Loving God selflessly

May 2, 2022 • 4 min

#DoctorsOfTheChurch #Love #Morals #WhatTheSaintsSay

From The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, page 142
By St. Catherine of Siena

Of the imperfection of those who love God for their own profit, delight, and consolation.

Some there are who have become faithful servants, serving Me with fidelity without servile fear of punishment, but rather with love. This very love, however, if they serve Me with a view to their own profit, or the delight and pleasure which they find in Me, is imperfect.

Dost thou know what proves the imperfection of this love? The withdrawal of the consolations which they found in Me, and the insufficiency and short duration of their love for their neighbour, which grows weak by degrees, and ofttimes disappears.

Towards Me their love grows weak when, on occasion, in order to exercise them in virtue and raise them above their imperfection, I withdraw from their minds My consolation and allow them to fall into battles and perplexities.

This I do so that, coming to perfect self-knowledge, they may know that of themselves they are nothing and have no grace, and accordingly in time of battle fly to Me, as their Benefactor, seeking Me alone, with true humility, for which purpose I treat them thus, withdrawing from them consolation indeed, but not grace.

At such a time these weak ones, of whom I speak, relax their energy, impatiently turning backwards, and sometimes abandon, under colour of virtue, many

of their exercises, saying to themselves, This labour does not profit me. All this they do, because they feel themselves deprived of mental consolation.

Such a soul acts imperfectly, for she has not yet unwound the bandage of spiritual self-love, for, had she unwound it she would see that, in truth, everything proceeds from Me, that no leaf of a tree falls to the ground without My providence, and that what I give and promise to My creatures, I give and promise to them for their sanctification, which is the good and the end for which I created them.

My creatures should see and know that I wish nothing but their good, through the Blood of My only-begotten Son, in which they are washed from their iniquities. By this Blood they are enabled to know My Truth, how, in order to give them eternal life, I created them in My image and likeness and re-created them to grace with the Blood of My Son, making them sons of adoption.

But, since they are imperfect, they make use of Me only for their own profit, relaxing their love for their neighbour. Thus, those in the first state come to nought through the fear of enduring pain, and those in the second, because they slacken their pace, ceasing to render service to their neighbour, and withdrawing their charity if they see their own profit or consolation withdrawn from them; this happens because their love was originally impure, for they gave to their neighbour the same imperfect love which they gave to Me, that is to say, a love based only on desire of their own advantage.

If, through a desire for perfection, they do not recognise this imperfection of theirs, it is impossible that they should not turn back. For those who desire Eternal Life, a pure love, prescinding from themselves, is necessary, for it is not enough for eternal life to fly sin from fear of punishment, or to embrace virtue from the motive of one’s own advantage. Sin should be abandoned because it is displeasing to Me, and virtue should be loved for My sake.

It is true that, generally speaking, every person is first called in this way, but this is because the soul herself is at first imperfect, from which imperfection she must advance to perfection, either while she lives, by a generous love to Me with a pure and virtuous heart that takes no thought for herself, or, at least, in the moment of death, recognising her own imperfection, with the purpose, had she but time, of serving Me, irrespectively of herself.

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