The Mother speaks: ”Speak to that priest and hermit who is my friend, the one who, against his own desires and the peace of his own soul, moved by faith and devotion to his neighbor, leaving his solitary cell and quiet contemplation behind, from time to time comes down from his place of hermitage in order to be with people and give them spiritual counsels, whose example and saving counsel bring about the conversion of many souls and the advancement in virtue of the already converted. He requested your advice with humility, humble about doubts caused by the cunning and fraudulent tricks of the devil. He asked you to pray for him in regard to the matter of whether it would please God more for him to enjoy the sweetness of his contemplation alone or whether such charitable work on behalf of his neighbors would be more acceptable to God.
Tell him, then, from me that it is altogether more pleasing to God, as has been said, that he should sometimes come down from his place of hermitage and go to carry out such works of charity among his neighbors, sharing with them the virtues and graces that he receives from God, in order that by this work they might be converted and attach themselves with greater fervor to God and become sharers in his glory, than that he should enjoy spiritual consolation alone in his solitary cell in the hermitage.
Tell him, too, that he will earn a greater reward in heaven for such charitable work, provided that he always carries it out in accordance with the advice and permission of a senior spiritual father. Tell him, again, that I want him to receive as spiritual children to be directed under his guidance all those hermits, including nuns and female recluses, who were once the spiritual children of my other friend, the hermit who has died. He should direct them all with loving guidance in a spiritual and virtuous manner, just as that man guided and directed them when he was alive, for it pleases God to have it so.
If they accept him as their father and obey him humbly according to the spiritual life of a hermit, he will be a father for them and I will be for them a Mother. If, however, anyone of them does not want to accept or obey him as a spiritual father, then it will be better for one not practicing obedience to leave them immediately than to remain any longer with them. My friend, then, may go to them and return to his cell as often as it seems good to him, but always with the advice and permission of his senior.”
Two years after the bride had the vision about the beast and the fish contained in Book 4 Chapter 2 above, Christ appeared to her and gave a most clear and notable explanation of the very obscure vision: The beast and fish stand for sinners and heathen; those that catch it, for righteous and virtuous people.
The Son speaks to the bride: ”I told you earlier that I desire the heart of the animal and the blood of the fish. The heart of this animal stands for nothing other than the beloved and immortal souls of Christians, which appeal to me more than anything else that seems desirable in the world. The blood of the fish is nothing other than perfect love for God. The heart should be presented to me with the pure hands, and the blood in an ornate glass vessel, for purity is pleasing to God and to angels. Purity is most fitting for every spiritual work, like a jewel on a ring. The love for God should be presented in an ornamented vessel, because the heathen soul should shine like a glass vessel and burn with an ardent love for God, a love that unites faithful and infidel as in a single body with its head, that is, with God.
The heart of a Christian hardened in sin is like an animal without the hardness of obedience that runs about in vices and lives by its pleasures. Those who want to present me with the heart of such a one should make a hole in their hands with a sharp bore, for then neither swords nor arrows will prevail against them. The hands of the righteous are nothing other than their actions, both physical and spiritual. The physical hand, that is, working and sustaining the body, is necessary indeed. The spiritual hand is fasting and praying and the like. In order, therefore, for human activity to be sober and wise, one must bore through it with the fear of God.
A person must recall at all times that God is always present. He should also be afraid of losing the grace given to him, for no one can accomplish anything without God's help, yet one can do all things with God's love. Just as a drill prepares the holes in which something is to be placed, so too fear of God solidifies all one's actions and both prepares the way for divine love and attracts God's help. One must therefore be fearful and prudent in all one's actions, for, although both spiritual and physical work are necessary, yet without fear and prudence, work is not useful. Imprudence and presumption ruin and confuse everything and take away the goodness of perseverance. Accordingly, a person who wants to overcome the hardness of the animal should be unbending in acts of prudence and constant in godly fear and in the hope of divine aid, making as great an effort as possible. God will then offer his assistance and break through that hardened heart.
My friend should also use strong pitch to fortify his own eyes with the eyelids of a whale so as not to be killed at the sight of the basilisk. What are the eyes of the righteous man if not a twofold consideration he should make each day, namely, the consideration of God's blessings and self-examination? In thinking of God's mercy and blessings, he should examine his own usefulness and his ingratitude toward God's blessings. When he feels at heart that he deserves to be condemned, he should fortify his eyes with the consideration symbolized by the eyelid of the whale, that is, with hope and faith in God's goodness, so as not to grow soft in considering God's mercy nor despair in considering his judgment. In the same way as the eyelids of a whale are neither soft like flesh nor hard like bone, so too a person must be balanced between God's mercy and his judgment, steadfastly hoping for mercy and prudently fearing his judgment. He should rejoice in God's mercy and advance from virtue to virtue because of God's justice. Hence, those people who stay between mercy and justice each day, in hope and in fear, have no reason to fear the eyes of the animal.
What do the eyes of the animal symbolize if not worldly wisdom and temporal prosperity? Worldly wisdom, which is here compared to the animal's first eye, is like the sight of the basilisk: It hopes for what it sees and is promptly rewarded, for it desires things that will perish. Divine wisdom, on the other hand, hopes for that which is unseen; it pays no attention to worldly prosperity but loves humility and patience; it seeks only an eternal reward. The animal's second eye is worldly prosperity that is sought after by bad people who forget the things of heaven while they pursue it, becoming thus hardened against God.
Everyone desirous of his neighbor's salvation should with prudence connect his eyes to the eyes of the animal, that is, of his neighbor, by proposing to him God's blessed mercy and his judgment, withstanding worldly words with the words of God's wisdom, displaying a life of persevering continence to incontinent people, eschewing the riches and honors of the present life for the sake of divine charity, preaching firmly and putting the preaching into practice, for a spiritual life gives proof of one's words, and holy example accomplishes more than can wordy eloquence without efficacious deeds.
Those who keep God's blessings and judgment always in mind are those who have God's words continually on their lips and put them into practice and place their hope firmly in God's goodness, who are not harmed by the sting of the swords of their enemies, that is, by the treacherous devices of worldly people, but, rather, make progress and for charity's sake convert the erring to God's true charity. Those, however, that grow proud of the grace given them and seek profit from their eloquence are dead, though they live.
A plate of steel should be tied to one's heart in the sense that one should always keep God's love in sight through thinking about how God humbled himself by becoming man, how he endured hunger and thirst and toil during his preaching, how he hung upon the cross and rose again after his death and ascended into heaven. This steel plate of love gets length and width when the mind is ready to endure freely any sufferings that come, when one does not grumble about God's decisions nor become upset about hardships but, instead, puts one's whole mind and body into God's mind and plan. O, daughter, I was like the strongest steel when I was stretched out upon the cross, praying for my enemies, practically oblivious of my own suffering and wounds.
You have to close your nostrils and run toward the beast with your mouth shut because, just as breath enters and exits through the nostrils, so too life and death enter into the soul through a person's desires. Therefore, you must guard yourself against desire as against death, so that they do not enter into your soul or, having entered, remain there. Anyone who proposes to take on arduous tasks ought to examine his temptations and be on guard against any lack of divine zeal due to inordinate desires. Accordingly, you must run toward the sinner with all your desire, with divine zeal and complete patience, both in season and out of season, so that the sinner may be converted. Where the righteous man makes no progress through speech or admonishments, there he must exercise zeal and persevere in earnest prayer.
The animal should be grasped on top with both your hands. Now, it has two ears: one ear to hear the pleasant things it likes; another, which it blocks up, so as not to hear anything profitable to its soul. It is useful for the friend of God to have two spiritual hands, just as before he had physical hands. However, he should have holes in them. One hand is the divine wisdom with which he shows to the sinner that all the things of this world are fleeting and slippery, that one who delights in them is deceived and unsafe, for they were all given for one's needs and not for excess. The other hand is good example and good action, for the good person ought to do as he teaches in order to strengthen his listeners by his example. Many teach but without setting an example. They are the ones who, in the coldness of their minds, build up a stone structure without using cement so that it quickly falls apart when the storm dashes upon it.
The animal's hide is like flint and must be assailed with hammer and fire. The hide denotes the show and simulation of justice. Wicked people, who do not want to be good, do desire to seem to be what they are not. Because they want to be called praiseworthy but not to live in a praiseworthy way, they make an outward show of holiness and feign justice, although they never give justice a thought. This is how they become so proud and hard as flint in their appearance of simulated holiness that they are not softened by rebukes or clear reasoning.
Accordingly, God's servant must use the hammer of harsh rebuke and the fire of divine prayer on such as these in order to convince the wicked with the word of truth and gradually soften them up from their hardness and warm them through their prayers and enkindle them with respect to knowledge of God and of themselves, just as Stephen did. He did not speak pleasing words but true ones, not soft words but hard ones. Moreover, he prayed to God for them, and this is why he achieved what he did, and many persons improved because of him. Thus, whoever perforates the work of his hands with the fear of God and protects the eyes of contemplation with temperance and covers his heart with a plate of steel, closing his nostrils, and in this way presents the animal's heart to me, then I, God, shall give to him a most delightful treasure. The eye does not grow weary of its delight, nor does the ear tire of its pleasure, nor can one get enough of tasting its enjoyment, nor is any pain ever felt at its touch. No, rather, the soul enjoys happiness and everlasting plenty.
The fish symbolizes the heathen whose scales are very powerful, being hardened by sin and malice. Just as closely packed scales are a defense and prevent the wind from getting in, so too the heathen, glorying in their sins and living on false hopes, protect themselves with defenses against my friends. They prefer their own cults, multiply terrors, threaten punishments. So, anyone who wants to present me with the fish's blood should cast the net of preaching over it, not the kind consisting in the rotten strings of elaborately eloquent philosophers and orators, but in simplicity of speech and in humble deeds. The simple preaching of God's word is as sonorous as bronze in God's sight and powerfully attracts sinners to God. My church began and developed not through eloquent teachers but through humble and ordinary people.
The preacher should be careful not to enter the water above his knees or to step anywhere where the sand is not solid, so that he does not lose his footing if the waves rise above his knees. What is the present life if not, as it were, water in constant and unstable motion? In such water, one must not bend down on the knee of spiritual fortitude except only when necessary. One should set the foot of human affection on solid sand, that is, on the solidity of divine charity and the contemplation of the life to come. Those people who stretch out the feet of their affections and use their fortitude for temporal ends are not steadfast in winning souls but sink beneath the waves of temporal cares.
The righteous man should also pluck out his eye and turn it toward the fish, for the eye is twofold, human and spiritual. The human eye instills fear when it sees the power and cruelty of tyrants but when the spirit, considering its own weakness, is afraid to speak out. This eye of fear should be put out and plucked away from the soul through the contemplation of divine goodness, by considering and firmly believing that every person, who puts his or her trust in God and seeks to win over a sinner for the sake of God, shall have God himself as a protector. The sinner, or any convert to God, should be examined with the spiritual eye of insight with careful attention as to how he might be tempted and how he stands up in tribulations, so that he does not become overwhelmed by the exertion of adopting unaccustomed exercises, and so that tribulation does not make him regret having adopted a more austere way of life.
The righteous person, whoever he or she may be, should also consider the material sustenance of the infidels converted to the faith so that they do not have to beg or be oppressed in slavery or be deprived of their corresponding rights. He should also take diligent care that such a convert should be continually instructed in the holy Catholic faith and in holy examples of virtue. It is indeed pleasing to me that pagan converts should see habits of holiness and hear words of charity. Many Christians come to the pagans undisciplined and in a state of moral disorder, boasting that they kill the pagans' bodies and gain their temporal possessions. This pleases me about as much as those who sacrificed to the molten calf in the desert. Therefore, anyone who desires to please me by going to the pagans, let him first pluck out his eye of avarice and worldly fear. But he should keep his eye of compassion open along with his understanding so as to win their souls, desiring nothing but to die for God's sake and to live for God.
The righteous man should, moreover, have a shield of steel, that is, true patience and perseverance, in order not to be separated from God's love by either words or deeds nor, worn out due to various mishaps, complain in any way about God's decisions. As a shield both protects and takes the striking blows, so too true patience is a defense in temptations. It also makes hardship easier and outfits people for every good deed. The shield of patience should not be formed out of fragile materials but out of the strongest bronze. True patience must obviously be formed and tested by contemplating my own patience. I was like the strongest steel when I preferred to suffer death rather than to lose souls and preferred to hear insults rather than to come down from the cross. Hence, anyone who desires patience must imitate my constancy. For, if I, who was innocent suffered, what wonder is it that a person who deserves his sentence should suffer?
A person thus fortified with patience should spread out his net over the fish and hold it for ten hours above the waters. Then he shall get the blood of the fish. These ten hours represent nothing other than ten counsels that should be given to the convert. The first is to believe in the ten commandments that I gave to the people of Israel. The second is to receive and venerate the sacraments of my church. The third is to feel sorrow for past sins and to have the perfect intention of no longer committing them. The fourth is to obey my friends as often as they tell the convert to do something that goes against his own will.
The fifth is to despise all his base habits that go against God and good morals. The sixth is to have the desire of bringing as many people as possible to God. The seventh is to display true humility in his actions, avoiding giving bad example. The eighth is to have patience in adversity and not to complain about God's decisions. The ninth is not to listen to or keep company with those who set themselves against the holy Christian faith. The tenth is to ask God for the strength to persevere in love and to make a personal effort to do so. Anyone converted from evil ways who observes and keeps these ten counsels will die away from love of the world and become alive to the love of God.
When the fish, that is, the sinner rescued from the waters of lustful pleasure, resolves to keep these ten counsels, he should be opened at his backbone where the blood is most plentiful. What does the backbone symbolize if not upright actions and a good intention? His will should incline to God's pleasure. Oftentimes, indeed, an action seems good in the sight of men but the agent's intention and will are not good. Thus, the just man, who seeks to convert a sinner, should examine the other's intention in undertaking a good work as well as the intention with which he aims to persevere in it. If he should discover some carnal affection in a spiritual work, whether toward relatives or with a regard to acquiring temporal gains, then he should hasten to cut it out of his heart. Just as bad blood brings on disease, obstructs movement, tightens the access to the heart, and impairs one's appetite for food, so too a bad will and a corrupt intention destroy love for God, provoke spiritual torpor, close the heart toward God, and make every spiritual good abhorrent to him.
However, the blood that I desire is fresh blood that gives life to the limbs. This means: a good intention and love directed toward God. This prepares the way for the faith, equips the senses for understanding and the limbs for action, and attracts the help of God. This intention is preceded and infused by my grace. It is increased through prayers and through own goodness. It is perfected through good actions and through delight in me.
That is how the blood of the fish should be presented to me. Anyone who presents it to me in this way shall have the best of rewards. A river of every delight will flow into his mouth, perpetual splendor will light up his soul, and his salvation will be renewed without end.”
Note that Christ begins to speak of the fish and the animal in Book 4 Chapter 2 of the Revelations and explains what they mean in this chapter 129.
The following revelation was made in Amalfi where St. Matthew lies buried. “Blessed are you, holy apostle Matthew! You were the best of money-changers. That is to say, you exchanged something earthly and found something eternal. You scorned yourself and obtained God. You put away false prudence, despised physical rest, and took up hard labor. This is why you are now deservingly glorified in God's sight.”
St. Matthew answered: ”Blessed be God who inspired this greeting in you! Indeed, so please God, I want to show you what kind of man I was when I wrote the Gospel and what state of reward I find myself in now. I did indeed hold a public office, which I could not carry out without a public income. However, my intention at the time was such that I did not want to defraud anyone. Rather, I longed to find a way to separate myself from that office and devote myself wholeheartedly to God alone. At the preaching of my lover, Jesus Christ, his calling to me burned like fire in my heart. His words were so sweet to me that I could no more think of wealth and honor than of chaff. No, indeed, I wanted to weep and to rejoice, because my God wished to call so insignificant and so great a sinner to his grace. As I clung to my Lord, I began to fix his words in my heart ever more ardently and meditate on them, savoring them night and day like the most delicious food.
When my Lord's passion was accomplished, I wrote the Gospel according to what I had seen and heard and experienced - not for my own fame but for the glory of my Redeemer and for the good of souls. While I was writing it, such a fire of divine flame continued burning in me that, even had I wanted to keep silent, I would have been completely unable because of its intensity. Now, however, many are trying to subvert and maliciously interpret what I wrote out of love and humility. They boast about having lofty, celestial knowledge whenever they encounter discrepancies. They prefer to argue about the Gospel rather than live according to its meaning.
The humble and lowly shall therefore enter into heaven, while the proud and clever remain outside. Why do the proud and presumptuous think that the God of such great wisdom was unable so to arrange his words that people would not be scandalized at them? Yet it is only just that scandals come, and that those who feel an aversion for heavenly things should become attached to earthly things. However, with regard to my reward, rest assured that what scripture says is true: The heart cannot conceive it nor the tongue describe it.”
Many years after the bride had the vision about the seven animals in this same book (Chapter 125), Christ explained certain things that were missing in the explanation of that vision, as follows.