A Mother's Spiritual Diary

Manuel, her Jesuit son

It is marvelous to see how solicitously and affectionately this watchful mother followed each one of her children's lives, ever respectful of their personality and their liberty.  Two of them from their youth had a religious vocation: Manuel and Concha.

Manuel was the first to leave.  Conchita had dreamed of seeing him "a Priest of the Cross," but God is the master of vocations.  Her son entered, at the age of seventeen, the Society of Jesus where he received a solid foundation and spent himself valiantly, until his death, in the service of the Church for the greater glory of God.

His mother encouraged her son in his fervor and their correspondence with each other showed them more and more united in affection at once human and divine.  Once he had definitively made up his mind and she learned about it, she laid out for him the path of religious holiness: "I see grace working in your heart and I know not how to thank the Lord for His benefits.  I do not know how to correspond to such great bounty.  Give yourself up to the Lord, truly and with all your heart and soul, and never give up.  Forget creatures, above all forget yourself.  Avoid all that is not God to rise up to Him.  Lead a life of full obedience, humility, and abnegation.  Die to yourself.  Live only for Jesus.  May He reign in your soul.

"I cannot conceive of a religious who is not holy.  We are not to give ourselves to God half-heartedly.  Be generous toward Him.  Life is too short not to sacrifice ourselves to Him out of love.  Perhaps, and sooner than you think, temptations and conflicts will come to trouble you.  Be firm and ever love the Cross, under whatsoever forth it presents itself.  It is always amiable for him, who, under its seeming rigor, knows how to discover God's will.

"It is evident that my maternal heart was afflicted, but I am happy to be able to offer to the Lord this sacrifice on behalf of your soul a thousand times more loved than your body.  Pray, ever pray for me... I have told the whole family about your decision.  They will pray for you. Your brothers will write you later. I have wrapped you up in the mantle of Mary since your childhood. She will be your mother, love Her most dearly... keep your feet on the ground but your soul and heart; may they dwell in heaven… " (Dec. 9, 1906).

Some years later, on the occasion of her voyage to the Holy Land and to Rome, Conchita went to Spain to see her son.  Mother and son rejoiced on seeing each other again. She found him very learned and spiritual. "We talked, laughed and cried, and thanked God" (January 1914). "When we had to say good-bye I suffered a great deal, for perhaps we had seen each other for the last time.  He also wept... Finally we parted: I was greatly pained, and renewed my offer to God out of love for him" (Feb. 2, 1914).  Some days later she left the Iberian Peninsula: "Good-bye Spain, there is where my son remains" (Feb. 19, 1914).

In December of 1919, Conchita learned that a part of her son's finger on the right hand had been amputated.  Will he yet be able to become a priest? She admired her son who suffered "with the resignation of a saint" (March 4, 1920).

He was to become a priest, but the young Jesuit, had requested of his superiors, as a sacrifice offered to God on behalf of souls, that he be sent to the missions.  He let his mother know about this and that his superiors had consented (Letter of June 1920).

     My little and unforgettable mama:

      I presume you have by now received my last letter and that you are not exactly undisturbed wishing to know just what I let you get a glimpse of in previous letters, to prepare you for it.

     Now that all is arranged, you, after my superiors, are the first to know what I am about to tell you so that you, by your fervent prayers, will help me and, far from reproaching me, you will encourage me to make this sacrifice.  From a purely natural standpoint, this may hurt and disappoint you, as it did me and quite painfully, but we are not to be concerned with that. We must, as we ought, view things with eyes of faith.  Then, the news I am about to tell you will please you since it is about a beautiful sacrifice, God, I believe, has inspired me to make. After Iong years of probation, my superiors have fully approved it.

     What is this about? I wanted to sacrifice to Jesus Christ, to Whom I owe so much, something that would cost me truly in order to render Him in return something for His innumerable favors. Under a divine inspiration, I then envisioned you, my family, my country, all of you, deeply rooted in my heart, the heart of a loving son.  It was then, with a great spiritual impulse, I offered myself as a holocaust making a sacrifice of this so holy threefold love.  Thus my dream of returning to you, to my brothers and sisters and the whole family, of treading this blessed land, sanctified by the presence and protection of the Virgin of Tepeyac, all this is over for me and unless you come by this way, it is only in heaven I shall see you again.

     Sad news, is it not, mama? Yes, but only if we look at things from the standpoint of flesh and blood, but what a beautiful thing and worthy of my heart is this desire to love Jesus above all things.

     I know you are going to cry when you read this letter.  Your tears will fall into the very depths of my heart, the heart of a loving son.  United with mine, you will know how to offer them up at the foot of the Blessed Sacrament, with those of your poor Manuel.

     Dear little mama, it was you who showed me the way.  From my earliest childhood I had the joy of hearing frown your lips the demanding and salvific teaching of the Cross which I am now carrying out in practice.  May God grant me to go on with it without ever stopping through the sacrifice of the sole thing I possess, my own life, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. I shall be blessed if this be so.

     Truly worthy of pity are the people of the world who, for money or for other more vile aspirations, take upon themselves similar sacrifices.  It is for Jesus Christ and for higher aims we others do so.  Thus we are and ought to be rather more worthy to be envied. As you know, little mama, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  So you will be able to imagine how much my love for you, for my brothers and sisters and for the rest of the family has grown since I received this joyous news.  We are happy in the joy of the Cross, the only really true happiness.  Let us have but one desire: never to come down from it.

     I will write you again in a short white.  Tender and affectionate greetings to my brothers and sisters.  And you, my unforgettable mama, send your blessing to your Manuel that, in his sacrifice, his joy be perfect.

     Your loving son,
     Manuel, S.J.

Conchita copied the letter in her Diary.

"Indeed, this letter caused tears to flow from my heart, but with God's help, I accepted and offered up this sacrifice to God, that of no longer seeing him on earth even when I will be able to Spain.  I renounced the joy of attending his ordination Mass, hearing him preach, receiving communion from him, making my confession to him and, who knows, being given the Last Rites on my death bed.  May the Lord deign to accept my poor and imperfect sacrifice which makes my heart bleed.  I am not worthy of such a son" (Diary, June 1920).

Conchita right away sent a letter to Manuel, a response so sublime that it showed the mother and son rivaling each other in heroism.

     My dear son,

     What will I tell you, after your letter accounting the news which I expected, knowing you so well? Tearfully, I offered up to God infinite acts of thanksgiving for His having given you the strength to carry out so great a sacrifice.  I went up to the tabernacle, and put your letter close by it. I assure you, will all my soul I accepted your sacrifice of the feelings of affection, so deeply engrained in me.  The next day, I bore the letter over my heart on receiving Communion, to renew my full acceptance.

     Happy are you, my dear son, for having placed Jesus above flesh and blood, for having known how to raise yourself in an aura of faith above the earth.  The little good you, in the forming of your heart, received from me, is not from me, but from God, who, in His infinite predilection, has chosen you for Himself from your tenderest childhood on granting you the religious vocation.  I do not know whether you received one of my letter in which, having a presentiment of your sacrifice, I told you that Mexico needs a great number of workers and that there are vast regions in which Indians who are still pagans live, where the reign of Christ could be extended at the cost of great sacrifices and many privations, for instance, in Tarakumara or Muzquiz.  I told you in my letter that, even on your coming back here, if you so wished, I would never see you any more.  What you wished would be enough for me.  Now superiors have sanctioned what you wished.  It is clear, there is no doubt, it is the will of God. I accept it with all my soul, I venerate it and I love it.

     Oh! Manuel, son of my heart, that which is the greatest thing after God, the sole divine thing the creature can do, is to love Him and to glorify Him in sacrifice of himself.   Saint Ignatius' motto is the supreme formula of love: to the greater glory of God.   How much this love is unknown on earth! Happy they who have received the light of the Cross.  For the world, to love is to enjoy.  In this egoism, it believes that love consists above all in receiving, in being consoled, indulged, satisfied, while love is nourished by the gift of self, and of immolation. Its food is suffering.

     I will stop preaching.  I only want to felicitate you a thousand times for having found the true road to heaven.  Be ever generous toward God, out of pure love, and you will ever be happy on the earth as in the fatherland above.

     Your brothers and sisters have undergone great sorrow, they will go to see you.  Ask God that you will be able to see me again in heaven, although I be so little worthy of meriting it. I extend to you the remembrances of all your brothers and sisters, and with full approval of your decision, I give you my blessing.

     Kisses from your mother, happy in her sacrifice (Diary, June, 1920).

Two years later, Manuel was ordained. Conchita's heart was filled with joy and pride.

Conchita received a beautiful letter from Manuel, which told of his ardent desire to be ordained, and many other things. It moved her deeply.

     I shall never forget a single one of your intentions, nor our unforgettable papa, nor anyone of my brothers and sisters, on this day on which it is rightly said the Lord grants everything to His new priest.  You know that, through the spiritual union which exists between souls and the Lord Jesus, we are not far apart.  On this day, I promise you expressly, you and papa, as is right, will have the first and the best of my intentions.  Then, there will be all and each one of my brothers and sisters, that Our Lord abundantly shed torrents of precious graces on this small corner of my soul, where, as the years pass, my heart loves more and more my unforgettable family.  My dear little mama, you told me: "Remember, my son, when you hold in your hands the Holy Host, you will not say: 'Behold the Body of Jesus and Behold His Blood', but you will say: 'This is my Body, This is my Blood,' that is, there must be worked in you a total transformation, you must lose yourself in Him, to be "another Jesus."

     Is not this the height of felicity on earth and in heaven?

     As soon as I am ordained, now or later, mama dear, speak to me about it in your letters. Teach me to be a priest, teach me how great is the joy of saying Mass.  I place myself in your hands, just as when I was a tiny child you hide me in your bosom to teach me the so sweet names of Jesus and Mary, for by penetrating into this mystery of love, of an infinite grandeur, I feel myself as a baby who asks for light, your prayer and your sacrifices… (July 23, 1922).

     The day of this sublime consecration as Priest of Christ draws near and the effusions of tenderness multiply in their correspondence.

     There are hours in life, when one can say nothing, nor even feel as one should.  Now is one of these moments for you and for me.  It is up to you to make up for what it is impossible to put in writing.  On this joyous day, you, others and I will be united, and you above all my dear little mama and I, I and you, in an indissoluble and close bond which nothing will separate: neither distance, nor absence, nothing in this world.  We shall remain united in the company, the holiest that can exist here below or in heaven above, the company of Jesus Himself…

     As soon as I will be a priest I will send you my first blessing, then I will receive yours on my knees.

     All yours,
     Manuel S.J.

On the day assigned, Conchita arose at night, keeping in mind the difference in time between Europe and Mexico, with the thought of assisting at Manuel's first Mass, and of receiving across space, his first blessing.  Te Deum laudamus "I am the mother of a priest!  I felt myself overcome.  How was I to conduct myself, what saintliness, what life of gratitude, what plenitude of virtue would I have to practice! I can only weep and give thanks, asking all heaven to give thanks for me, so incapable was I of doing so, so wretched, so stained, so unworthy" (Letter to a friend, July 31, 1922).

For many more years mother and son will correspond.  Conchita will tell him down to the least detail about the family, about each one of his brothers and sisters, about all that concerns each one of them, of the painful events going on in Mexico, of her unbreakable trust in God's mercy on her nation, heroic in the faith.  They are letters of a mother, a friend, a confidant and of a saint which pours out her heart into that of her son.

Here is one of her last letters, perhaps the last.

     "Today, on the feast of Christ the King, will be inaugurated the foundation of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit at San Luis, your native place and mine! God be blessed!  Send up your act of thanksgiving to Him: May it all be to His greater glory!"  She speaks to him about the anti-religious laws and the threats of atheistic Communism. "Only the Virgin of Guadalupe can free us.  Mexico is Hers and will ever be Hers… Here I am at Morelia, and deprive the Lord of a few minutes to write you… Msgr. Martinez has given me the "Exercises" as he does each year.  This time he chose as the subject 'perfect joy in suffering.'  Ask God that I profit from it. They may well be my last.  I must prepare myself for a great voyage. As He wills!

     "We hope God will calm passions and a world war will not break out.

     "Become a saint.  Life is too short to stop along the road.  No matter what be the path we take to seek God, it always passes by the Cross.  It is said that the Cross, written with a capital, was the Master's while in small letters it is ours.  Love it for it is the main instrument of our salvation."  Conchita took some instants while on retreat for this urgent message: "Now the hour has come to be with Him. I  am going to pray a lot for you.  May He reign fully over your heart.  May He fill up all the capacities of your soul.  May He transform you into Himself, making of you, through Mary, another Jesus.

     "Bless me and receive my poor blessing with my great tenderness. Your mother who never forgets you" (Diary, Oct. 25, 1936).