A Response to an Email

Dear Friends in Christ,

Recently an email attacking the Divine Will was shared with me that has been making the rounds in Ireland. I will be responding to that email here. Since anyone who has seen the email will quickly realize who I am responding to, I see no need to name the email’s author here, and instead, in this post I will simply refer to “the author.”

The author first states that the Divine Will writings are “certainly not approved by the Church.” While the matter is not black-and-white, as in some ways Luisa’s writings still await full Church approval, it is equally true that in many ways Luisa’s writings already have received forms of approval. This is a fact. For example, Luisa’s own Diocese rendered a decision in 2005, affirming her holiness and orthodoxy, before sending her cause on to the Vatican, thus solidifying Luisa’s status as a Servant of God. Her writings received dozens of Imprimaturs from a priest who is now a canonized saint. The Vatican itself in 2015 published Luisa’s official biography, strongly endorsing her and her revelations, with the book’s Preface likewise strongly endorsing in nature; itself written by the Prefect Emeritus for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints under Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. (See www.SunOfMyWill.com). There has not been a single mystic in the 2,000 year history of the Church who has seen the degree of verifications of authenticity that Luisa has and later proven to be a fraud. 

The author next indicates he is rather confused as to what Luisa’s revelations even teach. He writes, “Apparently to “be in the Divine Will” simply requires desiring it.” Anyone who spent even just minutes reading Luisa’s writings knows this isn’t true; as the writings are constantly exhorting us to all of the same virtues that our Faith upholds. Receiving the Gift of Living in the Divine Will requires, first, continuing to do all those things we already do as Catholics striving after sanctity (remaining in a state of grace, frequenting the sacraments, praying, sacrificing, doing works of mercy, etc.), then, indeed, — on top of all of that– we must Desire the Gift, Ask for the Gift, and Renounce the Self-Will. 

The author then laments, “ Why has Jesus hidden this secret for 2000 years?” I answered this in the Crown of History, page 100:

The author then says “ It claims to be a new teaching, and even the “8th sacrament”.” The Divine Will revelations are certainly not an “eighth sacrament.” Any references in Luisa’s writings which might seem to indicate otherwise would be simply employing analogy or perhaps hyperbole; akin to referring to “the sacrament of the present moment.”  Obviously these revelations contain “new” teachings, but no new public revelation. Consider the following table from page 515 of the Crown of Sanctity

The author then writes “Why is there an emphasis on the will? God does not want robots doing His will. He wants sons and daughters. Surely we should talk about doing things with Divine Love, with greater intensity of Love. But why instead this obsession with the Will? Only Islam is obsessed with the divine will—since Islam means “submission” to the divine will.”

This statement is deeply confused not only regarding Luisa’s writings but also regarding the teachings of the Catholic Faith on the will. First of all, Jesus indeed is constantly reiterating to Luisa that he wants us free, not like robots (the phrase Jesus tends to employ in His words to Luisa is that he wants sons, not slaves; that He will never override our free-will — not even in Heaven, although there we will be confirmed in grace). Secondly, the author’s statement here seems to convey the impression that the Church’s Magisterium teaches one particular rigid-intellectualist-Thomist position as it pertains to philosophical anthropology. While some Thomists would perhaps love for this to be true, it simply is not. (And I say this as a Thomist myself.) I should also note that Luisa herself was a Third Order Dominican. Now, the reason for the emphasis on the will is clear, and I will here quote from page 36 of the Crown of History:

“It is the will that especially corresponds to the greatest virtue, charity. It is the will that chooses whether to pursue the good after the intellect informs the will of its discovery regarding what is good. It is the will that commands the intellect to submit to a known truth after the intellect presents it to the will. As Frank Sheed says, “Salvation depends directly upon the will,” (Theology and Sanity), not upon the intellect. … “All merit lies in the will,” as Jesus Himself said to St. Faustina (Diary §1760). And, as Pope Benedict XVI taught, “the primacy of will sheds light on the fact that God is charity before all else… ‘Eternal life is simply the desire as well as the will to love, blessed and perfect.’” (Apostolic Letter. October 28, 2008) “

The greatest developments in Catholic sacred tradition, as this tradition pertains to man’s sanctification and even Divinization, emphasized the primacy of will. For example, St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, is among the greatest proponents of this theme. Here is what this great Doctor wrote within his Treatise on the Love of God:

“So the soul that loves God is so transformed into the divine will, that it merits rather to be called, God’s will, than to be called, obedient and subject to his will… among the true children of our Saviour, every one shall forsake his own will, and shall have only one master will, dominant and universal, which shall animate, govern and direct all souls, all hearts and all wills: and the name of honour amongst Christians shall be no other than God’s will in them, a will which shall rule over all wills, and transform them all into itself; so that the will of Christians and the will of Our Lord may be but one single will”

The author’s next statement sadly displays what can only be frankly called ignorance regarding some of the greatest and most important recent developments in the Spiritual Theology of Catholic Sacred Tradition. He writes “... doing the “rounds” and putting God’s love on every creature (what does that even mean?), making intentions all the time to do things in the DW (eating this soup, tying my shoelaces etc). It is an obsessive and weird spirituality. Not Catholicism.”

In fact, doing all that we do in the Divine Will so that our ordinary deeds may be Divinized is a perfectly fitting and beautiful continuation of the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way,” along with St. Josemaria Escriva’s sanctification of work. Both of these great saints rightly teach that even the littlest things we do can, should, and even must become spiritualized in their own right. Doing the Rounds, on the other hand, is a perfect fulfillment of spiritual themes that go back even further — for example, to the Canticle of Daniel Chapter 3. St. Faustina herself very clearly did The Rounds within her own diary as well. More details may be found beginning on page 339 of The Crown of Sanctity. 

The Catholic Liturgy itself refers to man’s ability to “do the Rounds,” as in Eucharistic Prayer IV the priest prays in order to “give voice to every creature under Heaven;” i.e. bless, adore, and praise God on behalf of creation — which, being irrational, cannot explicitly praise God on its own.

Next, the author writes “Some teachers of the DW claim that our human will has to be removed, and replaced by the DW. If that is so, then God is a mad monster. Why did He create us with our human wills if they are so useless and need to be replaced by His DW? Furthermore, Jesus in Gethsemane does not replace His human will. He makes His human will in harmony with His DW. The Agony in the Garden incident shows that the DW teaching is contrary to the Gospel.” 

In that case, “some teachers of the DW” are wrong and are contradicting what Jesus explicitly and repeatedly said to Luisa. Here are direct quotes from Luisa’s writings:

As you can see, Jesus explicitly teaches Luisa that He did indeed have a human will (contrary to the heresy of monothelitism), but Jesus always kept His human will perfectly in union with the Divine Will — just like He is, in His words to Luisa, asking us to try to do. Jesus is not asking us for any sort of Quietism; He is asking us to keep our wills little and always sacrificed to the Divine Will — not asking for the removal of our wills, or their destruction, or their passivity, (our wills remain as active as ever — much more so, in fact! — in the Divine Will) or anything of the sort. The greatest spiritual writers of the Church in Sixteenth through the Nineteenth century (e.g. de Sales, Cassaude, Olier, Berulle, and many others) were constantly being slanderously accused of Quietism, overemphasis on the will, monothelitism, etc. What we see today in these attacks on Luisa’s revelations is just more of the same. 

The author then provides two links to web pages full of old, discredited slanders against the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta, all of which have been fully addressed and refuted in the Appendices of The Crown of Sanctity. 

Wrapping up his email, the author writes “Please stick with the devotions you grew up with. The Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart, First Fridays and Saturdays, Divine Mercy, rosary, etc.

Of course, “please stick with the devotions you grew up with” is exactly what was said by those who fought against the Sacred Heart, Immaculate Heart, and Divine Mercy devotions in their earlier years; insisting, as they always did, that what we then already had was “good enough.” Apparently they regarded their plans as better than God’s plans. Thankfully, these voices did not ultimately prevail (although they did prevail for a time, thus sealing off the Church from torrents of grace.) Let us also not forget that only relatively young Catholics grew up with the Divine Mercy devotion (its condemnation was not lifted until 1978). Those of us who did grow up with it were only thus blessed thanks to the existence of sufficient Catholics out there willing to believe and heed Heaven’s messages even when they contained new and bold claims; as Faustina’s revelations indeed did.

Dear Friends, we must not be discouraged by the quibbles of the Pharisees that are bound to arise whenever God commences His greatest works in the world. Luisa’s revelations are authentic — that fact has already been demonstrated far beyond any doubt. It is time for us to take these revelations seriously; only thus will the Kingdom come quickly. The longer we wait, the longer souls will continue to fall into hell like snowflakes in the meantime.