Blessed Raymond de Capoue, the confessor of St. Catherine of Sienna who did not know how to read or write, declared: "There is found in Catherine a doctrine which is even more admirable than her life." We only have three letters in her own hand, written toward the end of her life. She is a Doctor of the Church! By her words, her teaching and her example she illumines the Church of Christ until the end of time. The same may be said of Conchita.
Her basic education was elementary. She never received a literary or theological formation. From her maternal uncle, Father Luis Arias, she might have heard of the translation of Darras'
"l'Histoire de l'Eglise." Conchita, personally, was very fond of reading, not for her cultural development, but in order to find nourishment for her soul. "All my life, I recall that I saw deeply and clearly into my soul. I greatly wanted to remember everything concerning the spiritual, for instance, mystical readings and sermons. If I cannot remember them, on account of my poor memory, still these truths penetrate the very depths of my soul… I have always liked to read and, in mystical books, I have found repose, light and relaxation" (April 1, 1894). Conchita has a mystical temperament, her most characteristic trait.
She always dreamed of writing. She had a vocation to be a writer. "I have always had an inclination to write. From the age of sixteen, I began the account of my life, whole filled with God, when we lived at Peregrina. I have torn up most of it" (Aut. 102). Later on she will ask St. Teresa of Avila to obtain for her the grace to write.
Her directors order her to write her "Diary"… Her first director, Father Alberto Mir, S.J., forbade all spiritual reading, except that of the
Imitation of Jesus Christ, and at the same time ordered her not to read over what she had written.
Conchita obeyed most faithfully.
This order brings out clearly the special intervention of God and the Illuminations of the Holy Spirit, the interior Teacher.
As far as we can find out, Conchita received no human influence on her spiritual doctrine. The varied circumstances of her life led her to write numerous works, large and small, and a voluminous correspondence covering up to sixty-five years. Above all the Lord Himself, on many occasions, urged her to take up her pen: "Write, write, if you want to give Me glory" (Diary, June 18, 1900).
"Dictation" by the Lord
To better inform her new and last director, Msgr. Luis M. Martinez, retracing her spiritual itinerary, Conchita drew up a balance sheet of the graces and charisms received from the Lord, throughout her life. "How often, how often my Jesus has spoken to me,
dictating to me Vices and Virtues. Often He has spoken to me about the Holy Trinity, removing from my eyes the veil of mysteries. I see them as it were in a natural way, without them being called specially to my attention, just as they actually should be. Here I am now come to, or almost come to, the forty-fifth volume of my 'Accounts of Conscience' (Diary). In them is a whole mass of instructions, lights, counsels, God's secrets. Such condescension! I have heard Him some few times speaking to me in His natural voice, sometimes
dictating to me and correcting me, at other times speaking to me in an interior voice holding in suspense my whole being, without the slightest possible doubt. Finally,
He can communicate Himself in a thousand ways! So many graces for my poor soul: methods, counsels, particular instructions and manifestation of His will in so many ways" (July 3, 1925).
The term "dictation" by the Lord is to be understood in a loose, broad sense. It does not mean here, for instance a teacher expressing something word for word his pupil is to write. Rather it means a mode of divine illuminations adapted to the one receiving them according to his temperament, culture, the circumstances and modalities of his life which are so variable. The two basic laws of adaptation and of progress, found in the course of the historical development of divine Revelation addressed to the prophets and other inspired writers, are in due proportion found in private revelations. God makes the greatest allowance for the psychology of the subject. "In times past, God spoke in fragmentary and varied ways to our fathers through the prophets" (Heb 1:1). God did not speak in the same way to Isaiah and to Amos, to Teresa of Avila, to Angelo de Foligno and to Conchita. A decisive text of Conchita's
Diary brings out the flexibility of the divine pedagogy.
"The manner in which I communicate Myself bears in itself the mark of Unity, since, in God who is One, thus go all things, simplified in every way. For example, right now, suddenly, I am reflected in your soul as in a crystal. There these divine rays are imprinted and you, under this impression, you see, you contemplate and you understand. Immediately, with the help of your intelligence, you put them in words, while I Myself, without you being aware of it, leave it to you to adapt yourself more or less exactly. Yet, from the illumination given you, I have left in you the substance, the essence, the image of the thing communicated. Then you transcribe it from your soul onto your intellectual faculties and thence transcribe it on paper. According to this manner of communication by God with His creature, there is, so to say, no error. There will be no admixture of human passions, passions which obscure and deform to the point of obliteration, the traces of God in the soul. Therein lies a manner of God's communication which derives from His Unity, at one single stroke imprinting itself in a poor creature and, then, taking form in the language of the earth, even though, for that, I tell you again, divine cooperation remains necessary.
"When a soul humbly receives these communications and submits itself to them with indispensable purity of heart, without any admixture of passion, the divine impression is clear, transparent, luminous. There is no danger of self-deceit. It is evident that the divine, on passing into the human, takes on the form and color of the one who received these communications. But this is quite secondary, the essence, the substance and form God willed to communicate remains identical.
"Since, in My bounty and in view of My sublime designs, I had chosen you as an instrument and channel, never stain the mirror of your soul. Today more than ever, you must keep in it purity, lucidity and transparence, in order that the torrent of graces of the Holy Spirit be communicated" (Diary, May 16, 1913).
Conchita experienced the illuminating action of God and she was aware that it was God Himself who had communicated. "'Listen,' Jesus said to me…" Then she added: "Yes, I feel it is He who said it to me, I cannot say anything else" (Diary, March 3, 1894). She was aware, too, that it was His will that she write: "Write, I want you to write… Write because I want you to… When I would not want you to, even should you want to, you will not be able to do it." And Conchita answered: "Let me tell you one thing: I am afraid to neglect my duties." Then Jesus" "If I saw it thus, I would not bid you do it. Find time, you can do it well. Arrange things before hand, do all that you can on your part and then write and pray" (Diary, March, 1894).
The Lord categorically answers her last doubts: "If (what you write) is from Me, it will be for My glory; if it is from the devil, you will be warned; if it is from yourself, you will be mocked, and you will profit from this humiliation."
The Lord alone is the Master of all times, of the place and of the modes of intervention. As he pleases He spends long months of silence. Then He suddenly turns up and Conchita must write, write, write. Often she is involved in family duties and social obligations, or due to interior impossibility to pray, must undergo terrible aridity and dryness. At other items, on the contrary, she reads the Trinity "like an open book" (Diary, July 18, 1906).
At time she has had enough and says so frankly. "I would like to stop writing, forget everything, turn the page, change my life. Such is, at this moment, the state of my spirit, submerged in temptations and sufferings." But she courageously has added. "I must control myself, with God's grace. I renounce myself without pity and keep on going, even though I may die in the struggle" (Diary, March 26, 1897).
The Lord knows He can rely on His faithful servant. Her heroic existence belongs to Him unreservedly in the service of His Church. He does not hesitate to appeal to the total giving of herself for as long as will be pleasing to Him, according to the designs of the Father. "Ask Me for a long life to suffer much and write much…" He goes on, "there is your mission on earth… You are destined for the sanctification of souls, most especially souls of priests. Through your endeavors many will be inflamed with love and suffering. Make the Cross loved, through the reign of the Holy Spirit. One day a constellation of holy priests will come, priests who will enkindle the world with the fire of the Cross. I make ready my ways. They will be formed to a singular perfection by the doctrine I have given you I carry out what I said. You will be the mother of a great number of spiritual sons, but they will cost your heart many pains."
"I felt a great fire in my soul and I said to Him: 'What does it matter, Jesus, I want to be the mother. Give them to me. I receive them in order that they cover You with glory'" (Diary, June 29, 1903).
Conchita was at that time a young widow, forty years old. She joyfully accepted letting herself be crucified on her pen and suffer in a thousand ways for the glory of her Master until she was seventy-five. A long life as a writer, a long life of martyrdom above all. Not the slightest trace of literary vanity appears in her massive written works. If anybody had listed to her, not a single page of her
Diary would be in existence today. In full sincerity of soul, she begged her first spiritual director to destroy it, as soon as he should learn of her death. "I come to ask you a favor, on my knees and with my arms crossed, in the name of Jesus, to whom you can refuse nothing. Is not that right? May no one at all, apart from you, look at these papers. Jesus, Jesus Himself, does not want me to destroy them today, but on my death, at the very moment, if possible, reduce them to ashes and dust, in the image of their owner… Do you promise me this? Say 'yes' so as not to deprive me of the freedom to pour out here my conscience and all the rest" (Diary, 1894).
Her other directors were wise enough to forbid her to burn her writings. Msgr. Luis Maria Martinez, who directed her during her last twelve years and who was himself a spiritual writer, the most famous of Latin America, wrote her on April 4, 1929, "Neither you, nor I, nor anyone knows the treasures contained in the
Diary. Many a man and many a year will be needed for exploiting them." On April 23 he wrote. "I think that you yourself cannot appreciate the wealth contained in the
Diary. You know that as long as I am your director, I will never allow you to destroy a single letter of this
The whole collection constitutes an immense written work. More than a thousand volumes were submitted to examination for the Process of canonization. Conchita is the mystic of the Church who has written the most. Her
Spiritual Diary, the "Account of Conscience," with its sixty-six tomes, constituting a collections more voluminous than St. Thomas Aquinas'
Summa Theologica, remains the major work and, as it were, the syntheses of the whole. It is a treasure for the whole Church. God made use of a married woman, the mother of nine children and a simple laywoman, to recall to the present day world the Gospel of the Cross and the profound meaning of the principal Christian mysteries.