Dear friends, fair warning: you may find this blog post challenging. Ponder and pray as you read. May God’s Will alone be done.
For the first 13 years of our marriage, my husband and I, with our growing family, moved every year or two to a new small town, every move marking an advancement in his career. Whenever a move was announced, I checked the phone book (no internet back then) to see if there was a Catholic church in our new location. If there wasn’t, I checked neighboring towns to see how far I would have to drive on Sundays. I came to appreciate the blessing that a Catholic church is to a town—it certainly was to me!
I counted that church a blessing even if it was a small, humble, mission church, if the hymns were led by someone who was trying their best with no musician, if there was little opportunity to talk to the priest, if confession was not offered on site because the priest had to rush in and rush out to get to his other missions, if there was never adoration.
No matter what it was like—or unlike—it was still a blessing because it was still God’s House. Jesus was there in the Eucharist just at truly as he was in the humble home of Nazareth.
I live in a city now, churches galore! I know how tempting it is to seek for a parish that has a holy priest with stirring homilies, that has vibrant liturgies, that represents my vision of parish life. Driving a few blocks further is no trouble at all, I’ve noticed. But given my past experience and my current studies on the writings of Luisa, I have had to ask myself, is where I worship my choice, or is it God’s?
Who doesn’t love the story of little Zaccheus the rich but despised tax collector who climbed a tree to get a better look at Jesus as he passed by. To his amazement, Jesus stopped under the tree and looked up at him. Did he say, “Zaccheus, meet me at the Temple at 5:00 and we’ll talk about your sinful life”? On the contrary! Scripture tells us: “When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’” (Luke 19:5)
Jesus never avoided sinners, including us. Jesus wants us to come down so he can stay in our house, the lowly manger of our soul. And what about us, do we want to stay in his House? Or when it fails to measure up do we go seeking a finer one?
Whatever is lacking in some parishes, priests, homilies, parishioners, Communions, music, etc., every Catholic Church is God’s House and Jesus is truly present there in the Eucharist. Whatever may be painfully wrong there, Jesus endures it without rest, and it undeniably pains him more than it does us.
It pains him because it is His House and he is often treated as an unwelcome interloper. He scours the pews for anyone who might be able to offer reparation—particularly in the Divine Will. He laments because he has arranged for a little child linked to Luisa to live nearby, but in seeing that they have gone elsewhere, his pain is redoubled.
This is something each of us must ponder and pray about. Every parish has a territory assigned to it by God and the Church. If you are in that territory, God has placed you in it for a reason and, I daresay, a responsibility, especially in the Divine Will.
Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with shopping for a parish that is the “right fit”. But by abandoning the nearest parish in search of the “right” parish, might we who are called to live in the Divine Will be leaving Jesus to suffer in Gethsemane alone?
In the Hours of the Passion, we begin to appreciate how much our Blessed Mother did to comfort Jesus in Gethsemane. It is stunning to read. And the Apostles? Even faithful St. John slept in the Garden and fled when things got out of hand.
What about us? Will we flee like the Apostles, or will we imitate Mary, offering Jesus comfort and relief in the Divine Will by participating in his agony in the Gethsemane of his churches, counting, with Our Mother, every bloody drop and tear, returning all to him with our I love you, I thank you, and I bless you. No one can comfort Jesus like a faithful soul who lives in the Divine Will.
While we may have good reasons to abandon a parish for one further afield, it seems to me that in the Divine Will we are being called to something infinitely more radical. What has been unfolding for me recently is that if someone living in the Divine Will were to regularly attend Mass at one such parish for love of God, no matter how distasteful it might be for them, the parish would be transformed.
You may have read a post I wrote a few months back called In the Trenches, where this actually happened to someone I know, in a very dramatic way. There was a glow so bright behind the priest that she had to look away. I invite you to read the whole glorious story.
When we accept the Gift of Living in the Divine Will, we become conduits of the Lord’s transforming rays of Divine Light wherever we go, without being aware of it. Jesus wants to go to that parish, to that Mass, nestled in the lowly manger of our little l souls. Think of the joy it will give him to hear us say in that place in the name of all, “Jesus, fused into you, I desire with your own Divine desire to receive you with your own Divine receiving, united to your Humanity, your Divinity, and your Will. I love you and I thank you, Blessed Jesus, for me and for all. I offer this Communion in reparation for all that scourges you in your Church and in this parish.” (Just an example. See also prayers below.)
In the Divine Will we are called in a radical, complete way to let go of our own desires in favor of God’s, for the salvation of souls in the Church and in the world. One person living in the Divine Will in a Parish really is enough to transform it. If we desire it, he will do it. Let us give him our nothingness and let him do!
One of the online adoration chapels I visit often is the one pictured here, located at the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Niepokalanow, Poland. Once, as I was meditating and praying to Jesus with Mary in this monstrance, it occurred to me what a beautiful artistic depiction it is of someone living in the Divine Will. Read here what came to me.
From The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will, Day 23
[Mary speaks:] With My Sorrows, I acquired the little coin to pay the debts of My children … even those of the ungrateful children … In your sufferings, in the painful encounters … never lose heart … let the Divine Will assume Its Royal Place in your pains, so that It may convert them into little coins … with which you will be able to pay the debts of your brothers – to ransom them from the slavery of the human will, and make them enter … into the Kingdom of the Divine Will.”
Rounds in the Divine Will, One with Luisa
foreword by Sr. Assunta
The soul follows Jesus, step by step, in Gethsemane, and is present during the three hours of agony in the Garden.
My Jesus, I want to relieve You by making my “I love You, I adore You, I bless You” flow in each drop of your Blood. My afflicted Jesus, You are entering into the sea of your Passion. Your steps are directed to the Garden of Gethsemane. I see that You prostrate Yourself to the ground, and You pray; but as You pray, pant, sigh, agonize and sweat Blood, everything comes before You – all pains and all sins, each of them carrying the mark of the deadly weapon of the human will that wages war against a God. Ah! yes, it is the human will that, with its weapons, puts the Divine Will into agony; it has kept It so for many centuries, and it still does. My agonizing Jesus, my poor heart cannot bear seeing You cast to the ground and wet with your own Blood; and because of this Blood, I ask You for the Kingdom of your Divine Will upon earth. Therefore, before You leave this Garden, give me your word – content this little child of Yours, and tell me that the triumph of your Divine Will will come.
“This agony of my Will is so painful, that my Humanity, which wanted to suffer it in the garden of Gethsemane, reached the point of seeking the help of my very apostles – but not even that I obtained; and the spasm was such that I sweat living blood. Feeling like succumbing under the enormous weight of the agony of my Divine Will, so long and terrible, I invoked the help of my Celestial Father, saying to Him: ‘Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from Me’. In all the other pains of my Passion, as atrocious as they were, I never said: ‘If it is possible, let this pain pass’. On the contrary, on the cross I cried out: ‘I thirst’ – I thirst for pains…” (L. Piccarreta, Book of Heaven, Volume 20, November 19, 1926)
The Twenty-Four Hours of The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
[Luisa prays:] Jesus, Mama, keep me close to You; give me your love, your Will. Dart through my poor heart, hold me tightly in your arms; and together with You, O sweet Mother, I want to follow, step by step, adored Jesus, with the intention of giving Him comfort, relief, love and reparation for all.
Reflection by St. Anibale di Francia:
…If we do all this in the Will of God which contains all sweetnesses and all contentments in immense proportion, we will give to Jesus large sweet sips, so as to mitigate the poisoning which other creatures cause Him, and to console His Divine Heart.
[Luisa:] And now, O my Jesus, let my poor heart draw life from your Heart, that I may live only with your Heart; and in each offense You will receive, let me be ever ready to offer You a relief, a comfort, a reparation, an act of love, never interrupted.
Reflection by St. Anibale di Francia:
In our moments of darkness, do we place the intention of making the light of truth shine in others? And when we pray with fervor, do we place the intention of melting the ice of many hearts hardened in sin?
My Jesus, in order to compassionate You and relieve You from the total exhaustion in which You find Yourself, I rise up to Heaven and make your own Divinity my own; and placing It around You, I want to move all the offenses of creatures away from You. I want to offer You your Beauty to move the ugliness of sin away from You; your Sanctity to move away the horror of all those souls who make You feel repugnance, because they are dead to grace; your Peace to move the discords, the rebellions and the disturbances of all creatures away from You; your harmonies to relieve your hearing from the waves of many evil voices. My Jesus, I intend to offer You as many divine acts of reparation for as many offenses as assault You, almost wanting to give You death. I intend to give You life with your own acts. Then, O Jesus, I want to throw a wave of your Divinity upon all creatures, so that, at your divine contact, they may no longer dare to offend You.
Only in this way, O Jesus, will I be able to offer You compassion for all the offenses which You receive from creatures.
O Jesus, sweet Life of mine, may my prayers and my pains rise always toward Heaven, so as to let the light of grace rain upon all, and absorb your own Life in me.