LOVE AND MARRIAGE
– From the Mystical Revelations of Maria Valtorta –
— Introductory Note —
On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI published his bombshell encyclical, Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life"), to the dismay of many theologians, bishops, priests and laity in the Church, and probably to the consternation of the theological commission he himself had convened to study the question. Contrary to expectations the encyclical upheld and reaffirmed the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church condemning artificial contraception in marriage. It thereby immediately provoked an unprecedented rebellion of dissent on the part of many theologians, clergy and laity in the Church, a rebellion that, far from abating, seems to have gained ground and infested the Church more intensely in the 35 years since its promulgation. No. 17 of the encyclical is a case in point:
Few reasonable Catholics today would contest the prophetic nature of Pope Paul's words above, reiterated by Pope John Paul II, in view of the disastrous "lowering of morality" throughout society and the Church today. Yet one still hears often the criticism that in upholding these moral values of Humanae Vitae, the Pope and the Magisterium of today are "out of touch" with modern times and the moral evolution of society regarding marriage and related issues, and they therefore need to "update" traditional moral views to correspond with modern man's psychological and moral evolution .
To respond to that criticism the excerpts presented here from Maria Valtorta's I Quaderni dal 1944 ("The Notebooks for 1944"), and translated especially for this web site, give Christ's views on marriage and the procreation of children. Though this Dictation dates from 1944, before the Vatican Council, yet it comes from the Lord of History and the Church Who is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb 13b:8), and Who, in Section III presented below says of His Gospel:
"Know that it is not the Gospel that should be adapted to you [Christians of today], but you to the Gospel."
It is hoped that these words of the Master may be an inspiration to Christian couples today to walk as true disciples of Christ as did the Christians of the first centuries, and to live their married life together without compromise, as a means of growing in holiness together in their mystic union in Christ: the Bridegroom of His Church.
– I –
Families which are not [true] families, and which are the source of grave misfortunes that radiate outward from within the family cell to ruin national bodies and, from these, world peace: such families are those in which God does not rule, but rather sensuality and [self]-interest, and therefore [they are] the offspring of Satan. Created on a foundation of sensuality and [self]-interest, they do not raise themselves toward what is holy but, like unhealthy grass born in the mire, they always crawl toward the earth.
The angel says to Tobias: "I will teach you who are those over whom the demon has power" (Tobit 6:16 [Vulgate]). Oh! Truly there are spouses who from the first hour of their marriage are under the demon's power! Rather, they are so even before being married. They are so from the moment they make the decision to find for themselves a male or female companion and do not do it for the right end, but with deceitful calculations in which egoism and sensuality reign supreme.
Nothing is more healthy and holy than two people who sincerely love each and unite to perpetuate the human race and to give souls to Heaven.
The dignity of a man and woman who have become parents is second only to God's. Not even royal dignity is like this. For a king, even the wisest, does nothing more than administer his subjects. These parents instead attract the Gaze of God upon them, and from that Gaze they seize a new soul which they enclose in the envelope of flesh born from them. I would almost say that they have made God subject to them, in that moment, because for their upright love, which unites to give to Earth and Heaven a new citizen, God immediately creates a new soul.
If they but thought about it —this power of theirs to which God immediately assents! The angels cannot do so much. Rather the angels, like God, are immediately ready to accede to the act of fertile spouses and to become Guardians of the new creature. But there are many who, as Raphael says, embrace the conjugal state in such a way as to drive God from themselves and from their mind, and to abandon themselves to lust. And it is over these that the demon has power (Tobit 6:16-22 [Vulgate]).
What difference is there between the bed of sin2 and the bed of a married couple who do not refuse themselves the enjoyment, but do refuse offspring?3 Let us not use verbal acrobatics and lying rationalizations: the difference is very small. For, if because of sickness or imperfections it is advisable or agreed upon not to have children, then one must know how to be continent and to forbid oneself those sterile satisfactions which are nothing else than sensual appeasement. If, however, no obstacle to procreation intervenes, why do you make a natural and supernatural law into an immoral act, by altering its purpose?
When any honest reflection advises you not to increase your offspring, then know how to live as chaste spouses and not as lustful apes. How do you want the angel of God to watch over your house when you make it a den of sin? How do you want God to protect you when you force Him to wrench His disgusted Gaze from your filthy nest?
Oh! wretched families formed without supernatural preparation! Families from which every search for Truth has been banished a priori, and where instead one laughs at the word of Truth which teaches what Matrimony is and why it exists. Wretched those families that are formed without any thought of Above, but only from the goad of sensual appetite and financial considerations! How many the married couples who, after the inevitable custom of the religious ceremony —I said "custom", and I repeat it, because for the majority it is nothing but a custom, and not an aspiration of the soul to have God with them in such a moment. How many such couples no longer have any thought of God and make of the Sacrament —which does not end with the religious ceremony but, according to My Thought, is begun then and endures as long as the life of the couple —just as monastic profession does not last [only] as long as the religious ceremony, but endures as long as the life of the man or woman religious —such couples make of the Sacrament a party, and of the party an outlet for bestiality!
The angel instructs Tobias that by preceding the act with prayer, the act becomes holy and blessed and fertile with true joy and offspring (Tobit 6:16-22; 8, 4-10 and 15-17 [Vulgate]).
This is what one should do-: To enter into Matrimony moved by the desire for offspring, since such is the aim of the human union, and any other aim is a fault dishonoring man as a rational being and wounding his spirit, the temple of God —Who flees in outrage. And to have God present at every hour. God is not an oppressive jailer. But God is a good Father, Who is jubilant at the honest joys of His children, and Who responds to their holy embraces with Heavenly blessings and with approval, the proof of which is the creation of a new soul.
But who will understand this page? As if I had spoken in the tongue of an unknown planet, you will all read it without sensing its holy savor. It will seem to you stale straw, and yet it is heavenly doctrine. You, the wise ones of this present time, will ridicule it. And you do not know that Satan laughs at your imbecility which—thanks to your incontinence, your bestiality—he has succeeded in turning to your condemnation what God created for your good—marriage, as a human union and as a Sacrament.
I repeat the words of Tobias to his wife, so that you remember them and guide yourselves by them—if you can still do so through a remnant of human dignity surviving in you: "We are children of saints, and we cannot unite with each other like the gentiles who do not know God" (Tobit 8:5 [Vulgate]).
Let them be your norm. For, even if you were born where holiness was already dead, Baptism has always made of you children of God, of the Saint of saints, and therefore you can always say that you are children of the saints, of the Saint, and conduct yourselves by this. You will then have descendants in whom the Name of the Lord will be blessed and who will live in His Law.
And when children live in the Divine Law, their parents enjoy them because that Law teaches them virtue, respect, love. And thus the first to enjoy their children after God are the fortunate parents, the holy couple who knew how to make of their union a perpetual rite and not a disgraceful vice.
– NOTES –
1 - Maria Valtorta, I Quaderni dal
1944, Ed., Emilio Pisani, (CEV, 1985, Isola del Liri): pp. 277-380.
2. ...the bed of sin..." — This probably refers to fornication.
3. "...refuse to have offspring?" — An obvious condemnation of contraception, confirming the constant teaching of Tradition and the Church's Magisterium of the gravity of this sin, especially as stated in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae.
– I I –
Hear this parable for all of you:
A man loves a woman. He has seen that she is beautiful, and they have told him that she is good, pure and modest. He has felt an affection rise up in his heart and, with the affection, the hope of being able to possess that woman as a wife and make her the pearl of his house.
He has himself presented to her relatives and asks them for the young woman. They grant her to him. And then with a thousand attentions he seeks to conquer her affection, because his own is already a giant love and he wants to bring his beloved to the same love. Every time he goes to her he brings her something he knows is to her taste. When he is away from her he thinks of what he can bring her. If he is far away from the village he writes her to tell her what he cannot say to her by voice, and as soon as he returns to the place he runs to her. He does not tell her about his own worries. Those he leaves outside the door because he does not want to grieve her, and for him it is already a relief to see the smiling face of his beloved.
Thus passes the time which you call "engagement", and which we Jews call an "espousal" but which, not being a consummated marriage, is basically a very strict official engagement, so much so that the woman takes the title of "widow" if her spouse dies on her before consummating the marriage, leaving her a virgin.
But then comes the moment in which the woman leaves the paternal household and enters the house of her husband to be "one single flesh with him" according to the ancient command (Genesis 2:24). And that for always, according to My new commandment which says: "That which God has joined cannot be separated by man for any reason" (Matthew 19:5-6). For to separate means to push [another] into adultery, and the sin of adultery is committed not only by the one who commits the material sin, but also by the one who produces the cause of the sin, putting a creature into conditions for sinning.
And this should be said not only to husbands who abandon their wives and to wives who separate from their husbands, but also to the relatives on either side who, through their own individual egoism or ill will, sow darnel2 between the two spouses. Or to those deceitful friends of the family who with lies, or even simply by goading some discontentment which, if not goaded, would subside, create fantasies between two spouses that are capable of making their life together unendurable.
Truly I tell you that, if spouses knew how to live isolated in the circle of their affection and the love of their offspring, 90% of separations in marriage would cease to exist, since the very reasons of incompatibility which are alleged to obtain separation between couples exist in every life together: between children and parents, between relatives, between brothers, even between friends who have been reunited. Nor do you make these "reasons of incompatibility" so forceful as to come to a split-up. Yet this [marriage] bond, which is indissoluble in every way, you break with the greatest facility.
Never should you be unfaithful, never. But this motive alone could be—not from My point of view, but from yours—the only motive for a separation. From a natural point of view. For the supernatural point of view says: "If one of the two [spouses] has already failed, it is the double duty of the second to be faithful so as not to deprive the offspring of affection and respect. Affection of the parents for their offspring, and respect of these latter for their parents. And he or she who, not knowing how to forgive, sends the guilty partner away and remains alone, later finds it difficult to remain alone and passes on, in turn, to illicit loves whose consequences pour back on the immediate present of the children and on their future morality." Therefore I say: "Man is not allowed, for any reason—a Christian is not allowed to separate what a Sacrament has joined together in the Name of Christ".
But I do not want to speak to you of that. I want to speak to you,3 My soul,4 who are joined, not to a man, but to God with an offering of charity which He has welcomed. I want to speak to your sister souls in their total love for Me.
When the bride, then, leaves the paternal household and becomes the wife of him whom she loves, she rises to a greater degree of love. They are no longer two who love one another. They are one loving oneself in one's double. One loves oneself reflected in the other, since love tightens them in so tight a knot that the joy [of it] annihilates their personality and the two individuals rejoice in a single joy.
They correspond to the first two periods of the mystical espousals. First you are loved and grow in affection toward God Who loves you. Then you penetrate into a deeper love and you enjoy His joys which become your joys. But this is not the perfection of the bride. I have already told you that, and now I repeat it to you to answer your "why?": "Why do You no longer have for me now those words of such secure peace, of such an affirmative promise that You would have spared me certain sorrows?" —you said a little while ago on re-reading the pages from October.
O Maria! "Why!" Because I have brought you higher.
Men accuse Me of repeating Myself in what I say. But if I must repeat Myself with you who are so straining to listen to Me and seem to Me like a little bird in its nest with its mouth wide open, waiting for the food which its father offers it—your food which is My word—how must I not repeat Myself when I speak for those who pay no attention to Me? Once, twice, a hundred, a thousand times I must say again the same truths to get a minuscule part of them to penetrate into their heart and arouse there a light. Because if later that light is extinguished it is not My fault, nor can they accuse Me of their blindness.
Now I tell you this: When the enthusiastic period of [married] love has passed, that love matures into a dignified virility. And it makes the man and woman, who were just two inhabitants of the earth before, and then became one flesh, it makes them a father and a mother who love each other over a cradle and look at each other saying —saying as God the Creator said, contemplating Man (Gen 1:26) —think, O parents, of your power—: "We have made a creature who is eternal, who belongs to Heaven, to God". Such is the destiny of man and, if his malice does not lead him astray, such is his glorious goal. But when the couple have reached this perfect union, does not the wife become also a mother, sister and friend to her companion?
Oh! What sweet comfort for the man is that woman who knows how to love him with such perfection that he can pour out to her all his thoughts and be sure they are understood, and can be consoled.
Oh! Blessed that house where the holiness of the Sacrament lives in the true sense of the word and produces an inexhaustible flowering of acts of love. Love not of the flesh alone, but more a love of the spirit. A love which lasts and even grows the more the years and worries grow. A love which is true love. For it is not limited to loving for enjoyment, but embraces the pain of one's partner and bears it with oneself to lighten its weight.
Do two who weep together love one another less than two who kiss each other and smile? No, Maria. They love each other more. The man shows that he greatly esteems his wife if he confides everything about himself to her, to have her advice and comfort. The woman shows that she greatly loves her husband if she knows how to understand him in his thoughts and willingly helps him bear his worries. There will no longer be fiery kisses and poetic words. But there will be caresses from soul to soul and secret words which their spirits murmur to each other, giving one another the peace of true love. Of true marriage.
Well then, My soul. You are now in this stage. With your love fused to Mine you have given birth to some children. All those who have known Me, or known Me better, through your operative love, are children you have given Me. You will know them one day and rejoice over them.
Now that I love you so many times more through each child you have given Me, now that I know that you love Me even to wanting to take upon yourself the cross of My interests, for the glory of your Lord spurs you more than your own life, see: I act with you as a Bridegroom sure of His bride. I no longer show you only My smile, but also My weeping. I no longer caress you with roses, but imprint upon your heart roses of blood, leaning you against My brow crowned with thorns. I no longer kiss you with lips dripping with honey and wine, but with My mouth bitter with vinegar and gall which had been My last drink, and in which was mixed the acrid taste of the blood that was rising from My lungs broken in the last death rattle. If I treat you thus it is because I judge you a "strong woman" (Prov 31:10-31) in the biblical sense of the word.
Oh! what rest for Me to have some of these hearts! Give this rest, you generous [souls] who know how to love, give it to the eternal Beggar Who goes on asking for love and receives only indifference and offenses. Give it to Me, Maria. And do not fear that you have descended. If you had the wings of an angel you would always climb less swiftly than you do with the wings of generous love.
– NOTES –
1- Maria Valtorta,
I Quaderni dal 1944, Ed., Emilio Pisani, (CEV, 1985, Isola del Liri):
2- ...sow darnel... —poisonous weeds, that is seeds of dissension.
3- "I want to speak to you..." —Christ addresses Valtorta and her "sister" victim souls here more directly.
4. "Well then, My soul." —Christ now addresses Valtorta directly with the term "My soul" (or "soul of Mine"), one of His frequent epithets for her.
– I I I –
In reading the Gospel distractedly as you do [Christians of today], too many truths escape you. You take in the great teachings, but even these you take in poorly, adapting them to your present way of seeing things.
But for the present, know that it is not the Gospel that should be adapted to you , but you to the Gospel. It is just what it is. That was its teaching in the first century of its life and it will be such in its last, even if the last century should come in billions of years. You will no longer know how to live according to the Gospel — you already know very little how to do so — but not for this reason will the Gospel become different. It will always speak to you all the same vital truths.
Your wanting to adapt the Gospel to your manner of life is a confession of your spiritual misery. If you had faith in the eternal truths, and in Me Who proclaimed them, you would strive to live the Gospel in an integral way, just as the first Christians did. And do not say: "But life today is such that we cannot follow these teachings perfectly. We admire them, but we are too different from them to follow them."
The pagans of the first centuries were also very different, too different from the Gospel, and yet they knew how to follow It. Lustful, greedy, depraved, cruel, skeptics, corrupt, they knew how to tear all these octopuses away from themselves, stripping their soul naked, making it bleed to tear it from the tentacles of a pagan life and, thus wounded in thought, in affections, in habits, to come to Me, saying: "Lord, if You will, You can heal me" (Matt 8:2). And I healed them. I cured their heroic wounds.
For, it is heroism to know how to tear an evil from oneself out of love of a law totally accepted. It is heroism to mutilate oneself from all that is a hindrance to following Me. It is the heroism I had indicated: "Truly I say that to follow Me one must leave house, fields, riches and affections. But for whoever knows how to leave all to come to Me, out of love of My Name, will be given a hundred fold in the other Life. Truly I say that whoever is reborn in following Me will possess the Kingdom and will come with Me to judge men on the last day" (cf. Matt 19:28-29).
Oh! My true faithful ones! You will be with Me, with Me: a festive and radiant throng in the hour of My triumph, of your triumph, since all that is Mine is yours; it belongs to My children, to My beloved lovers, My blessed ones, My joy.
But you must be "reborn", O men, to be Mine. Reborn. John also says it, just as Matthew does, in reporting My words: Matthew in speaking of the rich young man (Matt 19:16-30), and My favorite disciple [John], in speaking of Nicodemus (Jn 3:1-21). There must be a rebirth. One must be reborn. To make oneself a new soul, O you new gentiles of the twentieth century. To make oneself such by stripping self of the world's compromises and ideas, to embrace My Idea and live it out. To live it out truly. Integrally.
That is what the gentiles of the first centuries did, and they became the glorious saints of Heaven. And they brought civilization to the Earth. That is what you [Christians of today] should do, if you truly love Me, if you are truly tending toward the Other Life, if you are truly laboring for the civilization of the Earth. The Earth, now! —More uncivilized than a tribe buried in the virgin forests! And why? Because it has rejected Me. It is not calling oneself a Christian that makes one so. It is not a perfunctory reception of baptism that constitutes a Christian. "Christians" means being what Christ said to be. As the Gospel repeats it to you.
But you read the Gospel very little, you read it badly, you trim away whatever irks you in its great teachings. While its more delicate teachings you do not even notice.
But tell me: When an artist gets ready to do a work, does he limit himself to the rough-hewn work, if a sculptor? to a sketch, if a painter, to erecting walls, if an architect? No. After the coarse work he gets down to details. These take much longer to complete than the coarse work. But it is these that create the masterpiece.
With what love the sculptor labors with chisel and mallet on the marble —which to a layman seems already alive— in order to bring perfection to that work! He resembles a goldsmith, so exact and intent is his labor. But see how that face of stone comes to life under the caress of his tool —for now it is a caress, so attentive and light is his work. The eye seems adorned with a gaze, the nostrils seem to swell with breathing, the mouth becomes soft as it curves with warm lips, and the hair, oh! no longer hard in stone, but airy and blowing as if the wind is running through it, or a loving hand tousling it.
Look at that painter. The canvas is already finished. It is beautiful —it seems beautiful, perfect. But he does not rest. See, here is needed a blue-black shadow, and there a touch of carmine. On this flower shining in the hand of this virgin a sparkle of sunlight is needed to make it stand out in its pearly whiteness. On this cheek a tear drop is needed to give life to the ecstatic joy which survives amid the torments. This flowering field, where these flocks pass by and graze, should be sprinkled with dew to bring out the silky quality of the flowers. The painter does not rest until the work is so perfect as to make him say: "It is real!" And so with the architect, the musician, and so with all true artists who want to give the world a masterpiece.
And so must you do with the masterpiece of your spiritual life.
But what do you think? That I, Who was so foreign to conversation have added words just for the pleasure of saying them? No. I said purely what was necessary to bring you to perfection. And if in the great teaching of the Gospel there is enough to give salvation to your soul, in the most minute touches there is enough to give you perfection.
The former [the great teaching] are the commands. To disobey those means to die to Life. The latter [the "touches"], are the counsels. To obey these means to be always more concerned for holiness, and to draw ever closer to the Perfection of the Father.
Now in the Gospel of Matthew it is said: "Because wickedness is multiplied, the charity of many will grow cold" (Matt 24:12). Here, O children, is a great truth which is little pondered.
From what do you suffer now? From a lack of love. What are wars, basically? Hate. What is hate? The antithesis of love. Political reasons? Living space? An unjust border? A political insult? Excuses, excuses.
You do not love one another. You do not feel you are brothers. You do not remember that you are all of one blood, that you are all born the one same way, that you all die the same way, that you all experience hunger, thirst, cold, sleep in the same way and need bread, clothing, a house, and fire in the same way. You do not remember that I said: "Love one another. From the way you love one another will it be understood that you are My disciples. Love your neighbor as yourselves" (Jn 13:34-35; 15:12).
You all think these truths are the words of a fable. You believe this doctrine of Mine is the doctrine of a madman. You replace it with many poor human doctrines —poor or wicked, according to their creator. But even the most perfect of them, if they differ from Mine, are imperfect. Like the mythical statue (Dan 2: 31-45), many parts of them will have precious metals. But the base will be mud and in the end will provoke the collapse of the whole doctrine. And in that collapse, the ruin of all those who relied on it. Mine does not collapse. Whoever relies on It is not ruined, but rises to an ever greater security: he rises to Heaven, to a relationship with God on earth, to the possession of God beyond the earth.
But charity cannot exist where iniquity lives. Because God is charity and God does not cohabit with Evil. Therefore whoever loves Evil hates God. Hating God, he increases his iniquity and separates himself more and more from God-Charity. This is a circle from which there is no escape and which tightens to torture you.
Whether powerful or humble, you have all increased your faults. Having neglected the Gospel, derided the Commandments, and forgotten God—since whoever lives according to the flesh, the pride of the mind, the counsels of Satan, cannot be said to remember God—you have trampled on the family, robbed, blasphemed, killed, borne false witness, lied, fornicated, and you have made the illicit, licit. Here, stealing a position, a wife, an inheritance; there, higher up, by stealing some power or a national freedom, increasing your thievery with the fault of lying to justify to peoples your action which sends them to death. These poor peoples, who ask only to live peacefully! And whom you incite with venomous lies, throwing them against one another to guarantee your own prosperity —which you are not allowed obtain at the price of blood, of tears, of the sacrifice of whole nations.
But how guilty are individuals for the faults of the great! It is the piling up of little individual faults that forms the basis for the [great] Fault. If each one lived holily without greed for the flesh, for money, for power, how could the [great] Fault be formed? There would still be criminals. But they would be rendered harmless, for no one would serve them. Like well isolated madmen, they would continue raving after their obscene dreams of tyranny. But those dreams would never become a reality. However much Satan helped them, his help would be rendered null by the opposing unity of all humanity made holy by living according to God. And moreover, humanity would have God with it. God: kind toward His obedient and good children. Charity, love would then be in hearts. Alive and sanctifying. And wickedness would fall away.
Do you see, O children, the need to love so as not to be wicked, and the need of not being wicked so as to possess love? Try to love. If you loved... Just very little! If you began to love. To begin would suffice, and then all would progress by itself.
The harvest can not be gathered if the ear of grain does not mature. The ear cannot mature if it is not formed. And it cannot be formed if the tuft is not formed. But if the farmer did not cast the little seed into the sod, could the green tuft which, like a living chalice supports the glory of the ears, rise out of the furrow? The seed is so little! And yet it breaks through the patch of ground, penetrates the earth, sucks it like a greedy mouth and then lifts up to the sun its blessed pomp of future bread, and with its color of hope or its gold rustling in the wind and shining in the sun, it sings its blessing to Him Who gives the Bread, and bread, to man. If the seed no longer existed —it is so little that it would take many to fill the gullet of a little sparrow— you would not even have the Host on the altar. You would die of physical hunger and spiritual starvation.
Put into every heart a seed, a little seed of charity, of love. Let it penetrate there. Make it grow in yourselves. Change your naked greed into an abundant flowering of holy works all born of charity. The earth, now thistles and thorns, would change its face and its harshness which tortures you, into a peaceful and good dwelling, a foretaste of blessed Heaven. To love one another is already to be in Heaven. For Heaven is nothing but love.
Read, read the Gospel, and read It even its most minute phrases. Live it in these shades of its perfection. Begin with love. It seems like the most difficult precept and counsel. But it is the key to all. To all Good. To all Joy. To all Peace.
– NOTES –
1- Maria Valtorta,
I Quaderni dal 1944, Ed., Emilio Pisani, (CEV, 1985, Isola del Liri):