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Common Questions and Misconceptions

1. I read that Screwdrivers did not exist at the time, yet Jesus uses uses them in the Poem
2. What about the claim that Mary asked to become a sinner?
3. The Poem claims that Joseph 'never erred'. But only Mary and Jesus is without sin.
4. But even the title Man-God is heresy! (smacks of Arianism; that Christ was first man before becoming God)
5. But why spend time on this, when there are so many other less controversial writings?
6. Assuming the Poem is true, then how is it to be considered? Is it a 5th Gospel?
7. Why do approved private revelations sometimes disagree with each other?
8. What about scientific evidence? Does any exist?
9. Can a "traditional" Catholic believe in the authenticity of the Poem?
10. I heard that the Medjugorje visionaries endorsed the Poem.
11. What is L'Osservatore Romano? And why did it publish anonymous letters?
12. Some Valtorta promoters argue that nothing God reveals is insignificant, and thus conclude that private revelations should not be judged to a stricter criteria than public revelation.
13. Why does the Church sometimes act against those whom She later canonizes?

1. I read that Screwdrivers did not exist at the time, yet Jesus uses uses them in the Poem.

This appears to be a very common misconception, which has a reasonable explanation. While the screwdriver in its present form (forged metal) was not invented until a few centuries ago, nonetheless, it is common archaeological knowledge that a primitive form of the screw/screwdriver was common place in the 1st century. 1 Furthermore, in many instances, Maria Valtorta uses qualifiers such as; "what looks like..." or "I think it is a..." (e.g., v1, p.223), which suggests that what she was seeing was not one would find in modern time, though it was close enough in form to use the same descriptor.

2. What about the claim that Mary asked to become a sinner?
This seems to be another common argument among critics of Valtorta. In response to this, it is important to understand that the Blessed Virgin was merely a child at the time, and thus asked the question with the simplicity of a child's reasoning (which was gently corrected by her father Joachim), out of a holy desire to exeprience the forgiveness of God. There is nothing heretical in this, and nothing contrary to Church doctrine.

3. The Poem claims that Joseph 'never erred', meaning he never sinned. But only Mary is without original or actual sin.

This is inaccurate on two counts. First, Catholic tradition teaches us that God can do all things that is fitting to His purposes, including "pre-sanctifying" a soul in the womb to prepare it for a great mission, thus protecting it from actual sin (e.g., John the Baptist at the Visitation). This is different from being Immaculately Conceived as Mary was, Who not only was sinless, but never had the stain of original sin. Furthermore, there is a belief among some saints and theologians that a similar pre-sanctifying grace was given to Saint Joseph. For example, in the Mystical City of God, Venerable Mary of Agreda states explicitely that Joseph was pre-sanctified in the womb at seven months. This fits squarely with what the Poem says about Saint Joseph never erring. This is yet a further testimony to the true genius of this work. A delusional woman could never make up such sublime truths!

4. But even the title Man-God is heresy! (smacks of Arianism; that Christ was first man before becoming God).

This misconception serves as a good example of the mindset that critics are working from, that is; one of excessive distrust and eagerness to see what is not present in the text. One is reminded of the movie "The Song of Bernadette", in which the local priest denounces Bernadette as a false visionary because of the "blunder" of the Blessed Virgin's choice of words, when She said; "I am the Immaculate Conception". This is grammatically incorrect, the priest reasoned, since one cannot be an event. It would be correct to say; "I was immaculately conceived", but not to say "I am the Immaculate Conception". Clearly, this blunder proves that it is not the Virgin, right? Well, of course we know this is not true.

In much the same way, critics today malign The Poem with the same rigid literalism as the priest in the movie. However, we should not fault  critics entirely for this, as we in the West are largely a product of our own secular culture, which tends to be excessively skeptical of anything supernatural; preferring disbelief to belief. Those critics who are mature and open to correction will not become defensive to hear that saints have used this same term "man-God" throughout history. In fact, this term is quite common among marian saints. For example;

Saint Louis De Montfort (act of consecration): "During this period we shall apply ourselves to the study of Jesus Christ. What is to be studied in Christ? First the Man-God, His grace and glory..."

Saint Alphonsus De Ligouri: "And the virtue which the Man-God felt going out from Him during his mortal life escaped from thee, too, in such abundance that the little sick children presented by their mothers for thy blessing were all healed." ... "they loaded the conscience with the same unbearable burdens which the Man-God reproached the ancient Pharisees with laying on the shoulders of men;"

The reason why the title is "Man-God" rather than "God-Man" is simply a matter of emphasis on a certain attribute of God. The Poem in fact deals strictly with Christ's life on earth, and is narrated visually, as a bystander would see and hear the events as they unfold (whereas visionaries like Mary Agreda--"Mystical City of God"--tend to focus more on spiritual realities, rather than the day-to-day details). In this sense, The Poem shows us more of the humanity of Christ rather than His divinity, i.e., more of the "Man" than the "God". This is why the title is so fitting to this work.

5. But why spend time on this, when there are so many other less controversial visionaries?
This is a reasonable question. And indeed, there are many approved visionaries to be studied as well. However, the Church also teaches us that private revelation is especially tailored to the time in which it occurs; to "live more fully" ..."in a certain period of history." (Catechim, p67) Therefore, if the Poem is in fact of divine origin, then its spiritual benefit should be obvious for us today, being that it was written so recently. These are the apparitions of our time.

6. Assuming the Poem is true, then how is it to be considered? A 5th Gospel?

As a private revelation, the Poem may never be considered equal to Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition, but instead is judged in light of it. It would thus be an error to consider the Poem a kind of 5th gospel. Instead, it is more proper to consider it a sort of commentary to Scripture; one that clarifies and enriches, but does not add or modify any tenets of the faith.

"...no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

"Throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, p.66,67

7. Why do approved private revelations sometimes disagree with each other?

One of the temptations for new Catholics is to view private revelations as a sort of historical timeline (exactly as it occured 2,000 years ago), rather than spiritual lessons of deeper realities. This error stems from a misunderstanding of what private revelation is, in light of public revelation. In the book "The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics" (Raphael Brown, Imprimatur, Nihil Obstat), the author elaborates further;

"Next we must understand why it is possible that the writtings or revelations of some saintly mystics have occassionally contained minor innaccuracies or details which do not agree with similar accounts of other equally holy mystics. This is especially observable when their visions represent historical scenes, such as the life and death of Jesus Christ and His Mother. For instance, St. Bridgest and Mary of Agreda differ as to various details of the Nativity. Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich saw the Savior crucified with three nails, whereas St. Bridget saw four nails. And all three disagree concerning the number of years which the Blessed Virgin lived after the Crucifixion.
     "This does not mean that in each case only one mystic saw correctly and the other must have been mistaken. For, as Father Poulain very wisely explains -- and the importance of this statement for our work cannot be overstressed"When visions represent historic scenes...they often have an approximate and probable likeness only...It is a mistake to attribute an absolute accuracy to them...Many saints have, in fact, believed that the event took place exactly as they saw it. But God does not deceive us when He modifies certain details. If He tied Himself down to absolute accuracy in these matters, we should soon be seeking to satisfy in visions an idle desire for erudition in history or archeology. He has a nobler aim, that of the soul's sanctification, and to arouse in her a love of Jesus suffering. He is like a painter, who, in order to excite our piety, is content to paint scenes in His own manner, but without departing too far from the truth. (This argument cannot be applied to the historical books of the Bible.)...God has another reason for modifying certain details. Sometimes He adds them to a historical scene in order to bring out the secret meaning of the mystery. The actual spectators saw nothing similar...We see, therefore, that it is imprudent to seek to remake history by the help of the saints' revelations.

Therefore, we can see the geniousness in the Church's teaching on private revelation ("not indeed for the declaration of any new doctrine of faith, but for the direction of human acts" - St. Thomas Aquinas). Furthermore, if a Catholic is not obliged to interpret certain parts of public revelation literally (such as a literal six-day creation, with 24 hrs./day) then neither should private revelation be necessarily interpretted with the same strictness.

8. What about scientific evidence? Does any exist?

See above explanation. Although there exists scientific evidence of the historical accuracy of the Poem, it is better to avoid confusing the issue and remain within the realm of the spirit, as private revelation is primarily intended to remain.

9. Can a "traditional" Catholic believe in the authenticity of the Poem?

The Poem is wholly orthodox, and in fact promotes "traditional values" such as the role of the husband and the wife, children to their parents, obedience and respect due to priests, reverence due to the Eucharist, etc. And while the text presents the life of Jesus horizontally in His day-to-day life, it is also distinctly vertically-oriented as well, always directing the reader's gaze upwards towards sublime spiritual realities, such as Christ's majesty and magnificence as King. There is quite a profound Marian component in the writings as well, which magnify and glorify the deeper mysteries of the faith, such as the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the role of Mary as Queen of Heaven and sharer in Christ's suffering as Co-Redemptrix.

Let us note also that those who opposed the Poem are often those who never actually read it--or, if they have, have only briefly thumbed its pages in cursory fashion. For if they took the time to read it, they would not have tolerated the anonymous letters in L'Osservatore Romano, 6 one of which called the Poem a "moutain of childishness"--a most peculiar claim, since even an atheist can admit that its content is more than merely indiscernible ramblings of a delusional woman. It is a brilliantly written narrative--written in the same tradition of private revelation as Catherine Emmerich or Maria Agreda--that keeps perfect track of Jesus, Mary, and over five-hundred characters, none of whom are in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the words of Fr. Gabriel M. Roschini, who Paul VI praised for his commentary on the Poem;

"I must candidly admit that the Mariology found in Maria Valtorta's writings, whether published or not, has been for me a real discovery. No other Marian writing, not even the sum total of all the writings I have read and studied were able to give me as clear, as lively, as complete, as luminous, or as fascinating an image, both simple and sublime, of Mary, God's masterpiece."

10. I heard that the Medjugorje visionaries endorsed the Poem.

This is true. The Medjugorje visionaries have in fact stated, on more than one occasion, that Our Lady not only permits the reading of this work, but also encourages people to read it if they want to know Jesus (see evidence below). This fact, however, has no bearing on the authenticity of the Poem itself, whether positive or negative. It simply is what it is.

Vicka: "They are true. Yes, yes, true. Authentic, yes. You can read these, they are true."
(listen to audio recording here)

Marija: "You can read it." (EWTN Interview, March 4, 1992, Archbishop Hannan Focus program)

Vicka: "Yes. The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, ten volumes. Our Lady says The Poem of the Man-God is the truth.  Our Lady said if a person wants to know Jesus he should read Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta. That book is the truth." (Interview with Attorney Jan Connell of the Pittsburgh Center for Peace on January 27, 1988, image1, image2)

Marija: "Our Lady says The Poem of the Man-God is the truth."  [cf. R. Laurentin, Dernieres Nouvelles de Medjugorje No 15, OEIL, 1996, p. 19]

see also; www.mariavaltortawebring.com/Pages/014_1988.htm

11. What is L'Osservatore Romano? And why did it publish anonymous letters?

L'Osservatore Romano ("The Roman Observer") is the Vatican’s newspaper, which was founded in 1861 for apologetic reasons, and, according to the Vatican website, to be "deliberatly polemical and propagandist".7 In 1929, the newspaper relocated to within the premises of the Vatican, yet still operates as an independent entity. Strictly speaking, the newspaper is not authoritative in and of itself. Any authority it contains is dependent on whether it accurately reports information/events within the Roman Curia. While its purpose is objective reporting, it is nonetheless subject to the same dynamic as any lay run organization, which may or may not be influenced by the politics of the time.

12. Some Valtorta promoters argue that "nothing God reveals is insignificant", and thus conclude that private revelations should not be judged to a stricter criteria than public revelation.

By now, the reader should immediately be able to detect the false reasoning behind this argument, an argument common to modern theologians such as Karl Rhaner. While it is true that nothing God reveals is insignificant, it is also true that God instituted the Catholic Church as a teaching authority on earth, to guide and direct the faithful in all matters concerning divine truths. It is thus necessary for Catholics to obey the Catholic Church in all her teachings, including assent to the subordinancy of private revelation to public revelation. The Church teaches us, that, while the later is authenticated on its own merit (by virtue of being part of the Deposit of Faith), the former is not. 7 As such, one can never have the same degree of certainty of private revelation as with public revelation. And in fact it would be imprudent to presume that we as fallible individuals can judge a private revelation absolutely authentic when even the Church does not go this far in her approval of them ("worthy of belief" is not absolute belief).

13. Why does the Church sometimes act against those whom She later canonizes?
It would seem that, at times, the Holy Spirit permits such trials to happen to the Saints; that their holiness and heroic virtue may be revealed through such extraordinary trials and tests of obedience, and to gain further merit for the sanctification of the Church. When Holy Office condemned Padre Pio in 1933, removing most of his priestly functions, the saint quietly accepted his cross in humble obedience (he would later be restricted again in 1961). Such an example underscores the respect due to the Church, despite the weaknesses of some men who populate it (coincidentally, pope Pius XI, who reversed the ban on Padre Pio, stated; "I have not been badly disposed toward Padre Pio, but I have been badly informed"). Similarly, Saint Faustina experienced many such trials, which did not end with her earthly passing. Her writings too were condemned by the Holy Office in fact by the same Cardinal who condemned the Poem), yet later vindicated by yet another pope, Pope John Paul II (thank God for the popes!). As time moves on, we can observe a gradual turning of perception by church officials toward Maria Valtorta's works, which, in recent times has become more positive. Perhaps one day our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI may echo the same sentiments as Pius XI. Only a full and thorough investigation will vindicate her work.

To read parts of the Poem online, you may do so at the following address; www.valtorta.org

1. The History of the Screw according to various sources, Wikipedia [link]
2. Apparitions/Private Revelations, EWTN Expert Colon B. Donovan; [link]
3. Library of Congress, Washington D.C. [homepage]
4. Gamaliel's Interview, published in the Archko Volume [for background]
5. Holy Shround of Turin, Catholic Encyclopedia [link]
6. L'Osservatore Romano, Anonymous Letter, printed Jan. 1960, and 1961

7. Vatican Website, [link]
8. [2]
. Opt Cit. p.1 [see note 2]