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Chapter 4

God speaks to the bride: ”Thoughts and influences are suggested and infused in human hearts by two spirits, that is to say, from the good spirit and from the bad. The good spirit urges people to think on the future goods of heaven and not to love temporal goods. The bad spirit urges them to love what they see, makes light of sin, offers the excuse of weakness, and adduces the example of weak sinners. Let me exemplify how each spirit inflames the heart of that lady known to you. The good spirit tells her the following, suggesting it to her thoughts: 'Riches are a burden, worldly honor is but air, carnal delights but a dream, fleeting joy and all worldly things are emptiness, the future judgment is inevitable and the inquisitor very harsh. It is too hard, then, it seems to me, to have to give a strict account of fleeting wealth, to win spiritual disgrace for the sake of air, to endure long-lasting hardship for momentary delight, and to render a reckoning to him to whom all things are known before they happen. For this reason, it is safer to give up much in order to make the account smaller rather than to get attached to much and then have to account for much.'

To counter this, the bad spirit replies with these inspirations: 'Dismiss such thoughts, since God is mild and easily placated. Own things boldly, give liberally of your possessions. You were born to have wealth. It has been granted to you so that you may win praise and can give to those who ask of you. If you give up your wealth, you will become a servant to your servants. You will lose honor and gain scorn, for a poor person finds no comfort. It will be hard for you to adjust to new habits, to tame the flesh in strange ways, and to live without being waited upon. So stay where you are with the honor you have received, and maintain your regal position. Manage your household in praiseworthy fashion so that you will not be accused of inconstancy should you change your state. Continue as you began, and you will be glorious before God and men.”
The good spirit again speaks to the woman's mind and advises her:

'I know two things to be eternal - heaven and hell. No one who loves God above all things will enter into hell. Those who do not love God will not gain heaven. The incarnate God himself trod the path to heaven and confirmed it with signs and by his death. How glorious it is to be in heaven, how bitter is the malice of the devil, and how empty are the things of the earth! His Mother and all the saints imitated God: they preferred to endure every punishment and lose everything - they even despised their very selves - so as not to lose heavenly and eternal possessions. Consequently, it is safer to surrender honor and wealth in due season than to hold on to them until the end. Otherwise, the memory of sins might perhaps fade away as the pain of old age increases, and those who care nothing about my salvation will carry off what I have gathered.'

The evil influence answered to the contrary: 'Leave off thinking on these things. We are weak human beings, but Christ was both God and man. We ought not compare our deeds to those of the saints who had more grace and intimacy with God. Let it be enough for us to hope for heaven and to live as befits our weakness, redeeming our sins through almsgiving and prayers. It is foolish and childish to take up unaccustomed practices and not be able to carry them through to the end.'
The good influence answered: 'I am unworthy to be compared with saints. Nevertheless, it is quite safe to aim at perfection by degrees. What is to hinder me taking up unaccustomed practices? God is able to help me. It often happens that some poor man follows in the path of a mighty and wealthy nobleman. Although the nobleman reaches the inn sooner and enjoys a delicious meal and rests on a soft bed, yet the poor man reaches the same inn, though later, and there he partakes of the leftovers from the nobleman's meal. If he had not followed in the nobleman's path and sought the same inn, he would not have enjoyed his nobleman's meal.
In the same way I say now that, although I am unworthy to be compared with saints, I do wish to follow along their path, so that at least I might be able to partake of their merits. I am concerned about two things in my soul.

The first is that, if I stay in my homeland, pride might get the better of me. The love of my parents, who request my help, makes me downcast in my mind; the abundance of servants and clothing is a burden to me. The thought of coming down from my proud throne and humbling my body by going on a pilgrimage is more attractive and consoling to me than remaining in a state of honor and accumulating sin upon sin. Second, I am concerned about the poverty of the people and their cries of discontent. Instead of helping them, my presence is a daily burden. That is why I need good advice.'

The bad influence answered: 'Going on pilgrimage is characteristic of an inconstant mind. Mercy is more acceptable than sacrifice. If you leave your homeland, greedy men, having heard of your reputation, will despoil you and carry you off. Then, instead of freedom, you will experience captivity; instead of wealth, poverty; instead of honor, shame; instead of quiet, tribulation.' The good spirit answered with an inspiration: 'I have heard of a certain captive in a tower who found greater comfort in captivity and darkness than he had ever before while living in abundance and temporal comfort. If it should please God to afflict me, it will be in order to increase my merit. After all, he is gentle in encouragement and quick to send help, especially as I am leaving my homeland because of my sins and in order to gain the love of God.'
The bad influence answered in turn: 'What will happen if you should be unworthy of divine consolation and impatient about poverty and humility? Then you will regret having taken such rigorous discipline upon yourself. Then you will have a staff in your hand instead of a ring, a cloth on your head instead of a crown, and lowly sackcloth instead of a crimson gown.' The good spirit answered in turn: 'I have heard that Holy Elizabeth, daughter of the king of Hungary, having been raised in luxury and nobly married, endured great poverty and abasement. She obtained from God greater comfort in poverty and a more sublime crown than if she had remained in all worldly honor and comfort.'
The bad inspiration answered: 'What will you do if God delivers you into the hands of men and your body is violated? How will your sense of modesty allow you to endure? Will you not sorrow over your own stubbornness and be inconsolable then? Will it not scandalize your whole family and cause them to mourn? Feelings of impatience, anxiety, and thanklessness toward God will surely surge up in your heart. You will want to end your days! And how will you dare to show yourself when you have been defamed in everyone's mouth?' In turn the good thought answered: 'I have heard it read that the holy virgin Lucy, when she was led off to a brothel, remained steadfast in faith and trusted in the goodness of God, saying: 'However much my body may suffer, I am still a virgin and shall receive a twofold crown.' Seeing her faith, God preserved her unharmed. Thus I say: God, who permits no one to be tempted beyond their power, shall protect my spirit, faith, and my will. I entrust myself wholly to him. May his will toward me be done!'
Accordingly, since this lady is shaken by such thoughts, I offer her three counsels. First, that she should recall the honor for which she has been chosen; second, what love God has shown her in her marriage; third, how benevolently she has been spared in this mortal life. I also give her three warnings. First, that she will render an account to God for all her temporal goods down to how the least obol was earned and spent; second, that her time is very short and she will die before she knows it; third, that God does not show the lady of the house more leniency than the maidservant.
Therefore, I advise her to do three things. First, to repent of her sins, to make amendment after a fruitful confession, and to love God with her whole heart. Second, I advise her wisely to seek to avoid the pains of purgatory. Just as a person who does not wholeheartedly love God deserves a great punishment, so too someone who does not atone for his or her sins while it is possible deserves purgatory. Third, I advise her for a time to leave her bodily friends for God's sake and to come to a place where there is a shortcut between heaven and death in order to avoid the pains of purgatory, because indulgences are obtained there that offer souls advancement and redemption, which have been granted by the holy pontiffs and earned by the blood of God's saints.”

The words of St. Peter to the bride about how he desired the salvation of peoples; and his advice to her about obtaining remembrance, and about the great miracles that are yet to be fulfilled in the city of Rome.

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