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Preface by St. Annibale

Preface
by Saint Annibale M. di Francia

J.M.J.A.

Messina, October 29, 1926

 Intelligentes quae sit voluntas Dei.

We begin, with this first printing, the publication of more than 20 handwritten volumes of sublime revelations which, always excepting the judgments of the Holy Church, we piously believe to have been given by Our Lord Jesus Christ to a soul, a dearest daughter and disciple of His, who is the pious author of the Hours of the Passion.

Even now we make known that these revelations, which are continuing and will continue, we don’t know for how much longer, have as their goal the establishment of the complete Triumph of the Kingdom of the Divine Will upon earth.

Who is this beloved daughter and disciple of Our Lord, the author of the Hours of the Passion, who, up to now, has written 20 volumes of divine revelations?

We cannot disclose her name and address because this would mean prostrating her to the most severe affliction, and to the most deeply felt crushing of soul and body.

She wants to live solitary, hidden and unknown. For no reason in the world would she have put into writing the intimate and prolonged communications with adorable Jesus, from her tenderest age until today, which still continue, who knows until when, if Our Lord Himself had not repeatedly obliged her to, both personally and through holy obedience to her Directors, to which she always surrenders with enormous violence to herself, and also with great strength and generosity, because her concept of holy obedience would make her refuse even an entrance into Paradise, as did actually occur, and will be seen in the revelations of October 11 and 30, 1909.

So very gracious are her discourses and dialogues with Lady Obedience, as she calls her, almost wanting to get even for the subjection to which she is forced. Now she speaks to her as to a great Princess and Queen who imposes herself severely, now she portrays her as a most powerful Warrior, who arms himself from head to foot, ready to strike the moment one dares to contradict him.

In substance, this soul is in a tremendous fight between an overwhelming love of hiddenness and the inexorable empire of Obedience to which she absolutely must surrender – and Obedience always wins. This constitutes one of the most important traits of a true spirit – of a solid and tested virtue, because she has been submitting to the dominion of the great Lady Obedience, with the greatest violence to herself, for about forty years!

This solitary soul is a most pure virgin, wholly of God, who appears to be the object of singular predilection of Jesus, Divine Redeemer. It seems that Our Lord, who century after century increases the wonders of His Love more and more, wanted to make of this virgin with no education, whom He calls the littlest one that He found on earth, the instrument of a mission so sublime that no other can be compared to it – that is, the triumph of the Divine Will upon the whole earth, in conformity with what is said in the ‘Our Father’: Fiat Voluntas Tua sicut in Coelo et in terra.

This virgin of the Lord has been placed in bed as victim of Divine Love for more than 40 years, from the time when she was still adolescent. It has been a state of a long series of sufferings, both natural and supernatural, and of inebriations of the eternal Charity of the Heart of Jesus. The origin of these pains, which exceed every natural order, has been, almost continuously, an intermittent privation of God, which constitutes that dark night of the soul, called “bitter and terrible” by the mystic and Doctor, St. John of the Cross, so much so, as to compare it to the pains which the souls in Purgatory suffer because of the privation of God. He compares it somehow to a suffocation of the soul, as when someone is breathless, because the breath of the soul is God: Christus spiritus oris nostri (Jesus Christ, the breath of our mouth).

In the course of these publications one will be able to read the laments of this wounded dove searching for her Beloved – so intimate, sharp, sensible, as to leave a profound impression of this victim of Divine Love. But sometimes the thick veil is torn, the soul sees Jesus, they embrace, they delight in each other, and the soul asks for the mystical kiss of the Sacred Spouse of the Canticles. At times, the inebriation is such that, in a delirium of love, her human resistance grows weak, and the soul exclaims: “Enough, enough! No more, Lord, for I cannot sustain it!”, as once St. Francis Xavier exclaimed in similar circumstances.

All of these operations of Divine Love take place mostly in the silence of the night, and in the morning, after Holy Communion, when she remains cloistered and recollected for a couple of hours.

The sufferings of the body add to those of the soul, and occur at a mystical level for the most part. With no sign appearing on her hands, feet, side or forehead, she receives frequent crucifixion from Our Lord Himself. Jesus Himself lays her upon a cross, and pierces her with nails. And then, what Saint Teresa described when she received the wound from the Seraphim, happens within her: a pain most sharp, such as to make her faint, and at the same time, a rapture of love.

But if Jesus did not do so, it would be for this soul an infinitely greater spiritual suffering, because, with the Seraphim of Carmel, she also says: to suffer or to die.

Here is another sign of her true spirit. Often times, when Our Lord appears to her crowned with thorns, after He has abstracted her from her senses, she gracefully removes the crown of thorns from His head and drives it onto hers, experiencing atrocious spasms, but mystical contentments.

In the course of these publications one will remain astonished in noticing an extraordinary intimacy of Our Lord with this soul, which is in nothing inferior to those of St. Gertrude, St. Metilde, St. Margaret or any other saint. Often times, as the aforementioned mystic and Doctor observes in similar cases, the familiarity and intimacy with which Our Lord deals with this soul, renders her daring in using certain expressions and in advancing certain demands, which would appear excessive if one did not consider that Adorable Jesus, in the matters of Faith, has given us proofs of His love even greater than those which can be found in the intimate conversations between Jesus and any privileged soul. It is enough, above all, that He has given Himself to us even as food in the Most Holy Eucharist.

After having mentioned her long and continuous stay in bed as victim, for years and years, with the experience of many spiritual and physical sufferings, it might seem that the sight of this unknown virgin would be afflicting, as though seeing a person lying with all the marks of past pains, of current sufferings, and the like.

Yet, here there is something admirable. In seeing this spouse of Jesus Crucified, who spends the night in painful ecstasies and in sufferings of every kind, during the day, sitting on her bed doing her needlework – nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing appears, of one who has suffered so much during the night; there is nothing, not one thing extraordinary or supernatural in her air. On the contrary, she appears as a healthy person, happy and jovial. She speaks, converses, laughs when appropriate, but receives few friends.

Sometimes, some troubled heart confides in her, and asks for her prayers. She listens kindly and comforts, but never advances to make prophecies, never a word which might hint at revelations. The great comfort which she presents is always one, always the same: the Divine Will.

Although she possesses no human knowledge, she is abundantly endowed with a Wisdom all celestial – with the Science of the Saints. Her words illuminate and console. By nature her intellect is not poor. She studied up to the first grade when she was a child; her writing is filled with mistakes, although she does not lack appropriate terms, in conformity with the revelations; terms which seem to be infused by Our Lord.

The Hours of the Passion

At the same time as the sublime revelations about the virtues in general, and about the Divine Will in particular, for many years, at nighttime, this soul has entered the contemplation of the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the addition of distinct information about many scenes of the Passion.

The method was that of going through the 24 hours of the Adorable Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which begin with the Legal Supper and end with His death on the Cross. These visions were sometimes accompanied by corresponding revelations of Our Lord.

Since nothing was published of the visions and revelations of this soul, in her excessive desire to keep everything hidden, fearing that a publication, even anonymous, might uncover her, she wanted to bury this Treasure of divine knowledges, of superhuman compassion, of a superhuman fount of the most loving affections within herself.

But her Spiritual Father placed the majestic Lady Obedience, the strong Warrior armed from head to foot, before her; and Our Lord Himself pushed her to manifest them for the good of many souls.

She surrendered, and to the author of this Preface was entrusted the printing of the writings which she put on paper regarding this topic so important.

As the first Edition of this admirable Treatise of the 24 Hours of the Passion of Our Lord appeared, the blessing of God seemed evident. In a short time all copies were depleted, which at that time were 5,000, without being sent to specific addresses. It was enough to send one copy to some devout person, that requests would begin to arrive. An announcement was placed in the periodical of our Anthonian Orphanages “Dio e il Prossimo” [“God and Neighbor”] under the name of a Book of Gold, and immediately the requests increased, in such a way that the Edition was soon exhausted.

Most Eminent Cardinal Cassetta, to whom nothing had been sent directly, requested 50 copies at once.

Then came the 2nd Edition, a larger one, and then the 3rd. Both of them were rapidly depleted.

For the purpose of promotion, sales were made at moderate prices, just to cover the expenses.

At that time a pleasant circumstance occurred, which we remember with pleasure. A letter, addressed directly to me, arrived from the Vatican, written by that angelic Bishop – today Apostolic Nuncio of Venezuela, at that time the Secretary of Bishop Msgr. Tacci (who is today an emeritus Cardinal) – Msgr. Cento, who was then appointed Bishop of Acireale, and will perhaps be a Cardinal of the Holy Church. There had been no previous contacts between this lovable person and myself. In this letter he appeared enthusiastic from the reading of the Hours of the Passion by an “unknown author”, and he prayed me to reveal to him her name and address, because he wanted to correspond with her about things of the spirit.

In truth, I was unable to refuse. But he was not content with an epistolary correspondence, and wanted to go to visit this chosen one of the Lord in person. Even more, in order to legitimize his trip of such a long distance, he offered to preach in a Triduum for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Chiesa Madre. Every day he was near the bed of the “pious author” in spiritual conversations, to his great contentment. After he departed from that town, he always kept the most pleasant memory of this soul, so dear to Jesus.

Once the 3rd Edition was depleted, the 4th one came, enriched with other writings of the Servant of God. This time the printing was executed at our press managed by the Sisters of my faithful one inMessina, and 15,000 copies were printed. As the announcement was repeated, requests arrived at all of our Houses.

It is not without reason that this book has provoked so much enthusiasm. Indeed, it is dictated with such surges of love, with such penetration into the sufferings of the Incarnate Word, as to enrapture the soul of one who reads it, and much more of one who meditates on it.

But, even more, there is an undeniable concurrence of Grace which, one could say, begs two things: one is extensive reparations for all the sins of the world of every kind, like the very ones which Our Lord Jesus Christ presented to His Eternal Father interiorly at the time of His most bitter Passion. Because of these reparations of the author of the Hours, Our Lord promised – as is piously believed – many exemptions from divine chastisements to those who meditate these hours and in the places in which they are meditated. Another divine goal is precisely that of placating Divine Justice, by holding back the scourges which the Lord prepares.

In the course of these publications which we are beginning, there are chapters which foresee divine scourges of earthquakes, wars, fire, cloudbursts, devastation of lands, epidemics, famines and the like. Everything, everything has been predicted several years before, and everything has come about, and much yet is left to come about. But the state of victim of this soul, her prayers, her tears, her sufferings and her daringness of love with Jesus have held back part of these scourges, and will hold back yet more.

A sign of the great detachment of this soul from any earthly thing is her firmness and constancy in accepting no gifts, either of money or anything else. On more than one occasion, people who read the Hours of the Passion and in whom a sense of sacred affection for this solitary and unknown soul arose, wrote to me that they wanted to send her money. But she was so firmly opposed, it was as if they had offended her.

Her way of living is very modest. She possesses little, and lives with a loving relative who assists her. Since the little that they have is not enough to pay the rent or for their support in these sad times of expensive living, she peacefully works, as mentioned before, and earns something from her work, which has to serve especially for her loving relative, because she has no expense for clothing or shoes. Her food is of a few ounces per day, and is offered to her by her assistant, because she never asks for anything. Furthermore, a few hours after she has taken that bit of food, she brings it up. However, her appearance is not of a dying person, but not really that of a perfectly healthy person. Yet, she is not inactive; rather, she consumes her strengths, both in the supernatural events of sufferings and strain during the night, and with her work during the day. Her life is therefore almost a perennial miracle.

To her great detachment from any earnings which are not procured with her hands, one must add her firmness in never accepting anything from the publication and sale of the Hours of the Passion, which would be due to her by right as literary property. As I pressed her not to refuse it, she answered: “I have no right, because the work is not mine, but of God.”

I will not continue further. The life of this virgin, spouse of Jesus, is more celestial than terrestrial. She wants to be ignored and unknown in the world, looking for nothing but her Jesus and her Most Holy Mother, whom she calls Mama, and who has a special predilection for this chosen soul.

As the voluminous manuscripts which Our Lord has dictated to her are gradually published, from the tenderness with which Jesus treats her, from the sweet words with which He calls her, from His celestial embraces and her loving correspondence, admirable things will be revealed about the singular virtues of this soul, who – who knows – one day, coming out triumphantly from the infallible judgments of the Church, will be placed on the altar as protection of many.

 Overview of the Writings of the Pious Author
of the Hours of the Passion

These writings which were entrusted to us by the Servant of God by the authoritative order of Monsignor the Archbishop to whom she belongs, can be divided into three parts.

The first part is a brief summary of her infancy and childhood, before she was confined in a bed. It is truly a succinct account, written recently out of obedience, without which, for no reason in the world, would she have revealed those ancient memories of hers. However, this is information which makes us learn how Our Lord predestined her for very high things.

When she received this obedience, she consulted with Our Lord, and would have wanted to have this chalice removed without having to drink it. But Our Lord supported the obedience.

The second part, which goes from Volume 1 to Volume 10, is composed of writings which date back to her youth. In them begin the revelations attributed to Our Lord, who instructs her in the direction of pious practices, mortification, and the exercise of all the holy virtues of Faith, of Hope, of Charity, of Humility, of Purity, of Obedience, of Meekness, of Constancy in operating good; as well as about Divine Love and similar things.

These are admirable lessons which reveal a spirit more than human, with an extremely simple style.

The third part encompasses the whole purpose for which Our Lord Jesus Christ wanted to choose a soul as the instrument of His omnipotent hand, and wanted to mold her according to His way and make of her a vehicle in order to manifest to the world a doctrine all new, to illustrate what Divine Will means, and thus to prepare the great triumph of the third Fiat upon earth.

The first Fiat extracted the whole Universe from nothing.

The second Fiat, pronounced by the Most Holy Virgin Mary, hailed by the Angel, determined the Incarnation of the Divine Word in Her most pure Womb and the subsequent Redemption of mankind.

The third Fiat was left to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ in the great Prayer of the Our Father, with those divine words: “Fiat Voluntas Tua Sicut in Coelo et in terra” – Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

This supplication of the third Fiat which has resounded for twenty centuries on the lips of the children of theHolyChurch, in the Royal Priesthood of the great Sacrifice of Holy Mass – this supplication, in spite of all the human oppositions and iniquities, must have its great fulfillment. It cannot remain unanswered. All Saints, all Doctors, all Preachers, all the Scholars of Ascetic Theology, have sung the praises of the fulfillment of the Will of God as the highest perfection. They have defined the three degrees of uniformity with the Divine Volition, of conformity to It, and of transformation – that is, of the annihilation of our will for the Divine.

But the revelations on this topic which fill the manuscripts of the Author of the Hours of the Passion, have the character of an instruction all new and celestial, and always in the simplest and most persuasive way. The similes illustrate this doctrine in an admirable way, dictated at times with authority; so much so, as to remind one of the words ofSaint Johnin the Gospel: ‘Jesus taught with authority”.

To the three degrees of uniformity, of conformity and of transformation, this new doctrine adds a fourth quality which encompasses everything, which has not been expressed by any writer until now, but which somehow hovers in Sacred Books, especially in the Psalmist and in the Apostle of the gentiles. And it is: to operate completely IN the Divine Will.

This formula, as it first appeared in the two little treatises of the Hours of the Passion, seemed to be not very understandable to many, or rather, we could say, to all.

Yet, something should be understood at first sight in considering the preposition in, which opens the gate to great meanings. The Apostles’ Creed makes us say: “I believe in God Almighty”, which is very different from saying, “I believe God Almighty”, or “to God Almighty”.

Not few, after reading the Hours of the Passion, have asked for explanations on the meaning of this operating and living in the Divine Will.

These admirable writings, which we piously believe to have been dictated by the Divine Incarnate Word, lead one who reads them with Faith, always of love, step by step, to the understanding of this formula. In many ways these revelations open new horizons, not yet contemplated until now, concerning the mysteries of the Divine Will, and about operating and living in It. And one thing is certain: even before arriving at the complete knowledge of what it means to operate and live in the Divine Volition, one who reads these writings cannot not remain enamored with the Will of God, and not feel new strong impulses, and a divine commitment to transforming all of himself in the Divine Will.

These revelations say that this science of the Divine Will will form Saints of a perfection more sublime than that of all the Saints who ever existed. And if this expression should seem exaggerated to some, I invite them to read the treaty on True Devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary by Blessed [now Saint] Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, in which they will find a page where it written that men would arise in the Holy Church of a sanctity before which the greatest saints of the Church will be but shrubs before gigantic trees.

 Exhortation

O souls who love Jesus Christ, O souls who make a profession of spiritual life, and especially you, Spouses of Jesus Christ, consecrated to Him either through vows or by belonging to sacred Congregations, consider from all that has been said above, how much pleasure you give to the Most Holy Heart of Jesus by practicing these Hours of the Passion. It is for you, in a special way, that these Hours of the Passion have been inspired by Our Lord in that solitary and contemplative soul, who has been practicing them for many years with great profit to herself and to the whole Holy Church. Special graces have been reserved for you if you take to heart this holy daily exercise, penetrating the same sentiments and the same dispositions as those of the soul who dictated it, and who has been practicing it for many years.

From the sentiments, so intimate, and from the dispositions, so loving, of this soul, you will pass into the very sentiments and dispositions of Jesus Christ Our Lord, during the 24 Hours in which He suffered for love of us. And it is impossible for the soul, in this compassionating exercise, not to encounter the most sorrowful Mother Mary, and not to unite to the same compassion and the very incomprehensible affections of the Sorrowful Mother of God! It will be like living with Jesus suffering, and with Mary co-redeeming, gathering immense eternal goods for oneself and for all!

What to say about how great this tool would be for each Religious Community in order to advance in holiness, to be preserved, to grow in the number of chosen souls, and to obtain true prosperity? How much commitment, then, should each Community have in the constant practice of this pious exercise! And the souls of that Community who attend Holy Mass daily would receive Communion with such dispositions of fervor, and with such love for Jesus, that each Communion would be a renewed marriage of the soul with Jesus in the most intimate and increasing union of love!

If because of one soul alone doing these Hours, Jesus would spare a city chastisements, and would give grace to as many souls for as many as are the words of these sorrowful Hours, how many graces could a Community [or any group of faithful] hope for; from how many defects and relaxations would it be healed or preserved; and for how many souls would it obtain sanctification and salvation by practicing this pious exercise!

If only there were one soul in each Community, who would apply herself to practicing it with more attention during the day, at times even in the midst of daily occupations, and also in the evening, and at nighttime with a little bit of vigil…! But it would be the summit of the divine, and the maximum profit for that Community and for the whole world, if this exercise were practiced by all, in turns – day and night!

How these Hours of the Passion can be done

  •  One method is that of meditating one Hour each day by reading it alone, or with one’s family, or with others. In this way, in the round of 24 days, one would complete the 24 Hours. A good clock never stops – life never stops…
  • A second method would be that of forming groups of various people – 4, 8, 12 or possibly 24 and more – each one committed seriously to doing one of the Hours, assigned for a period of time, before changing the Hour. A good clock marks all the hours – it skips none of them…
  •  A third method, then, is that of doing at least one hour per day, at the time of the day which coincides to that hour, but in any case, to reach such familiarity with the Hours of the Passion, and to assimilate them in such a way, as to be able to follow their content mentally during the whole day. For this purpose it is very helpful to learn by heart the succession of the 24 Hours with the corresponding title, which is reported on the next page.

To “do” an Hour of the Passion means to read it attentively, meditating on it, contemplating it, making it one’s own life… It is not just remembering and compassionating the sufferings of Jesus as something that happened many centuries ago in a far away place; but rather, it is, first of all, to enter into the Divine Will, in which everything is present and in act, and to participate in the interior acts and sufferings of Our Lord, which are present and in act at this precise moment, so as to repeat His life within us, to grow in His likeness, and to pour upon everyone the infinite value, merits and effects of His Passion.

Jesus Himself explains this very important difference: “To repeat my Passion in act in the creature, is different from one who only thinks of my pains and compassionates them. The first is an act of my Life, which takes my place in order to repeat my pains, and I feel I am given back the effects and the value of a Divine Life; while in thinking of my pains and in compassionating Me, it is only the company of the creature that I feel. But do you know in whom I can repeat my pains, in act, of my Passion? In one who has my Will as center of life.” (October 24, 1925 Vol. 18)

One can comprehend, then, how the Hours of the Passion are not just a reading, and not even a devotion, but a formation of life: the interior life of Jesus. In this way, day after day, we will feel more and more that Jesus is truly living in us – not just our life, but His very Divine Life.

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