The Mormon Church has been on an ambitious temple-building spree for the past 30 years. With 134 currently operating temples and nine under construction, the group recently announced 14 new temples, including one in the Eternal City. This, of course, is something they consider to be a milestone in their expansion, in part because Italy has been a country where Mormon missionaries have not had great success in finding converts.
The two major reasons for their overall lack of proselytism progress there is, in my view, 1) because Italy is more than just ostensibly a Catholic nation and, 2) because Mormonism is so very, very “American” that Italians, as with other Europeans who tend to look down on America and Americans, are even less interested in buying what the Mormon missionaries are selling than they might otherwise be.
Dinne s’alcun Latino è tra costoro
che son quinc’ entro, se l’unghia ti basti
etternalmente a cotesto lavoro. — Dante
This next one both attracts and repels. Technically, the music is good, especially Parr’s bass rendition, though “George’s” vocals suggest, somewhat creepily, how the Beatles might have sounded if (shudder) Yoko had completely taken over the band.
|“Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation. Through Your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.”
A new era of grace. Revelations of Jesus never before seen by the eyes of the Church. The possibility of a holiness beyond that of saints. An Italian mystic who rivals the Blessed Mother in importance and sanctity. Sound intriguing? Good. We’re about to take a trip through the Kingdom of the Divine Will. Hang on, it could get bumpy.
Church history is littered with strange movements; those that have passed away and those that still remain. Just about all of them started with a single individual who, through charismatic presence or seductive writing, managed to gather a flock of believers. The Divine Will movement is no different.
Enter Luisa Piccarreta. Born in 1865, bedridden for most of her life, she claimed to receive locutions from Jesus. Evidently, the communications were lengthy and frequent, filling 34 volumes by the time of her death in 1947.
According to Piccarreta’s writings, there were three great eras in salvation history which corresponded to, and followed from, three great “fiats.” The first was the creative fiat: God created all things by His Word. This initiated the “Age of Creation.” The second fiat came from the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). This ushered in the “Age of Redemption.”
Finally, after many years of turmoil in the Church, God has completed the work of creation and redemption by inspiring the third fiat: Piccarreta’s own surrender to God. Her submission, which is presented as being on par with the fiat of creation and that of our Blessed Mother, brought the Church to a new level of sanctity. We have now entered the “Era of Sanctification.” Through Piccarreta, the Kingdom of the Divine Will came to earth and is available to all who welcome it. Eventually, this new gift to the Church will spread to all Her members and creation will be restored to its pre-Fall state.
This raises the obvious question: What does this gift entail? According to Piccarreta’s revelations, to “live in the Divine Will” is to literally possess the Divine Will in such a way that one’s actions become purely divine. Before the “Era of Sanctification,” all that could be achieved by the saints was a “poor and lowly union with God.” They could, by grace, do God’s will, but were not capable of possessing the Divine Will itself.
This new union with Deity was introduced to the Church by Jesus through Piccarreta (though Adam, Eve and the Blessed Mother had this gift as well). One alleged locution has Jesus saying, “When a soul acts in My Will, her humanity is, as it were, suspended. Then the Divine Life of My love takes its place and acts; and, as it acts in a creature, My love finds itself unburdened of its desire for expression” (Book of Heaven, 94).
Contrasting the traditional way of holiness (ie. obedience to God’s will by grace) with the new way (ie. possession of the Divine Will), Jesus tells Piccarreta, “. . . to live in My Will is to reign in It and with It, while to do My Will is to be at My orders . . . To live in My Will is to live with a single Will — God’s Will — a Will all holy, all pure, all peace.” In this way, the traditional Catholic means of holiness is denigrated as mere servitude, over and against the new life in the Divine Will.
How, then, is one to receive this sublime gift? Two things must be done . . . (continue reading article)
[Also . . . read the letters to the editor written for and against this article, as well as Fr. Terrence Staple's lengthy, point-by-point response to challenges to his view of Luisa Piccarreta and the "Divine Will" movement.]
Sure, this could be some kind of high-tech digital hoax, and maybe that’s just what it is. No problem. But if it’s not, then I don’t know how to account for it. What do you think?
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Today has been another crisp, gorgeous fall day in Central Ohio. I love it here, and while I love all the seasons, I think I love fall the best. As I’ve gotten older, the changing color of the leaves always evokes in me a happy-sad, bitter-sweet, contentment alloyed with an ever-keener sense of unrequited longing in my soul.
I know that it’s the Triune God I long for, and the arrival of the fall colors is a quiet, beautiful harbinger of the eventual end of this earthly life and the commencement of the life to come. Nature’s resplendent colors during this season are, at least for me, a reminder that those of us who are fortunate enough to live the allotted “three score and ten” years (I’ve only lived two score and ten of them, thus far, but I have my fingers prayerfully crossed that more will follow) must not forget that winter is . . . not far off.
With gratitude, joy, and peace, I want to welcome the approaching winter of my life, even though it may be a ways away just yet. But most of all, I pray the Lord will grant me the graces necessary to be ready to go be with Him on that day when all the leaves of my life have fallen and the snow lays thick upon the frozen ground. How I want to be with Him and His friends forever in that land of eternal spring!
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13)
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the beauty of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).
|The leaves are bright and beautiful, but not for long. Winter will be here soon.|
|This is a house I pass by on my short drive into town. This particular tree is quite spectacular.|
|These are a few of the lovely sunset maples in our front yard that grace the landscape with their magnificent fall colors. Soon, their leaves will all be gone. Just a memory of what once was and the barest hint of the glory yet to come. But first, winter, frigid and gray. Bleak. And then . . . can you feel it? Spring is not far off . . .|
Relax. Settle down. Be at peace.
There’s no need to obsess the way you are over what a tiny handful of people may think about Medjugorje. If some, like I, doubt that it’s an authentic apparition, so what? Why does that rob you of your peace? Your most recent behavior indicates that you are unsettled, anxious, and worried about the fact that some are skeptical about Medjugorje. This turmoil and defensiveness exhibited in your recent public comments is not from the Holy Spirit.
Pause, take a deep breath, and ponder these words from Scripture:
“If this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39)
Please remember that this passage is just as important for you as it is for anyone who doubts Medjugorje. Think about that. Just pray for God’s will to be done in this matter.
And then, spend some time thinking prayerfully about this wise advice from Saint Teresa of Avila:
“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing afright you.
Nothing is wanting in whom God possesses.
God alone suffices.
All things are passing.
God never ceases.
Patient endurance attains all things.”