Anything that is not God is potentially poison to the soul. That does not mean that nothing that God creates is good—only that God alone is Goodness itself.
How are things “potentially poisonous”? How do things become poison to our souls? There is a place deepest in us where God alone should dwell. We all belong primarily to God, because our deepest core is made for Him. Our interior self is designed to be a tabernacle for the holy presence of God. But if we allow something else into that most interior, most sacred place, then that something causes unrest and disorder. Our deepest self becomes inclined toward something finite, something merely created; our soul begins to revolve around and turn in upon a mere creature. Our being caves in upon a finite point and removes itself from everything else, to become confined and solitary.
To be poisoned by something is the opposite of being enlivened and refreshed by the holy presence of God. God alone gives Life, for God alone is Life. To be in the presence of the Holy One and to let the Holy One work silently upon us is to be gradually healed of all of our inner attachments, all of our mad cravings and worrisome fears. So much of our time, and so much of our energy, is spent on attachments that restrict us and constrict us!
How easy it is in this mad world of ours to forget God and His Truth! It is one thing to confess our belief in the God of Jesus Christ on Sundays. Quite another to really know from moment to moment that God alone IS—that God is more real and important than anything that might befall us, or anything that we might do. In the busy-ness and complexity of life it can seem that everything conspires to make us forget! We forget the divine presence inviting us to “be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). We fall away from the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7, ESV). We forget the sovereignty of God. Gradually we fall into the illusion that we are the ones holding everything together, that everything depends on us. A terrible lie silently creeps into the mind. The lie grows. We sense that some absolute disaster will inevitably befall us unless we stay vigilant, busy, occupied, alert to the world, “on the go”. So often our busy-ness is our ongoing effort to hold back some vaguely impending disaster. This is not how God wants us to live!
From time to time, we need to stop.
Once in a while, we need to step out of the stream of worldly time and remember the Silence—the harmonious rest of eternity.
The longer we go on without these vital pauses, the further and further we will drift from our divine Centre. The more difficult it will become to find the Centre again and rest in God.
True, as long as we live on this earth, the way back to the Centre will always be there for us. The divine call will always be upon us. However, the more agitation that we accumulate in our souls over time, the longer it will take to release all of that agitation in order to rest in God again. For to accumulate agitation is to stray further and further away from our original innocence—the innocence in which we simply know God and know His knowing us.
One of the basic tenets of Divine Will teaching is this:
In order to possess the Divine Will, it is necessary to surrender one’s will to God completely.
But what is meant by this “surrendering”? What is the result of “surrendering” one’s will to God? The annihilation of the human will, understood literally and metaphysically? No. If that were the case, then the one who surrendered his will to God would no longer be a human person. There would no longer be a human “someone” to receive the gift of the Divine Will and live in It. For the human will is essential to the human person; one cannot be a human person if one does not have a human will.
In this entry I continue to unpack Divine Will teaching and explain how it is a specifically Christian teaching.
The Incarnation prepared the way for our reception of the Divine Will. Sin had made us enemies of God by inclining our nature away from His Holy Will. The life, passion and death of our Lord is effective in cleansing us of sin, and removing the enmity between the human will and the Divine Will. But even if man had not sinned, the Incarnation would still be a necessary condition for the achievement of union between the human will and the Divine Will. By virtue of the hypostatic union between his two natures (human and divine), Jesus gathered up everything that is properly human—the inner life of the soul, the operations of the body, outward actions, work, rest, prayer, and so on—and invested these with a divine form and eternal value. For every moment and aspect of Jesus’ human life on earth was animated and directed by his Divine Will.
Having perfectly united the divine and the human in his own person and mission, Christ is our exemplar and mediator for living in the Divine Will. In order to live and act in God’s Will, it is necessary to abide in Christ as a member of His mystical body. One cannot live in God’s Will except by co-living in God’s Will, in and with Christ. One cannot act in God’s Will except by co-acting in God’s Will, in and with Christ.
Every act (of a creature) in the Divine Will is the realisation of a possibility that Christ suspended in his own person. In order to act in the Divine Will, a creature must draw on the divine “potential” or “possibility” for performing such an act; these possibilities were deposited by Jesus in his own person throughout his life, and they await their enactment by those who would act in God’s Will. Each time we act in God’s Will, then, we are simply re-enacting Jesus’ pre-enactment of God’s Will. We are participating in the mystery of the Incarnation; we are repeating and extending the Incarnation in our own person.
Apart from drawing on the “divine possibilities” suspended in the life of Christ, there is no other way for us to live in the Divine Will. It follows that one cannot receive the Divine Will without receiving Christ and being incorporated into Him. It also follows that there is no mystical “shortcut” to the Divine Will that bypasses the economy of grace made available in (and as) the life of our Lord—His incarnation and ministry, His passion and death, His resurrection and ascension. To live in the Divine Will, then, is necessarily to lead a Christ-centred life.
References still need to be added to this entry
Admittedly, the previous post only presented the "bare bones" of Divine Will teaching, in a fairly abstract way. If I were to stop there, one might gain the impression that the Gift of living in the Divine Will was not essentially Christian, or that our relationship with Christ appeared in Divine Will teaching only as an accidental afterthought, if at all.
But nothing could be further than the truth. Apart from revelation, there can be no knowledge of God's inner life. But the Divine Will is the very "heart" of God's inner life. Therefore there can be no true knowledge of the Divine Will apart from revelation. Now there is no more perfect revelation than the revelation that comes to us in the person of Christ. Therefore the explicit revelation that makes up the content of Divine Will teaching cannot be something added externally to the revelation that comes to us in the person of Christ.
If it turned out that Divine Will teaching claimed to add something externally to the revelation that comes to us in the person of Christ, then we would have to reject Divine Will teaching as false.
The correct understanding of Divine Will teaching (assuming it to be true) must be as follows, then. Divine Will teaching simply unpacks the Gift which is already given in the person and life of Jesus. It is an unfolding of what is enfolded in person and life of Jesus. In other words, Divine Will teaching merely makes explicit what is implicitly given and presented in Christ.
One might raise two questions here. First, is it even necessary to “unpack” the Gift—to “unfold” or “make explicit” God’s revelation in Christ? Second, is this even a legitimate exercise? In response to these questions, one need only consider that the Council of Nicea (325 AD) and the Council of Constantinople (381 AD) were necessary to define the doctrine of the Trinity and defend this truth against heresy. But the doctrine of the Trinity did not arrive as a novelty.* It was not treated as some new truth to be added to the revelation that was already completed in Christ, already received by the Church, and already written down in the Bible. Rather, the doctrine of the Trinity—that God is three distinct persons subsisting in one being—was the fruit of the early Church’s fidelity to revelation and tradition (both oral and written).
The doctrine of the Trinity provides us with certain parameters for receiving the Gift of revelation. Christians should understand the Gospel and appropriate the Christian message within these parameters. Against Arianism, Christians are to affirm that Jesus Christ is true God. Against the pneumatomacheans (literally, the “killers of the Spirit”), they are to affirm that the Holy Spirit is true God. Against tritheism, they are to affirm that the persons are consubstantial (one in being), not three gods. Against modalism, they are to affirm that there are three distinct persons in God; the Father, Son and Spirit are not just three “aspects” or “roles” of one and the same person.
None of this is an external addition to the Gospel. The doctrine of the Trinity simply protects the Gospel from false interpretation, and in the process brings out more clearly what is already there in the Gospel, if only implicitly and pre-theoretically. The Gospel is already Trinitarian in substance, even though the “Trinity” is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible (the first appearance of the term trinitas is attributed to Tertullian, who died around 240 AD).
The same principles apply when we turn to the Christological controversies. At the Council of Chalcedon (451) it was determined that Jesus has two natures. By virtue of his divine nature, Jesus is true God, consubstantial with the Father (and the Holy Spirit). By virtue of his human nature, Jesus is true man, consubstantial with us. But these two natures are not mixed together to make some strange third entity. Nor is one nature swallowed up or dissolved into the other. Rather, both natures remain fully integral in the hypostatic union. Yet the two natures are not divided or separated from each other either. Nor are there two persons, one for each of the natures. Rather, Jesus Christ is one person with two natures.
The dogmatic definition of the Council of Chalcedon can be found here. My point is that this definition is not an external addition to the Gospel either. The doctrine in question—in short, that Christ is one person with two natures—simply protects the Gospel from false interpretation, and in the process brings out more clearly what is already there is the Gospel, if only implicitly and pre-theoretically.
Now anyone who accepts (a) the doctrine of the Trinity or (b) the Chalcedonian definition has to concede that it is legitimate and necessary to “unpack” the Gift of revelation, at least in some circumstances. If the same person is consistent, he will also concede that it is possible (at least in principle) that Divine Will teaching is a legitimate and necessary “unpacking” of the Gift of revelation.
But let me push this one step further. The same person should also accept that there might be, in the future, another Ecumenical Council in which certain tenets of Divine Will teaching are clarified and ratified.
References still need to be added to this entry.
The following is a distillation of my current understanding of the Divine Will, as gained by reading from Luisa Piccarreta's Book of Heaven. Because it is a brief summary, an overall picture, many details and applications of the truth about the Divine Will are omitted. Note too that this is my own "gloss" (paraphrase, interpretation, explanation) on Divine Will teaching. Actual quotes and references from Book of Heaven will be added in the near future.
As always, I am open to comments, including constructive criticism, challenge, and correction. After all, it is only in dialogue with others that one is able to present the truth with nuance, precision and breadth.
What is the Divine Will?
The Divine Will is the living essence of God, the innermost heart of God. It is the eternal flame of divinity inciting God from within. It is the immense power, the all-encompassing motive principle in God.
The Divine Will is unending ocean of Light, infinitely fecund principle of Life. It is throbbing source of all possibility, pure Reality flowing through everything that is real.
The Divine Will generates all and encompasses all. It gives each thing its place and perfection by gathering everything into Its perfect order.
The Divine Will is the source of unimaginable joys, unending cause of beatitude for the Divine Persons who possess It by nature, and for the saints who possess It by grace.
The Divine Will is the principium quo* by which God lives as God and acts as God, both ad intra (in Himself) and ad extra (toward creatures).
*Principium quo (Latin, Scholastic term): an inner principle by which something acts, as opposed to the concrete agent who acts (principium quod).
What is living in the Divine Will?
The astounding message communicated to Luisa Piccarreta is essentially this: In an unprecedented outpouring of grace, God is now offering us the unsurpassable Gift of His Holy Will—His very own principle of living and acting—in order that we might live continually the very life of God and act continually with the very acts of God.
The acts of the Divine Will are the acts of whoever possesses the Divine Will, either by nature (as the divine persons do) or by grace. These acts, being eternal, bear eternal fruits—divine effects transcending space and time. In each of these acts the vastness of God is re-enacted and re-produced.
Acts performed in the Divine Will thus give rise to new suns of glory. These suns are immense reflectors repeating the glory of God. They send their rays from eternity and give grace to all creatures in all times and situations. They are an astonishing source of new wonders and joys in heaven—for the saints now, and for us when we arrive in heaven, clothed in these same outpourings of light.
These suns of glory even give new joys to God himself. For God delights to see His own Will received and enacted in creatures, and reflected back to Him. God is lovingly attracted and bound to—even fascinated by—those who live in His Will, just because He is vitally bound to his own Life, dynamically attached to his own Self.
The Reign of God's Will: The Purpose of Creation
The purpose and destiny of mankind is to live in the Divine Will, for the delight and glory of God. This was God's reason for creating. This is what God envisioned from the beginning—the Divine Will reigning in creation, operating freely in creatures, unhindered in its immensity even as it inhabits the finite. When this purpose is fulfilled—when God’s Will is done “on Earth as it is in Heaven”—there will be an era of peace, a cosmic Sabbath. The All of God will repose in His creation, and all of creation will repose in her God.
From all eternity, God ordained that man would live in His Will. What God has ordained will surely come to pass. How soon this will take place depends on man, however. It is up to us to receive the Gift for ourselves, to share the Gift with others, and to long and pray for the coming of the Kingdom, the universal reign of God's Will.
I post here an excerpt from Q6 in FAQ. These are my initial thoughts on the subject. They may need some nuancing in the future.
My approach, in a word, is to present and explore the writings of Luisa Piccarreta in the wider context of the living tradition of the universal Church, and for the edification of the universal Church. While I am not an official member of Association Luisa Piccarreta: Little Children of the Divine Will, I follow the guidelines set out in Article 6 of their Decree and Statute.
The next point follows the first by necessity. It is crucial to present the "Gift of the Divine Will" not as something extra "added" to the Church, but as the inner "meaning" and "essence" of the same Gift that God already offers to us in and through the Church in so many ways. This Gift is the Gift of God Himself (God acting simultaneously as the Giver and as the Gift). This Gift has been definitely revealed in and as Christ, and effectively deposited in the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence the writings of Luisa do not uncover "another" Gift from God. They simply give us the knowledge—and with that, the disposition—to be able to unwrap the "layers" surrounding the heart of the same Gift that God has been promising and offering mankind from the beginning. This Gift has already been at work in the sustaining and ordering of the universe, and in all of salvation history. This Gift is the very "soul" and "sap" of the Church, and the very essence of sanctity. The inner "tendency" at work in the economy of grace has always been toward the universal reign of the Divine Will, when God will be "all in all".
From the very beginning, the Will of God has been urging toward Its perfect reign. At every moment of history, the Will of God has been stirring, directing, promising, enlightening, lovingly moving us forward. It has always been there, implicit in every divine revelation, hidden in every divine intervention, in every divine visitation, in every divine inspiration, in every sacrament, in every grace, in every sanctity, in every act of faith and hope and charity. So in that sense we are not learning about and receiving a "new" gift at all. We are simply beginning to see, and enter into, what was always there, what was always at work, what was always moving mankind forward toward the day of Its universal reign.
In Scholastic language, we are now rising to the level of what is "most formal" (the primary reason and highest principle) in God's covenantal relationship with man.
However, what is first and deepest and most essential in the order of being, is from our position the last to be discovered and appreciated (a classic Scholastic axiom). From our perspective, then, the Gift of the Divine Will is "new" in that only now can we see and appreciate the primary "reason" and "principle" and "driving force" of God's gracious dealings with us all along.
The Gift of the Divine Will has already been given from the side of God in these ways: in God's intention (His eternal decree that man should possess the Gift) and then in God's immanent presence, both in the natural order and in the supernatural order, including the sacramental life of grace. But the full "transaction" of the Gift includes the full reception of the Gift on the side of man. God cannot be "all in all" until the Divine Will, the living "centre" of God, is understood and loved and appropriated for what It is.
Our eyes are being opened to the Gift hidden in all of God's gifts—the Gift that God has been wanting to give all along, the Gift that motivated and informed all of the other gifts. We are not leaving behind all of those gifts in order to live by some totally different economy of grace that would surpass the present economy (with its biblically-informed doctrine and theology, Christ-centred prayer, Christian virtues, sacraments and so on). We are simply entering more deeply into that same economy of grace in order to appropriate what God has already been offering to us. The very givenness of all of God's gifts—in the natural order and in the supernatural order—has always been the "urging" of the Divine Will—Its wanting to give of Itself, Its wanting to reign in creatures, Its wanting us to reign with God through the same Will and Power by which God Himself reigns.
References still need to be added to this entry.
I am a cradle Catholic, husband, and father of three girls. My wife and I have long been convinced of the truth of the "new and divine holiness" as revealed to the Italian mystic, Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947). I began reading Luisa's writings in the early 2000s. I hold a PhD in philosophy and specialise in metaphysics as applied to theological topics (Trinity, creation, grace and freedom).