ST CATHERINE OF SIENA
I, Catherine…write to you in the precious blood of Jesus Christ…. We ought to be servants because we are bought with his blood. However, I do not see that we can be of any profit to him by our service. We ought then to be of profit to our neighbours because they are the means by which we test and gain virtue. You know that every virtue receives life from love, and love is gained in love, that is, by raising the eye of our intellect to consider how much we are loved by God. Seeing that we are loved, we cannot do anything except love. Loving God we embrace virtue out of love….
So you see that it is in God that we conceive virtues, and in our neighbours that we bring them to birth. You know indeed that you give birth to the child of charity that is in your soul in order to answer your neighbour’s need; and that you give birth to patience when your neighbour does you harm. You offer prayer for all your neighbours, and particularly for the one who has wronged you. That is the way we ought to behave; if others are unfaithful to us, we ought to be faithful to them, faithfully seeking their salvation and loving them gratuitously and not as a debt. In other words, take care not to love your neighbour for your own profit, for that would not be responding to the love which God has for you. For as God has loved you gratuitously, so he wills that since you cannot love him in this way, you would do so towards your neighbours, loving them, as I said, gratuitously and not as a debt.