of the Sower
From the Mystical Revelations of Maria Valtorta
It is said that the symbol bypasses man's conscious mind and enters directly into his unconscious or "heart". Where logic and reason often fail, sometimes the symbol can stir profound emotions and intuitions, effecting momentous changes in the human spirit. This is even more true of archetypal symbols. Such symbols are said to penetrate into the deeper realms of man's psyche called the Collective or Universal Unconscious. There they constellate the dormant corresponding archetypes: inherited nodes of energy which encapsulate universal intimations of the race's experience of events like birth, death, marriage, kingship, friendship, brotherhood, war, peace, a lost primordial happiness, a future world of bliss or woe, and the existence of a Supreme Intelligence and Power that rules, guides and judges all men. Not surprisingly, then, symbols of one kind or another abound in the Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments. And Christ, the Word of God and Son of Man, was and is Master of the symbol in all its forms.
One of those forms of which Christ made skillful use is the Parable. Traditionally, the Parable was interpreted as a web of elements symbolic of human or divine realities, and all oriented toward effectively conveying the Parable's message to bring about a change of heart. But today most modern Scripture scholars, driven by a neo-modernist and rationalistic hermeneutic, espouse the view of Protestant scholar Joachim Jeremias: that a parable has only one central point, and all other images or elements described in it are simply peripheral embellishments, carrying no particular symbolic content.
In the Parable of the Sower however (Matt 13:1-8), Christ clearly employs the traditional hermeneutic key for interpreting parables that many of the Church Fathers followed down the ages: He explains each element in the parable as a symbol in its own right and significant for the parable's central message (Matt 13:18-23). Thereby He glaringly contradicts the accepted dogma of modern biblical scholarship that denies any symbolic meaning to the parable's individual elements.
The Parable of the Sower Revisited offered
here is taken from Valtorta's I Quaderni del 1943 ["Notebooks
for 1943"], and has been newly translated for presentation
on this website. In it, Christ exploits the polysemous nature of
the symbol: by re-interpreting the various elements of the Parable
anew as symbols of several categories of modern people. Among these He
seems to take special aim at modern scholars so deeply infected with rationalism
He calls one of the most destructive heresies of our time. And indeed,
anyone acquainted with modern biblical or theological scholarship today
and its often dubious fruits, must surely breathe a sigh of relief that
here the poison has at last been named and exposed. Hopefully this modest
re-presentation of Christ's Parable of the Sower will at least alert Valtorta
readers of the subtle dangers to the Faith from many biblical and theological
assertions promulgated today, even by scholars in the Catholic Church.
Maria, write once more the explanation of the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:18-23). I will dictate it to you for a special category of persons whose errors sadden Me. In some, an error of imprudence, in others, an error of pride, in still others, an error of rebellion, and one of scandal in another category. And even if someone observes that I repeat Myself, I do not budge from My purpose. Even if the sins of men are repeated with distressing monotony despite all warnings: to the sound of their guilty voice I oppose My Voice of Justice, so that it may not be said that I have not spoken, and I be accused of having left them in error.
For twenty centuries My Voice says the same things and such an accusation should have no place. But man, for whom it is convenient, in favor of his evil deeds, to forget what is condemned, always says he does not know this or that. That is an excuse which dishonors and demeans him because it is a falsehood, and because in so far as he lies, it is an accusation of being imperfect in his intellect, and wounded in his memory.
How not to remember teachings that are repeated and repeated? You put yourselves beneath the brute beasts which learn what man teaches them. You men, so proud, do you not reflect that this is a great disgrace for your pride?
So then: the parable says that one part of the seed fell along the way and was pecked up by the birds. The second part fell on rock and sent out roots, but immediately dried up for lack of moisture. The third part fell among brambles and died, suffocated. The fourth, fallen on good terrain, bore fruit in different measures .
The Word of God is a seed of eternal life. But the Word is often threatened, and by many things. I leave aside these many things and speak of only one thing. I would say that thing is as deadly, and perhaps more so, than sin itself. And let no one of cowardly spirit be scandalized if I say it is perhaps more deadly than sin. It is the truth.
The sinner whose mind is not corroded by the acid of rationalism, has a ninety percent chance of welcoming the Word and again finding Life. But the rationalist has only a ten percent chance, and even less, of keeping himself capable of salvation through the Word.
Rationalism is worse than weeds.3 When its works are seen, in the moment when all earth and all men will be known, one will see that this heresy had been the most destructive, because the most subtle and most penetrating. It is like a gas. You absorb it and it kills you, but you do not see it, and sometimes you do not even smell the odor; or else, being an agreeable odor you breathe it with pleasure. So too is rationalism.
The great heresies have had within them two good things: first of all they originated from a faith however erroneous and worthy of condemnation it seems to you but always a faith. They have therefore had their martyrs, their tears, their struggles to prove themselves. And as for upright souls, they have had these too down the ages, and embellished with lights of holiness. The only disadvantage for these souls was that of being flowers on a bad tree not grafted into Christ.
The second good thing about heresies is the loud noise they produce, so that whoever does not want to belong to them knows what to do so as not to belong to them. The very struggles with the Church and with [various] States were a signal for Catholics, establishing a limit beyond which one only goes knowingly.
But in rationalism this is lacking, and it penetrates unnoticed even where one believes it cannot enter. Like a serpent, it enters through a thousand holes. It puts on lawful garments, even admirable ones, and acts beneath them but against them. It is a virus. When one becomes aware of it, it has already spread in one's blood, and it is difficult to be freed of it.
Sin's reaction is violent under the ray of My Mercy. But the reaction of rationalism is nil. Like a burning-glass, it makes the way to grace impractical and rejects it. Indeed, it makes it into a harmful heat, ending up by giving itself its own condemnation.
The rationalist makes the things of God serve his own ends not himself God's ends. He bends, explains, uses the Word in the light a poor light of his troubled mind and, like a madman who no longer knows the value of things and words, gives them meanings which could only come from one whom Satan's very cunning work has made sterile.
There are rationalists and rationalists.
[Some seed fell along the way and was pecked up by the birds]4
I will begin with the greatest: the "supermen," the deniers of God. They want to explain creation, miracles, divinity, according to their own concepts, full of human pride.
Where there is pride, God is not. Be certain of that. Where there is pride, there is no Faith. Satan is there, and Satan is a most skillful juggler in seducing man and making tin-foil picked up in the mud seem to him like genuine gold.
These deniers of God who believe they demean themselves by humbly accepting what their mental capacity alone cannot explain, and have killed in themselves the capacity to love these are the giants of rationalism.
I am not giving a lecture to men and therefore I do not cite names. You can put the names there yourselves. For Me, they are dead stars, dashed to pieces in the mud. They no longer have a name, or have only one which on the Day of Justice will be engraved in fire on their arrogant brows and on their heart more arid than flint.
They spend their life causing devastation. They are worse than an avalanche and a hurricane, worse than a madness, worse than a fever. Wherever they arrive, they kill.
Into such as these the Word does not descend at all. There are too many things about them to cause an obstacle to the Word. They are one of the categories of the "spiritually Dead." Rebellious and scandalous.
[A second part fell on rock and sent out roots, but immediately dried up for lack of moisture]
The second category are the humanly cultivated. These do not deny God. But over the Divine simplicity which has made Itself such so that even the humblest can understand It in the light of love they put a whole thicket of human erudition. They dress themselves up in it like peacocks, proud of their tail of a hundred eyes. And like peacocks, they are only beautiful in appearance: they do not know how to walk, to sing in the way and praises of the Lord.
They lack the love which is the sinew of the wing for flying toward God, or is the string of the harp for blessing God. The Word descends upon them and puts down a root. But later on it dies, because they cover it with leaves, suffocating it under the useless foliage of their human knowledge.
Do you know how they hear the Word? Like one who hears a person speaking in another tongue unknown to him. He hears the voice and sees the movement of the lips, but he understands nothing. They are also like one who, hard of hearing, shouts while the other person speaks softly. He ends up drowning out the other's voice with the racket of his words. From too much erudition they make a Babel in themselves. From knowing too much they do not accept the lights, so simple and pure, which God has set up for man to see the way which brings him to the Father. And they make a Babel and darkness also for others.
[The third part fell among brambles and died, suffocated]
A Third category: those who have paved their own hearts with the stones of another's rationalism to make themselves less ignorant. They are adorers of human idols. They do know how to adore God with all of themselves. But they know how to remain ecstatic before a poor man posing as a superman. With distrust they shut the door to the Divine Word, but accept the explanations of one like themselves who has the reputation of a scholar.
It would suffice for them to humbly ask Grace to enlighten and instruct them on the value of those notes, and Grace would make them see how those explanations, those teachings, are supported on props gnawed at their base by woodworms and mold, and how discordant and dissenting those voices are from that of God's.
They want to be cultured and supermen, and they take the first food they see. And their idols have pompous clothes and promise deity to all. It is the voice of the Serpent: "Eat of this fruit and you will be like God" (Gen 3:5). And in their ignorance they eat it.
There is one fruit that makes you gods, O men. That
which hangs from My Cross.
There is One Who says to your minds: "Ephphatha" ["Be opened" -- Mk 7:34]. The Christ.
There is One Thing that makes fertile the mystic soil of your hearts, that the seed may be born there. My Blood.
There is one Sun that warms and grows the ear of grain of eternal Life in you. Love.
There is one science that, like a ploughshare, opens and harrows your clod and makes it fit to receive the seed. My Science.
There is One Master: I, the Christ. Come to Me if you want to be instructed in the Truth.
[The fourth part, fallen on good terrain, bore fruit in different measures]
The fourth category is that of the imprudent. They are open roads on which everything passes. They do not surround themselves with a holy defense of faith and fidelity to their God. They welcome the Word with much joy, opening themselves to receive it, but they also open themselves to receive any doctrine whatever with the specious pretext that one must be condescending. Yes. So condescending toward one's brothers. Not spurning anyone, but severe toward the things of God. To pray for one's brothers, to instruct them, to forgive them, to defend them against themselves with a true supernatural love. But not to become accomplices of their errors. To remain granite as against the crumbling of human doctrine. Nothing passes without leaving a trace. And it is great imprudence to place a [sharp] point against the heart. It could take away a life, or mark it with wounds difficult to heal and which always leave a scar.
Blessed are those who are only God's terrain and remain such with constant vigilance. Blessed are those who, soft as just moved sod, have no stones for their brothers or rocks for the Word.
Love makes them souls adoring the Word and piteous toward those straying far from the Word. But love is their most beautiful defense, and no work of evil can wound their spirit in which the Word of Life grows like a rich ear of grain. And It grows there so much the more yielding fruit sometimes thirty-fold, sometimes fifty, sometimes a hundred-fold as that love in them is more boundless .
For whoever possesses It in an absolute way, the Word becomes their own word, since they exist no more, but are one with God, their love.
1. Maria Valtorta, I Quaderni
del 1943 ["Notebooks for 1943"] (Edizioni Pisani / Centro Editoriale
Valtortiano srl, Via Po 95, 03036 Isola del Liri (FR), Italia,1985), 418-423.
2. For this translation, the first three paragraphs have been rearranged from the order in the original Italian.
3. For another treatment of rationalism, see Rationalism and Unbelief elsewhere on this site.
4. Excerpts from Christ's summary above of the Parable are interpolated here for purposes of clarification. They do not appear in the original Italian.