The saint advances toward God by steps of
love, "gressibus amoris," St. Gregory says. When the Church wishes to place some one on the altar to be a model for all other members of the Mystical Body, she proceeds, during the process of canonization, to examine minutely into the heroicity of his virtues. The Gospel criterion is decisively confirmed: a tree is known by its fruit. The Lord Himself reminded us of this fundamental law: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My commandments." The books of the Old Testament never cease commending to the just the practice of all the virtues, not only faith, hope and charity but a multitude of other virtues: patience, prayer, adoration, respect for persons and for the welfare of others. Yahweh had promulgated a Decalogue as a code of the Covenant; the Sermon on the Mount, the charter of evangelical perfection animated by the Holy Spirit, speaks of precepts to observe and vices to shun. The axis of holiness revolves through the exercises of the Christian virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the Beatitudes.
It is significant to note that the Lord was extremely concerned with dictating to Conchita a whole treatise on Virtues and Vices. "During these long months of Concha's illness the Lord dictated to me these virtues according to the promise He had made me some years previously.
"How many nights, while watching over my sick little child, facing the Church of the Incarnation, in the midst of spiritual communions and acts of love, the Lord made me take up my pen, to open up His heart to His poor creature" (Aut. 1, 146-147).
The Lord dictated to her in this way the description of ninety-three virtues and one hundred and ten vices, the Gospel Beatitudes, and, somewhat later, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The collection constitutes a truly practical compendium, a masterpiece of spirituality.
It is possible, here, to cite only a few examples, taken at random from the exposition of the theological virtues.
I want to speak to you about Faith
"Today, I want to speak to your about faith.' I then felt myself flooded and enraptured by a light in my understanding, enlightening my mind. In this interior silence, I began to hear some divine and inexplicable things about faith. I shall try to tell in so far as I can, being so miserable, the beautiful things I heard.
"Faith is the foundation of holiness. It is a special light, coming from heaven by which the soul sees God in this world. It is a ray of light, illuminating God's countenance and making Him visible to the soul. It is the life and force of the spirit, the sun which tears it, brightens it, ever making it increase in perfection and in holiness. God so loves this virtue, a direct emanation from His own divinity, that the soul which possesses it, disposes of, it might be said, the will of God, inclining Him to grant it what it desires. It is a virtue to which He grants all His power. There is question here of the faith of a humble soul.
"Faith is the torch which illumines, with its light, the obscurity of the spirit. It is solely by this light that the soul travels safely amidst the difficulties of a life bent on perfection, so that a fully developed supernatural faith is indispensable. It constitutes the capital point of the soul which consecrates itself to the interior life. This supernatural faith attains its perfection going beyond all that is natural and supernatural in the soul, fixedly gazing on one point: God, never separating itself from Him, on any occasion of life or death… If this faith sheds its light on souls and casts on them its divine influence, it renders them spiritual, filled with delicacy, elevating all their actions and movements higher above the earth, persisting in these obscure regions and making them acquire great merit. Faith is a light but it lives in obscurity, it is enveloped in its shadows and the soul rarely perceives it. It radiates the soul by its clarity, in its very interior, making it know and showing it the dangers and riches of the spirit. It only slightly externalizes itself. This life of obscurity which purifies souls is what makes them merit this beautiful title of martyrs of the faith, since, in truth, the life of the spirit is an existence of martyrdom, that is, a life on the Cross in the exercise of all virtues.
"Faith tears away the veil of mysteries. The soul which possesses this virtue touches, experiences and at times contemplates real presence in the Eucharist, the mystery of faith par excellence and the mystery of love. The soul sees itself miserable in the light of this mystery of faith, and if it does not as yet see the clarity of the beatific vision, face to face, nonetheless in truth admires its splendor. Its ardor consumes it and, in the vivacity of this faith, it annihilates itself before the love of a God it contemplates so closely" (Diary, Oct. 31, 1895).
The Virtue of Hope
"The virtue of hope is one which does not linger to desire nothing or to ask nothing of the earth, neither personal prestige, riches nor honors. It has set its flight higher: it expects the possession of God Himself not due to personal merit of the soul but on account of the superabundance of My infinite merits. The souls which possesses holy hope, rejoices not for its own good which will come about for it eternally. It goes beyond its personal, legitimate and permissible good, but it rises higher, and it does not stop at its own glory but at the glory which, through it, God Himself will receive. The virtue of supernatural and perfect hope consists in yearning constantly for the possession of the Beloved, not for itself but for the glory of God, working efficaciously to obtain it, choosing and embracing the way of the Cross.
"Apropos of this, Jesus told me. 'Just as I am your hope, I am equally your way. He who follows Me never walks in darkness but the way I represent is the Cross. He who wishes to come after Me must deny himself, bear his cross and follow Me setting his feet on My bloodstained tracks…' He assured me that the Cross is the dwelling place of perfection, that it contains all the mysteries, gifts and fruits of the Spirit" (Diary, Nov. 3, 1895).
Primacy of Love
"Love is the soul of every life of prayer and of every good work. If they are not accompanied by love, all of men's works are dead. Love is the fire which inflames everything. When a soul possesses this holy love, it revives in it faith and hope and urges it on to the practice of all the moral virtues.
"The soul which loves Me runs along the paths of perfection unconcerned about the thorns it
trod on. It then comes to fly without hindrance from the thousands of obstacles it meets. It overcomes them by the interior ardor of a living faith and a holy hope. The theological virtues have their seat and their development in love. Charity communicates to them life and brings them up to heaven. The world has no idea of the grandeur of these three theological virtues which are founded on divine love.
"Some souls do not love Me. That is why they are lost. Among the souls who love Me and call themselves
Mine, how few there are who give Me their whole heart! Almost always I receive but a part of their heart. All of it, so rarely! Nevertheless I want them to love Me
'with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength!' The human heart turns partly toward creatures, toward the world, toward self. Self-love for the greatest part fills it. It lives and breathes only for that. I demand a love which surpasses everything. I have imposed this precept on them to render men happy and to
save them. Despite this, how few, I repeat, are the souls who carry out My sovereign will to perfection! I wish them well and they resist. I present them with a treasure and they despise it. I give them life and they run to death. To love and to sacrifice oneself, therein is the eternal felicity in heaven.
"To overcome vices and to practice virtues, it is necessary to sacrifice oneself, but do so with love. The soul which does this, love Me wholeheartedly and I will be its eternal recompense. Give Me a love like this, give Me souls who love Me in suffering, who find their joy on the Cross. My Heart thirsts for such a love. I want a pure love, an unselfish love, an expiatory, crucified love, a sound love such as it may be said no longer exists on earth. Yet it is the only true love, the love which saves, purifies and the love I require through My commandments. All other apparent loves do not satisfy Me; all other love is vain, artificial, often culpable, save the love which I have just shown you.
"Love Me as I have loved you, in my interior Cross, after the very first moment of my Incarnation. Love Me in suffering and in sacrifice out of love. Love Me for I am God and solely to please Me. It is toward this love I aspire, the love I desire. Happy the soul possessing it… I promise that on this earth, that soul will begin to taste of the delights of heaven" (Diary, Sept. 11, 1900).
Divine Will and Total Self-surrender
The tableau of virtues and vices contains not only specifically distinct virtues but also presents synthetic virtues, which are as it were a harmony of many virtues. Thus, there is had the
divine will and total self-surrender.
The Will of God
"God's will is a bouquet which is made up of all virtues practiced in an ordinary manner or in a perfect state. His will divinizes them and makes them shine with splendor in His presence. It gives to each a new value on the divine scale and, in the purified soul, it vests them with a special color pleasing to the Holy Spirit. This total and perfect submission to the most holy will of its God and Lord is the greatest of all the virtues a soul can posses. This sublime virtue implies the integral practice of all the other virtues… it is the culminating point.
"The Lord adds. 'I have no other food… from the first moment of my Incarnation than this divine will. It is through it I came into this world, through it I was raised above the earth to consummate my life in the cruelest of
martyrdoms, …it then soothed My agony. It was My sole solace, while on earth. I would have suffered death a thousand times to
fulfill it. Divine and active Love burned in My heart, had as its main motive to carry out the divine will on behalf of man. The Redemption was naught but the faithful accomplishment of this divine will. Its echo sounds constantly in the depths of My most loving heart, causing it to throb for the salvation of souls and the glorification of My Father.'
"There is a still higher stage in this divine will. It is total self-surrender interiorly to this same will of God. This self-surrender leads to the highest summit of perfection: it is the supreme stage of all virtue" (Diary, June 6, 1900).
One grasps the method, the fruit of a divine wisdom communicated through the experience of divine things, under the personal movement of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. She analyzes them one after the other in the same way moreover in a brief but interesting treatise on the seven gifts.
She follows the same method in the presentation of the Beatitudes.
Love is All
Not the least trace of the dolorous is found in this spirituality of the Cross where suffering is the supreme expression of love.
All begins and ends with love, through the animating and constant presence of the Holy Spirit. This lengthy treatise on the virtues and the vices, on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and on the beatitudes, concludes with the striking affirmation of the unique worth of love. It is significant and is in keeping with the purest Gospel.
When the Lord has finished His dictations, Conchita writes in conclusion in her Diary and stressing her own convictions states, "Love is what gives life to all the virtues, to all good works.
LOVE IS ALL" (Diary, Sept. 21, 1900).