Luisa Piccarreta and the Divine Will

Luisa Piccarretta, who supposedly lived for many years on only the Eucharist and the Divine Will, experienced ongoing visions in which Jesus gave her an understanding of holiness that had not previously been granted to any saint, an understanding of holiness as being not only acceptance or submission to the divine will, but "living in the divine will", an identification with the divine will. When she asked Jesus how it is that till her time no saint had ever fully lived in the divine will, had never reached this degree of charity, she was told that it was because they lacked this understanding, that they could not love more than they understood. She was told that with this message of the Divine Will Jesus made her "Herald of the New Era" and had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin Mary was on Jesus' right side in heaven, while she (Luisa) was at his left.

When read charitably, taking into account both the mystical language and the imprecisions that can rightly be expected to arise when someone with very little education writes down 36 volumes of such visions, the essential message of living in the divine will seems to be none other than that contained in, for instance, the writings of St. Francis de Sales and St. John of the Cross on the union of charity. (If read with indifference or with antecedent suspicion as to the truth of the message, however, it might be equally possible to read her writings as affirming an identification of the human being with God that goes beyond, or is rather antithetical to the christian doctrine of deification and friendship with God.)

Nonetheless, some grave problems seem to be present in her writings with regard to the claims surrounding this message of holiness: the claim that  (1) this way of holiness is radically new and better than anything before it, that (2) Luisa herself surpasses all the previous saints in holiness, with the exception of the Virgin Mary, and that (3) this way of holiness depends upon "understanding".

(1) "My beloved daughter, I want you to know the order of my Providence. In every 2000 year period I have renewed the world. In the first period I renewed it with the flood. In the second 2000 years I renewed it with my coming to the earth and manifesting my humanity from which, as so many channels of light, my divinity shone. And in this third period of 2000 years, those who are good and the saints themselves have lived the fruits of my humanity, but have enjoyed my divinity scarcely at all. Now we are at the end of the third period and there will be a third renovation. This is why there is general confusion. It is due to the preparation for the third renovation." (January, 1919)

(1) "These writings cost me more than creation and redemption. They have within them all the value of My Will." (Vol. 23, March 8, 1928)

(1 & 2) "When you call my Will into you, you also do a unique act. Out of respect for my Will which inhabits you, I must pour enough graces and Love into you to make you surpass all other creatures."

(1 & 2) "It is certain that I have called you first over other souls. Because to no other souls, however much I have loved them, have I shown how to live in My Will, the effects, the marvels, the riches that the creature receives who acts in My supreme Will. Search the lives of the saints as much as you wish or in books of doctrine and you will not find the wonders of My Will working in the creature and the creature acting in My Will. The most you will find will be resignation, abandonment, the union of wills, but the Divine Will working in the creature and the creature in My Will, you will not find this in anyone. This signifies that the time had not arrived in which My kindness would call the creature to live in such a sublime state. Moreover, even the way I ask you to pray is not found in any other . . . " (Book of Heaven, Vol. 12, p. xix)

(2) "Now daughter, you, . . are unique in my mind; and you will be unique in history. There will not be—either before or after you—any other creature for whom I will obligate through necessity the work of my ministers. ., . Since I wanted my Mother with me as the first intermediary of my mercy . . . I wanted her on my right. . . . I wanted you [Luisa] as the first intermediary of justice. . . . I wanted you on my left." (Book of Heaven, p. 12)

(3) "It is true that there have been saints who always did my Will, but they have taken of my Will only to the extent that they understood it. They knew that to do my Will was the greatest of acts, the one which gave Me the greatest honor and which brought them their sanctification. They acted with this intention and so this is all that they received."

In fact, precisely these claimed new aspects (a radically new and essentially better way of holiness, a holiness that depends upon understanding, etc.) are not new claims in the history of the Church. The early Church had to resist gnosticism, which in its own way made perfection dependent upon understanding, as Luisa seems to. Joachim of Fiore proposed a third era of the history of God with his people, as Luisa does. If these claims are taken as part of the message itself, they are signs that it is not from God. The rule of faith, the rule of the Church, since the beginning in fact sees this kind of radical novelty as a sign of heresy.

But while these problems could be taken as an indication that the visions were not from God, but from self-delusion or a demon, they do not necessarily imply that. It is also possible that she had a true experience in which God really revealed himself and a message of holiness to her, yet her perception of this was distorted by an ignorance of the writings of the saints and doctors, so that she pereceived it as radically new, and unconsciously imposed this perception on the vision itself, by a desire for an end to suffering, so that she imagined a "new era" on earth in which suffering would be no more, an so on.

Private revelation, precisely insofar as it is divine revelation, must be true. However, quite unlike the content of Sacred Scripture, the concrete communication of this revelation is not guaranteed free from error, even substantial error. This is sometimes overlooked in discussions of various private revelations, and the assumption is made that either the experiences are from God, and the writings in which these experiences are communicated are all true, or that the experience are not from God. The third logical possibility, however, that the experience are from God, but the communication of these experience is mingled with the recipient's own ideas and influenced by the recipient's own desires, may be a common, or even the usual case. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, indeed, implies that there is always some influence of the recipient's own background. Speaking about Fatima in particular, but also visions in general, it affirms: "Such visions therefore are never simple “photographs” of the other world, but are influenced by the potentialities and limitations of the perceiving subject. This can be demonstrated in all the great visions of the saints… the images are, in a manner of speaking, a synthesis of the impulse coming from on high and the capacity to receive this impulse in the visionaries." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Message of Fatima, 2000)

3 thoughts on “Luisa Piccarreta and the Divine Will”

  1. It's hard to see how this particular revelation, if true, could ever be approved by the Church. The reason, I think, is that the content is so important that it could only be actualized through a new public revelation. Apparently she states that Jesus told her that He is announcing a third great Fiat which is the culmination of the first two (1. The Creation, and 2. The Incarnation). The third is 'May your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven'. Believers are now to be divested of their own will, and be totally directed by the Divine Will. This seems to leave little room for the institutional Church. So, it doesn't seem like the Church could ever say this to be worthy of belief.

    1. It will be accepted if they have the ears to hear, the eyes to see and the heart to accept The Truth of our Lord.

  2. Of course, you forgot to mention that her writings were confiscated by the Vatican a long time ago and hidden away in the Office of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and then released for a while in 1996 so that the cause for her beatification could advance. Also St. Annibale defended her writings and St. Padre Pio told a relative of Luisa that one day the world would know her. Her writings have been evaluated by two assigned Vatican theologians who have given their approval stating that there is nothing contrary to Church teaching and doctrine. Also, Fr. Joseph Ianuzzi as of last year wrote his dissertation on Luisa Piccarretta and her writings and it was approved at the Pontifical College in Rome. Of course, besides the fact that Luisa like Catherine Emmerich was also a victim soul who suffered, and that many miracles happened in Corato where she lived, that is not the important part. Whether she is authentic or not is what you are questioning. Then read her life. There is a biography written by Fr. Bernardino Bucci, a Capuchin priest who knew her. And who are we to know God's ways or who he chooses as his instruments? You claim it may be heresy, but like St. Annibale and St. Padre Pio who were aware of her when she was alive, I believe and know that she is authentic. Did not the Pharisees call Jesus a heretic, a mad man, and yet here we all are Catholic, why? If we had lived at that time, could we really recognize truth as it is or join the masses that condemned him? Jesus said "Eat my flesh, drink my blood" and no one understood him or they understood him wrongly. Luisa was always subject to obedience to her confessor or priest and she never disobeyed the Church. The Catholic Church has always been aware of her and that is why there are guidelines for groups that study her writings as stated in EWTN. One, it has to have approval by the local Bishop and the group must be supervised by a competent priest who has studied her writings and given approval. Only a priest, by permission of the local Bishop is allowed to speak about her in public. The two notable ones are Fr. Bernardino Bucci in Italy and Fr. Joseph Ianuzzi in the U.S. And I have to make a correction to the comment, we will be divested of "free human will" In studying Luisa for over nine years, that is not true. The human will will always be present, even if one receives the fullness of the Divine Will, it must always be there giving free reign to God's Will. And more corrections, "When she asked Jesus how it is that till her time no saint had ever fully lived in the divine will, had never reached this degree of charity, she was told that it was because they lacked this understanding, that they could not love more than they understood." This is lacking in your explanation of her writings. He also told her they lacked the knowledge of it, because it was not yet the time nor decreed by God that it should be known. And one cannot possess a good if he/she is not aware of its existence. Isn't this true for Redemption as well, before Christ died for our sins, heaven was closed to the faithful, and more, that knowledge had to be spread by mouth and by Jesus' apostles. Could not one say at the time, that this too, was a novelty? Yes, Jesus tells Luisa, this revelation is a novelty, and he says it. And what of all the prophets, Abraham who heard God's voice? Yes, if the theologians could distinguish that the Voice Luisa heard came from God, and several saints could as well, then we as the faithful have a clear obligation to look closely at her life, read about it, and talk to the priests and bishops most knowledgeable about her before passing judgement. But then again, judgement is always supposed to be reserved for God alone. Of course, Frank is right, how can this new "novelty ever be approved? Jesus tells Luisa that since this is a work of God, power is never lacking and everything will be overcome to make it known, at the most it would be a matter of time. Yes, the world is too steeped in selfishness and pride to understand something so sublime and holy. It lacks too much humility to be able to recognize a work of God from a human work or the work of the Devil, which are sadly, also numerous. It narrows everything down to psychoanalysis and philosophical arguments. But we shall wait then. And one day we will see the truth for what it is. And if it should be proven true then we merit having recognized the truth for what it is and defended it when it mattered most.

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