St. Catherine of Siena
The narrow way
Today everything seems inconceivable, both the ardors of the saint and her prolonged fasting, or the physical suffering to which she Catherine repeatedly mentioned, but always to say the joy with which she pated.
Death of sinners
From the Dialogue of the Divine Providence of Saint Catherine of Siena
Oh dear daughter, it is not so much the excellence of the good, that they have no more misery than the unhappy ones, of whom I have spoken to you. How terrible and dark their death is! On the point of death the demons accuse them with so much terror and darkness, and show themselves in their figure, which you know is so horrible, that the creature would choose every pain of this life, rather than see them in their image.
My mercy does this: to make them hope in life in mercy, although I do not grant it because they offend mercy, but because they expand in charity and in the consideration of my goodness. Unfortunately they use it all on the contrary, because with the hope, which they have conceived My mercy, they offend me. Nevertheless, I keep them in this hope of mercy, so that on the point of death they will have to get attached to it, they will not be completely less in the reproof that will be done to them, and do not come so to despair.
This last sin of despair is much more unpleasant to me and harmful to them than all the other sins that they have committed. In fact the other sins are made with some pleasure of sensuality, and sometimes they are hurt to the point that, for that pain, they receive mercy. But the sin of despair does not make them fragile, for they find no pleasure in it, but nothing but intolerable pain. In despair the unhappy despises my mercy, estimating his greatest fault of mercy and my goodness. When someone falls into this sin, he does not repent or pain of his offense as he should; yes, he regrets his harm, but does not regret the offense he has done to me; and thus receives eternal damnation. So you see that only this sin leads him to hell, and in the hell he is tormented by this and all the other faults he has committed. If he had been sorry for the offense he had done to me, and he had hoped for mercy, he would have found it; for, without comparison, my mercy is greater than all the sins that any creature could commit. So I am very sorry that they value their faults more. This is the sin that is not forgiven either here or there. And since I am very sorry for the desperation, I would like to see that at the point of death, after their life has passed disorderly and wickedly, they took hope in my mercy. That's why in my life I use the sweet deception, to make them hopefully in my mercy, because when they are fed in this hope, if they come to death, they are not so inclined to leave it for the harsh repressions they hear, as they would if if they were fed.
All this is given to them by the fire and the abyss of my inestimable charity. But because they have used mercy in the darkness of self-love, from which all their defects have proceeded, they have not known it in truth; therefore the sweetness of mercy is reputed to them with great presumption, as much as it is in their affection. And this is another reprimand that gives them their conscience in the presence of the demons, reproaching them that the time and the breadth of mercy, in which they hoped, had to expand in love, in love of the virtues, and with virtue to spend the time that I I gave them for love. Instead, they miserably insulted me at the same time and with the wide hope of mercy.
Oh blind, and more than blind! You buried the pearl and the talent that I put into your hands to make money; and you, as presumptuous as you were, did not want to do my will, but you hid them under the land of disordered self-love that now makes you the fruit of death. Oh, they put you! How great is the penalty, which you receive now in the extreme. Your miseries are not hidden from you, for the worm of conscience is not sleeping now, but it gnaws. Demons scream at you and make you the reward that they use to render to their servants: confusion and reproach. They want you to come to despair, so that you do not come out of their hands at the point of death, and therefore they give you confusion; so they will then make you what they have for themselves.
Oh miserable! The dignity in which you place yourself appears as lucid as you are. And because of your shame, knowing that you have kept and used the goods of the holy Church in such darkness of guilt, he presents you as a thief and a debtor, because you owed the poor and the holy Church. Then the conscience puts you ahead of what you have spent and given to the public prostitutes, the one with whom you have raised the children, enriched the relatives, or you chased him down by the throat, procuring the ornament of the house and the many silver vessels , while you had to live in voluntary poverty.
Your conscience presents to you the divine office, which you left without caring about it, even though you fell into guilt of mortal sin; or, if you said it with your mouth, your heart was far from me. To the subjects you had to have charity and hunger feeding them with virtue, giving them an example of life, beating them with the hand of mercy and with the rod of justice; but for you to do the opposite, the conscience reproaches you in the horrible presence of the demons. And if you, the prelate, have unjustly given the prelates or the care of souls like some of your subjects, regardless of who and how he has given such offices, the thought that you should give them is not due to flattering words, nor to please creatures, or for gifts, but only with regard to virtue, to my honor and to the health of souls. And since you have not done so, you have recovered from it: so, to your greater worth and confusion you have before your conscience and the light of the intellect what you did and did not have to do, and what you had to do and you did not do.
Know, dearest daughter, that white is best known if it is placed next to black, and black next to white, which separate from each other. This is what happens to these miserable ones in particular and to all the others in general, who see their unfortunate life presented at the point of death, in which the soul begins to see its troubles more, and the right its bliss.
There is no need for anyone to place it before the miserable sinner, because his conscience by itself arises before the sins committed, and the virtues that it must exercise. Why the virtues? To his greater shame; because the vice and virtue are attached, virtue knows vice more by virtue, and the more it knows it, the greater the shame it has. Likewise, due to his defect, he knows better the perfection of virtue, in order to have greater sorrow, seeing that in his life he has been beyond all virtue. And you must know that in knowing virtue and vice, they really see the good that follows to the virtuous man by virtue, and the punishment that follows to those who have lain in the darkness of mortal sin.
I give this knowledge, so that he may come not to despair, but to the perfect knowledge of himself and the shame of his defect, together with hope; so that with his shame and with this knowledge, he will discount his faults and placate my anger, humbly asking for mercy. The virtuous grows in joy and knowledge of my charity, because he brings to Me, not to himself, the grace of having followed the virtues, and of having gone for the doctrine of my Truth; therefore he rejoices in Me. With this true light and knowledge he tastes and receives his sweet end, in the way that I have told you in another place. So the one, who has lived with ardent love, rejoices in joy, and the iniquitous gloom is confused in pain.
Just do not harm the darkness and the sight of the demons, nor he fears, since only sin is what fears and gives him harm. But those who have left their lives lasciviously and with many miseries, receive harm and fear when they see the demons. Not the damage that comes from despair, unless they want it, but what comes from the penalty of repression, from the refreshing of consciousness, from to their horrible appearance.
Now see, my dear daughter, how different are the punishment and the battle which the just and the sinner receive in death; and how different their end is. A small particle I told you and shown to the eye of the intellect; and it is so small out of respect for what it really is, that is, the punishment that one receives and the good that the other receives, which is almost nothing.
See how much the blindness of man, and especially of these miserable ones, because the more they have received from Me and the more they are enlightened by the holy Scripture, the more I am forced and the greater the intolerable punishment they receive. And because they had greater knowledge of the holy Scripture in their lives, they know more in death the great defects committed, and are placed in greater torment than others, as well as the good ones are placed in greater excellence.
To them it happens as to the false Christian, who in hell is placed in greater torment than a pagan, because he had the light of faith and renounced it, while the other did not. Thus these miserable persons will suffer more the same guilt than the other Christians, for the ministry that I entrusted them, giving them to administer the Sun of the Blessed Sacrament, and because they had the light of science, in order to discern the truth for themselves and for others, if they wanted to. And therefore they rightly receive greater penalties.
But the poor do not know him; for if they have a minimum of consideration of their state, they would not come in so many evils, but they would be what they must be, and they are not. It is true: the whole world is corrupt, but they do worse than the seculars in their rank. With their filthiness they make the faces of their souls corrupt, they corrupt their subjects and suck the blood of My Bride, who is the holy Church. Because of their faults they turn pale, because the love and affection of charity, which they should have for this Bride, have placed it in themselves, and do not wait for anything other than to fill it and to draw from it the prelates and the great incomes, while they should look for souls. Thus, for their underworld, the seculars come to irreverence and disobedience to the holy Church, although they should not do it. Neither their defect is excused by the defect of the ministers.