The Mother of God speaks to the Son, saying: "My plea is great. Though You know all things, I am presenting it for the sake of her who is present here."
The Son answers: "All judgment is given to Me, and it is necessary to Me to render particular judgments. Nine good characteristics belong to a righteous judge. First, to listen attentively; second, to distinguish the charges; third, the intention to render a just judgment; fourth, to inquire into the causes of the litigation; fifth, to inquire into how long the quarrel has lasted, for greater damage accrues with the delay of justice; sixth, to inquire into the qualities of the witnesses, if they are trustworthy, if they agree in their assertions, if one of the litigants has more witnesses than the other; seventh, not to be either rash or timid in judging nor to fear power or injury or loss of honor on behalf of the truth; eighth, to show no interest in anyone's entreaties or bribes; ninth, to be fair in judgment, judging a poor man the same as a rich, a brother or son the same as a stranger, not acting contrary to the truth on account of any worldly benefit.
Accordingly, dear Mother, say what you will!"
His Mother answered: "Two contend with each other, and two spirits are in them, a good spirit in one, an evil spirit in the other. They are contending over your blood's acquisition, one in order to kill, the other in order to give life. Obedience and love are found in the one, hate and pride in the other. Accordingly, render your verdict!"
The Son answered: "How many witnesses are with your friend and how many with the other?" The Mother answered: "My friend has few witnesses, while the other has many witnesses who know the truth, yet scorn to listen." The Son answered: "I shall render a just verdict." The Mother said: "My friend makes no plea. However, I, his Lady, do make a plea, in order that evil may not prevail." The Son answered: "I shall do as you want. As you know, however, the physical verdict must precede the spiritual one, and no one should be convicted, unless the sin has been carried out."
The Mother: "My Son, though We know everything, I am asking on behalf of her who is present, what is the physical verdict and what is the spiritual verdict in this case?"
The Son: "The physical verdict is that his soul must quickly depart from his body, and his hand will be his death. The spiritual verdict is that his soul must hang on the gallows of hell, which is not made of ropes but of the hottest flames, for he is an unworthy sheep that has fallen far away from his flock."
Then one of the Augustinian monks addressed the judge and said: "Lord, this man has nothing to do with You. You called him to a life of retirement, and he forgot it. His vow of obedience has been broken. His name has been removed. His deeds are none."
The Judge answered: "His soul is not present in the courtroom to be able to respond."
The devil said to him: "I will make a response. You called him indeed away from the storms of the world to a life of retirement, but I called from the highest peak to the deepest hole. He obeyed me promptly. His name is glorious to me."
The Judge: "Explain your knowledge of him."
The devil said: "So I shall, though unwillingly. You called him from the stormy cares of the world to the quiet haven of the spiritual life, but he thought nothing of this, for he strove even more eagerly after worldly concerns. The highest peak is honest contrition and confession. A person possessing it converses with You, the Almighty, and touches your majesty. I threw him headlong from that highest peak at the moment when he resolved to keep sinning until the end, at the moment when he thought nothing of sinning, but found your justice meaningless.
"The deepest hole is gluttony and greed, for, like a very deep hole, it cannot be filled. His greed was that insatiable! He bore the name of monk, and the name of monk implies self-restraint and abstinence even from licit wants. Yet this name was erased in him, and now he is called Saul.
"As Saul departed from the way of obedience, so has he as well. His vow of obedience has been broken. As two ends of a broken piece of timber cannot be fitted together when the wood has rotted, neither this man's desire for Heaven nor his love of God, which are like the two ends or points of union of obedience, could fit together in his obedience, for he only obeyed for the sake of worldly advantage and his own self-will.
"His deeds were also like my own deeds. Though I do not say mass or chant or do the other things he does, still when he does all of that in accord with my will, then he is doing my deeds, and his deeds can be said to be mine. When he celebrates masses, he approaches You with presumption, and that presumption fills him all the more with my wickedness. He chants for the sake of human praise. When I turn my back on him, he turns his back on me. Whenever I wish, he turns his belly toward my belly, that is, he carries out his sensual desires just as I wish. Everything he does, he does because of the present life and because of his own self-will. Hence, his deeds are my deeds."
The same soul then appeared blind and trembling. An Ethiopian followed him in until he reached the Judge Who seemed to be seated on a great throne with a multitude standing by. The Ethiopian said: "O Judge, give me Your verdict on this soul. Now his soul is present in person and his physical verdict has already preceded."
The Ethiopian said: "You said that his hand was to be his death. This has already been accomplished."
The Judge: "That can be understood in two ways. Either a wicked action became the occasion of his death or his physical hand cut short the life of his body."
The Ethiopian answered: "True indeed. His shameful way of life killed his soul, and impatience opened the wound in his body by which he died."
The Judge told him: "Your earlier accusation of this soul alleged that he followed your wishes in every way, that you had tried to throw him down from the highest height, and that he turned his belly toward you. Let us hear, then, what the soul herself has to say!"
Then the Judge turned to the soul and said: "Soul, you had the rational faculty of discerning between good and evil. Why did you trample your priestly honor underfoot?"
The soul answered: "I did have the rational faculty, but I preferred to follow my own will by not believing that something so great could lie hidden beneath such modest appearances."
The Judge then said: "You knew that the monastic way of perfection meant humility and obedience. Why did you enter it as a wolf in the likeness of a sheep?"
The soul said: "So that I could flee the world's reproach and lead a quieter life."
The Judge replied a third time: "Brother - but no brother of Mine - if you saw the example of your holy brothers and heard the words of the saints, why did you not follow them?"
The soul answered: "All those good things that I heard and saw were loathsome and onerous to me, for I had decided in my heart rather to follow my own will and my own ways than the ways of the saints."
The Judge spoke for the fourth time: "Did you not frequently fast and pray and go to confession?"
The soul: "I did frequently fast and pray, but I did it in the manner of a man who admits some lesser things in order to please but hides greater ones in order not to displease."
The Judge: "Had you not read that each man must render an account even of a farthing, that is, even of the least little things?"
Then, as though wailing loudly, the soul said: "Indeed, Lord, I had read it and I knew it in my conscience, but I thought that Your mercy was so great that You would not punish someone for eternity. Accordingly, I did have the desire to repent in old age, but pain and death came upon me so suddenly that, when I wanted to go to confession, I had lost my memory, and my tongue was tied as if with a chain."
Then the devil cried out: "Judge, this is incredible! I see that this soul is condemning herself. So let her confess her wickedness now to no avail. Yet I dare not lay my hand upon her without Your sentence."
The Judge answered: "It is over and done."
At that the Ethiopian and the soul disappeared, as though they were tied together. They went down with a great clap of thunder.
Then the Judge said: "All this took place in an instant, but, for the sake of your understanding, it appeared to take place in time so that you may see and know and fear God's justice."