We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.[Rom 7:14-25]
[Valtorta: “Says the Sweet Guest”:]The Holy Spirit:
— Prologue —
From [Rm. 7] verses 14 to 25, there is a lesson that should always be repeated by spiritual masters to themselves; to pharisaic souls who see the speck in the eye of their brothers and harshly censor it. But they see not the beam of anti-charity in theirs, that crushes their spirit under the weight of egoism and pride [Mt. 7:1-5; Lk 6:37-42]. It should also be repeated to the poor souls who have sinned and who weep, fearing the Lord, Judge of their feebleness. Oh! they are less guilty than those pharisaic ones, even if such souls are guilty and pained over it because they recognize its existence (and humility and repentance are already an absolution).
For these twelve verses are a rule for judging men and a measure in judging what will be God’s judgment toward repentant sinners.
The one who wrote these verses is Paul, a pharisee, son of pharisees, and disciple of Gamaliel [Acts 5:34; 22:3]—of that Gamaliel who was a living library of all of Israel’s doctrine. Paul was first a ferocious persecutor of those whom he believed were anathema; then he was a vessel of election and of justice, a perfect apostle, heroic in evangelizing and repressing his old I [ego, self], worthy of mounting with the chosen part of his soul to the third heaven, and there hearing the mysterious divine words [2 Cor 12:1-4]. Paul was a man who, through the intransigence of the first period of his life and the heroism of the second, could have been thought to be already beyond the incitements of the flesh. If he had been [beyond them], however, he would not have been able to be the “Apostle of the Gentiles”, that is, Apostle of those—save for a few exceptions of naturally virtuous spirits—whom the permissive license of paganism made more like brute animals, than creatures endowed with reason and conscience. Only Jesus, the Man-God, could understand sinners even while not having sinned. For every other master, it is a sorrowful good to have yielded in little or in much to the demon, the world, the flesh. Because in knowing the strength of temptations and one’s own weakness, one acquires the wisdom to be a master and physician to one’s disciples and brothers, [who are] sinners.
I want you to observe the rule of the Divine Master in selecting the apostolic college and the 72 [disciples]. In the first [group], only John was a virgin. In the second [group]—except for a few, still almost children when they became disciples—there was not one who had not bitten on the appetizing fruit4 : the way to every other surrender to sin. They were men. Nothing more than men. Sons of Adam. The incitement was stirred up like a serpent in their bodies. And the branch of carnal lust was alive even in the most just among them, that is, in those who had already tamed their lust for gold and the pride of life.
But no one was without imperfections. Not even John himself, the seraph among the Master’s disciples. Easily moved to anger—like his brother [James]—he merited the name “son of thunder” [Mk 3:17] from Him Who loved him. The apostle of Charity, perfect in the love of the Master, he became an apostle of charity, by contemplating the meekness, the charity, the mercy of the Divine Martyr, from dawn to sunset of that paschal Friday. And he put aside for always the habit of anger before the nakedness of the Most Holy King of kings, Who stripped Himself even of His divine immortality, to know death and to save man.
Jesus-God, running over the Earth—He could do so if He had wanted to—could have found in the inhabitants of the three continents of that time, more than the 12 and 72 just men that He chose in Israel. Because God, the Creator, had placed (and places) in the soul of every man an exalted gift which, in the best, develops a holiness of life that is their knowledge of the Divinity: the natural law. And it can be said without error that whoever observes it and recognizes it as coming from the Supreme Being, from God, or from the greatest deity of his own religion, he is a spirit naturally united to the true God, One and Triune. The universal King could then, with His Will, call 12 and 72 to Himself from the three continents, just as by the voice of the stars he had called the three Wise men to His cradle [Mt 2:1-12]. And thus He would have had a College of just men at His service. He did not do that.
He took some very human men. Crude material, unformed, with many impure parts. He formed [that material]. He suffered in doing it from the defections and betrayals of part of it. But at His Ascension He left a teaching Church, capable in the redemption of the world. And through the help of the Holy Spirit received from the risen Jesus once in the Cenacle [Jn 20:22-23], She was capable [of continuing Him] through Her doctrine and example which She had from the Word. And again a second time in the same Cenacle ten days after the Ascension [Acts 2:1-4], as from the Divine Promise and through a direct action of the Holy Spirit, so that the Twelve would be filled with the Spirit Paraclete, and could transmit Him to their assistants in the priestly ministry. And finally, this Church, instructed in Her various members—from Her own knowledge of their weakness, of their struggles as men to be formed in justice, of their relapses—would not lack the capacity to be a Teacher, but would know how to understand, to show compassion, support and guidance to those who came to Christianity quite weak. They were all weak because they were men, and very weak in spirit because they were pagans—paganism being a doctrine of materialism and unbridled pleasure.
This is the prologue to the lesson dealt with by the verses I have indicated, and which I will explain to you tomorrow, since I allow no further fatigue to your [present] state.
Go to Part 1________________________— NOTES —1. Maria Valtorta, Lezioni Sull’Epistola Di Paolo Ai Romani (Edizioni Pisani / Centro Editoriale Valtortiano srl, Via Po 95, I 03036 Isola del Liri, Fr, Italia, 1986).
2. See, for example, the book, “In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood” available from The Center for Scientific Creation, as well as the excellent Envoy article, “Apes ‘R’ Not Us”[March/April, 1997] by George Sim Johnston. See also the the following books: Phillip E. Johnsons’s Darwin on Trial (Regnery Gateway) and Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (InterVarsity Press), and Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (The Free Press).
3. Maria Valtorta, Lezioni… pp.122-125.
4. “...the appetizing fruit.” —given the context of the previous statement (“only John was a virgin”), and the treatment of Original Sin in The Poem of the Man God, this phrase is probably a euphemism for having sexual experience like the animals. But this physical aspect of the First Sin included and was preceded by man’s rebellious pride and desire to “be as God”, that is, to be capable of creating life by himself.