The Son of God speaks: ”When there is fire in a house, a venthole is needed to let out the smoke and allow the inhabitant to enjoy the heat. Likewise, for anyone who desires to keep my spirit and my grace, habitual confession is useful in order to let out the smoke of sin. Although my divine spirit is in itself unchangeable, nevertheless it quickly withdraws from the heart that is not protected by the humility of confession.”
The eighth revelation in the Book of Questions in which Christ speaks to his bride and says that the prayer of people who take their pleasure in carnal and earthly delights, neglecting heavenly desires, charity, and the memory of his passion and of eternal judgment, is like the sound of colliding stones, and they will be thrust away with loathing from God's sight like an abortion or an unclean menstrual cloth.
“That man was singing: 'Deliver me, O Lord, from the unrighteous man!' His voice is in my ears like the sound of two stones struck together. His heart calls to me as if with three voices. The first says: 'I want to have my will in my own control, to sleep and to rise and to talk of pleasant things. I shall give to nature what it craves. I want money in my purse, soft clothes on my back. When I get these and similar things, I count them a greater happiness than all other gifts and the spiritual virtues of the soul.'
His second voice says: 'Death is not too hard, and the judgment is not so severe as is written; harsh threats are made as a warning, but mild punishments are given out of mercy. Therefore, so long as I can have my will in the present, let my soul make its passage as best it can in the future.'
The third voice says: 'God would not have redeemed us, if he had not wanted to give us heavenly things, nor would he have suffered, if he had not wanted to bring us back to our fatherland. Indeed, why did he suffer? Or who compelled him to suffer? Of course, I do not understand heavenly things except by hearsay, and I do not know for sure whether I should trust the Scriptures. If I could only have my will, I would have it instead of the heavenly kingdom.' You can see what that man's will is like and why his voice is like the sound of stones in my ears.
But, o friend, I answer your first voice: Your way does not tend toward heaven, nor is the passion of my love to your taste. Therefore hell lies open for you, and, because you love the low things of the earth, you will go to the regions below. I answer your second voice: Son, death will be hard for you, judgment unbearable, and flight impossible, unless you mend your ways. I tell your third voice: Brother, I did all my works out of love in order that you might become like me and so that, after having been turned away from me, you might return to me. But now my works are dead in you, my words are burdensome, and my way is neglected. What awaits you, therefore, is the torment and company of demons, because you turn your back on me, you trample underfoot the signs of my humility, and you do not consider how I stood on the cross in your sight and for your sake.
I stood there in three ways for your sake. First as a man, whose eye a dagger would penetrate; second, as a man whose heart would be pierced by a sword; third, as a man whose every limb would shake with the pain of pressing affliction. My passion indeed was more bitter to me than a puncture in the eye; yet I suffered it out of love. My mother's sorrow moved my heart more than my own, yet I bore it. All my inner and outer parts, too, shook for a long time from pressing pain and suffering, yet I did not give up nor retreat. Thus I stood in your sight, but you forget and neglect and scorn it all. You will therefore be thrust away like an abortion and a menstrual cloth.”
First question. Again the monk appeared on his rung as before saying: ”O Judge, I ask you: Why is your grace withdrawn quickly from some people while others are tolerated in their wickedness for a long time?”
Second question. ”Why is grace given to some people in youth, while others are deprived of it in old age?”
Third question. ”Why do some people suffer excessive hardship, while others live more or less free from hardship?”
Fourth question. ”Why is intelligence and an extremely quick mind given to some people, while others are like mindless asses?”
Fifth question. ”Why are some people exceedingly hardened, while others enjoy wonderful consolation?”
Sixth question. ”Why is more worldly success given to the wicked than to the good?”
Seventh question. ”Why does one person receive his or her calling at the beginning, while another toward the end?”
Answer to the first question. The Judge answered: ”Friend, all my works are from the start in my foreknowledge, and everything that has been made was created for the comfort and solace of humankind. However, since people in general prefer their own will to my will, the good things gratuitously given them are therefore justly taken away from them, so that they may know that everything concerning God is rational and just. And because many people are ungrateful for my grace and grow less devout the more gifts are given to them, the gifts are therefore soon taken away from them so as to reveal my divine purpose more quickly and so that people may not abuse my grace and receive a harsher sentence.
The reason why some people are tolerated in their wickedness for a long time is that many of them do have something tolerable to show in the midst of their evildoings. They act either as a benefit or a warning to others. Saul, for example, when he was reproached by Samuel seemed only to have sinned slightly in human eyes while David seemed to have sinned more. Yet, in that test, Saul turned disobediently from me, his God, and consulted the sorceress, whereas David grew more faithful in temptation, patiently enduring what happened and thinking it to have befallen him in return for his sins. Both Saul's ingratitude and my divine patience were revealed in my patient forbearance with him. Both my foreknowledge and David's future humility and contrition were revealed through my election of him.”
Answer to the second question. ”As to why grace is taken away from some people in old age, I answer: Grace is given to all in order that the giver of grace might be loved by all. Because many people are ungrateful for my divine grace toward life's end, just as Solomon was, it is right that the gifts that have not been carefully maintained before the end should be taken away at the end. The gift of my divine grace is taken away sometimes due to the recipient's negligence, because he does not consider the greatness of the gift nor what he should give in return, and sometimes as a warning to others, so that everyone in a state of grace may be ever on guard and fearful about the fall of others. Even the wise have fallen through negligence, and even those who seemed to be my friends have been brought low because of their ingratitude.”
Answer to the third question. ”As to why greater hardships are given to some, I answer: I am the maker of all things. Thus, no hardship comes without my permission, as it is written: 'I am God creating woe,' that is, permitting hardship. Hardship does not befall the heathen without me and without a reasonable cause. Indeed, my prophets made many predictions about the adversities of the heathen in order that those who had neglected and abused reason might be taught by suffering, and in order that I, God, who permitted it all, should be known and glorified by every nation. Therefore, if I, God, do not spare pagans from suffering, even less will I spare those who have tasted the sweetness of my divine grace more plentifully.
There is indeed less hardship for some and more for others in order to turn people away from sin and so that those who suffer hardships in the present might be comforted in the future. All those who are judged and who judge themselves in this age will not come into future judgment. As it is written: 'They shall pass from death into life.' There are also some that are protected from suffering, but this happens so that they do not incur a harsher judgment by grumbling at their sufferings. Many there are who do not deserve to suffer in this world.
There are also some people in this life who are afflicted neither in body nor in spirit. They pass their lives as carefree as though God did not exist, or as though God is sparing them for the sake of their righteous works. Such people should be filled with dread for fear that I, God, who spare them in the present, come suddenly and condemn them more harshly as being without contrition.
There are also those who enjoy health of body but are troubled in their soul about the contempt of God, while others enjoy neither health of body nor inner consolation of soul and yet persevere as far as they are able in my service and honor. There are others, too, who are always sick, from their mother's womb up until their death. I, the God of all of these, regulate their sufferings so that nothing happens without cause or reward, for many people, who were asleep before their trials, have their eyes opened by suffering.”
Answer to the fourth question. ”As to why some people are more intelligent, I answer: With regard to eternal salvation, abundant wisdom does not benefit the soul, unless she also shines with goodness of life. It is in fact more useful to have less knowledge but a better way of life. Accordingly, reason is measured out to all persons in such a way that they can gain heaven, if they lead godly lives. Yet the reasoning faculty differs in many people according to their natural and spiritual dispositions.
Just as one person succeeds through virtue and Godsent zeal in perfecting the virtues, another can likewise fall into vanities through bad will and nature's bad disposition as well as an immoral upbringing. One's nature is often damaged when one sins and struggles against nature. Therefore, it is not without cause that some people have a greater reasoning faculty but to no use, as in the case of those who have knowledge but not a corresponding way of life. Other people have less knowledge but make better use of it. In some people, moreover, there is harmony between their knowledge and way of living, while still others display neither reasoning nor a decent way of life. This variation derives at times from my ordinary divine permission (either for people's benefit or humiliation and edification), but at times it is the result of ingratitude and temptation or of a natural defect or of secret sin. Sometimes, too, it occurs in order to avoid the occasion of a greater sin or because of limited natural capacity.
Whoever, then, has the grace of greater understanding should beware of the danger of a harsher judgment if he or she is negligent. Whoever lacks understanding and intellectual brilliance should take advantage of the little he has and do what he can - for he has been saved from many occasions of sin. In youth even Peter the Apostle was forgetful, and John unlearned. Yet they grasped true wisdom in old age, for they sought the source of wisdom. Solomon was quick to learn when young, and Aristotle had a subtle mind. However, they did not grasp the origin of wisdom, for they neither glorified the giver of wisdom, as they should have, nor put into practice what they knew and taught, nor studied in order to improve themselves but to improve others.
Balaam, too, had knowledge but did not practice it, which was why the she-ass rebuked him for foolishness. And young Daniel was the judge of his elders. Since, therefore, it is not scholarship that is pleasing to me but a good way of life, it is necessary to correct those who abuse their reasoning faculty, for I, the God and Lord of all, give knowledge to humankind, and I correct both wise and unwise.”
Answer to the fifth question. ”As to why some people are hardened, I answer: Pharaoh's hardness of heart was his own fault, not mine, because he did not want to conform himself to my divine will. Hardness of heart is nothing other than the withdrawal of my divine grace, which is withdrawn when people do not give me, their God, their free possession, namely, their will.
You can understand this by means of a parable. There was a man who owned two fields, one of which lay fallow, while the other bore fruit at certain times. A friend of his said to him: 'I wonder why, although you are wise and rich, you do not take more care to cultivate your fields or why you do not give them to others to cultivate.' The man answered: 'One of the fields, no matter how much care I take, does not produce anything but the most useless plants that are seized by noxious animals that ruin the place.' If I fertilize it with manure, it only insults me by growing wild because, though it does produce a small amount of grain, even more weeds spring up, which I refuse to gather in, since I only want pure grain. The better plan, then, is to leave a field like that uncultivated, since then the animals do not occupy the place or hide in the grass, and, if any bitter herbs do sprout, they are useful for the sheep, because, after tasting them, the sheep learn not to be fastidious about sweeter fodder.
The other field is managed according to the nature of the seasons. Some parts of it are stony and need fertilizer; other parts are wet and need warmth, while still others are dry and need watering. Thus I organize my work according to the different conditions of the field.' I, God, am like this man. The first field represents the free activity of the will given to man, which he uses more against me than for me. Even if man does do some things that please me, yet he provokes me in more ways, since man's will and my will are not in harmony. Pharaoh also acted in this way when, although he knew my power by means of sure signs, nevertheless he set his mind against me and continued on in his wickedness. Therefore, he experienced my justice, because it is only just that a person who does not make good use of small things should not be allowed to rejoice proudly in greater ones.
The second field represents the obedience of a good mind and the denial of self-will. If such a mind is dry in devotion, it should wait for the rain of my divine grace. If it is stony through impatience and hardheartedness, it should bear chastening and correction with equanimity. If it is wet through carnal lust, it should embrace abstinence and be like an animal alert to its owner's will. I, God, can proudly rejoice in a mind like that. The human will acting in opposition to me causes people to be hardhearted. I desire the salvation of everyone, but this cannot come about without the personal cooperation of each and every person in conforming his or her will to mine.
Furthermore, as to why grace and progress are not granted equally to all - that belongs to my hidden judgment. I know and measure out what is beneficial and appropriate to each one, and I hold people back in their designs so that they do not fall more deeply. Many people have received the talent of grace and are capable of working but refuse to do so. Others keep themselves from sin out of fear of punishment, or because they do not have the possibility of sinning, or because sin does not attract them. Thus, some are not given greater gifts, because I alone understand the human mind and know how to distribute my gifts.”
Answer to the sixth question. ”As to why the wicked sometimes have greater worldly success than the good, I answer: This is an indication of my great patience and love and a testing of the righteous. If I were to give temporal goods to my friends alone, then the wicked would despair and the good would grow proud. Instead, temporal goods are granted to all, so that I, God, the giver and Creator of all things, may be loved by all and so that good people who become proud may be taught righteousness by means of the wicked. It is also in order that everyone may realize that temporal things are not to be loved or preferred to me, God, but are only to be possessed for the sake of sustenance, and in order that they may be all the more zealous in my service the less they rely on temporal possessions.”
Answer to the seventh question. ”As to why one person is called at the beginning and another toward the end, I answer: I am like a mother who, seeing the hope of life in her children, gives stronger medicine to some and lighter medicine to others. And to those for whom there is no hope, she also shows compassion and does as much as she can. But if the children just get worse from her medicine, why should she take further pains? This is the way I treat my human children. The person who is foreseen to be more fervent in resolution of will and more steadfast in humility and perseverance receives grace in the beginning, and it continues to the end. A person who struggles against vice and yearns to be better deserves to be called toward the end of life. An ungrateful person, however, does not deserve to be admitted to his mother's breast.”
The ninth revelation in the Book of Questions in which Christ speaks to his bride, blessed Bridget, and shows her how she has already been rescued and delivered from the house of the world and of vices, and that she has already been brought to live in the mansion of the Holy Spirit. And he warns her to conform herself to that same Spirit by ever persevering in purity, humility, and devotion.