffering to a will which gladly endures them, seeing that they are ordained by My will. Such men as these wage war with the world, the Devil, and their own sensuality through holy hatred of themselves. Wherefore when they come to the point of death, they die peacefully, because they have vanquished their enemies during their life. The world cannot accuse such a man, because he saw through its deceptions and therefore renounced it with all its delights. His sensual fragility and his body do not accuse him, because he bound sensuality like a slave with the rein of reason, macerating his flesh with penance, with watchings, and humble and continual prayer. The will of his senses he slew with hatred and dislike of vice, and with love of virtue. He has entirely lost all tenderness for his body, which tenderness and love between the soul and the body makes death seem difficult, and on account of it man naturally fears death; but since the virtue of a just and perfect man transcends nature, extinguishing his natural fear and overcoming it with holy hatred of himself and desire of arriving at his last end, his natural tenderness cannot make war on him, and his conscience remains in peace; for during his life his conscience kept a good guard, warning him when enemies were coming to attack the city of his soul, like a watch-dog which stands at the door, and when it sees enemies warns the guards by its barking, for in this way the dog of conscience warns the sentry of reason, and the reason together with the free-will know by the light of the intellect whether the stranger be friend or enemy. To a friend, that is to say, to virtue and holy thoughts, he gave his delighted love, receiving and using these with great solicitude; to an enemy, that is to say, to vice and wicked thoughts, he gave hatred and displeasure. And with the knife of hatred of self, and love of Me, and with the light of reason, and the hand of free- will he struck his enemies; so that at the point of death his conscience, having been a faithful guardian, does not gnaw but remains in peace.
"It is true that a just soul, through humility, and because at the moment of death she realizes better the value of time and of the jewels of virtue, reproves herself, seeming to herself to have used her time but little; but this is not an afflictive pain, but rather profitable, for the soul recollected in herself, is caused by it to throw herself before the Blood of the humble and immaculate Lamb My Son. The just man does not turn his head to admire his past virtues, because he neither can nor will hope in his own virtues, but only in the Blood in which he has found mercy; and as he lived in the memory of that Blood, so in death he is inebriated and drowned in the same. How is it that the devils cannot reprove him of sin? Because during his life he conquered their malice with wisdom, yet they come round him to see if they can acquire anything, and appear in horrible shapes in order to frighten him with hideous aspect, and many diverse phantasms, but the poison of sin not being in his soul, their aspect causes him no terror or fear, as it would do to another who had lived wickedly in the world. Wherefore the devils, seeing that the soul has entered into the Blood with ardent love, cannot endure the sight, but stand afar off shooting their arrows. But their war and their shouts cannot hurt that soul, who already is beginning to taste eternal life, as I said to you in another place, for with the eye of the intellect illuminated by the pupil of the holy faith, she sees Me, the Infinite and Eternal Good, whom she hopes to obtain by grace, not as her due, but by virtue of Jesus Christ My Son.
"Wherefore opening the arms of hope and seizing Him with the hands of love, she seems to enter into His possession before she actually does so, in the way which I have narrated to you in another place. Passing suddenly, drowned in the Blood, by the narrow door of the Word she reaches Me, the Sea Pacific. For sea and door are united together. I and the Truth, My only-begotten Son being one and the same thing. What joy such a soul receives who sees herself so sweetly arrived at this pass, for in Truth she tastes the happiness of the angelic nature! This joy is received by all those who pass in this sweet manner, but to a far greater extent by My ministers, of whom I spoke to you, who have lived like angels, for in this life have they lived with greater knowledge, and with greater hunger for the salvation of souls. I do not speak only of the light of virtue which all can have in general, but of the supernatural light which these men possessed over and above the light of virtuous living, the light, that is, of holy science, by which science they knew more of My Truth, and he who knows more loves Me more, and he who loves Me more receives more. Your reward is measured according to the measure of your love, and if you should ask Me, whether one who has no science can attain to this love, I should reply, yes it is possible that he may attain to it, but an individual case does not make a general law and I always discourse to you in general.
"They also receive greater dignity on account of their priesthood, because they have personally received the office of eating souls in My honor. For just as everyone has the office of remaining in charity with his neighbor, to them is given the office of administering the Blood, and of governing souls.
"Wherefore if they do this solicitously and with love of virtue they receive, as has been said, more than others. Oh! how happy are their souls when they come to the extremity of death! For they have been the defenders and preachers of the faith to their neighbor. This faith they have incarnated in their very marrow, and with it they see their place of repose in Me. The hope with which they have lived, confiding in My providence and losing all trust in themselves, in that they did not hope in their own knowledge, and having lost hope in themselves, placed no inordinate love in any fellow-creature or in any created thing; having lived in voluntary poverty, causes them now with great delight to lift their confidence towards Me. Their heart, which was a vessel of love, inscribed by their ardent charity with My name, they showed forth with the example of their good and holy life and by the doctrine of their words to their neighbor. This heart then arises and seizes Me, who am its End, with ineffable love, restoring to Me the pearl of justice which it always carried before it, doing justice to all, and discreetly rendering to each his due. Wherefore this man renders to Me justice with true humility, and renders glory and praise to My Name, because he refers to Me the grace of having been able to run his course with a pure and holy conscience, and with himself he is indignant, deeming himself unworthy of receiving such grace.
"His conscience gives good testimony of him to Me, and I justly give him the crown of justice, adorned with the pearls of the virtues -- that is, of the fruit which love has drawn from the virtues. Oh, earthly angel! happy you are in that you have not been ungrateful for the benefits received from Me, and have not been negligent or ignorant, but have solicitously opened your eye by the true light, and kept it on your subjects, and have faithfully and manfully followed the doctrine of the Good Shepherd, sweet Christ Jesus, My only-begotten Son, wherefore you are really now passing through Him, the Door, bathed and drowned in His blood, with your troop of lambs of whom you have brought many by your holy doctrine and example to eternal life, and have left many behind you in a state of grace.
"Oh, dearest daughter! to such as these the vision of the devils can do no harm, because of the vision which they have of Me, which they see by faith and hold by love; the darkness and the terrible aspect of the demons do not give them trouble or any fear, because in them is not the poison of sin. There is no servile fear in them, but holy fear. Wherefore they do not fear the demon's deception, because with supernatural light and with the light of Holy Scripture they know them, so that they do not cause them darkness or disquietude. So thus they gloriously pass, bathed in the blood, with hunger for the salvation of souls, all on fire with love for the neighbor, having passed through the door of the word and entered into Me; and by My goodness each one is arranged in his place, and to each one is measured of the affection of love according as he has measured to Me."



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