All Christians are preordained, each according to this personal vocation and his mission in the Church, to express one of the aspects of the mystery of Christ. God the Father, one day told St. Catherine of Sienna, "I had two sons: one by nature, my Only Son, the eternal Word, the other by grace, your Father Dominic. He has received as his mission the office of the Word." As the Apostles of Christ, the Dominicans must be men of the Word of God. Each religious family imitates in this way Christ, according to its own specific grace: the care of the sick, teaching of the youth, Christian and social promotion and the thousand forms of active or contemplative life.
For Conchita, what was her particular way of imitating Christ? The documents of her Diary show us how one after the other the personal characteristics of His Son which the Father wished to imprint in her, were revealed to her under the action of the Holy Spirit. We can see how this divine pedagogy little by little formed in her the imprint of the image of Christ.
From her very childhood she was attracted by Jesus; then by Jesus Crucified, but in an original novel manner: by the
interior sufferings of Christ, Priest and Host, Priest and Victim in His least actions, from His
Ecce Venio to His Consummatum est on the Cross. An invitation to all men continually to offer Christ to His Father and to offer themselves with Him according to His same glorifying and salvific purposes. Here are the progressive stages of this identification with Christ: to be another Jesus, a Crucified Jesus, especially in the interior sufferings of Christ's Heart, Priest and Host, ever present in His Church through the Eucharist freely associating Himself with all the members of His Mystical Body, and continuing in each one of them by mystical incarnation, His mission of glorifier of the Father and Savior of men.
After St. Paul, every saint aspired to this identification with Christ, each according to his place and his mission in the Church. For Conchita, as for Teresa of Avila or Therese of Lisieux, the spiritual life is SOMEONE. It is Jesus! This married young lady, filled with love for her husband and her children, is irresistibly drawn by Christ, Master of her heart and supreme Ruler of all her loves. "Jesus, since I love You, whatever You wish, I will be happy. I would rather die a thousand times than commit one single deliberate venial sin. Ever to do what is most perfect, solely to please You, that is the sun which inflames all my actions. That is the brilliant light, the motive force, the ideal dominating my thoughts. The subject of my prayers and of all my aspirations will be constantly, day, night and always, one single resolve, carried out with all the energies of my soul. "My life, it is Christ. From today on exteriorly I will be Jesus Christ… and interiorly Jesus Christ" (Diary, 1894).
This Jesus Christ is not for Conchita the gentle Little Jesus whose robe changes color according to the liturgical season, as is done here below.
In the light of her faith, Conchita discovers in Jesus the eternal Word, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, the Head of the Church, the eternal Priest. She lovingly contemplates the infinite riches of the Incarnate Word, true God and true Man. She adores in Him the Second Person of the Trinity. She is dazzled by the generation of the Word and by the role of the Word in the inspiration of Eternal Love. She finds all in Jesus Christ. She groans in pain at the thought that a God died out of love for all the men who know Him not. As for her, her
Diary is as full as her soul with this Sovereign and Theological Presence of Jesus. "The soul which has experienced the vision of union with Jesus cannot live alone" (Diary, Oct., 1893).
We understand her… But she does not stop there…
Jesus and Jesus Crucified
Among Christ's mysteries, it is the mystery of His Passion and Death which holds her entire attention. She fixes her gaze on the Crucified in order to have Him come into her life.
Contemplate in order to reproduce.
"Christ is like a prism the light from which is refracted in varied luminous rays. Which is the color that should dominate in me? Here it is, to have nothing save Jesus and Jesus Crucified… I must reproduce Jesus in me through the transformation virtues, bring about, that is by way of the Cross, that which makes us most like Him. Jesus wishes of me, not a Christ in the poverty of Bethlehem, not a Christ in the hidden life of Nazareth, not a Christ zealously active in His public life, but a Christ in the ignominy, the abandonment, and the crucifixion of Calvary and of the Eucharist. I must reproduce in me Christ Crucified" (Diary, Sept. 16, 1921).
This is clear, "I feel I was born to serve the Lord, crucified with Him, He told me that such is the purpose of the union sought by the Word: to be like Him through the Cross" (Diary, Feb. 26, 1897).
In His Interior Sufferings
On this subject there are countless texts. Without doubt, every form of Christian spirituality is marked by the seal of the Cross, but God reveals to Conchita the peculiar way she is to imitate Christ: above all, in the inner sufferings of His Soul, that is, in His interior Crucifixion. It is here we have a new aspect which will mark a special seal the entire spirituality of the Cross. "I wish that above all, there be honored the interior sufferings of My Heart, sufferings undergone from My Incarnation to the Cross and which are mystically prolonged in My Eucharist. These sufferings are still unsuspected by the world. Nonetheless I declare to you that, from the first moment of my Incarnation, the Cross already planted in My Heart, overburdened Me and the thorns penetrated it. The blow struck by the lance might have been some solace causing to gush from My Side a volcano of love and of suffering but I did not consent to that until after My death. I only receive ingratitude. That is why My Heart overflowing with tenderness will ever feel the thorns of the Cross. In heaven, as God, I cannot suffer. To find this Cross which above did not exist, I descended into this world and became man. As God-Man, I could suffer infinitely to pay the price of the salvation of so many souls. During my life, I never desired anything except the Cross, and ever the Cross, wanting to show the world that which is the sole wealth and happiness on earth, the currency which will buy an eternal happiness.
"By the Apostolate of the Cross will be venerated the interior sufferings of My Heart symbolically represented by the Cross, the thorns, and a spear. I draw hearts to the Cross. In these houses, in this
'oasis' will be honored this ocean of interior sufferings today known to but very few. There, they will take My thorns and with them pierce their own hearts. They will lighten the weight of the Cross which burdens My Heart, themselves becoming living Crosses. Their lives will remain wholly secluded in the interior of the Cross of My Heart, venerating, alleviating, making their own these interior sufferings which, for thirty-three years, never left Me for a single moment. Here is the ideal of the Contemplatives of the Cross.
"I only remained on the Cross of Calvary for three hours, but on the interior Cross of My Heart, my whole life. The monasteries (Oasis) will venerate both of them but especially my Interior Cross which symbolizes these pains and these inner sufferings, so incomprehensible, which constantly oppress my soul. These sufferings remained hidden during My life. I smiled, I labored. Only My Mother was aware of this martyrdom which crushed My loving Heart. My external Passion lasted but a few hours. It was like a gentle dew, a comfort for the other Passion, terribly cruel, which tortured ceaselessly My soul!" (Diary, Sept. 25, 1894).
St. Thomas Aquinas taught the same doctrine: the interior and redemptive sufferings of Christ's soul were incomparably more painful than the physical pain of the Crucified of Golgotha. The intensity of the inner and hidden sufferings of Christ's soul, in view of the expiation of all the sin of men, is measured by His infinite love. Rightly, then, a Teresa of Avila, as did Conchita, professed an exceptional devotion to Christ's agony in Gethsemane "My Heart is filled with sorrow to the point of death" (Mk 4:34). It is in Christ's soul our destiny is carried out.
Christ: Victim for our Sins
Very soon Christ revealed Himself to Conchita as the Victim offered in expiation for all the sins of the world. He thereby prepared her to offer herself with the same redemptive intent. This aspect of Host and of expiatory
Victim is going to appear to her as one of the characteristics of the Crucified. Its express formulation is found in the very first volume of her
Diary. "You Victim and I Victim, before you yourself are a victim for yourself and for the whole world and constantly" (Diary, 1893-1894).
"I want you to be truly one with Me. I wish you to be like a very clear mirror in which is reproduced the image of your Jesus Crucified. I wish you to reflect Me in you, such as I was on the Cross. On your part, abandon yourself simply to receive in you My image. I wish you to be as I am: crowned with thorns, scourged, nailed to the Cross, in desolation, pierced, abandoned… Meditate one by one all these things and be My living portrait in order that My Father find in you His pleasure and pour out His graces on sinners" (Diary, April 6, 1895). A most beautiful text which we have already mentioned apropos of her itinerary of transformation into Christ Crucified, seems to us equally suitable here.
Christ: Priest and Host
"The Church is one, one only Altar, one only Victim… All souls, victims, should offer themselves in union with this great Victim" (Diary, June 20, 1898).
Through these concepts of Victim and Host, God will lead Conchita toward the supreme prerogative of Christ Crucified: His Priesthood, which constitutes as it were the keystone of the teachings of the Cross. This revelation will blaze forth at the moment of the central grace
of the mystical incarnation. On that day, Conchita's full vocation will be clearly manifested to her.
The spirituality of the Cross has thus rediscovered and set in great relief the "royal priesthood" of the People of God, fifty years before Vatican II. "Here is the true priesthood: to be a victim with the Victim" (Diary, July 17, 1906). This spirituality, deeply within, has an essentially sacerdotal character, and joins with it the most basic vocation of the People of the Covenant: "a people of priests and of kings."
The Lord had told Conchita, some time after the mystical incarnation. "You are at once altar and priest, since you possess the most holy Victim of Calvary and of the Eucharist and since you have the power of offering Him constantly for the salvation of the world. It is the most precious fruit of the great favor of My mystical incarnation in your heart… You are My altar and at the same time you will be My victim. Offer yourself in union with Me. Offer Me at every instant to the eternal Father, with the sublime intent of saving souls and of glorifying Him. Forget all and especially yourself. Let this be your constant concern, You have received a sublime mission. As you see, it is not for yourself alone but universal, obliging you with all purity possible to be at the same time altar and victim consumed in holocaust with the other Victim, the Unique Host, pleasing to God and able to save the world" (Diary, June 21, 1906).
From the mystical incarnation, Conchita became fully aware of this priestly nature of her personal vocation and of her mission in the Church. "For me, to live is to be Christ"… In the measure of our union with Christ, we participate in His life and Christ grows in us in the measure in which we disappear.
"We must take Christ as Model, but each soul, each saint, reproduces Christ under diverse aspects. How is each one to imitate Christ? This is the secret of spiritual direction. To unite oneself to Christ as Model, is to live out of His life and to put on His likeness. Certain souls should model themselves on Him as the Christ Child, others as the Eucharist Christ, others as Christ Crucified… As for me I am to model myself on Christ under two aspects which are identical:
Christ Priest - she stressed - and Christ Crucified. In any way Christ is Priest in reference to the Cross.
"The most sublime aspect in Christ is His Priesthood centered on the Cross. The Eucharist and the Cross constitute one and the same mystery. The first from of union consists in living the life of Christ by grace and the second my imitation. For me, I repeat, the aspect I must imitate, in virtue of the mystical incarnation, is His priesthood centered on the Cross. The monasteries of the Cross (Oasis) are but one vast Mass" (Diary, Dec. 28, 1923).
The Eucharist Christ
This identification "of the Eucharist and of the Cross in one and the same mystery" reveals to us the last characteristics of Christ's physiognomy in Conchita's eyes. Her Christ Crucified is the Priest and Host Christ, immolated on the Cross, the state of victim of which the Eucharist perpetuates until the end of time, for the glory of the Father and the salvation of the world. The Eucharistic devotion is not something accidental. It is rather, the very "center" of its life. As for the Church, the supreme form of her devotion to the Crucified, is the eucharistic sacrifice, which is not purely a symbol but the efficacious memorial which renders the Crucified Himself present in His pilgrim and militant Church, in the trueness of His being and the reality of His substance, with His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity. With his Personality of Word, inseparable from the Trinity, the Crucified of Golgotha holds Himself day and night, raised above the earth, between God and men for the glory of the Trinity and the salvation of the world.
Christ glorified, ever present before the face of the Father in the bosom of His Church triumphant, the same Christ who once traveled along the roads of Samaria, of Judea and of Galilee, the same Christ born of the Virgin Mary, the true Christ of history, the Unique Christ is ever here among us. Hidden under the appearances of the Host, there is the Presence of the highest divine reality, the authentic Presence of the Eternal Incarnate Word, binding together earth and heaven, the cosmos and the Trinity. Conscious of this Presence, Conchita lived even in her home, quite close to her Christ, her Savior and her God, her
Is it surprising that the texts are so countless in her Diary which treat of the most difficult and most profound problems about the mystery of the Eucharist? She comments on the words of the Consecration. "This is My body. This is my Blood," with the mastery of a professional theologian. Her eucharistic doctrine, of impeccable orthodoxy, is found within the most sublime pages of her
Diary, pages written under the "dictation" of the Lord.
God the Father therefore has revealed little by little to Conchita the characteristics of the true physiognomy of His Son Jesus, Incarnate and Crucified Word, who by His interior sufferings more than by His external Passion, saved us by the Cross, as Priest and Host, leaving to His Church an efficacious memorial of His real Presence and of His ceaseless action upon each one of us until the end of time, until the "consummation" of men in unity with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is the Beginning and the End of this economy of salvation, but Christ-Mediator, with His "royal priesthood," shared by His own, constitutes the keystone of His mission of glorifier of the Father and Savior of men.
In the great syntheses of human thought, secular or religious, is ever discovered a center of perspective, an angle of view, which brings together in the unity of one and the same outlook all particular aspects, down to the last detail. The basic viewpoint of the teachings of the Cross is incontestably
Jesus, and Jesus Crucified. In this vision of synthesis of the mystery of Christ, the priesthood dominates all.