At the beginning of the Bible is creation in its progression. It is chapter 1 of the book of Genesis. Six times it is repeated that the creation “was a good thing”, and once that “it was a very good thing”: thus God’s eyes judged what he had made. In that “good” is included the whole meaning and breadth of this adjective, which therefore also means simultaneously “beautiful”. God “causes” this word to be written not for Himself – that would be vanity, impossible for Him – but for us; the purpose is that man, if he does not come to understand the astonishing beauty of creation by reason, may know it directly from the judgment of Him who made all things. In creation, in all creation, the Divine invitation is to see a boundless variety of beauty. Having discovered this man could have considered, by obvious analogy, how beautiful and good the Creator Himself of this boundless beauty must have been. To those who pondered the creation, considering Him to be Beauty and Goodness itself, it seemed obvious; that He was – and is – beauty still superior, infinitely superior, is the logical conclusion. Indeed, examining the matter well, it appears evident that He must have been Beauty itself, or, as theologians put it, “beauty in itself subsistent”.
We know, however, that created beauty was profoundly marked by rational creatures (angels and men): while it remained, it was tarnished, scarred, corrupted by sin. Thus ugliness, the horrid, the hideous, in their infinite gradations appeared in creation. Since then “beautiful” and “good” have coexisted with “ugly” and “bad”. We humans are given to observe only the outward appearance of things, and so the judgment of beautiful and good sometimes stops at a superficial level. For the Lord this is completely different: He sees everything since from its appearance and degeneration, and both on the physical level and on the rational and spiritual level. It happens, however, that to some of His servants God manifests how He Himself sees things, and in particular the state of souls, their beauty and their ugliness. This is how this passage written by Maria Valtorta is explained.
“I obey a higher order and return to writing what I had destroyed yesterday for fear that it would go into hands other than his. […] For some time now and more and more clearly I have been seeing with a spiritual sight the “true” appearance of those I approach. Not of all: of those whom God wants me to see. Thus G. B. [her cousin Giuseppe Belfanti] appears to me with demon-like appearance. Whereas if I look at his wife I see as one piece of flesh: good but simply flesh without a soul, or rather with a soul shrouded in an almost mortal lethargy, here, looking at him, I see another aspect emerge from above his physiognomy. All facial features are altered. He becomes a red, swollen, repulsive mask. A mixture of lust and ferocity, a demon’s face in short, in which lust arrogance and pride predominate. […] It repulses me. I have to twist my gaze. I must make effort to be with him as with others. This feeling, though less clear because then it was only spiritual repugnance, I also had it long ago, when we were still in simple epistolary union, and more vividly when he was my guest. But now it is also sensory because the five senses feel its impact. I don’t know if I explain myself well. How it costs me not to tell him the name I read on his forehead on the sensuous mask that becomes his face! How I had to struggle to hold back that name on Monday 3 c.m. when I was so out of it!” (Little Notebooks 2006 p. 18 – Italian version).
Giuseppe Belfanti was an openly spiritualist and medium. He also had the not at all hidden desire to convert Maria Valtorta to this idea. The confrontation was gentle, but sharp and frontal, and, for the record, she won. In this writing he painfully describes these terrible faces: she a mediocre Catholic, he a spiritual monster. There is no doubt that we should take note that the moral and spiritual living of men also manifests itself on our spiritual faces, and for those who “see” with God’s eyes, the conclusion is the one observed by Maria Valtorta. Hard to accept this? If we use only the dimensions of this world, namely what photographs and psychology show, it certainly should be rejected, but there is also the life of the spirit and this makes us see things in depth, down to their root. And this is where the monsters appear. The Portrait of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece novel – imaginatively brings to life the story of a young man progressively corrupted to extremes and of the portrait that, changing gradually as the person painted, shows his increasingly horrific perversion. If in Goethe it is fantasy, in Maria Valtorta it is reality. She wrote by higher command, to tell us that this truth is universal, it concerns all men.
Vices and virtues always act on the soul: a vice marks the soul, soils it, drives it to lose the harmony that the Creator had given it; it deforms the soul by increasing or reducing it and eventually transforming it into an alteration that does not exist in nature. Only sometimes and in certain ways, then, do they also show themselves in bodies, as is typical in alcoholics or drug addicts: vice soils and deforms, it even changes the smell of the body and drives mutation in those who possess it and everything it comes in contact with. Angels and demons are already present in this world and those who have eyes to see cannot but see the truth of what Maria Valtorta described. She had it as a gift – though not with a continuous presence – for every one of her readers to take note of.
In the face of this personal revelation, how did Maria Valtorta deal with it? This issue is very important both for her personal humility-santity and for her relationship with the people who were the subject of these “visions”. How did she behave between June and October 1944? Better than before! Because she did not despise, but helped with her visions and with the words of dictations. Never resigned to defeat; always multiplying prayers and foils for them. All this sanctified Maria Valtorta, who – let us not forget – between April 9 and May 9 of the same 1944 had lived through the tremendous “night of the spirit”, from which she had emerged, according to Father Migliorini, much better.
There is another thing to point out: in Mary Valtorta the spiritual face transformed into a demonic deformity is shown thanks to a special mystical gift, but we must not forget that it is a truth known to all peoples and experienced in different ways. The Gospel story of the demons entering swine, for example (cf. Lk 8:32ff), is not only a fact, but also an indication of what happens to those who give themselves over to vices. Even in the pagan Odyssey, full of myths that nonetheless sometimes unveil eternal truths, Odysseus’ companions are turned into pigs by the sorceress Circe; this mythological tale indicates, in fact, the same thing: those who lack prudence and immerse themselves in vices are transformed into a non-man, deformed and repugnant.
Let us rely on Divine Mercy to help everyone to become “beautiful and good” through God’s Grace, that is, His transpiring in us.