15th January 1947.
Jesus is alone in a little room. He is thinking or praying sitting on a little bed. The tiny yellowish flame of a small oil lamp is quivering on a shelf. It must be night-time because there is no noise in the house or in the street. Only the rustling of the stream outside the house seems to sound louder in the silence of the night.
Jesus raises His head and looks at the door. He listens. He stands up and goes to open it. He sees Peter outside. « Is it you? Come in. What do you want, Simon? Are you still up and you have to walk such a long way? » He has taken him by the hand and pulled him inside, closing the door noiselessly. He makes him sit on the bed beside Himself.
« I wanted to tell You, Master… Yes, I wanted to tell You that even today You have seen what I am worth. I am only capable of making poor children enjoy themselves, of comforting an old woman, of reconciling two shepherds who are quarelling over a ewe-lamb that has lost its milk. I am a poor man, so dull that I do not even understand what You explain to me. But that is another matter. Now I wanted to tell You that just because of that, You should keep me here. I am not anxious to go around when You do not come with us. And I am not good at anything… Content me, Lord. » Peter is speaking eagerly with his eyes fixed on the coarse chipped bricks of the floor.
« Look at Me, Simon » Jesus orders him. And, as Peter obeys, Jesus stares at him intensely asking: « Is that all? Is that the only reason for your being awake? The only reason why you are begging Me to keep you here? Be sincere, Simon. You are not grumbling if you tell your Master the other part of your thought. You must be able to tell the difference between an idle word and a useful one. A word is idle, and sin generally flourishes in idleness, when one speaks of other people's faults with someone who can do nothing about them. Then it is plainly lack of charity, even if what one says is true. As it is lack of charity to reproach someone more or less sharply without giving advice at the same time. And I am referring to just reproaches. The others are unfair and they are a sin against our neighbour. But when one sees one's neighbour commit sin, and one suffers because that person offends God and injures his soul, and one realises that one cannot estimate the gravity of someone else's sin, neither does one feel wise enough to speak words that may work a conversion, and then one applies to a just and wise person confiding one's anxiety, then one does not commit sin, because one's disclosure aims at putting an end to a scandal and at saving a soul. It is the same as if one had a relative suffering from a shameful disease. One will certainly try to conceal it from people, but one will go secretly to a doctor and say: “My relative is suffering from so and so and I do not know how to advise and cure him. Please come or tell me what I must do.” Does one in that case lack love for one's relative? No. On the contrary one would lack love if one feigned not to notice the disease and allowed it to progress and bring about death, through a mistaken feeling of prudence and love. One day, and that day is not remote, you and your companions will have to listen to the secrets of hearts. Not as you listen to them now as men, but as priests, that is doctors, masters, and pastors of souls, as I am Doctor, Master and Pastor. You will have to listen, decide and give advice. Your judgement will have the same value as if God Himself had passed it… »
Peter frees himself from Jesus Who was holding him close to Himself and standing up he says: « That is not possible Lord. Never impose that on us. How can You expect us to judge like God, if we are not even able to judge like men? »
« Then you will be able, because the Spirit of God will hover over you and will penetrate you with its light. You will know how to judge taking into consideration the seven conditions of the facts proposed to you in order to have your advice or to be forgiven. Listen to Me carefully and try to remember. In due time the Spirit of God will remind you of My words. But at the same time try to remember with your own intelligence, as God gives it to you so that you may use it without laziness and spiritual presumptions that lead one to expect and pretend everything from God. When you are Master, Doctor and Pastor in My place and My stead, and when a believer comes to weep at your feet over his perturbation brought about by his own or other people's deeds, you must always bear in mind the following seven questions:
Who: Who sinned?
What: What is the matter of the sin?
Where: In which place?
How: In which circumstances?
With what or with whom: The instrument or person that was the material for the sin?
Why: Which incentives brought about the environment favourable to the sin?
When: In which conditions and reactions, and whether by accident or by unwholesome habit?
Because see, Simon, the same sin may have infinite nuances and grades according to all the circumstances that caused it and to the people who committed it. For instance… Let us take into consideration two of the most common sins: lust of the flesh and lust for riches.
A man has committed a sin of lewdness, or he thinks that he has committed such a sin. Because at times man mistakes temptation for sin, or he considers of the same degree the incentives brought about artificially by an unwholesome appetite, and considers also to be equal those thoughts that are the consequence of a painful disease or come to one's mind because the flesh and blood at times have sudden voices resounding inwardly before the mind has time to be wary of them and suffocate them. He comes to you and says: “I committed a sin of lewdness.” An imperfect priest would say: “Anathema on you.” But you, My Peter, must not say so. Because you are Jesus' Peter, you are the successor of the Mercy. So before condemning you must consider and touch the heart weeping before you, kindly and prudently, in order to ascertain all the aspects of the sin or supposed sin, and of the scruple.
I said: kindly and prudently. You must remember that besides being a Master and Pastor, you are a Doctor. A doctor does not irritate wounds. If there is gangrene he will cut it off, but he knows also how to uncover and treat a wound with a light hand when lacerated tissues are to be re-united, not removed. And you are to remember that in addition to being a Doctor and Pastor, you are a Master. A master adapts his words to the age of his pupils. And scandalous would be that teacher who should disclose animal laws to innocent children who were unacquainted with them and would thus acquire mischievous knowledge precociously. And in dealing with souls one must be prudent in asking questions. You must respect yourself and other people. It will be easy for you if in every soul you see a son of yours. A father is by nature the master, doctor and guide of his children. So love with fatherly love every person who comes to you upset by sin, or by fear of sin, and you will be able to judge without hurting or scandalising anybody. Do you follow Me? »
« Yes, I do, Master. I have understood You very well. I must be cautious and patient, I will have to convince people to disclose their wounds, but I shall have to examine them by myself, without attracting the attention of other people to them, and only when I should see that there is a real wound, I ought to say: “See? You have hurt yourself here by doing so and so.” But if I see that a person is only afraid of being hurt, having seen ghosts, then… I should blow away the fog without giving, through useless zeal, explanations capable of throwing light on real sources of sin. Is that right? »
« Yes, quite right. So. If one says to you: “I have committed a sin of carnal lust”, you must consider the person who is in front of you. It is true that sin can be committed at every age. But it is easier to find it in adults than in children, so the questions to ask or the answers to give a man or a boy will be different. Consequently, after the first question, comes the second one on the matter of the sin, then the third one on the place of the sin, then the fourth on the circumstances, then the fifth on the accomplice to the sin, then the sixth on the causes of the sin, and the seventh on the time and number of the sin.
In general you will find that in the case of adults living in the world a circumstance of true sin will appear to correspond to each question, whereas in the case of children by age or by spirit, for many questions you will have to say: “There is only the fear of sin here, but no real sin.” Nay, at times you will see that instead of filth there is a lily that quivers with fear of being splashed with mud, and mistakes the drop of dew that descended on its calyx for a splash of mud. They are souls so eager for Heaven that fear, as a stain, also the shadow of a cloud that overshadows them for a moment, interposing between them and the sun, and then passes leaving no trace on the spotless corolla. They are souls so innocent and so anxious to remain such, that Satan frightens them with fanciful temptations or instigating the incentives of the flesh or the flesh itself, taking advantage of true diseases of the flesh. Those souls are to be comforted and supported, because they are not sinners, but martyrs. Always bear that in mind.
And always remember to judge with the same method also those who commit the sin of greed for other people's riches or property. Because if it is a cursed sin to be greedy without need and without pity, robbing the poor, and acting against justice by harassing citizens, servants, or peoples, the sin of him who steals some bread to appease the hunger of his children and his own, after his neighbours refused to give him some, is by far less grave. Remember that if for a lustful man and a thief, the number, circumstances and gravity of the sin are to be taken into account when judging them, one must also consider what knowledge the sinner had of the sin when he was committing it. Because he who acts with full knowledge, sins more than he who acts out of ignorance. And he who acts with the free consent of his will sins more than he who was forced to sin. I solemnly tell you that there will be deeds that are apparently sinful, but are really martyrdom and they will be given the reward that is granted to those who suffered martyrdom. And above all remember that in each case, before condemning, you must bear in mind that you have been a man as well and that your Master, in Whom no one was ever able to find sin, never condemned anyone who had repented of having sinned.
Forgive seventy times seven, and even seventy times seventy, the sins of your brothers and children. Because to shut the doors of Salvation upon a sick man, only because he had a relapse, is to want to let him die. Have you understood? »
« Yes, I have. I have understood that very clearly… »
« Well, then, tell Me what you have in mind. »
« Yes! I will tell You, because I can see that You know everything, and I realise that I am not grumbling if I tell You to send Judas around in my place, because he suffers if he does not go. I am not telling You meaning that he is jealous or because I am scandalised, but to give peace to him and… to You. Because it must be really troublesome for You to have such a stormy wind near You all the time… »
« Has Judas complained again? »
« Well! He has! He said that every word of Yours hurts him. Also what You said to the children. He says that it is true that You were referring to him when You said that Eve went to the tree because she liked that thing that shone like a king's crown. Truly, I did not think of any comparison. But I am ignorant. Bartholomew and the Zealot, instead, said that Judas has been “touched on the rawest raw”, because he is bewitched by everything that shines and allures one's vainglory. And they must be right because they are wise. Be good to Your poor apostles, Master! Make Judas happy and me as well. In any case! See? I am good only at amusing children… and at being a child in Your arms » and he presses against His Jesus, Whom he really loves with all his strength.
« No. I cannot please you. Do not insist. You, because you are what you are, will go to evangelize. He, because he is what he is, will stay here. My brother also mentioned it to Me, and although I love him so much, I replied “no” also to him. I would not yield even if My Mother should ask Me. It is not a punishment, but a medicine. And Judas must take it. If it does not help his spirit, it will help Mine, because I will not have to reproach Myself for omitting anything that might sanctify him. » Jesus is severe and authoritative in saying so.
Peter lets his arms droop and lowers his head with a sigh.
« Do not worry about it, Simon. We shall have an eternity to be together and love each other. But you had something else to tell Me… »
« It's late, Master, and You must sleep. »
« And you more than I, Simon, as you have to set out at dawn. »
« Oh! as far as I am concerned! I rest more staying here with You than I would in bed. »
« Speak up, then. You know that I sleep very little… »
« Well! I am a blockhead, I know and I say so without being ashamed. And if it depended on me, I would not care to be very learned, because I think that the greatest wisdom consists in loving, following and serving You wholeheartedly. But You send me here and there. And people ask me questions and I must reply to them. I think that what I ask You, other people may ask me. Because the thoughts of men are alike. Yesterday You said that innocent and holy people will always suffer, nay they will be the ones who will suffer on behalf of everybody. I find it difficult to understand that, even if You say that they will wish that themselves. And I think that as it is difficult for me, it may be so also for other people. If they ask me, what shall I tell them? In this first journey a mother said to me: “It was not fair that my little girl should die with so much pain, because she was good and innocent.” And as I did not know what to say, I repeated Job's words: “The Lord has given. The Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” But I was not convinced myself. And I did not convince her. The next time I would like to know what to say… »
« It is just. Listen. It seems an injustice, but it is a great justice that the best should suffer on behalf of everybody. Now tell Me, Simon. What is the Earth? All the Earth? »
« The Earth? A great, a very great expanse, made of dust and water, of rocks, with trees, animals and human beings. »
« And then? »
« Then, nothing else… Unless You want me to say that it is the place of punishment and exile for man. »
« The Earth is an altar, Simon. A huge altar. It was to be the altar of everlasting praise to its Creator. But the Earth is full of sin. Therefore it must be the altar of endless expiation and sacrifice, on which the victims are consumed. The Earth, like the other worlds with which Creation is strewn, ought to sing psalms to God Who created it. Look! »
Jesus opens the wooden shutters, and through the wide open window comes in the cool of the night, the noise of the torrent, a moonbeam, and one can see the sky studded with stars.
« Look at those stars! They are singing the praises of God with their voices that are light and motion in the infinite spaces of the firmament. Their song, which rises from the blue fields of the sky to the Heaven of God, has lasted for thousands and thousands of years. We can imagine stars, planets and comets as sidereal creatures that like sidereal priests, levites, virgins and believers are to sing the praises of the Creator in an unlimited temple. Listen, Simon. Listen to the breeze rustling among the leaves and to the noise of the stream in the night. Also the Earth, like the sky, sings with the winds, with the water, with the voices of birds and animals. But if the luminous praise of the stars that people the sky is sufficient for the vault of heaven, the song of winds, waters and animals is not sufficient for the temple that is the Earth. Because on it there are not only winds, waters and animals unconsciously singing the praises of God, but there is also man, the perfect creature, superior to all beings living in time and in the world, gifted with matter, like the animals, minerals and plants, and with spirit, like the angels of Heaven, and like them destined, if faithful in the trial, to know and possess God, through grace at first, and in Paradise later. Man, the synthesis comprising all natures, has a mission that no other creature has and that should be for him a joy, besides being his duty: to love God. To give God a cult of love intelligently and voluntarily, repaying God for the love that He gave man by granting him life and Heaven in addition to life. To give an intelligent cult.
Consider this, Simon. What benefit does God get from Creation? What profit? None. Creation does not make God greater, it does not sanctify Him, it does not make Him rich. He is infinite. He would have been such even if Creation had never existed. But God-Love wanted to have love. And He created to have love. God can get only love from Creation, and that love, which is intelligent and free only in angels and in men, is the glory of God, the joy of angels, the religion for men. The day that the great altar of the Earth should omit the praises and entreaties of love, the Earth would cease existing. Because once love is extinguished also expiation would cease, and the wrath of God would destroy the Earth that had become an earthly hell. So the Earth must love in order to exist. And also: the Earth must be the Temple that loves and prays with the intelligence of men. But which victims are always offered in the Temple? The pure, spotless, faultless victims. Those are the only victims agreeable to the Lord. They are the early fruits. Because the best things are to be given to the Father of the family, and the first fruits of everything and choice things are to be given to God, the Father of the human family.
But I said that the Earth has a double duty of sacrifice: that of praise and that of expiation. Because Mankind that has spread over the Earth sinned in the First men, and continuously sins by adding to the sin of estrangement from God the other countless sins of its consent to the voices of the world, of the flesh and of Satan. A guilty, very guilty Mankind that, although it has likeness to God, having its own intelligence and divine help, is more and more sinful. Stars obey, plants obey, elements obey, animals obey and they praise the Lord as best they can. Men do not obey and do not praise the Lord enough. Hence the necessity of victim-souls that may love and expiate on behalf of everybody. They are the children who, innocent and unaware, pay the bitter punishment of sorrow for those who can do nothing but sin. They are the saints who willingly sacrifice themselves for everybody.
Before long – a year or a century is always a short time as compared to eternity – no more sacrifices will be celebrated on the altar of the great Temple of the Earth, that is, of victim-men, consumed with the perpetual sacrifice: victims with the perfect Victim. Do not be upset, Simon. I am not saying that I will establish a cult like those of Molech, Baal and Ashtoreth. Men themselves will immolate us. Do you understand? They will immolate us. And we shall face death happily to expiate and love on behalf of everybody. And then the days will come when men will no longer immolate men. But there will always be pure victims that love consumes with the Great Victim in the perpetual Sacrifice. I mean the love of God and the love for God. Truly they will be the victims of the future days and of the future Temple. No longer lambs and kids, calves and doves, but the sacrifice of one's heart is what pleases God. David realised that. And in the new times, the times of the spirit and of love, only that sacrifice will be pleasant.
Consider, Simon, that if a God had to become incarnate to appease divine Justice for the great Sin, for the many sins of men, in the times of the truth, only the sacrifices of the spirits of men can appease the Lord. You are thinking: “Why then did He, the Most High, order men to immolate the offspring of animals and the fruits of plants to Him”? I will tell you: because, before I came, man was a stained holocaust and Love was not known. Now it will be known. And man, who will know Love, because I will give Grace back to him, and through it man will know Love, man will come out of his lethargy, he will remember, understand, live and he will replace kids and lambs, as a victim of love and expiation, on the model of the Lamb of God, his Master and Redeemer. Sorrow, so far a punishment, will turn into perfect love, and blessed are those who will embrace it out of perfect love. »
« But children… »
« You mean those who cannot yet offer themselves… And do you know when God speaks in them? The language of God is spiritual. A soul understands it and a soul has no age. Nay, I tell you that a child's soul, as it is without malice, with regard to its capacity of understanding God, is more adult than the soul of an old sinner. I tell you, Simon, that you will live so long as to see many children teach adults, and even yourself, the wisdom of heroic love. But in those little ones who die for natural reasons, God acts directly for motives of so high a love that I cannot explain to you, as they are part of the wisdom written in the books of Life, and that only in Heaven will be read by the blessed souls. I said read, but in actual fact it will suffice to look at God to know not only God, but also His infinite wisdom… We have let the moon set, Simon… It will soon be dawn and you have had no sleep… »
« It does not matter, Master. I have lost a few hours of sleep and I have gained so much wisdom. And I have been with You. But if You allow me, I will now go. Not to sleep. But to think of Your words again. »
He is already at the door and is about to go out, when he stops pensively and then says: « One more question, Master. Is it right for me to say to someone who suffers, that sorrow is not a punishment but a… grace, something like… like our vocation, beautiful even if toilsome, beautiful even if it may seem an unpleasant and sad thing to people who do not know? »
« Yes, you can say that, Simon. It is the truth. Sorrow is not a punishment, when one knows how to accept it and use it rightly. Sorrow is like a priesthood, Simon. A priesthood open to everybody. A priesthood that exerts great force on the heart of God. It is a great merit. Sorrow that was born at the same time as sin can appease the Justice. Because God can use for good purposes also what Hatred created to give sorrow. I did not chose any other means to cancel the Sin. Because there is no means greater than this one. »