Divine Will Hunting
By Fr. Terrence Staples
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.]