233. Comment on Three Episodes Connected with the Conversion of Mary of Magdala.
13th August 1944.
"As from January, when I let you see the supper in the house of Simon, the leper, you and he who guides you, have wished to know more about Mary of Magdala and the words I spoke to her. Now, after seven months, I reveal those pages of the past to you, to make you happy and to give a rule to those who must learn to bend over those women, who are lepers in their souls, and also to invite those poor wretches, who are suffocating in their sepulchres of vice, to come out of them.
God is good. He is good to everybody. He does not measure by means of human measures. He does not discriminate between mortal sins. Sin, whatever it may be, grieves Him. Repentance pleases Him and makes Him willing to forgive. Resistance to Grace makes Him inflexibly severe because Justice cannot forgive the unrepentant who will die as such, notwithstanding all the help given to them so that they might be converted. But the main cause of forty per cent, if not fifty per cent, of non-conversions is the negligence of those responsible for conversions, that is, a mistaken false zeal protecting real selfishness and pride, whereby one is happy in one's refuge, without having to descend into dirt to save a heart from it. “I am pure, I deserve respect. I will not go where there is filth and where they may fail to respect me.”
But has he who speaks thus not read the Gospel where it is written that the Son of God came to call tax collectors and prostitutes beside the honest people, the only honest ones according to the old Law? Does he not think that pride is impurity of the mind, and lack of charity is impurity of the heart? Will you be despised? I was despised before you and more than you, and I was the Son of God. Will you have to wear your clean robe where there is filth? And did I not touch that filth with My hands to make it stand up and say to it: “Walk on this new way”? Do you not remember what I said to your first predecessors?
“Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him.” So that the world may not grumble.
Because the world is inclined to see evil in everything. But I added: “When you enter houses -'houses' I said, not 'house' – salute them saying: 'Peace to this house'. And if the house deserves it, peace will descend upon it, if it does not, your peace will come back to you.” I said that to teach you that until there is a definite proof of unrepentance, you must have the same heart for everybody. And I completed My lesson by saying: “And if anyone does not welcome you and does not listen to your words, as you walk out of those houses or towns shake the dust from your feet.” Sin is but dust, and God makes good souls, who have constantly loved Him, like smooth crystal cubes: it is enough to blow or shake the dust and it disappears without doing any harm.
Be really good. Be thoroughly united, with eternal Bounty in the midst of you, and no corruption will be able to foul you above the soles of your sandals which touch the ground. Souls are so high up! I mean the souls of those who are good and thoroughly united to God. Such souls are in Heaven. And no dust or filth can reach up there, not even when thrown angrily at the spirit of an apostle. They may strike your flesh, that is, they may wound you physically or morally, persecuting you or offending you, because Evil hates Good. And so what? Was I not offended and wounded? Did they perhaps carve those blows and foul words into My Spirit? Did they upset Me? No, they did not. Like spittle on a mirror or a stone thrown against the juicy pulp of a fruit, they skidded without penetrating, or they penetrated only superficially, without damaging the kernel enclosed in the stone: on the contrary it fosters its germination because it is easier to sprout from a cracked core than from a whole one. Through death corn germinates and an apostle becomes active. Sometimes through physical death, or dying daily metaphorically, by crushing one's human ego. But that is not death: it is Life. The spirit triumphs over the death of humanity.
She(1) to came to Me to satisfy the passing fancy of an idle woman who did not know how to while away the time, and although her ears were almost deafened by the false homage of those who lulled her singing to her sensuality in order to make her their slave, she heard the clear severe voice of Truth. Of the Truth that is not afraid of being despised or not understood and speaks looking at God. And like festive bells ringing together, all the voices mingled in the Word: voices want to sing in the open blue sky, spreading over valleys and hills, plains and lakes, to commemorate the glory of the Lord and His festivity. Do you not remember the solemn festivity that in peace time made the day of the Lord so joyful? The big bell, with its resonant clapper, gave the first peal in the name of divine Law and seemed to be saying: “I am speaking in the name of God, Judge and King.” The smaller bells then harmonised: “Who is good, merciful and patient”, and the smallest bell, in a silvery angelical voice added” Whose Love urges men to forgive and be indulgent, to teach men that forgiveness is more useful than wrath and compassion is greater than inflexibility.”
Likewise, after recalling the Law, trampled on by the sinner, I made her hear the song of forgiveness. I shook the hope of forgiveness in the darkness of sin, like a green-blue silk scarf among dark shades, so that hope might put in its comforting words. Forgiveness! It is like dew on the parching thirst of sinners. Dew is not like hail, which strikes like a dart, bounces and without penetrating the soil kills flowers. Dew descends so lightly that even the most delicate flower does not perceive it resting on its silk petals. But it drinks its refreshing moisture. Dew settles near roots, on parched clods of earth and penetrates the soil... It is a moisture of tears, the tears of stars, the loving tears of mothers on their thirsty children, whom it nourishes together with their sweet bountiful milk. Oh! the mysteries of elements operating also when man rests or sins! Forgiveness is like such dew. It brings not only cleanliness, but also vital juices, taken not from elements, but from divine hearths.
And after the promise of forgiveness Wisdom speaks saying what is legal and what is not legal, and it reproaches and shakes, not out of harshness, but out of maternal anxiety to save. How often your hardness becomes more impenetrable and unyielding to Charity bending over you!... How often you run away while Charity speaks to you! How often you scorn It! How often you hate It!... If Charity dealt with you as you deal with It, woe to your souls! Instead, see, It is the Untiring Walker who comes looking for you. And It reaches you even if you hide in the darkest of dens.
Why did I decide to go to that house? Why did I not work a miracle in it? To teach the apostles how to behave, defying prejudices and criticism in order to fulfill their duty, which is so high as to be free from the trifling things of the world.
Why did I say those words to Judas? The apostles were still very much men. All Christians are very much men, also the saints on the earth, although to a lesser degree. Some humanism survives also in perfect souls. But the apostles were not yet perfect. Their minds were pervaded with human reasoning. I lifted them up. But the weight of their humanity pulled them down again. To let them descend as little as possible I had to put something on their ascending way, which could stop their descent, something on which they could stop to meditate and rest and thus be able to ascend again to a higher level than previously. I had to bring forth something capable of convincing them that I was God, that is: introspection of their souls, victory over elements, miracles, transfiguration, resurrection, ubiquity. I was on the road to Emmaus when I was in the Last Supper room, and the time of My ubiquity, when discussed by the apostles and disciples, was one of the reasons which affected them most strongly, freeing them from their ties and urging them on to the way of Christ. Rather than to Judas, who was already brooding over death, I was speaking to the other eleven. I was compelled to make it very clear to them that I was God, not out of pride, but of necessity for their formation. I was God and Master. Those words define Me as such. I reveal Myself by means of an extra-human faculty and I teach a virtue: we must not talk evil things not even in our hearts. Because God sees, and God must see a pure heart to descend into it and dwell there.
Why did I not work the miracle in that house? To make everybody understand that the presence of God calls for a pure environment, out of respect for His sublime majesty. I did not work the miracle there, because I wanted to speak to her, not uttering words with My lips, but with a deeper word addressed to her sinful soul and say: “See, poor wretch? You are so filthy that everything near you becomes foul. So foul, that God cannot act. You are filthier than he is. Because you are repeating Eve's sin and are offering your fruit to many Adams, by tempting them and taking them away from their Duty. You are a minister of Satan.” But why do I not want her to be called “Satan” by his dejected mother? Because no reason can justify insult and hatred. The first essential condition to have God with us is to bear no ill-will and to forgive. The second condition is to admit that we, or those who belong to us, are sinners as well. We must not see only other people's faults. The third condition is to remain grateful and faithful, after receiving grace, out of justice to the Eternal Father. Woe to those who after receiving grace are worse than dogs and do not remember their Benefactor, whereas animals do!
I did not say one word to Mary Magdalene. I looked at her for a moment, as if she were a statue, then I left her. I went back to the “living ones” whom I wanted to save. I treated her with seeming carelessness, as if she were dead, like or more than a lifeless sculptured piece of marble. But I did not utter a word or make a gesture that did not aim mainly at her poor soul, which I wanted to redeem. And the last words: “I do not insult. Do not insult. Pray for sinners. Nothing else”, like a garland of flowers the ends of which are joined together, are to be joined to the first words spoken upon the mountain: “Forgiveness is more useful than wrath and compassion than inflexibility.” And these have enclosed the poor wretch in a cool velvet circle, scented with goodness, making her feel how the loving service of God is different from the cruel slavery of Satan, how sweet is the heavenly perfume as compared to the stench of sin, and how relaxing it is to be loved holily as compared to being possessed satanically. See how moderate is the will of the Lord. He does not exact immediate conversions. He does not claim the absolute from a heart. He can wait and be satisfied. And while he waits for the lost woman to find her way, for the mad woman to find reason, He is satisfied with what the dejected mother can give her. I ask her only: “Can you forgive?” How many more questions I should have asked her to make her worthy of the miracle, if I had behaved according to human standards! But I measure your strength in a divine way. It was already a great success if the poor deranged mother could really forgive. And that is all I ask her, at that moment. After giving her son back to her, I say to her: “Be holy and make your house holy.” But while the pangs of grief derange her mind, I ask her but to forgive the culprit. You must not exact everything from those who shortly before were in Darkness. That mother was to come later to full light, with her daughter-in-law and the children. For the time being, it was necessary to let first dawning of Light reach her eyes blinded by tears: that is, forgiveness, the dawn of God's day.
Of the people present only one – I am not referring to Judas, I am speaking of the people gathered there, not of My disciples – only one was not to come to the Light. There is always someone for whom the apostle toils in vain. But you must not lose heart because of such defeats. An apostle must not pretend to achieve everything. Struggling against him there are adverse powers, with many different names, and like tentacles of an octopus they grasp again the prey that he had snatched from them. But the apostle is still meritorious. Woe to the apostle who says: “I am not going there because I know that I shall not be able to convert anyone.” He is an apostle of very little value. It is necessary to go even if only one in a thousand will be saved. His apostolic day will be as fruitful because of that one as it would be for a thousand, because he will have done everything in his power and that is what God rewards. You must also consider that where the apostle is not able to convert, because the person to be converted is too firmly gripped by Satan and the power of the apostle is inadequate to the effort, God may intervene. And then? Who is greater than God?
Another thing that the apostle must absolutely practice is love. Clear love. Not only the secret love for the hearts of brethren. That is enough for good brethren. But the apostle is a worker of God and he must not limit himself to prayer: he must act. Let him act with love, with great love. Rigour paralyses the apostle's work and hinders the motion of souls towards the Light. So: not rigour, but love. Love is the incombustible fabric that protects you against the blaze of wicked passions. Love is the saturation of preserving essences which prevent human-satanic putrefaction from entering You. To conquer a soul you must learn how to love. To conquer a soul you must induce it to love: to love God and disown its petty sinful love. I wanted Mary's soul. And as in your case, My little John, I did not confine Myself to speaking from the Teacher's desk. I stooped looking for her in the paths of sin. I pursued her and persecuted her by means of My love. A kind persecution! I-Purity followed her where she was Impurity. I was not afraid of any scandal, neither with regard to Myself nor to others.
I could not be scandalised, because I was Mercy; nor to others. I could not be scandalised, because I was Mercy; and Mercy weeps over sins but is not scandalised by them. Woe to the shepherd who is scandalised and entrenches himself behind the screen of scandal to abandon a soul! Do you not know that souls are more inclined than bodies to rise again and that the pitiful loving word saying: “Rise, sister, for your own good” often works a miracle? I was not afraid of other people's scandal. My behaviour was justified in the eyes of God, and was understood by good people. An evil-minded man fermenting with wickedness, which evaporates from a corrupt heart, is of no importance. Such men finds faults also in God, and considers only himself perfect. I therefore paid no attention to such people.
The three phases of the salvation of a soul are:
To be thoroughly and strictly honest in order to be able to speak without any fear of being silenced. To be able to speak to a whole crowd so that our apostolic word, addressed to the crowds gathering round our mystical boat, may travel farther and farther, like circles of waves, until it reaches the miry shore, where those who are not interested in knowing the Truth are lying in the mud. That is the first task in order to break the hard crust of the soil and prepare it to receive the seed. It is the hardest task both for him who performs it and for him who receives it, because words, like a sharp ploughshare, must wound the listener in order to open his heart. And I solemnly tell you that the heart of a good apostle is hurt and bleeds because of the grief in having to wound in order to open. But that grief also is prolific. Through the blood and the tears of an apostle waste land becomes fertile.
The second quality: It is necessary to act also where one, less conscious of one's mission, would flee. The apostle must break his back in the effort to extirpate darnel, cough-grass and thorns in order to clear the soil and plough it and then let the power of God and His bounty shine on it like the sun. And at the same time, like a judge and a doctor, he must be severe and merciful, and remain firm in the period of waiting to give the souls time to surmount their crises, to meditate and make up their minds.
Third phase: As soon as a soul that has repented in silence, dares to come shyly towards an apostle, weeping and thinking of its faults, fearing to be driven away, the apostle's heart, must be greater than the sea, more gentle than a mother's heart, more loving than a bride's, and he must open it completely to allow waves of tenderness to flow from it. If you have God, Who is Charity, within you, you will easily find charitable words to be spoken to souls. God will speak in you and on your behalf and like honey dropping from a honeycomb, like balm flowing from a phial, love will reach parched sickened lips; it will reach wounded souls and will be relief and medicine.
You doctors of souls, make sinners love you. Let them taste the flavour of Heavenly Charity and let them become so eager for it, as to seek no other food. Let them feel in your kindness such a relief, as to seek it for all their wounds. Your charity must free them from all fear, because, as the epistle which you have read today says: “To fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love.” Neither is he perfect who causes people to be afraid. Do not say: “What have you done?” Do not say: “Go away.” Do not say: “You cannot have relish for good love.”
Say instead, in My name: “Love and I will forgive you.” Say: “Come, Jesus' arms are open.” Say: “Enjoy this angelical Bread and this Word and forget the pitch of hell and Satan's sneers.” Bear the weakness of other people. An apostle must bear his own and other people's weaknesses, with his own crosses and other people's. And while coming to Me, laden with wounded sheep, encourage the poor stray souls saying: “Everything is forgotten by now”; say: “Be not afraid of the Saviour. He came from Heaven for you, just for you. I am but a bridge to carry you to Him Who is waiting for you, on the other side of the river of penitential absolution, to lead you to His holy pastures, which begin here, on the earth, and continue in Heaven, in everlasting nutritious delightful Beauty.”
Here is the comment. It is of little concern to you, sheep faithful to the Good Shepherd. But if in you, little bride, it increases confidence, in the Father (2) it will be greater light in His light as judge, and for many it will be no incentive to come to God. But it will be penetrating and nourishing dew of which I have spoken and which makes withered flowers stand upright again. Raise your heads. Heaven is high above. Go in peace, Mary. The Lord is with you."
(1) "She" is Mary Magdalene. In order to understand the full meaning of the present Chapter and events referred to therein, please see Chapter 183.
(2) That is, the Spiritual Father of Maria Valtorta.