SOUL FOOD Talk 12 – IMMOLATION & DIVINIZATION
1. By now we all know of Venerable Conchita (Conception Cabrera de Armida) of Mexico, the wife, mother, grandmother who brought to us the Spirituality of the Cross with over 55,000 pages of exceptional mystical theology, a woman whose depth and dimension rivals that of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine of Siena. Her cause for canonization is in Rome, and I personally believe that she will be proclaimed one day as a great Doctor of the Church. For now, I would like for us to consider her spirituality in greater depth, especially the concepts to which I refer in my PRAYER OF IMMOLATION.
2. For a couple of years now I have been drawn to her prayerful heart, the many concepts introduced to her by Jesus, according to what she tells us in Conchita, A Mother’s Spiritual Diary, and other books published after her death from her voluminous writings. One of the Commission in Rome who began examining her work in 1913 said of her, “She is the extraordinary of the extraordinary!” To follow her is to follow a beautiful and intense though simple path to union with God, the Holy Trinity. As I have prayed over these ideas, I have realized that all of the great touchstones of her spirituality [revealed to her by Jesus] resonate deeply with my own developing spirituality. I find myself wanting more and more of what she has to give. That I would like to share with you now.
PRAYER OF IMMOLATION
Eternal Father, my beloved Abba, A
through the Immaculate Heart of my sorrowful mother, Mary,
and in the Holy Spirit,
I offer my body and blood, B
all that I have and all that I am,
as a living host on all the altars of the world,
in union with my crucified Love, Jesus.
I offer myself as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise, C
as a victim of love, “one heart, one will, one Victim” of the Divine Will
For the salvation of souls, D
the sanctification of priests, and the glory of the Blessed Trinity.
In Him and with Him, let me live E
the hidden life of martyrdom of the heart,
one with the soledad* of my Blessed Mother Mary.
Let me live as a spouse of your Holy Will F
in communion with You in the sacrament of each moment,
adoring your Divine Will with each beat of my heart,
with every drop of my blood, and with each breath.
3. *soledad – [Diary, 172] Mary’s solitude, loneliness, desolation, feelings of abandonment & sorrow in the apparent absence of God and of her Son after the Ascension—this was her interior martyrdom of the heart. Out of this martyrdom of the heart and the intensity of her suffering love in the Holy Spirit, graces poured on the new Church.
4. SECTION A -Conchita loves the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her spirituality begins with Mary at the foot of the Cross, and if you would enter that spirituality, you must place yourself at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ Mother, consecrate yourself to her. She is the gate, while Jesus is the way. It is especially the sorrowful heart of Mary which we must emulate as she freely says her Fiat (Let it be done), offering with her breaking heart, her suffering Son to the Father in the Holy Spirit. As the spouse of the Holy Spirit which she became with the Incarnation, Mary is filled with the Spirit and prays and loves always in the Holy Spirit. Immolation begins in union with Mary in the Holy Spirit as we also offer Christ to the Father in reparation for sin. When Christ said, “I thirst” Mary knew well it was for souls that He thirsted, and the greatest longing of her motherly heart is to bring all souls to him to console and fill that terrible thirst which He knew since the moment of his conception in her virginal womb. Conchita tells us [Diary 139] “On my part, I became aware of the worth of a soul and, rightly, how the Heart of God breaks and suffers on seeing them irremediably lost,” and on p. 123, Christ tells her: “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.”
5. SECTION B – As we live in the Holy Spirit and He lives in us, as He formed Christ in the womb of Mary in the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit progressively forms Christ in us and we become Christ, His body and His blood. Jesus urges Conchita: “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.” [Diary 161]
6. SECTION C – “A sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise” recalls to mind the Eucharist. If we are one with the Body and Blood of Jesus, laying ourselves on all the altars of the world, we are also one with the sacrifice of Eucharist, not only physically in the act of receiving His Body , but continually on the mystical or spiritual level. The more often we receive the Eucharist, the greater and deeper grows our life in the Holy Spirit, in Christ, and in the heart of the Trinity itself. We are gradually being transformed into Christ. It is in our union with Jesus, in becoming one with Him that we can be effective in this immolation: [Diary 162] “…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 on the earth….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? [This immolation,] this offering of love is the continual exercise of the royal priesthood of the People of God.” [Remember that Conchita was writing these words of Christ long before Vatican II. See also Soul Food Talk #7: The Christian- Priest & Victim.] “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). “Here is the true priesthood: to be a victim with the Victim” (Diary, July 17, 1906)
7. SECTION D – The whole purpose of the Spirituality of the Cross is, of course, for the salvation of all souls and for the glory of the Trinity, but also in a special way for the sanctification of priests. This was a charge laid by Christ on Conchita’s heart. Through the sanctification of His priests, a new Pentecost will cover the face of the earth, renewing His church. [Remember again, all of this was going on the late 1800’s-1935 or so, long before Vatican II and the charismatic renewal.] Jesus pleads with Conchita “…I want souls who are dedicated with fervor, with determination and without looking for rest, to plead day and night for My priests.”
8. Jesus speaks to Conchita in great detail about the sufferings which tear His Heart, sufferings caused by His priests: “My Heart is saddened because My ministers are sleeping. On many occasions, they are the first to conform themselves to superficial piety. They do not make the Cross enter souls, and still less do they reveal to them the Holy Spirit. I tell you again in greatest confidence that routine has deeply penetrated the sanctuary. This devotion in spirit and in truth is completely extinguished in numerous communities. May My ministers react through the Holy Spirit, may they appreciate to the full the interior life! May they possess it themselves and communicate it through the Holy Spirit! Then the Church will reflourish in her prime vigor. There is lacking in My Church the stamina of the Holy Spirit, it is wanting in seminarians and in members of the clergy. Consequently it is wanting in souls who live and are nourished by this vital essential, called to communicate to them the life of grace.”
9. “I want to love in My priests. I want interior life. I want these consecrated souls to live most closely to Me. “I want to banish apathy from their hearts and make them burn with zeal for My glory. I want to activate the divine life of so many souls who belong to Me and who are failing. I want to destroy the indifference which paralyzes God’s action and which deprives priests of My graces. “The fire must be rekindled and this will be done only by the Holy Spirit, by the divine medium of the Word, offering Him to the Father and asking for mercy” (Diary, Sept. 23, 1927).
10. The Holy Spirit alone sanctifies: “I want a living, palpitating, clear and powerful reaction of the clergy through the Holy Spirit. A priest no longer belongs to himself. He is another Me and he must be all to all, but first of all by sanctifying himself, for no one can give what he does not have and only the Sanctifier can sanctify. So then, if he wants to be holy – as it is imperious he must – he must be possessed, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, since if the Holy Spirit is indispensable for the life of any soul whatsoever, for the soul of priests He must be their breath and very life. “If priests are Jesus, should they not have the Spirit of Jesus? And this Spirit, is He not the Holy Spirit?” (Diary, Oct. 9, 1927). [This whole section on priests found here: http://www.lovecrucified.com/sacraments/priesthood/wake_up_call_conchita.html ]
11. SECTION E – Our path to union with the Trinity in Conchita’s Spirituality of the Cross, as I mentioned earlier, means being one with our sorrowful mother; here we learn more about the depth of her spiritual martyrdom. Just as Jesus suffered an interior martyrdom of the heart, which He tells Conchita was so much greater than the physical sufferings which He endured in his passion, so does Mary suffer an interior, HIDDEN, martyrdom of the heart. [Diary, pp 167-16] “ Mary’s participation in our redemption through the Cross was one of the familiar themes of Conchita’s contemplation: ‘I have better understood the inexpressible pains felt in the purest Heart of Mary, the sole creature who read and understood the interior sorrows, the sufferings of Her Divine Son, just as she was the only one to be able to measure His pains, to grasp His purity and His innocence, to bear, too, the infinite weight of human ingratitude which crushed Him. Without being culpable, she lived an existence of suffering in union with her most holy Jesus and obtained graces for culpable sinners. Once Mary had consented to the Incarnation of the Word, never was the divine plan erased from her spirit. Her mother’s heart, broken, contemplated the Innocent and Divine Martyr.’
12. ‘The life of this Virgin-Mother was, after that of Jesus, the most crucified. Her constant meditation of the future ever kept her soul torn while in her little home in Nazareth. Who could have dreamed on seeing these two pure beings living the very same kind of life, that actually they bore within them the cruelest martyrdom for the sake of mankind! Yes, Mary held an immense place in the Redemption of man. How great Mary is and how much we owe her’” (Diary, Sept. 1, 1898)
13. Jesus clarifies to Conchita more about the “soledad”, the hidden suffering of her heart after the Ascension: [Diary 177] “You had for long pondered the first solitude of Mary, that is, the exterior solitude, but you had not thought about the cruelest and the bitterest, the interior solitude which tore her to pieces and in which her spirit felt an agony on account of being abandoned. “The martyrdom of Mary after My Ascension was not caused solely by My material absence. She suffered terrible tests of abandonment like to that I Myself underwent on the Cross. My Father united her to Mine which gained so many graces. “As co-redemptrix, Mary heard in her soul so wholly pure the echo of all My agonies, humiliations, outrages and tortures, felt the weight of the sins of the world which made My Heart bleed, and the moving sorrow of the abandonment of heaven which obtains graces. “The Heart of Mary obtained these graces in the martyrdom of a solitude in which she was left, not by men (she had St. John and the Apostles and many souls who fervently loved her), not by Me in My Body (she consoled herself with the Eucharist and with her living and perfect faith), but by the Trinity, which hid itself from her, leaving her in a spiritual and divine abandonment.
14. “Mary suffered more than all abandoned souls, since she suffered a reflection of My own abandonment on the Cross, one the worth of which cannot be estimated and which is wholly inexpressible. “This abandonment of Mary, this vivid and palpitating martyrdom of her solitude, the desolating martyrdom of divine abandonment, which she suffered heroically with loving resignation and sublime surrender to My will, is not honored.”
15. In Christ, we unite ourselves with Mary in her suffering solitude, accepting whatever God sends us, desolation or consolation, all for souls, for priests, for the Church. This HIDDEN martyrdom of the heart, which includes every day aggravations, emotional, mental, or physical pain, as well as our compassionate acceptance of the wounds & woundings of those around us, is a tremendous force drawing grace upon grace upon humanity, just as the solitude and sorrow of Mary blessed the early Church.
16. SECTION F – The final part of the prayer speaks to a deep desire of my heart to be wholly united with the Divine Will, but it is a sentiment which Conchita understood completely. In the previous section, Jesus speaks of his mother, “Her adherence to my adorable Will….” He adds: “An adherence, a most elevated and most close union of our wills, of My wishes in her martyrdoms, a submission and a perfect conformity to My desires to immolate her, such was then the manner of Mary’s life.” [ Diary 176] Conchita herself says, “This total and perfect submission to the most holy will of God and Lord is the greatest of all the virtues a soul can possess….This self-surrender leads to the highest summit of perfection: It is the supreme stage of all virtue.” [Diary 154-155] “One heart, one will, one Victim” is all Conchita; but remember also de Caussade’s ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE—His Holy Will comes to us one moment at a time. At each moment we enter communion with the Holy Will of God, as He is present to us in the “sacrament of the moment.” [ This sacrament of the moment as it brings the Will of God to us is so precious to me, I couldn’t resist adding it to my Prayer of Immolation!]
17. In one of her last retreats in 1935, Jesus tells Conchita: “The Word took flesh from Mary; He clothed Himself in humanity out of love for the Father and humankind in order to realize one will of love on earth.” [Under the Gaze of the Father, 18] She offers her reflection on this statement: “I never want to have my own will any more; and every day, at each moment, I will lose myself in His adorable Will and love it. To love the divine will is to love Jesus, to be united to Him, to enter His Heart, to live His life.” [Under the Gaze of the Father, 20]
18. Conchita’s spiritual director, Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez, who was giving her this private retreat, told her: “Have you thought deeply what the will of the Father means? This will is wisdom, beauty, and love. If we understood it, we would never want anything else. For the blessed, doing God’s will means happiness always and everywhere. They offer themselves to it in an ecstasy of love, wonder and pleasure. During His earthly life, it was Jesus’ delight to accomplish His Father’s Will. ‘I always do what is pleasing to Him,’ Jesus said with profound satisfaction. The essence of holiness, love and wisdom is to offer oneself to the divine will; to become holy means to live and die surrendered—without resistance, with firm commitment, loving self-giving—to this adorable will; to love is to lose one’s own will and to project oneself into the will of the Beloved.”
19. Long years ago when I was a novice and spending much quiet and intimate time with God, I came across a book of mystical theology which introduced me to this term, “divinization”. [The word “deification” means virtually the same thing.] I was shocked. I thought then that divinization referred somehow to the act of becoming divine, meaning me, or us. Was Catholic theology teaching that we become divine, God? I was astounded then, and am in total delight now. But this has been God’s plan from before the foundations of the world. We perhaps, have never thought of it in this way. But what is Eternal Life but us sharing, participating in the life of God Himself, caught up the ecstasy of the Holy Trinity, all that divine fire of love dancing in energy for all eternity? What we most need to understand about divinization is that the Holy Trinity is divine by nature, whereas, if we are baptized, in the state of sanctifying grace, living in the Holy Spirit, we are gifted with Divine Life—we have no right to it. For us, it is all grace. Jesus is the consubstantial son [one substance with the Father]; we are adopted.
20. On Father Robert Barron’s blog we read, “St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the Church’s preeminent theologians, maintained that “God became man so that man might become God.” The Catechism agrees, quoting Augustine and other saints on this point. But what does the teaching mean? Father Barron then answers his own question: St. John says in 1 John 3:1-3,
21. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
22. That’s pretty blatant: we will be like God . And John suggests that this is necessary. If we don’t partake of the Divine nature, we can’t see God in His fulness. St Peter promises the same thing in 2 Peter 1:3-4:
23. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.”
24. That’s just as brazen as what John says. St. Paul describes this process of divinization as beginning now, as we become more and more Christlike (2 Corinthians 3:17-18):
25. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
26. Paul excitedly describes this glorification in Romans 8:15-25, describing how “we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
27. If you want to read more, the article continues with the teaching of the Church fathers on divinization. [http://www.wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog/June-2014/What-Eye-Has-Not-Seen–Divinization-and-the-Saints.aspx]
28. Under the Father’s Gaze is a book about Conchita’s retreat with Archbishop Luis Martinez in 1935. In the introduction written by Sr. Elzbieta Sadowska, RCSCJ and Msgr. Arthus Burton Calkins, we read: On June 8, 1901, Jesus tells Conchita, “The Father is here looking at you.” She is thrown into confusion, being overwhelmed and inflamed. She prostrates herself before that gaze. Then our authors explain: “She became ever more aware of the gaze of the Father as a fundamental dynamism in her life. Since ‘to live under the gaze of the Father is to receive His gift constantly, it is to possess Jesus, the end and precious fruit of this gaze’; it is to live a fruitful life in divine light and eternal love. This gaze is constant even if it is not always perceived by the recipient in a conscious way. “The transformation into Jesus and the gaze of the Father are two aspects of the same incomparable grace.” The gaze of God becomes “the outpouring of divine love.” “It is not a simple gaze of love, but a gaze which transforms and divinizes, which fuses the soul with God.” It is not sufficient to receive the Father’s gaze in a merely passive way; rather, one must be open to the divine gaze, which has the power to “inflame in our eyes the fire of our intimate gaze.” “Both gazes, the one that comes from heaven and the other that ascends from earth meet, join and are fused.” The fruitful gaze of the Father introduces the soul into the bosom of the Trinity. The soul receives the capacity of looking at the Father as Jesus looks at Him and looks at Jesus as the Father looks at Him. The soul acquires a priestly gaze like that of Jesus: “the gaze of the One who loves and offers Himself for the Glory of the Father, of the One who implores graces for souls. “ “The Father is here looking at you.”