The tabernacle is on the left, the crypt on the right. Above the crypt is the Spanish inscription translated for me by Father Jordi: “Through the Holy Spirit, He immolated Himself, Immaculate, to God.” This quotation is central to the Mystical Incarnation of Conchita.
I hardly know where to begin. I have been more quiet than usual because I have had a couple of viruses and laryngitis for about two months. But that did not deter an extraordinary spiritual pilgrimage which I was privileged to take from Dec. 7-Dec. 13 for the feasts of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Tepeyac) on Dec. 12th. I went with my Love Crucified Covenant family, 25 of us, including two priests and two seminarians.
For three days we stayed in Mexico City at the retreat center which houses Conchita’s crypt. Then to a cloistered, contemplative convent of “Concepcionistas”—twelve Mexican nuns two blocks from the Basilica. A week of walking together, praying, pilgrims from holy place to holy place: the crypt of Conchita, the Cathedral where Venerable Archbishop Luis Martinez’ remains lie in repose, the crypt of Father Felix (co-founder with Conchita of the Works of the Cross), the beautiful church where repose the remains of Priest Martyr Padre Pro. The magnificent Basilica itself and St. Juan Diego’s precious tilma with the miraculous image of the Virgin herself. We ascended the hill of apparition, Tepeyac, and the lower level of the first apparition where our community prayed together the Rosary. Hours of adoration in the convent’s beautiful chapel, hours of prayer and reflection in my tiny cell.
So many treasures and graces.
But let me start with Conchita. In Mexico, at her crypt, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, in solitude and during Adoration for the last two weeks I have read, reread, and devoured her chapter on “Mystical Incarnation.” When I first began reading Conchita in 2010 or so, her spirituality of the Cross so appealed to me, but this chapter mystified me. Much of it puzzled me. Today, I can’t get enough of it. What Christ teaches her and us in this chapter is so rich and powerful. Today, for example, this sentence leapt off the page for me; Christ tells her:
“Reproduce My life in you with the mark of sacrifice, becoming a living holocaust to His glory” (Diary 160-161).
I thought of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, her identity as “Praise of Glory”—a phrase she found in St. Paul. In Eph. 1, 5-6, St. Paul tells us “[the Father] destined us for adoption…for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.” Then again, Eph. 1,12: “so that we might exist for the praise of his glory….”
Through Conchita, Jesus tells us how: we praise His glory (the Father’s) by becoming a living holocaust.” The first part, “Reproduce My life in you with the mark of sacrifice,” gave me greater trouble. Here I had to search long and reflect deeply. What did Jesus mean by “with the mark of sacrifice”? I thought I knew what He meant by “Reproduce My life in you.” The whole point of the mystical incarnation is to reproduce the life of Christ in the soul in such an intense way as to become a “divine substitution” or “living host” according to Blessed Dina Bellanger. “With the mark of sacrifice” seemed to qualify that divine substitute as victim and holocaust—marked for sacrifice—the person’s primary characteristic now being sacrificial, the person’s now “being made conformable to His death”—a scripture much loved by both Martyr Priest Padre Pro and St. Elizabeth of the Trinity as she entered her last sufferings.
From my journal of Sept. 18, “Entering more deeply the Cross”:
“I was struck by an article about the martyrdom of Father Pro, Mexican martyr of 1927. Saint John Paul II at his beatification: “Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to Him, even unto death.” Here was Philippians 3:7-10:
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”
“Becoming a living holocaust,” also reminds me deeply of one of the most remarkable sermons of St. Peter Chrysologus, (c. 380 – c. 450), his sermon found in the Office of Readings, Tuesday, 4th week of Easter—an excerpt:
“Listen now to what the Apostle [St. “Paul] urges us to do. I appeal to you, he says, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. By this exhortation of his, Paul has raised all men to priestly status.
“How marvellous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering. He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself. The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same. Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill. Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed.
“The Apostle says: I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice. Brethren, this sacrifice follows the pattern of Christ’s sacrifice by which he gave his body as a living immolation for the life of the world.”
Here, just three centuries after Christ’s life and death, one of the earliest bishops and doctors of the Church gives us a teaching so close to Christ’s own words to Conchita: “Reproduce My life in you with the mark of sacrifice by becoming a living holocaust to his [the Father’s] love.”
We find above Conchita’s crypt: “Through the Holy Spirit, He immolated Himself, Immaculate, to God.” In Conchita’s Diary, in “The Mystical Incarnation,” just as Conchita immolated herself through the Holy Spirit, Immaculate in Jesus, to the Father, Christ teaches us how to become a living holocaust to God’s glory, how to immolate ourselves in union with Him, and He teaches in great depth and in detail every aspect of immolation:
“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” (Diary 158).
“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) [p.160].
“’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…[for the Church, for souls]” (Diary 160).
“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” (Diary 160).
“The purpose of the mystical incarnation is the fusion of My life in you, according to its development on earth. ‘Be yourself…’” (Diary 161).
“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’” (Diary 161).
“’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’” (Diary 161).
“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’” (Diary 160).
Here, again, in the impassioned words of Jesus himself, is the objective: “…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” (Diary 162).
This urgent plea from Christ is not for Conchita alone. Hugh Owen’s book, New and Divine: The Holiness of the Third Christian Millennium explains how closely bound many of our saints are in immolation and union with Christ—Host/Victim/Priest, all victims of love: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Faustina, St. Maximillian Kolbe, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Venerable Archbishop Luis Martinez, Venerable Conchita, Blessed Dina Bellanger, Servant of God Marthe Robin and others.
In all we see victims of love and immolation, living sacrifices, living hosts, mystical incarnations, holocausts of total abandonment to God’s Will, all “one Heart, one Mind, one Will.”
Their offerings are the “mystic Mass of the bride”—(Archbishop Luis Martinez), the “sacrament of the moment” of Father de Caussade –[Jesus tells Conchita: “…you must offer yourself and offer Me to the heavenly Father at each instant, at each breath.”] All of them are marked for sacrifice in life and in death, living holocausts glorifying the Father in the most hidden, ordinary and extraordinary moments of their lives.
Reading in Conchita: A Mother’s Spiritual Diary, I came upon this statement by her editor/biographer, Rev. M.M. Philipon, O.P.: “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.”
The plea, the invitation, the call is to all. I find most poignant of all these words of Jesus to Conchita:
“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 divinizing them?”
“It is not 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) [p. 162].