St. Catherine of Siena
Flames of love
In Caterina the way of expressing herself, ardent and even passionate about a woman of great sensibility is recognizable, yet she has directed her loving fervor to the contemplation of God as the highest and only true good to love. Sometimes it explodes in what may seem a real invocation of love, with accents inflamed with passion.
Drawn by the Dialogue of the divine Providence of Saint Caterina from Siena
On the contrary, there are others, who walk with so much lukewarmness, who often return back into the river; for when they reach the shore, and the contrary winds come, they are struck by the waves of the stormy sea of this dark life.
If the wind of prosperity arrives, the lukewarm turns his head back to the delights with disordered delight, for he has not gone up by his negligence on the first staircase. And if the wind of adversity comes, he turns back for lack of patience, because he does not hate his guilt for the offense done to me, but for the fear of his own punishment, which he sees follow, with which fear he was relieved by vomit. Every practice of virtue requires perseverance, without which the desire to reach the end, for which he began to convert, does not go into effect; and so he never reaches it. Perseverance therefore needs to fulfill that desire.
I told you that, according to the different movements that come to them, they turn: either in themselves, gripping their sensuality against the spirit; or towards creatures, turning to them with disordered love outside of me, or impatiently for the insults they receive from those, or from demons, in many different battles. Sometimes the devil tries to make the person come to confusion, saying: This good that you have begun, you are worthless for your sins and faults. And this is done in order to make it go back, and to let it forget what little virtuous exercise it has undertaken. At other times he tempts him with delight, that is, with an excessive hope of my mercy, saying to him: What do you want to work on? Enjoy this life, and at the end of death, returning to you, you will receive mercy. In this way the devil makes them lose the holy fear with which they had begun their conversion.
For all these reasons, and many others, they turn the head back and are not constant or persevering. Everything happens, because the root of self-love is not eradicated in them; for this reason they are not persevering, but accept with great presumption the mercy together with an easy and immoderate hope. Presumptuous as they are, they hope in my mercy, which is continually offended by them.
I have not given, nor give mercy, because with it they offend me, but because they defend themselves from the malice of the devil and from the disorderly confusion of the mind. They do all the opposite: with the arm of mercy they offend me. And this happens, because they have not continued to practice the first mutation they did, when they rose from sin through fear of punishment, feeling themselves stung by the thorns of the many tribulations and the misery of mortal sin. By not making other changes, they do not reach the love of virtues; and therefore lack perseverance.
The soul can not do that does not change in some way; if it does not go on, come back. In the same way, these people need to come back, because they do not go forward in virtue, detaching themselves from the imperfection of the fear of punishment in order to reach love.