"I have told you that the Devil invites men to the
water of death, that is, to that which he has, and,
blinding them with the pleasures and conditions of
the world, he catches them with the hook of pleasure,
under the pretense of good, because in no other way
could he catch them, for they would not allow
themselves to be caught if they saw that no good or
pleasure to themselves were to be obtained thereby.
For the soul, from her nature, always relishes good,
though it is true that the soul, blinded by
self-love, does not know and discern what is true
good, and of profit to the soul and to the body.
"And, therefore, the Devil, seeing them blinded by
self-love, iniquitously places before them diverse
and various delights, colored so as to have the
appearance of some benefit or good; and he gives to
everyone according to his condition and those
principal vices to which he sees him to be most
disposed -- of one kind to the secular, of another to
the religious, and others to prelates and noblemen,
according to their different conditions. I have told
you this, because I now speak to you of those who
drown themselves in the river, and who care for
nothing but themselves, to love themselves to My
injury, and I will relate to you their end.
"Now I want to show you how they deceive themselves,
and how, wishing to flee troubles, they fall into
them. For, because it seems to them that following
Me, that is, walking by the way of the Bridge, the
Word, My Son, is great toil, they draw back, fearing
the thorn. This is because they are blinded and do
not know or see the Truth, as, you know, I showed you
in the beginning of your life, when you prayed Me to
have mercy on the world, and draw it out of the
darkness of mortal sin. You know that I then showed
you Myself under the figure of a Tree, of which you
saw neither the beginning nor the end, so that you
did not see that the roots were united with the earth
of your humanity.
"At the foot of the Tree, if you remember well, there
was a certain thorn, from which thorn all those who
love their own sensuality kept away, and ran to a
mountain of Lolla, in which you figured to yourself
all the delights of the world. That Lolla seemed to
be of corn and was not, and, therefore, as you saw,
many souls thereon died of hunger, and many,
recognizing the deceits of the world, returned to the
Tree and passed the thorn, which is the deliberation
of the will. Which deliberation, before it is made,
is a thorn which appears to man to stand in the way
of following the Truth.
"And conscience always fights on one side, and
sensuality on the other; but as soon as he, with
hatred and displeasure of himself, manfully makes up
his mind, saying, 'I wish to follow Christ
crucified,' he breaks at once the thorn, and finds
inestimable sweetness, as I showed you then, some
finding more and some less, according to their
disposition and desire. And you know that then I said
to you, 'I am your God, unmoving and unchangeable,'
and I do not draw away from any creature who wants to
come to Me. I have shown them the Truth, making
Myself visible to them, and I have shown them what it
is to love anything without Me.
"But they, as if blinded by the fog of disordinate
love, know neither Me nor themselves. You see how
deceived they are, choosing rather to die of hunger
than to pass a little thorn. And they cannot escape
enduring pain, for no one can pass through this life
without a cross, far less those who travel by the
lower way. Not that My servants pass without pain,
but their pain is alleviated. And because -- by sin,
as I said to you above -- the world germinates thorns
and tribulations, and because this river flows with
tempestuous waters, I gave you the Bridge, so that
you might not be drowned.
"I have shown you how they are deceived by a
disordinate fear, and how I am your God, immovable,
who am not an Acceptor of persons but of holy desire.
And this I have shown you under the figure of the
Tree, as I told you."