A Mother's Spiritual Diary

Meeting with Father Rougier

It was precisely when Conchita had need of spiritual support that she met Father Felix Rougier. Each of them, in writing, has recounted this providential encounter from which was to be born the founding of the "Missionaries of the Holy Spirit," called by God to become, for the present epoch, the apostles of a renewal of the world by the Cross under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.

In Mexico, the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit preserve, as a precious relic, the confessional in which this encounter took place.

"On the third (Feb. 1903), I learned that there was at the church of the College de Filles (the name given the French parish) a priest, the Superior of the Marists, an affable person. This occurred around 4 p.m., and I became quite anxious to speak to him about the Cross.

"On the fourth, an interior force impelled me to go to this church. I went there. I pushed the button to let them know I was there. A priest, a stranger to me, whom I was just about able to see, came down. I went into the confessional and made my confession. I felt an extraordinary impulse to open up to him my soul, to speak to him about the Cross, the delights of suffering, the marvels of sorrow. I saw and I felt the echo of my feelings in his soul. I became aware that my words penetrated its depths. I think that at that moment they were not my words. I perceived that I was speaking inflamed, fluently, in a way that was beyond myself. This came from the Holy Spirit.

"I spoke to him about the Works of the Cross and I felt that he was greatly enthused over them. I saw deep down into his soul and could fathom what was in his mind. I also understood that this soul would render to God a Great glory of his Works. I sensed that he was blessed by the Cross, touched to the utmost depths of his soul. I sensed, too, that he was deeply impressed, piously affected in the vitals of his heart. I spoke to him about the cloister. Right away he asked me whether there were any in Mexico and whether there were any for men. 'No, there are none for men, but there will be,' I replied.

"I then returned home, very impressed by this surprising encounter, an encounter which seemed to be for the glory of God. None the less, I asked the Lord, for a long time that, if it was not according to His will, Father would not be able to find me nor even my address. By making inquiries, I do not know how, Father came. Without knowing each other we exchanged greetings. At once we began to speak of God and of the Works of the Cross. I continued seeing the impressions the Holy Spirit made in his soul and his desires for perfection. I suggested to him, if he wished, to offer himself up wholly to the Lord. He accepted, desirous of his perfection. I decided to write him this act of oblation for the next day. I invited him to be at the Monastery the following day, at ten in the morning, then we said goodbye' (Diary, Feb. 4, 1903).

The result of this encounter with Father Felix was that, through manifest signs, he became Conchita's spiritual director. Thus he became ever part of her life. At first he was the counselor of the contemplatives of the Cross at a difficult and delicate time when, for her first iron-fisted director who would suffer her to have no other director than he, God substituted an understanding and sage director who helped her greatly to ascend to God and in the direction of the nuns of the Cross. Father Felix, a Marist, faithfully rendered to his superiors an account of this unexpected meeting in which he believed God was calling him in a special way. The Father General of the Marists judged otherwise and made him stay in Europe. There Father Felix, with heroic obedience and faith as unshakable "as that of Abraham," waited, in silence, for God's hour.

God had placed close to Conchita a saint. When not having seen her for ten years, Father Felix met her again, his first words were simply: "I have not changed my opinion about the Works of the Cross." On his return to Mexico, at the very moment of his disembarking at Vera Cruz, August 14, 1914, he met some Mexican bishops who (driven out by the persecution) were going to leave on the same ship. They knew him and loved him. They did not hide their amazement upon seeing him disembark, but Father courageously responded: "The Lord wants me to found His work during the agony of the nation."

Father Felix was no dreamer but rather a well-balanced, realistic man, with good common sense, as immovable as the rock of Monts d'Auvergne, his native place, and possessing the soul of a saint. Very Reverend Father Gillet, Master General of the Dominicans, who had known in Paris and Rome and in the course of his travels about the world, eminent personages, testified in 1938: "Of all the men I have met in my life, no one gave me so great an impression of sanctity as he."

Until the end of their lives Father Felix and Conchita worked together for the founding and development of the Works of the Cross. They mutually sought each other's advice, visiting each other while carrying out mutual projects, and in order to speak at length of God in as pure and holy a friendship, as that of St. Frances de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal.