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Catherine of Siena

 Paragraph 69


"Now I want to tell you about a second sort of delusion. These people find all their pleasure in seeking their own spiritual consolation - so much so that often they see their neighbors in spiritual or temporal need and refuse to help them. Under pretense of virtue they say, ‘It would make me lose my spiritual peace and quiet, and I would not be able to say my Hours at the proper time.’ They if they do not enjoy consolation they think they have offended me. But they are deceived by their own spiritual pleasure, and they offend me more by not coming to the help of their neighbors’ need than if they abandoned all their consolations. For I have ordained every exercise of vocal and mental prayer to bring souls to perfect love for me and their neighbors and to keep them in this love.

"So they offend me more by abandoning charity for their neighbor for a particular exercise or for spiritual quiet than if they had abandoned the exercise for their neighbor. For in charity for their neighbors they would find me, but in their own pleasure, where they are seeking me, they will be deprived of me. Why? Because by not helping they are by that very fact diminishing their charity for their neighbors. When their charity for their neighbors is diminished, so is my love for them. And when my love is diminished, so is consolation. So, those who want to gain lose, and those who are willing to lose gain. In other words, those who are willing to lose their own consolation for their neighbors’ welfare receive and gain me and their neighbors, if they help and serve them lovingly. And so they enjoy the graciousness of my charity at all times.

"But those who do not act this way are always in pain. For sometimes they simply must help, if not for love than of necessity, whether it is a spiritual or bodily ailment their neighbor has. But thought they help, their help is painful. Weary in spirit and goaded by conscience, they become insupportable to themselves and others. And if you ask them, ‘Why do you feel this pain?’ they would answer, ‘Because I seem to have lost my spiritual peace and quiet. I have abandoned many things I have been in the habit of doing, and I believe that I have offended God by this.’ But this is not the case. Because their sight is set on their own pleasure they do not know how to discern or know in truth where their offense really lies. Otherwise they would see the offense lies not in being without spiritual consolation, nor in abandoning an exercise of prayer in favor of their neighbor’s need, but rather in being found without charity for their neighbor, whom they ought to love and serve for love of me. So you see how deluded they are - and only because of their own spiritual self-centeredness."

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