A couple of years ago I went on a vacation with my four sisters. It was glorious and beautiful, but there’s nothing like sustained close contact with your sisters to strip you of your illusions of yourself. I love them and they love me, no question, but our togetherness exposed my pride, which I should have known is never entirely gone, merely lying in wait for a moment of weakness. It was an illumination of sorts—followed by apology, reconciliation, and confession. Fiat!
In a way this experience mirrors what the big, messy family of God is going through now. We’re in a situation where we can’t get away from each other online. We know that we love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, but we can’t be in the same chat room for long without getting riled and getting others riled. We must not only be right, but we must be seen to be right. This is dangerous territory. Self-righteousness is a form of pride satan reserves for good people. Watch for it. It’s everywhere, lying in wait for a moment of weakness or provocation. Look first in your own heart.
Recently, a Spirit Daily article mentioned the book, Maryam of Bethlehem, by Sister Emmanuel Maillard, a book Fr. Mark Goring has also recommended. Maryam of Bethlehem was a Carmelite mystic who would spend hours or even days in ecstasy. At one point, the Lord allowed her to battle satan for 40 days. But no matter what the evil one did, she refused to complain and easily defeated him by persistent “charity, humility, and obedience”.
“Maryam used to say, ‘Pride, everything infuriates it, everything annoys it, everything angers it, brings it down. Pride, everything revolts it, everything distresses it. It has anguish in this world and in the next.
“‘Humility has joy in this world and in the next.’”
She also said, “Humility doesn’t get upset about anything; it is content with everything.”
Oh my. Serious. Food. For. Thought. And as good a checklist as you’ll find for diagnosing pride. (Contrast it with 1 Corinthians 13 below.)
Jesus describes the toxicity of pride in the following two passages from the writings of Luisa Piccarreta. I read and pray them every day as a pre-emptive strike against the tempter that lies in wait.
Volume 3, November 19, 1899
Jesus to Luisa: “My daughter, pride corrodes Grace. In the hearts of the proud there is nothing but a void all full of smoke, which produces blindness. Pride does nothing but render oneself an idol, and so the proud soul does not have her God with her. By sin, she has tried to destroy Him in her heart, and raising an altar within her heart, she places herself on it, and she adores herself.”
Luisa: “O, God, what an abominable monster this vice is! It seems to me that if the soul is Attentive not to let it enter into herself, she is free of all other vices; but if, to her misfortune, she lets herself be dominated by it, since it is a monstrous and wicked mother, it will deliver all of its naughty children for her, which are the other sins. Ah, Lord, keep it away from me!” (L. Piccarreta, Book of Heaven, Volume 3, November 19, 1899)
Volume 4, September 5, 1901
Jesus reveals to Luisa, ‘When you humble yourself and consider yourself unworthy of suffering… you repair for the sins of pride that are committed in the world.’ To this I (Luisa) replied, ‘Ah, Lord, for as many drops of Blood You shed, thorns You suffered and wounds You endured, I intend to give You as much glory as all creatures should have given You had the sin of pride not existed, and I beseech You for as many graces as there are souls for this sin [of pride] to be vanquished.’ While saying this, I saw that Jesus contained the whole world within Himself, like a machine containing objects within itself. All creatures moved within Him, and Jesus moved toward them, it seemed as if He were receiving the glory of my intention in such a way that souls were returning to Him in order to receive the good I had implored on their behalf. I remained astonished, and He, seeing my astonishment, said: ‘All this seems surprising, doesn’t it? What you have done seems trivial, and yet, it is not so. How much good would be done by repeating this intention, but is not.’ Having said this, He disappeared. (L. Piccarreta, Book of Heaven, Volume 4, September 5, 1901)
Maryam of Bethlehem’s lesson on humility is very important; humility is the type of holiness we have been after for 2000 years. But now we’re hearing the word “nothingness” and nothingness is different.
Humility requires discipline, and that we continually evaluate our progress. Our greatest saints were humble (if that’s not an oxymoron), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio. But it is nothingness that is proper to the “New and Divine Holiness”. With it, Jesus does everything in us and we are not even allowed to wonder, “How am I doing so far?” There is no measuring stick that can measure nothingness. You can’t divide by zero.
We who are learning to Live in the Divine Will, persist in reading, studying, and putting in to practice the writings of Luisa. We “let Him do” whatever He wants with us and we say “Fiat!” to everything. Like Mary.
The following message is a powerful teaching on the difference between humility and nothingness, and how important it is that we understand it.
Volume 36 April 25, 1938
Then (Jesus) added with a note of sadness: “My daughter, how the creature sinks to the bottom, when she does not Live in Our Will. Even if she does good, lacking the Light of Our Will—the Strength of Our Sanctity and Its Effects, this good remains covered by smoke, blinding and producing self esteem, pride, and love of self. It remains poisoned—unable to produce any real benefit for anybody. Poor good works without My Will. They are like bells with no sound; coins without the image of the king, that have no value as money—at the most they turn into self-satisfaction. Many times I’m forced, for Love of the creatures, to embitter the good they do, so that they enter themselves and try to operate truly and generously. On the other hand, for the one who Lives in Our Will, there is no danger that the smoke of self-esteem may enter even the greatest works she may do. She is the little flame fed by the Great Light that is God, and the Light knows how to get rid of the darkness of passion—the smoke of self-esteem. Being light, she really knows that all the good she does is done by God Himself, Operating within her nothingness; and if this nothingness has not been completely emptied of all that does not belong to God, God will not descend into it to make Great Works Worthy of Him.
“Therefore, not even humility can enter Our Will; only nothingness—knowing (yourself) to be nothing. All the Good that enters It is only Divine Work—God Who brings God. In My Will, everything changes for the creature. She is nothing other than the little light, that has to absorb, as much as she can, the Great Light of My Fiat, so that she may be fed only by Light, Love, Goodness and Divine Sanctity. What an honor to be fed by God! ” (L. Piccarreta, Book of Heaven, Volume 36 April 25, 1938)
Giving God our nothingness removes the “pebble of the human will”, the barrier to the life of God in the soul and in the world. Our nothingness gives God the space on earth to do all, for all, in all times and places, to put the finishing touches on salvation history.
It follows then, that in my nothingness I don’t have to be right, or to be seen to be right. I only have to be faithful and attentive, praying for the grace to know my nothingness and to remain always in the Heaven of the Divine Will.
But there is more. God will not be outdone in generosity. If we give him our human will, He gives us nothing less than His Divine Will in exchange. In case we think this will turn us into automatons, robots, or “space cadets”, we need only look at Our Blessed Mother to see what exchanging our will for the Divine Will looks like in practice. She who tied her will to the Divine Throne from the first moment of her existence and never once did her own will is now the most glorified being in heaven—not because she was the Mother of Jesus, but because she gave God her “Fiat!” in every nanosecond of her life. She traded the pebble of her will in this life for unending joy in this life and a mansion full of glorious crowns in the next. And she wants to help us do the same.
From “The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will”, Day 30:
And when you see that your will wants to have an act of life, come and take refuge in the safe boat of my arms, saying to me: “My Mama, my will wants to betray me, and I deliver it to you, that you may put the Divine Will in its place.” Oh, how happy I will be, in being able to say: “My child is all mine, because she lives from Divine Will.” And I will make the Holy Spirit descend into your soul, that He may burn away from you all that is human; and by His refreshing breath, He may rule over you and confirm you in the Divine Will. (“The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will”, Day 30)
Then we can say with the psalmist: “As a child at rest in its mother’s arms, even so my soul.” (Psalm 131:2) All that and resurrection in this life too!
Volume 36, April 20, 1938
Jesus: “My daughter, in my Resurrection, the right was given to creatures to rise again in me to new life. It was the confirmation, the seal of my whole life, my works and my words. If I came on earth it was to give to each and every one my Resurrection, as their own – to give them life and make them rise again in my own Resurrection.
But do you want to know where is the real resurrection of the creature? Not in the end of her days, but while she is still living on earth. One who lives in my Will rises again to light and says: ‘my night is over.’ She rises again in the love of her Creator, so that there is no more cold or snow for her, but the smile of the Heavenly Spring; she rises again to sanctity, which puts to rushed flight all weaknesses, miseries and passions; she rises again to all that is Heaven, and if she looks at the earth, Heaven and Sun, she does it to find the works of her Creator – to take the opportunity to narrate to Him His glory and His long love story. Therefore, one who lives in my Will can say, as the Angel said to the holy women on the way to the sepulcher, ‘He is risen. He is not here any more.’ One who lives in my Will can also say, ‘my will is not with me any longer – it is risen again in the Fiat.’ And if the circumstances of life, opportunities and sufferings surround the creature, as if they were looking for her will, she can answer: ‘my will is risen again, it is not in my power anymore. I possess, in exchange, the Divine Will, and I want to cover with Its light all things around me – circumstances and sufferings, to make them like many divine conquests.’ The soul who lives in our Will finds life in the acts of her Jesus, and as always, in this Life, she finds our operating, conquering, triumphant Will. She gives Us so much glory that Heaven cannot contain it. Therefore, live always in our Will – never leave It, if you want to be our triumph and our glory.” (L. Piccarreta, Book of Heaven, Volume 36, April 20, 1938)
How unimaginable, how glorious is this Gift of Living in the Divine Will! Let us enter into our nothingness and say with Our Lady, “Fiat! Always Fiat!”
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never ends.“
(1 Corinthians 13:1-8)