Catherine, Dialogue 154
and what is the sign of a man's possessing it, and what accompanies and nourishes obedience.
The Supreme and Eternal Father, kindly turning the eye of His mercy and clemency towards her, replied: "Your holy desire and righteous request, oh! dearest daughter, have a right to be heard, and inasmuch as I am the Supreme Truth,I will keep My word, fulfilling the promise which I made to you, and satisfying your desire. And if you ask Me where obedience is to be found, and what is the cause of its loss, and the sign of its possession, I reply that you willfind it in its completeness in the sweet and amorous Word, My only-begotten Son. So prompt in Him was this virtue, that, in order to fulfill it, He hastened to the shameful death of the Cross (Ph 2,8). What destroys obedience? Look at the first man and you will see the cause which destroyed the obedience imposed on him by Me, the Eternal Father. It was pride, which was produced by self-love, and desire to please his companion. This was the cause that deprived him of the perfection of obedience, giving him instead disobedience, depriving him of the life of grace, and slaying his innocence, wherefore he fell into impurity and great misery, and not only he, but the whole human race, as I said to you. The sign that you have this virtue is patience, and impatience the sign that you have it not, and you will find that this is indeed so, when I speak to you further concerning this virtue. But observe that obedience may be kept in two ways, of which one is more perfect than the other, not that they are on that account separated, but united as I explained to you of the precepts and counsels. The one way is the most perfect, the other is also good and perfect; for no one at all can reach eternal life if he be not obedient, for the door was unlocked by the key of obedience, which had been fastened by the disobedience of Adam. I, then, being constrained by My infinite goodness, since I saw that man whom I so much loved, did not return to Me, his End, took the keys of obedience and placed them in the hands of My sweet and amorous Word -- the Truth -- and He becoming the porter of that door, opened it, and no one can enter except by means of that door and that Porter. Wherefore He said in the Holy Gospel that 'no one could come to Me, the Father, if not by Him.' When He returned to Me, rising to Heaven from the conversation of men at the Ascension, He left you this sweet key of obedience; for as you know He left His vicar, the Christ, on earth, whom you are all obliged to obey until death, and whoever is outside His obedience is in a state of damnation, as I have already told you in another place. Now I wish you to see and know this most excellent virtue in that humble and immaculate Lamb, and the source whence it proceeds. What caused the great obedience of the Word? The love which He had for My honor and your salvation. Whence proceeded this love? From the clear vision with which His soul saw the divine essence and the eternal Trinity, thus always looking on Me, the eternal God. His fidelity obtained this vision most perfectly for Him, which vision you imperfectly enjoy by the light of holy faith. He was faithful to Me, His eternal Father, and therefore hastened as one enamored along the road of obedience, lit up with the light of glory. And inasmuch as love cannot be alone, but is accompanied by all the true and royal virtues, because all the virtues draw their life from love, He possessed them all, but in a different way from that in which you do. Among the others he possessed patience, which is the marrow of obedience, and a demonstrative sign, whether a soul be in a state of grace and truly love or not. Wherefore charity, the mother of patience, has given her as a sister to obedience, and so closely united them together that one cannot be lost without the other(Ga 3,27). Either you have them both or you have neither. This virtue has a nurse who feeds her, that is, true humility; therefore a soul is obedient in proportion to her humility, and humble in proportion to her obedience. This humility is the foster-mother and nurse of charity, and with the same milk she feeds the virtue of obedience. Her raiment given her by this nurse is self-contempt, and insult, desire to displease herself, and to please Me. Where does she find this? In sweet Christ Jesus, My only-begotten Son. For who abased Himself more than He did! He was sated with insults, jibes, and mockings. He caused pain to Himself in His bodily life, in order to please Me. And who was more patient than He? for His cry was never heard in murmuring, but He patiently embraced His injuries like one enamored, fulfilling the obedience imposed on Him by Me, His Eternal Father. Wherefore in Him you will find obedience perfectly accomplished. He left you this rule and this doctrine, which gives you life, for it is the straight way, having first observed them Himself.He is the way, wherefore He said, 'He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.'For he who travels by that way, travels in the light, and being enlightened cannot stumble, or be caused to fall, without perceiving it. For He has cast from Himself the darkness of self-love, by which he fell into disobedience;for as I spoke to you of a companion virtue proceeding from obedience and humility, so I tell you that disobedience comes from pride, which issues from self-love depriving the soul of humility. The sister given by self-loveto disobedience is impatience, and pride, her foster-mother, feeds her with the darkness of infidelity, so she hastens along the way of darkness, which leads her to eternal death. All this you should read in that glorious book, where you find described this and every other virtue."
How obedience is the key with which Heaven is opened, and how the soul should fasten it by means of a cord to her girdle, and of the excellences of obedience.
"Now that I have shown you where obedience is to be found, and whence she comes, and who is her companion, and who her foster-mother, I will continue to speak of the obedient and of the disobedient together, and of obedience in general, which is the obedience of the precepts; and in particular, which is that of the counsels. The whole of your faith is founded upon obedience, for by it you prove your fidelity. You are all in general by My truth to obey the commandments of the law, the chief of which is to love Me above everything, and your neighbor as yourself, and the commandments are so bound up together, that you cannot observe or transgress one without observing or transgressing all. He who observes this principal commandment observes all the others; he is faithful to Me and his neighbor, for he loves Me and My creature, and is therefore obedient, becoming subject to the commandments of the law, and to creatures for My sake, and with humble patience he endures every labor, and even his neighbor's detraction of him. This obedience is of such excellence that you all derive grace from it, just as from disobedience you all derive death. Wherefore it is not enough that it should be only in word, and not practiced by you. I have already told you that this word is the key which opens heaven, which key My Son placed in the hands of His vicar.
This vicar placed it in the hands of everyone who receives holy baptism, promising therein to renounce the world and all its pomps and delights, and to obey. So that each man has in his own person that very same key which the Word had, and if a man does not unlock in the light of faith, and with the hand of love the gate of heaven by means of this key, he never will enter there, in spite of its having been opened by the Word; for though I created you without yourselves, I will not save you without yourselves. Wherefore you must take the key in your hand and walk by the doctrine of My Word, and not remain seated, that is to say, placing your love in finite things, as do foolish men who follow the first man, their first father, following his example, and casting the key of obedience into the mud of impurity, breaking it with the hammer of pride, rusting it with self-love. It would have been entirely destroyed had not My only-begotten Son, the Word, come and taken this key of obedience in His hands and purified it in the fire of divine love, having drawn it out of the mud, and cleansed it with His blood, and straightened it with the knife of justice, and hammered your iniquities into shape on the anvil of His own body. So perfectly did He repair it that no matter how much a man may have spoiled his key by his free-will, by the self-same free-will, assisted by My grace, he can repair it with the same instruments that were used by My Word. Oh! blinder than the blind, for, having spoiled the key of obedience, you do not think of mending it! Do you think, forsooth, that the disobedience which closed the door of Heaven will open it? that the pride which fell can rise? Do you think to be admitted to the marriage feast in foul and disordered garments? Do you think that sitting down and binding yourself with the chain of mortal sin, you can walk? or that without a key you can open the door? Do not imagine that you can, for it is a fantastical delusion; you must be firm, you must leave mortal sin by a holy confession, contrition of heart, satisfaction, and purpose of amendment. Then you will throw off that hideous and defiled garment and, clothed in the shining nuptial robe, will hasten, the key of obedience in your hand, to open the door. But bind this key with the cord of self-contempt, and hatred of yourself and of the world, and fasten it to the love of pleasing Me, Your creator, of which you should make a girdle to yourself to bind your loins with it, for fear you lose it. Know, My daughter, there are many who take up this key of obedience, having seen by the light of faith that in no other way can they escape eternal damnation; but they hold it in their hand without wearing this girdle, or fastening the key to it with the cord of self-contempt, that is to say that they are not perfectly clothed with My pleasure, but still seek to please themselves; they do not wear the cord of self-contempt, for they do not desire to be despised, but rather take delight in the praise of men. Such as these are apt to lose their key; for if they suffer a little extra fatigue, or mental or corporal tribulation, and if, as often happens, the hand of holy desire loosens its grasp, they will lose it. They can indeed find it again if they wish to while they live, but if they do not wish they will never find it, and what will prove to them, that they have lost it?Impatience, for patience was united to obedience, and their impatience proves that obedience does not dwell in their soul. Oh! how sweet and glorious is this virtue, which contains all the rest, for she is conceived and born ofcharity, on her is founded the rock of the holy faith. She is a queen whose consort will feel no trouble, but only peace and quiet; the waves of the stormy sea cannot hurt her, nor can any tempest reach the interior of the soul in whom she dwells. Such a one feels no hatred when injured, because he wishes to obey the precept of forgiveness, he suffers not when his appetites are not satisfied, because obedience has ordered him to desire Me alone, who can and will satisfy all his desires, if he strip himself of worldly riches. And so in all things which would be too long to relate, he who has chosen as spouse Queen Obedience, the appointed key of heaven, finds peace and quiet. Oh! blessed obedience! you voyage without fatigue, and reach without danger the port of salvation, you are conformed to My only-begotten Son, the Word, you board the ship of the holy cross, forcing yourself to endure, so as not to transgress the obedience of the Word, nor abandon His doctrine, of which you make a table when you eat the food of souls, dwelling in the love of your neighbor, being anointed with true humility, which saves you from coveting, contrary to My will, his possessions, you walk erect, without bending, for your heart is sincere and not false, loving generously and truly My creatures, you are a sunrise drawing after you the light of divine grace, you are a sun which makes the earth, that is to say, the organs of the soul, to germinate with the heat of charity, all of which as well as those of the body produce life-giving fruit for yourself and your neighbor. You are even cheerful, for your face is never wrinkled with impatience, but smooth and pleasant with the happiness of patience, and even in its fortitude you are great by your long endurance, so long that it reaches from earth to heaven and unlocks the celestial door. You are a hidden pearl, trampled by the world, abasing yourself, submitting to all creatures. Yet your kingdom is so great that no one can rule you, for you have come out of the mortal servitude of your own sensuality, which destroyed your dignity, and having slain this enemy with hatred and dislike of your own pleasure have re-obtained your liberty."
"All this, dearest daughter, has been done by My goodness and providenceas I have told you, for by My providence the Word repaired the key of obedience,but worldly men devoid of every virtue do the contrary; they, like unbridledhorses, without the bit of obedience, go from bad to worse, from sin to sin,from misery to misery, from darkness to darkness, from death to death, untilthey finally reach the edge of the ditch of death, gnawed by the worm oftheir conscience, and though it is true that they can obey the precepts ofthe law if they will, and have the time repenting of their disobedience,it is very hard for them to do so, on account of their long habit of sin.Therefore let no man trust to this, putting off his finding of the key ofobedience to the moment of his death, for although everyone may and shouldhope as long as he has life, he should not put such trust in this hope asto delay repentance. What is the reason of all this, and of such blindnessthat prevents them recognizing this treasure? The cloud of self-love andwretched pride, through which they abandoned obedience, and fell intodisobedience. Being disobedient they are impatient, as has been said, andin their impatience endure intolerable pain, for it has seduced them fromthe way of Truth, leading them along a way of lies, making them slaves andfriends of the devils with whom, unless indeed they amend themselves withpatience, they will go to the eternal torments. Contrariwise, My belovedsons, obedient and observers of the law, rejoice and exult in My eternalvision with the Immaculate and humble Lamb, the Maker, Fulfiller, and Giverof this law of obedience. Observing this law in this life they taste peacewithout any disturbance, they receive and clothe themselves in the most perfectpeace, for there they possess every good without any evil, safety withoutany fear, rich es without any poverty, satiety without disgust, hunger withoutpain, light without darkness, one supreme infinite good, shared by all thosewho taste it truly. What has placed them in so blessed a state? The bloodof the Lamb, by virtue of which the key of obedience has lost its rust, sothat, by the virtue of the blood, it has been able to unlock the door. Oh!fools and madmen, delay no longer to come out of the mud of impurity, foryou seem like pigs to wallow in the mire of your own lust. Abandon the injustice,murders, hatreds, rancors, detractions, murmurings, false judgments, andcruelty, with which you use your neighbors, your thefts and treacheries,and the disordinate pleasures and delights of the world; cut off the hornsof pride, by which amputation you will extinguish the hatred which is inyour heart against your neighbors. Compare the injuries which you do to Meand to your neighbor with those done to you, and you will see that thosedone to you are but trifles. You will see that remaining in hatred you injureMe by transgressing My precept, and you also injure the object of your hate,for you deprive him of your love, whereas you have been commanded to loveMe above everything, and your neighbor as yourself. No gloss has been putupon these words as if it should have been said, if your neighbor injuresyou do not love him; but they are to be taken naturally and simply, as theywere said to you by My Truth, who Himself literally observed this rule. Literallyalso should you observe it, and if you do not you will injure your own soul,depriving it of the life of grace. Take, oh! take, then, the key of obediencewith the light of faith, walk no longer in such darkness or cold, but observeobedience in the fire of love, so that you may taste eternal life togetherwith the other observers of the law."
"There are some, My dearest daughter, in whom the sweet and amorous fireof love towards obedience burns so high (which fire of love cannot existwithout hatred of self-love, so that when the fire increases so does thisself-hatred), that they are not content to observe the precepts of the Lawwith a general obedience as you are all obliged to do if you will have lifeand not death, but take upon themselves a particular obedience, followingthe greatest perfection, so that they become observers of the counsels bothin deed and in thought. Such as these wish to bind themselves more tightlythrough self-hatred, and in order to restrain in everything their own will.They either place themselves under the yoke of obedience in holy religion,or, without entering religion, they bind themselves to some creature, submittingtheir will to his, so as more expeditiously to unlock the door of Heaven.These are they, as I have told you, who have chosen the most perfect obedience.I have already spoken to you of obedience in general, and as I know it tobe your will that I should speak to you of this particular and most perfectobedience, I will now relate to you somewhat of this second kind, which isnot divided from the first, but is more perfect, for, as I have already toldyou, these two kinds of obedience are so closely united together that theycannot be separated. I have told you where general obedience is to be foundand whence it proceeds, and the cause of its loss. Now I will speak to youof this particular obedience, not altering, however, the fundamental principleof the virtue."
"The soul who with love has submitted to the yoke of obedience, to theCommandments, following the doctrine of My truth virtuously exercising herself,as has been said, in this general kind of obedience will advance to the secondkind by means of the same light which brought her to the first, for by thelight of the most holy faith she would have learnt, in the blood of the humbleLamb, My truth -- the ineffable love which I have for her, and her own fragility,which cannot respond to Me with due perfection. So she wanders, seeking bythat light in what place and in what way she can pay her debt, tramplingon her own fragility, and restraining her own will. Enlightened in her searchby faith, she finds the place -- namely, holy religion -- which has beenfounded by the Holy Spirit, appointed as the ship to receive souls who wishto hasten to perfection, and to bring them to the port of salvation. TheCaptain of this ship is the Holy Spirit, who never fails in Himself throughthe defects of any of His religious subjects who may transgress the ruleof the order. The ship itself cannot be damaged, but only the offender. Itis true that the mistake of the steersman may send her down into the billows,and these are wicked pastors and prelates appointed by the Master of theship. The ship herself is so delightful that your tongue could not narrateit. I say, then, that the soul, on fire with desire and a holy self-hatred,having found her place by the light of faith, enters there as one dead, ifshe is truly obedient; that is to say, if she have perfectly observed generalobedience. And even if she should be imperfect when she enters, it does notfollow that she cannot attain perfection. On the contrary, she attains itby exercising herself in the virtue of obedience; indeed, most of those whoenter are imperfect. There are some who enter already in perfection, othersin the childhood of virtue, others through fear, others through penance,others through allurements, everything depends on whether after they haveentered they exercise themselves in virtue, and persevere till death, forno true judgment can be made on a person's entrance into religion, but onlyon their perseverance, for many have appeared to be perfect who have afterwardsturned back, or remained in the order with much imperfection, so that, asI have said, the act of entrance into this ship ordained by Me, who callmen in different ways, does not supply material for a real judgment, butonly the love of those who persevere therein with true obedience. This shipis rich, so that there is no need for the subject to think about his necessitieseither temporal or spiritual, for if he is truly obedient, and observes hisorder, he will be provided for by his Master, who is the Holy Spirit, asI told you when I spoke to you of My providence, saying that though yourservants might be poor, they were never beggars. No more are these, for theyfind everything they need, and those who observe this order find this tobe indeed true. Wherefore, see that in the days when the religious orderslived virtuously, blossoming with true poverty and fraternal charity, theirtemporal substance never failed them, but they had more than their needsdemanded. But because the stench of self-love has entered and caused eachto keep his private possessions and to fail in obedience, their temporalsubstance has failed, and the more they possess to the greater destitutiondo they come. It is just that even in the smallest matters they should experiencethe fruit of disobedience, for had they been obedient and observed the vowof poverty, each would not have taken his own, and lived privately. See theriches of these holy rules, so thoughtfully and luminously appointed by thosewho were temples of the Holy Spirit. See with what judgment Benedict orderedhis ship; see with what perfection and order of poverty Francis ordered hisship, decked with the pearls of virtue, steering it in the way of loftyperfection, being the first to give his order for spouse, true and holy poverty,whom he had chosen for himself, embracing self-contempt and self-hatred,not desiring to please any creature but only your will; desiring rather tobe thought vile by the world, macerating his body and slaying his will, clothinghimself in insults, sufferings, and jibes, for love of the humble Lamb, withwhom he was fastened and nailed to the cross by love, so that by a singulargrace there appeared in his body the very wounds of your Truth, showing inthe vessel of his body that which was in the love of his soul, so he preparedthe way. "But you will say, 'Are not all the other religious orders equallyfounded on this point?' Yes, but though they are all founded on it, in noother is this the principal foundation; as with the virtues, though all thevirtues draw their life from charily, nevertheless, as I explained to youin another place, one virtue belongs especially to one man, and another toanother, and yet they all remain in charity, so with the principal foundationof the religious orders. Poverty belonged especially to My poor man Francis,who placed the principal foundation of his order in love for this poverty,and made it very strict for those who were perfect, for the few and the good,not for the majority. I say few because they are not many who choose thisperfection, though now through their sins they are multiplied in numbersand deficient in virtue, not through defect of the ship, but through disobedientsubjects and wicked rulers. Now look at the ship of your father Dominic,My beloved son: he ordered it most perfectly, wishing that his sons shouldapply themselves only to My honor and the salvation of souls, with the lightof science, which light he laid as his principal foundation, not, however,on that account, being deprived of true and voluntary poverty, but havingit also. And as a sign that he had it truly, and that the contrary displeasedhim, he left as an heirloom to his sons his curse and Mine, if they shouldhold any possessions, either privately or in community, as a sign that hehad chosen for his spouse Queen Poverty. But for his more immediate and personalobject he took the light of science in order to extirpate the errors whichhad arisen in his time, thus taking on him the office of My only-begottenSon, the Word. Rightly he appeared as an apostle in the world, and sowedthe seed of My Word with much truth and light, dissipating darkness and givinglight. He was a light which I gave the world by means of Mary, placed inthe mystical body of the Holy Church as an extirpator of heresies. Why doI say by means of Mary? Because Mary gave him his habit -- this office wascommitted to her by My goodness. At what table does he feed his sons withthe light of science? At the table of the cross, which is the table of holydesire, when souls are eaten for My honor. Dominic does not wish his sonsto apply themselves to anything, but remaining at this table, there to seekwith the light of science, the glory and praise of My name alone, and thesalvation of souls. And in order that they might do nothing else, he chosepoverty for them, so that they might not have the care of temporal things.It is true that some failed in faith, fearing that they would not be providedfor, but he never. Being clothed in faith, and hoping with firm confidencein My providence, He wishes his sons to observe obedience and do their duty,and since impure living obscures the eye of the intellect, and not only theeye of the intellect, but also of the body, he does not wish them to obscuretheir physical light with which they may more perfectly obtain the lightof science; wherefore he imposed on them the third vow of continence, andwishes that all should observe it, with true and perfect obedience, althoughtoday it is badly observed. They also prevent the light of science with thedarkness of pride, not that this light can be darkened in itself, but onlyin their souls, for there, where pride is, can be no obedience. I have alreadytold you that a man's humility is in proportion to his obedience, and hisobedience to his humility, and similarly, when he transgresses the vow ofobedience, it rarely happens that he does not also transgress the vow ofcontinence, either in thought or deed; so that he has rigged his ship withthe three ropes of obedience, continence, and true poverty; he made it aroyal ship, not obliging his subjects under pain of mortal sin, and illuminatedby Me the true light, he provided for those who should be less perfect, forthough all who observe the order are perfect in kind, yet one possesses ahigher degree of perfection than another, yet all perfect or imperfect livewell in this ship. He allied himself with My truth, showing that he did notdesire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted andlive. Wherefore his religion is a delightful garden, broad and joyous andflagrant, but the wretches who do not observe the order, but transgress itsvows, have turned it into a desert and defiled it with their scanty virtueand light of science, though they are nourished at its breast. I do not saythat the order itself is in this condition, for it still possesses everydelight, but in the beginning its subjects were not as they are now, butblooming flowers, and men of great perfection. Each scented to be anotherSt. Paul, their eyes so illuminated that the darkness of error was dissipatedby their glance. Look at My glorious Thomas, who gazed with the gentle eyeof his intellect at My Truth, whereby he acquired supernatural light andscience infused by grace, for he obtained it rather by means of prayer thanby human study. He was a brilliant light, illuminating his order and themystical body of the Holy Church, dissipating the clouds of heresy. Lookat My Peter, virgin and martyr, who by his blood gave light among the darknessof many heresies, and the heretics hated him so that at last they took hislife; yet while he lived he applied himself to nothing but prayer, preaching,and disputation with heretics, hearing confessions, announcing the truth,and spreading the faith without any fear, to such an extent that he not onlyconfessed it in his life but even at the moment of his death, for when hewas at the last extremity, having neither voice nor ink left, having receivedhis death-blow, he dipped his finger in his blood, and this glorious martyr,having not paper on which to write, leaned over, confessing the faith, andwrote the Credo on the ground. His heart burnt in the furnace of My charity,so that he never slackened his pace nor turned his head back, though he knewthat he was to die, for I had revealed to him his death, but like a trueknight he fearlessly came forth on to the battlefield; and I could tell youthe same of many others, who though they did not actually experience martyrdom,were martyrs in will like Dominic; great laborers were these sent by My Fatherto labor in His vineyard to extirpate the thorns of vice, planting the virtuesin their stead. Of a truth Dominic and Francis were two columns of the holyChurch. Francis with the poverty which was specially his own, as has beensaid, and Dominic with his learning."
"Now that places suitable for obedience have been found, namely, these shipscommanded by the Holy Spirit through the medium of their superiors, for,as I told you, the Holy Spirit is the true Master of these ships, which arebuilt in the light of the most holy faith by those who have the light toknow that My clemency, the Holy Spirit, will steer them, and having thusshown you the place of obedience and its perfection, I will speak to youof the obedience and of the disobedience of those who travel in such a ship,speaking of all together and not of one ship -- that is, one order -- inparticular, showing you the sin of the disobedient and the virtue of theobedient, so that a man may better know the one by contrast with the other,and how he should walk if he would enter the ship of a religious order. Howshould he walk who wishes to enter this state of perfect and particularobedience? With the light of holy faith, by which he will know that he mustslay his self-will with the knife of hatred of every sensual passion, takingthe spouse which charity gives him, together with her sister. The spouseis true and prompt obedience, and the sister, patience; and he must alsotake the nurse of humility, for without this nurse obedience would perishof hunger, for obedience soon dies in a soul deprived of this little virtueof humility. "Humility is not alone but has the handmaid of contempt of selfand of the world, which causes the soul to hold herself vile, and not todesire honor but shame. Thus dead to himself, should he who is old enoughenter the ship of a religious order, but however he may enter it (for I havetold you that I call souls in diverse ways), he should acquire and preservethis affection, hurrying generously to seize the key of the obedience ofhis order, which will open the little door which is in the panel of the doorof Heaven. Such as these have undertaken to open the little door, doing withoutthe great key of general obedience, which opens the door of Heaven, as Ihave said to you. They have taken a little key, passing through a low andnarrow opening in the great door(Mt 7,13 Lc 13,24). This small door is part of the great door,as you may see in any real door. They should keep this key when they havegot it, and not throw it away. And because the truly obedient have seen withthe light of faith that they will never be able to pass through this littledoor with the load of their riches and the weight of their own will withoutgreat fatigue and without losing their life, and that they cannot walk withhead erect without breaking their neck; whether they wish to or not, theycast from them the load of their riches, and of their own will observingthe vow of voluntary poverty, refusing to possess anything, for they seeby the light of faith to what ruin they would come if they transgressedobedience, and the and of poverty which they promised to keep. The disobedientwalk in pride, holding their heads erect, and if sometimes it suits theirconvenience to obey they do not incline their heads with humility, but proudlydo so, because they must, which force breaks the neck of their will, forthey fulfill their obedience with hatred of their order and of their superior.Little by little they are ruined on another point, for they transgress thevow of continence, for he who does not constrain his appetite or strip himselfof temporal substance makes many relations and finds plenty of friends wholove him for their own profit. From these relations they go on to closeintimacies, their body they tend luxuriously, for being without either thenurse of humility or her sister, self-contempt, they live in their own pleasurerichly and delicately, not like religious but like nobles, without watchingor prayer. This and many other things happen to them because they have moneyto spend, for if they had it not they could not spend it. They fall intomental and physical impurity, for if sometimes from shame or through lackof means they abstain physically, they indulge themselves mentally, for itis impossible for a man with many worldly relations, of delicate habits anddisordinate greediness, who watches not nor prays, to preserve his mind pure.Wherefore the perfectly obedient man sees from afar with the light of holyfaith the evil and the loss which would come to him from temporal possessionsand from walking weighed down by his own will; he also sees that he is obligedto pass by this narrow door, and that in such a state he would die beforehe would be able to pass it, having no key of obedience wherewith to openit, for as I said to you, he is obliged to pass through it. Wherefore itis that whether he will or no he should not leave the ship of the order,but should walk the narrow path of obedience to his superior. "Whereforethe perfectly obedient man rises above himself and his own sensuality, andrising above his own feelings with living faith, places self-hatred as servantin the house of his soul to drive out the enemy of self-love, for he doesnot wish that his spouse, Obedience, given him with the light of faith byher mother, Charity, should be offended; so he drives out the enemy and putsin his place the nurse and companions of his spouse. "The love of obedienceplaces in t he house of his soul the lovers of his spouse, Obedience, whoare the true and royal virtues, the customs and observances of his order,so that this sweet spouse enters his soul with her sister, Patience, andher nurse, Humility, together with Self-contempt and Self-hatred, and whenshe has entered she possesses peace and quiet, for her enemies have beenexiled. She dwells in the garden of true continence, with the sun of intellectuallight shining in, the eye of holy faith fixed on the object of My Truth,for her object is My Truth, and the fire of love with which she observesthe rules of the order, warms all her servants and companions. "Who are herenemies who have been expelled? The chief is self-love, producing pride,the enemy of humility and charity. Impatience is the enemy of patience,disobedience of true obedience, infidelity of faith, presumption andself-confidence do not accord with the true hope which the soul should havein Me; injustice cannot be conformed to justice, nor imprudence to prudence,nor intemperance to temperance, nor the transgression of the commandmentsof the order to perfect observance of them, nor the wicked conversation ofthose who live in sin to the good conversation of My servants. These area man's enemies, causing him to leave the good customs and traditions ofhis order. He has also those other cruel enemies, anger, which wars againsthis benevolence; cruelty, against his kindness; wrath, against his benignity;hatred of virtue, against the love of virtue; impurity, against chastity;negligence, against solicitude; ignorance, against knowledge; and sloth againstwatchfulness and continued prayer. "And since he knew by the light of faiththat all these were his enemies who would defile his spouse, holy obedience,he appointed hatred to drive them out, and love to replace them with herfriends. Wherefore with the knife of hatred he slew his perverse self-will,who, nourished by self-love, gave life to all these enemies of true obedience,and having cut off the source by which all the others are preserved in life,he remains free and in peace without any war, for there is no one to makewar on him, for the soul has cut off from herself that which kept her inbitterness and in sadness. What makes war on obedience? Injuries? No, forthe obedient man is patient, patience being the sister of obedience. Theweight of the observances of the order? No, for obedience causes him to fulfillthem. Does the weight of obedience give him pain? No, for he has trampledon his own will, and does not care to examine or judge the will of his superior,for with the light of faith he sees My will in him, believing truly thatMy clemency causes him to command according to the needs of his subject'ssalvation. Is he disgusted and angry at having to perform the humble dutiesof the order or to endure the mockeries, reproofs, jibes, and insults whichare often cast at him, or to be held at little worth? No, for he has conceivedlove for self- contempt and self-hatred. Wherefore he rejoices with patience,exulting with delight and joy in the company of his spouse, true obedience,for the only thing which saddens him is to see Me, his Creator, offended.His conversation is with those who truly fear Me, and if he should conversewith those who are separated from My Will, it is not in order to conformhimself to their sins, but to draw them out of their misery, for throughthe brotherly love which he has in his heart towards them he would like togive them the good which he possesses, seeing that more glory and praisewould be given to My name by many observing aright their order than by himdoing so alone. Wherefore he endeavors to convert religious and secularsby his words and by prayer, and by every means by which he can draw themout of the darkness of mortal sin. Thus the conversations of a truly obedientman are good and perfect, whether they be with just men or with sinners,through his rightly ordered love and the breadth of his charity. Of his cellhe makes a heaven, delighting there to converse with Me, his supreme andeternal Father, with the affection of love, flying idleness with humble andcontinual prayer, and when, through the illusion of the Devil, thoughts comecrowding into his cell, he does not sit down on the bed of negligence embracingidleness, nor care to examine by reason the thoughts or opinions of his heart,but he flies sloth, rising above himself and his senses with hatred and truehumility, patiently enduring the weariness which he feels in his mind, andresisting by watching and humble prayer, fixing the eye of his intellecton Me, and seeing with the light of faith that I am his helper, and bothcan and will help him, and open to him the eyes of My kindness, and thatit is I who permit this suffering in order that he may be more eager to flyhimself and come to Me. And if it should seem to him that on account of hisgreat weariness and the darkness of his mind, mental prayer is impossible,he recites vocal prayers, or busies himself with some corporal exercises,so that by these means he may avoid idleness. He looks at Me with the lightwhich I give him through love, which draws forth true humility, for he deemshimself unworthy of the peace and quiet of mind of My other servants, butrather worthy of pain, for he despises himself in his own mind with hatredand self-reproach, thinking that he can never endure enough pain, for neitherhis hope nor My providence fail him, but with faith and the key of obediencehe passes over this stormy sea in the ship of his order, dwelling thus inhis cell as has been said, and avoiding idleness. "The obedient man wishesto be the first to enter choir and the last to leave it, and when he seesa brother more obedient than himself he regards him in his eagerness witha holy envy, stealing from him the virtue in which he excels, not wishing,however, that his brother should have less thereof, for if he wished thishe would be separated from brotherly love. The obedient man does not leavethe refectory, but visits it continually and delights at being at table withthe poor. And as a sign that he delights therein, and so as to have no reasonto remain without, he has abandoned his temporal substance, observing soperfectly the vow of poverty that he blames himself for considering eventhe necessities of his body. His cell is full of the odor of poverty, andnot of clothes; he has no fear that thieves will come to rob him, or thatrust or moths will corrupt his garments; and if anything is given to him,he does not think of laying it by for his own use, but freely shares it withhis brethren, not thinking of the morrow, but rather depriving himself todayof what he needs, thinking only of the kingdom of heaven and how he may bestobserve true obedience. "And in order that he may better keep to the pathof humility, he submits to small and great, to poor and rich, and becomesthe servant of all, never refusing labor, but serving all with charity. Theobedient man does not wish to fulfill his obedience in his own way, or tochoose his time or place, but prefers the way of his order and of his superior.All this the truly and perfectly obedient man does without pain and wearinessof mind. He passes with this key in his hand through the narrow door of theorder, easily and without violence, because he observes the vows of poverty,true obedience, and continence, having abandoned the heights of pride, andbowed his head to obedience through humility. He does not break his neckthrough impatience, but is patient with fortitude and enduring perseverance,the friends of obedience. Thus he passes by the assaults of the devils,mortifying and macerating his flesh, stripping it bare of all pleasures anddelights and clothing it with the labors of the order in a faith which despisesnothing, for as a child who does not remember the blows and injuries inflictedon him by his father, so this child of the spirit does not remember the injuries,pains, or blows inflicted on him by his superior in the order, but callinghim humbly, turns to him without anger, hatred, or rancor, but with meeknessand benevolence. "These are those little ones of whom My Truth spoke to thedisciples, who were contending among themselves which of them should be thegreater, for calling a child, He said: 'Allow the little ones to come toMe, for of such is the kingdom of heaven to be; whoever will not humble himselflike this child (that is, who will not keep this childlike condition), shallnot enter the kingdom of heaven. For he who humbles himself, dearest daughter,will be exalted, and he who exalts himself will be humbled,' which also wassaid to you by My Truth. Justly, therefore, are these humble little ones,humiliated and subjected through love, with true and holy obedience, whodo not kick against the pricks of their order or superior, exalted by Me,the supreme and eternal Father, with the true citizens of the blessed life,when they are rewarded for all their labors, and in this life also do theytaste eternal life."
Catherine, Dialogue 154