Upon stressing the unique worth of love, Conchita comes to what is most essential in the Gospel: "to love God with all her mind, all her will and all her strength… this is the first commandment to which all come back…" Spiritual masters have described the three classical stages of this ascent to God through love. Let us hear what St. Thomas Aquinas has to say. St. Thomas is very concerned to explain things through their causes and connects these three phases to the three effects of love.
"For beginners, the primary concern is to avoid sin and imperfections, to purge away sins of the past and to be free from them in the future. The first effect of love is to fight against obstacles."
"For those making progress, love is applied above all to the practice of the virtues, indispensable means for our union with God."
"For the perfect, love is based on the end, enjoyment of the Three Divine Persons, and consummation in the unity of the Trinity" (III Sent. 29, 8, 1).
The great mystics lingered long describing these higher states of the spiritual life. Thus did two incomparable teachers of Carmel, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Under another not less genial form, St. Therese of Lisieux simplified it all by love. Not two doctors, but three were provided to the Church by Carmel.
There is not one sole form of transforming union, but a thousand varieties, or rather an infinity of possible realizations, according to the creative freedom of the Spirit of God and the various needs, according to the epochs, of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Conchita presents us a new type of transforming union. She also is nostalgic for God and summits. As an adolescent, she rapidly took the first steps of the spiritual life. At the age of nineteen, after her brother Manuel's death, she resolutely lived, first as a young girl, then as a married woman, firmly without sin and in an ever and ever more heroic ascent toward God. In 1894, when she was thirty-two, after the insertion of Christ's name in her bosom, there were the spiritual betrothals (Jan. 23, 1894), and three years later in 1897, the spiritual marriage (Feb. 9, 1897), surpassed by the mystical incarnation (March 25, 1906). This
beyond of the spiritual marriage is a higher form of transforming union: for there is an infinity of possible union stages between the creature and God.
Specialists of the mystical life will have to minutely examine this very point which opens up to the science of spiritual ways new horizons.
The mystical incarnation, despite its supreme rarity, is a grace of transformation in Christ received in germ from baptism and on.
In 1913, when Conchita was examined in Rome, the Lord manifested to her the profound meaning of the mystical incarnation.
The Mystical Incarnation is a Grace of Transformation into the Crucified
"The mystical incarnation is a grace of transformation in view of an assimilation of the creature with its model Jesus, who I am. It is a transforming grace of union which is not repugnant in any way to My infinite mercies. The Incarnate Word takes possession most intimately of the heart of the creature. He takes life in it to bring about this transforming union. Nonetheless it is always He who communicates life, this life of assimilative grace, especially by way of immolation. Jesus becomes flesh, grows and lives in the soul, not in a material sense but through sanctifying grace, which is unitive and transformative. It is a most special favor. The soul which receives it
feels, more or less periodically, the stages of the life of Jesus in it. These stages are ever marked by suffering, calumnies and humiliations, in sacrifice and in expiation as it was the life of your Jesus on earth. When the Holy Spirit takes over a soul in this way, He fashions in it, little by little, the physiognomy of Jesus, in the sense I have already indicated to you. To speak of the mystical incarnation, is then to consider the soul as entering into a phase of graces of transformation which will bring it, if it corresponds, to the identification of its will with Mine and to simplify itself in order that its union with God come to the most perfect likeness possible. Such is the purpose of the mystical incarnation which the Holy Spirit gives as a gift to certain souls.
"In the concrete, the mystical incarnation is nothing other than a most powerful grace of transformation which simplifies and unites to Jesus by purity and by immolation, rendering the being in its entirety, as much as possible, like to Him. Because of this likeness of the soul to the Incarnate Word, the eternal Father finds pleasure in it, and the role of Priest and Victim which Jesus had on earth is communicated to it, in order that it obtain graces from heaven for the whole world. That is why, the more a soul is like Me, the more the Eternal Father hears it, not due to its worth but due to its likeness and its union with Me and in virtue of My merits which constitute what counts for obtaining graces" (Diary, Dec. 11, 1913).
Briefly, the mystical incarnation is a grace of identification which Christ, Priest and Host, a grace which makes Him continue on in the Members of His Mystical Body, His mission of glorifier of the Father and Savior of men. It is a special grace of transformation in the priestly soul of Christ.
Such is the type of transforming union described by the teachings of the Cross.
The Oblation of Love
The principal act of the mystical incarnation is an offering in which is made, not in two acts but in one and the same indivisible initiative, the oblation of Christ to His Father and, in union with Him, through Him and in Him, the total oblation of our own life for the salvation of the world and for the greatest glory of the Trinity. The principal movement consists in the oblation of the Word of His Father, accompanied by the personal and inseparable oblation of ourselves, and that without reservation, constantly renewed, bearing on our whole being, in the course of every stage of our spiritual life, in union with Christ.
The Lord clearly explained, many a time, this twofold aspect of the unique offering of Christ's love with his Church. But this offering of love, the quintessence of the spirituality of the Cross, is but an indivisible oblation of the Incarnate Word and of all the members of His Mystical Body. Christ was alone on the Cross for offering Himself to His Father in expiation for all the sins of the world. Now He offers Himself with His whole Church, conscious of the unity of this offering of love of the whole Christ. "The Word became flesh and becomes flesh again in souls only to be crucified. It is the purpose of all mystical incarnations… Your Word has just become flesh mystically in your heart… in order to be constantly sacrificed there not on an altar of stone, but in a living temple of the Holy Spirit, by a priest and victim who, by an inconceivable grace, received the power to participate in the love of the Father. In fact, the Father wishes that I Myself, united to your soul as victim, have you sacrifice Me and immolate Me with the same love of the Father on behalf of a world which has need of this spiritual shock and of a grace of this nature in order to be converted. Embrace the Cross and be saved" (Diary, Oct. 22, 1907).
The soul thus crucified is called to live, not in the narrow outlooks of its daily routine, but in union with Christ and under the vast horizons of the Redemption of the world. Its life is valued on the scale of the infinite. Although of itself it is so insignificant, it acquires an infinite value for the glorification of God and the salvation of men due to its union with the very Person of the Incarnate Word, Priest and Host. Whence comes the incalculable apostolic worth of such a life. It is the secret of the boundless fecundity of the communion of saints. The obscure and silent existence of the Mother of God, in the evening of her life, by application of the merits of God for the benefit of the nascent Church, was endowed with an immense co-redemptive value incomparably superior to all the works of the apostles and to the sufferings of all the martyrs.
"'The mystical incarnation,' the Lord has stated, 'has as its object the offering of Myself in your heart, as an expiatory victim, checking at each moment divine justice and obtaining heavenly graces'" (Diary, Feb. 2, 1911). The Church and Christ are but one and the same work of Redemption and glorification.
Conchita had perfectly understood it and had made of this oblation of the Word to the glory of the Father and of the constant offering of herself out of love, the whole of her life.
"This is My Body"
"I have renewed my offering to the will of God and I said to Him: 'Lord, I accept this grace of the mystical incarnation with all its consequences of joy and of sorrow, since You will it so and not because I am worthy of it.'
"Insisting on what He Himself will point out as to how this grace is to be used, He told me: 'The principal object of this grace is a transformation which unites what you will to what I will, your will to Mine, your immolation to Mine. Wholly pure and sacrificed in your body and in your soul, you must offer yourself and offer Me to the heavenly Father at each instant, at each breath, on behalf first all of My priests and of My Church, then of the works of the Cross, of the whole world, of those who are good and those who are evil. You must transform yourself into charity, that is, into Me, who am all Love, killing the
old man, making with Me but one single heart, and one single will.'
"This is My Body, this My Blood. I say this again to the eternal Father, at each instant, on the altars. Make yourself worthy, as much as possible, to offer your body, your blood, your soul and all that you are, as I have told you, in union with this continual immolation on behalf of the world. Reproduce My life in
you with the mark of sacrifice, becoming a living holocaust to His glory. Of yourself, you are worth nothing, but in union with Me you will accomplish your mission on earth saving souls in a secret holocaust known to God alone. The purpose of the mystical incarnation is the fusion of My life in you, according to its development on earth. 'Be yourself,' I told you one day, and today I tell you again: 'Let Me come to you, and be one with Me and transform yourself through the instrumentality of My divine life in your heart. Let Me possess you, simplify you in God, in Our indivisible unity through the Holy Spirit.'
"I expect all this from you for the carrying out of My most sublime designs. If you correspond to it, you will be the channel of numerous graces for the world, for this will no longer be you alone who asks and who immolates yourself but I in you, bringing gifts and charisms for souls. You must save many souls, conduct them to perfection, attract them to vocations, obtain for priests many celestial favors, but all this by the means I have given you, that is, by the Word with the Holy Spirit" (Diary, June 30, 1914).
This offering of love is the quintessence of the spirituality of the Cross.
"I want you to be My host and have the intention, renewed as often as possible day and night, of offering yourself with Me on all the patens on earth. I want you, transformed in Me by suffering, by love and by the practice of all the virtues, to raise heavenward this cry of your soul in union with Me: 'This is My Body, This is My Blood.' Thus by making yourself but one with the Incarnate Word out of love and suffering, with the same intentions of love, you will obtain graces for the whole world. You will offer Me Myself and yourself also, with the Holy Spirit and through Mary, to the eternal Father.
"Such is the end and essence of My Works of the Cross; a likeness of victims united to the great Victim, Myself, all pure, without the leaven of concupiscence. They will be marked by the reflection of My Passion, in order that there rise heavenward a unanimous cry: 'This is My Body, This is My Blood.' Transformed into priests in union with the eternal Priest, they will offer to heaven, on behalf of the Church and of priests their brothers, their crucified bodies forming but one single Body with Mine, since they are members of Him who is the Head, Christ the Redeemer.
"…one only Host, one only Victim, one only Priest immolating Himself and immolating Me in your heart on behalf of the whole world. The Father pleased, will receive this offering presented through the Holy Spirit, and the graces of heaven will descend as rain on the earth.
"Here is the central nucleus, the center, the concrete ensemble and essence of My Works of
the Cross. It is evident that My immolation, in itself alone, suffices and more than suffices, for appeasing God's justice. What is it, the purest Christianity, the flower of the Gospel? Is it aught else but uniting all victims in one single Victim, all suffering, all virtues, all merits in the One, that is, in Me, in order that all this be of worth and obtain graces? What does the Holy Spirit intend in My Church save to form in Me the unity of wills, of sufferings and of hearts in My Heart? What was the desire of My Heart throughout My life, but to bring about unity in Me by charity, by love? Why did the Word descend into this world save to form with His Flesh and His Blood most pure, one sole blood to expiate and to win souls? Has the Eucharist any other purpose than to unite bodies and souls with Me, transforming them and
"It is no only on altars of stone, but in hearts, those living temples of the Holy Spirit, that one must offer heaven this Victim like unto Him. The souls also offer themselves in hosts and in victims… God will be thereby profoundly touched" (Diary, June 6, 1916).
In short, the offering of love is the continual exercise of the royal priesthood of the People of God.
"If one attentively reads over the biblical texts and the classical passages of St. Peter and St. Paul on the
Priesthood of the faithful, one will see that his doctrine is of the very essence of Christianity.
St. Peter reminds the early Christians of their priest, for offering spiritual sacrifices, agreeable to God through Jesus Christ (1 P 2:5). "You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people He claims for His own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you from darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God's people." (1 P 2:9-10).
St. Paul, on his part, exhorts Christ's disciples thus: "And now, brothers, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God" (Rm 12:1). Even better: "Be imitators of God as His dear children. Follow the way of love, even as Christ loved you. He gave Himself for us as an offering to God, a gift of pleasing fragrance" (Ep 5:1-2).
The doctrine of the royal priesthood of the whole People of God, was one of the peak points of Vatican II. We are struck by the sameness of certain conciliar expressions with Conchita's texts. The agreement of the wording is remarkable.
"Thus the Eucharist Action is the very heartbeat of the congregation of the faithful over which the priest presides. So priests must instruct them to offer to God the Father the divine victim in the sacrifice of the Mass, and to join to it the offering of their own lives" (Presb. Ord,
One feels we are here at the heart of Christianity and that one and the same Spirit animates the faith of all.
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"My doctrine is ever universal", the Lord stated some time after the mystical incarnation. Conchita had become aware of the catholicity of the teachings of the Cross. In the Prologue of her opusculum on "Perfect Virtues" (Arco-Iris) intended for the formation of contemplatives of the Cross, she noted that these pages were also addressed to all other religious since "the spirit of the Cross…is the Gospel." This is a judgment that Jesus Himself will ratify later, as he did for St. Thomas Aquinas at the end of his life.
"These teachings of the Cross are salvific and sanctifying…and of a tremendous fecundity. In them is found the germ of numerous vocations and a most sublime holiness, but they are not adequately exploited. Yet these teachings of the Cross have not been given to remain hidden and buried, but that they be spread and that they inflame and save… My bounty has placed in them treasures. Was it in order that this light remains hidden under a bushel? No, these holy teachings of the Cross are My Gospel and they must sow their fertile seed. I promise you they will flourish and bring forth fruits for heaven… These priceless mystical teachings, sprung from My Heart, will eliminate a great number of errors and will clear up obscure points, projecting on them full clarity" (Diary, Nov. 18, 1929).
So it is Christ Himself who came to stamp these teachings with the supreme seal of Truth: "The teachings of the Cross: My Gospel."