A Year with the Saints – 13 July


When one aims at pleasing his God through love, as his mind is always turned in that direction in which love urges him, he has neither heart nor opportunity to reflect upon himself, and to see what he is doing and whether he is satisfied with it. For such reflections are not pleasing in the eyes of God, and only serve to satisfy that wretched love and inordinate care that we have for ourselves. This self-love, it must be said, is a great busy-body, which takes up everything and holds to nothing. – Saint Francis de Sales

This appears very plainly from what Saint Catherine of Genoa relates of herself. “Scarcely,” said she, “had my Divine Love taken possession of my soul, when I entreated Him to purify it from every interior and exterior imperfection. This He immediately began to do, but with such exactness and so minutely, that to my amazement, He caused me to look upon things as wrong and imperfect, which everyone would have considered right and perfect. Oh my God! in everything He found defects, and in every action something to blame. If I spoke of the interior emotions I experienced in my heart, He said: ‘This talk aims at your own consolation? If I was silent, and remained grieving and lamenting interiorly, ‘Ah, this grief and lamentation serves to give you some refreshment!’ If I turned my thoughts upon the course things were taking, ‘All these reflections only serve to satisfy self-love? If I remained like an insensible thing and only paid attention when things like what I felt in my own mind were spoken of, ‘And is not this desire to listen a form of seeking self-gratification?’ When the inferior part of my soul thus beheld itself revealed, and perceived that it could not deny these imperfections, it finally owned itself to be conquered. Then the superior part began to experience an unspeakable peace, seeing that the inferior lay prostrate and could do no harm, and that it would itself reap all the advantage. But here again my Holy Love found something to reprove, and said, ‘What do you think to do? I desire all for Myself. Do not imagine that I will leave thee a single good of body or of soul, or that I will ever rest until I have annihilated in thee all that cannot abide in the Divine Presence, and have fully revealed and utterly subdued these things to Myself? And so, not knowing what to say or do in view of His clear-sightedness, I gave myself wholly into His hands, that He might strip me of all that was not pleasing to His most penetrating eyes. Then I saw that Pure Love wishes to be alone; where It abides, It cannot bear company; and therefore when It wishes to draw a soul to perfection, It marks as enemies all things beloved by it, and intends to consume them without compassion for soul or body, and if permitted, would take them all away at once. But seeing the weakness of man, which could not support so great and so sudden a work, He cuts them off little by little, by which the soul constantly knows more and more of the operation of God and is every day enkindled with fresh flames of His love, so that this Divine fire is insensibly consuming her desires and imperfect loves, until she remains stripped of every other love and entirely possessed by the pure love of God.”

MLA Citation