"When God wills to purify a soul from self-love, he first sends her his divine light, that by it she may discern a spark of that pure love wherewith he loves her, and how much he has done and still does by means of this love; for he has need of us in nothing, not even the least thing. We are his enemies, not only by our nature, which is inclined to evil, but by our manifold offences, which we are ever ready to repeat.
He also discovers to her that our sins can never excite his anger so far that he ceases to do us good while we are in this world; rather does it seem that the more our sins remove us from him, so much the more does he seek to draw us toward himself by many incentives and inspirations, in order that his continued love and his benefits may keep us still in his love. The better to effect this, he uses countless ways and means, so that every soul, beholding what he has done for her, may exclaim, full of admiration: “What am I that God seems truly to have no care for any one but me?”
And, among other things, he discovers to her that pure love with which he created us, and how he requires nothing of us but that we should love him with that same love wherewith he has loved us, and that we should remain ever with him, expecting no return except that he may unite himself to us.
And he shows her how this love was chiefly proved in the pure angelic creation, and afterwards in that of our father Adam, created in his purity and sincerity by that divine love of his, wherewith God desired to be loved and obeyed; for if he had not required submission in something from Adam and his posterity, such was the excellence in which they were created that each one could have believed himself a god, by reason of the rare gifts bestowed on both the body and the soul, and of the dominion given him over all created things; but God placed him under a slight restraint only, in order that he might ever know his Maker, and render him obedience.
God, moreover, made known to this Soul that he had created man for the highest good, namely, that with soul and body he might enter into his heavenly home."
- St. Catherine of Genoa, Spiritual Dialogue, First Part, Chapter VIII, Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
Some Related Scripture References:
This quotation brings together several things I think of early in Lent: creation, redemption, God's love. "You are dust, and to dust you shall return. The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." (Gen. 3:19-20 RSV) The familiar passage associated with the beginning of Lent, mortality that is the result of the fall of man, is followed by a reminder of the beginning of life, as Eve is called the mother of all living. Yet Psalm 102/103:14 speaks of God's grace and forgiveness in that "he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust."
St. Catherine of Genoa speaks of God seeking to purify a soul by first sending a spark of His divine light so that the soul can see God's pure love, and that God draws us to Himself and shows us the love with which He created us. God is our loving and forgiving Creator. We pray “Our Father,” and with that knowledge, we ask Him to “Forgive us our trespasses".
I read somewhere long ago that, in a therapeutic relationship, a patient is more able to face those things that he or she needs to change about himself if the patient has confidence in the therapist's acceptance and caring. It makes sense, then, if the beginning of the process of God changing us from self-interest to love for Him, begins with His showing us His love and grace, as Creator and Saviour. We are dust in the image of God. We were, as St. Catherine said, "created in his purity and sincerity by that divine love of his, wherewith God desired to be loved and obeyed."