I can still say that, afterwards, when, with the permission of my superiors, I installed myself in the house of my uncle and aunt in Mexico City to carry out the Work of God, I cried torrents for having left the solitude of my cloister, where I was happy. But that was the will of God, manifested at first in an extraordinary form, confirmed later by all my superiors, who recommended me and helped me in my first efforts with His Excellency, the Archbishop, Pascual Diaz Barreto. First, they took me to introduce me to His Excellency, and to Carlos M. Mayer, a Jesuit Father: a very holy and wise man, prudent, who from that moment on, until his death, was my immediate Director.
Recommended in this manner, I finally arrived before His Excellency, the Prelate. In his paternal heart, unsurpassed until now for me, I found an identity of ideals. We both talked entire afternoons, in his residence; I, seated at his feet, related everything about my Jesus, and he deigned to confide in me that the Blessed Virgin had asked of him, too, some of the same things asked of me. In such a way that in this Prelate, I found the most clear manifestation of the Divine Will. I proposed to him at that time that the founders be of the community where I still felt I was, and thus they considered me a daughter, and our Reverend Mother Abbess loved the Work as much as I, as did four other nuns of the same community.
And His Excellency was receptive to my proposition, and offered to petition Rome for me for permission for the transfer of those nuns to this foundation. I was happy, for I would be the first postulant, and the Work would grow, supported by such an eminent Prelate, and endorsed by such a noted and holy Foundress. Besides, I would remain tranquilly in secret from everybody, living, as was my most fervent desire: all and solely for God!
After His Excellency, Diaz Barreto and I had spoken of everything confidentially and personally, at his own suggestion I sent my first official communication to the Sacred Metropolitan Chancery, offering the Work, for the purpose—as His Excellency told me—of taking the proper canonical path in the matter.
But God had other paths reserved for me that, at that time, I did not imagine, and thus it happened in another manner, as I will relate further on.
Earlier, His Excellency himself had disposed that my spirit be examined and His Excellency, the Rev. Bishop, Luis Benítez-Cabañas, at that time most worthy visitor of religious in Mexico and bishop of Tulancingo, was delegated for that task. This good priest and most virtuous prelate, when he had finished giving me the spiritual examination, assured me, in the name of God, that the Work that I was beginning was indeed completely from God. And it was then, from him, that I came to know something related to those two dreams of my infancy and adolescence; because he placed in my hands a book entitled: "The Prophecies of Sister Matiana"! And that is a book composed of certain old and new predictions, above all, those of a lay sister of the nuns of St. Jerome, who was very holy, in the era of the Spanish conquest of Mexico; where it speaks of a foundation of Atonement, that the Blessed Virgin and Our Lord Jesus Christ had asked her to relate to her Superiors and that, it is noted there, they had wanted to realize many times over a long period of time, and it had not been attained. Which is identical to what Our Lord deigned to tell me at the beginning, and that I already told Your Holiness.
I was astounded at such a coincidence and such a divine manifestation on behalf of the project of the foundation that concerned me at that time, and I believed that the things predicted, in the prophecies, as well as to me in particular by Our Lord, were soon to be fulfilled. Although I have not told your Holiness, that from the first revelations of God Our Lord to my soul, He had warned me of one thing: that I would have to suffer a great deal; that there would be superiors who would be opposed; that they would brand me as deceived and crazy or a liar; but that I was to offer everything for His greater glory.
Besides, from that time on, He had told me, similarly, one thing: "Everything will be difficulties, until you succeed in these things reaching my beloved Vicar." With all that, I thought that perhaps the sufferings and tests had now passed, with those that I suffered in the cloister.
But, very quickly Our Lord let me see my rough path. First, there was a clear and concrete vision. He let me see a path filled with crosses on both sides, and at the end of that path was His Cross, that I recognized because the other crosses were bare, and His had the sheet hanging from its arms. Then he said to me: "This is your path."
This vision happened to me in October, and very soon, in November, adversity came to cut short this prosperity!
It happened, as I said at the beginning of my story, that I was in the cloister without my parents’ permission, and thus it continued until, lodged in the home of my uncle and aunt, I was proceeding with the Work. My superiors had warned my uncle and aunt to keep the secret from my parents, and they had offered to do so. But my parents were seeking me incessantly, and one day my uncle and aunt gave away the secret, thinking that they would leave me in peace! But very much to the contrary; one day, unexpectedly for me, my father came to Mexico City, and before presenting himself at the house where I was, he went to His Excellency, the Archbishop, and threatened him with jail, if he did not give me up in 24 hours! That was like a diabolical assault! At that time His Excellency had already told me to find a house where a trial of the Order could be made, giving me only a period of one week; if during that lapse of time I had a house, benefactors and fixtures, he himself would perform the installation of the nuns, and everything would begin to be realized. In such a way that, to cut off my liberty at that exact hour, was for me a final stroke that left me dying of grief.
Such was the trial that God wished to send me, and to which I had to submit, given the dangers that would have ensued against His Excellency, Diaz Barreto, and, ultimately, against the Holy Church. And it is that it was fitting that a Work of Atonement, of victims of Divine Justice, begin with that lot, lashed by tempests from Hell itself, and that I would bear everything, offering it to God, in union with Jesus, to attain His most exalted and wise goals.
Then I begged His Excellency, the Bishop, to deign to give his approval for the Work to be carried out, even though I would return to my parents’ side; for the nuns mentioned earlier were disposed to do it. But His Excellency differed in opinion, saying that everything would remain pending until I would obtain my liberty and, authorized by my father, would return.
The trial was long, from December of 1931, until January of 1942, when I obtained that liberty!
God’s Great Trial
Although I already mentioned how that trial, the most sorrowful until then, came to me, on having to suspend the proceedings of the Work and having to return to my parents’ home, where I knew they would submit me to temptations and malicious intentions to war against my vocation to the service of God, I want to pause a little at this event, exclusively, because it was one of those events that form an epoch in my life.
It was not only to evaluate the loss of time I was going to suffer in my parents’ power; it was, moreover, to see the inflamed anger of my parents against my vocation, and ultimately, against holy things. I knew my parents’ nature, and I could imagine what awaited me. Although my father had agreed before His Excellency that, once he realized there was a vocation in me, he would permit me to return, and although through the intercession of the bishop himself (who through his great wisdom and gift for handling people, tried to reconcile wills) we wrested from my father that he would permit me to carry out a life in conformance with my pious aspirations in the house, and would allow me to communicate with my spiritual superiors. I knew that my father would fulfill nothing of this, for I knew his refined attachment to his daughters; his bitter jealousy for them; his distrust of ecclesiastical things, and on the other hand, I knew that my mother would wage all-out war in opposing me with an environment propitious to the weakening of my spirit. This, then, cost me unspeakably to accept. I accepted it through obedience and docilely, offering it to my Jesus, as a proof of my great love for His designs, complete confidence in His Justice, but, in exchange I asked Him, from that time on, for one thing: "Souls… many souls," I told Him, "and that the first soul would be that of my own father!"
Then He was so lavish in promises, that I could not relate here all that was promised by Him.
Before returning home, with the permission of my father, I made some spiritual exercises in the cloister of the Capuchin nuns for two weeks. That was the time at which, with the permission of the superior, I began to write the Constitutions of the Work of Atonement, the Work of God. That was a time of absolute solitude with God, something unforgettable, that encouraged me to embrace the Cross! And when I returned to my parents’ home, similar to when Jesus returned to His when he was lost from them in the temple in Jerusalem, I cannot express the spiritual communion between Him and my soul, because it is ineffable.
The sufferings and sorrows, the nostalgia and the sacrifices that Jesus asked of me at that time, for almost 12 years, are not to be written here below, but are to be sung as a Magnificat in thanksgiving for His having given His grace and His fortitude to a creature as fragile as I recognize myself to be. But, as those crosses and martyrdoms were measured, so were the charisms. For that was a time of profuse words and divine revelations, that made me live more in Heaven than on earth. For everything, may God be blessed!
All those years, I repeat, I wrote many things; among them, the book of the Constitutions for the Work of God; the book of customs and other things, all dictated by the Lord. And they were written by me kneeling, as I promised Him I would do. It was during that time, Most Holy Father, that I received some particular messages for the Vicar of my Jesus. And I thought that it was at that same time that I had to transmit them, but He himself said to me: "Do not seek to transmit it immediately. Keep it in your heart, and I will reveal when and to whom you must tell it!" (I will write these messages, Holy Father, at the end of this little book, or rather, they will form the second part of it.)
After I place these pages in your holy hands, my Father, I can die in peace. Because I know from a good source, because Jesus told it to me: for this He brought me to earth: "To be His portavoz (messenger)."
That is why, now that I am writing these things for Your Holiness, now that I am preparing for this trip to Rome, to Rome, where since then I have longed to go or to send the words of my beloved Jesus, it is, Most Holy Father, as if the happy end of my life is approaching, the apotheosis that Jesus had announced to me, something also like the final betrothal between Him and my soul, and—our wedding trip. Would to God that it were so!
(Continued in Genoa on October 1, 1963, Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels.)
In My Captivity
Holy Father: On coming to continue this "Best Book" of mine, many days of fatigue have passed on the trip that I began on the 10th in Mexico, with my having arrived at Genoa last night, through the charity of the Brothers of the Christian Schools of La Salle. Since leaving my country, good nuns have received me in the places where I had to make a stop on my journey, as in New York, where my Jesus gave me the surprise of being a guest with the Nuns of the Heart of Mary for one week, and now, since last night, with those of the Good Shepherd here in Genoa. My narrative continues then; but now I will regress a little. Since this surprise of lodging with the Nuns of the Good Shepherd makes me reflect that I omitted an episode in my narration. This was during the epoch when Jesus granted me the favor of entering the Capuchin nuns. At that time, the religious communities in my country were being re-established, the religious persecution in my country having recently passed.
Because of this circumstance, when I arrived in the Capital of Mexico, the ecclesiastical authorities had to find lodging for me, while the Capuchin nuns put their house in order. And I was taken to the Convent of the Nuns of the Good Shepherd. They told me I would be there a week at most; but they left me there three months. It seemed that the Reverend Mother General wanted me to remain in that institute, and that is why she prolonged my stay with them. But I did not have that vocation; nevertheless, during the time that I was there, I acted as assistant to one of the nuns who was attending the group of young girls of preservation. There I had occasion to feel the necessity that souls have for religious who, having an accessible spirit, could win the hearts of the young that are brought in at times by force. And only with love and tenderness, and making oneself like them to open for them the door of confidence, can one succeed in making those rebellious souls remain in the refuge, really making progress.
It was there, too, in the House of the Good Shepherd, that God Our Lord deigned to reveal many things to me of what He suffers in the tabernacles, when He is left alone all day, perhaps because there were so few people. Finally, in spite of its being an institute inspired by Him, He gave me occasion to see how, when the members of an institution respond poorly to the fulfillment of their rules, He is offended. For in that house there were certain anomalies in the members of the teaching staff that Jesus showed me, in all the crudeness of its depravity, and He made me see how, everywhere, atonement to Divine Justice was lacking.
Now, on the other hand, again He brought me among the nuns of this institute, and it is noted that here He is served as He should be.
There is fulfillment of the Holy Rule, there is a spirit of charity, of sacrifice, of love for Him. This coincidence, Holy Father, has surprised me, and that is why I have noted it in my narrative.
Now: I continue. For I am going to speak to you of the epoch that I call my captivity, and which was the time that followed after my father took me by force to the paternal home, taking me away from the path of the service of God, as I had left it, just begun, in the last chapter.
I already said that I, in exchange, had asked Him (Jesus) for only one thing: SOULS. And so He promised, and He kept His promise to me. Because, although I suffered a horrible captivity, and what I was carrying out as an apostolate was with enormous sacrifices, He let me feel the fruit, precisely, of sacrifice—until coming one day to say to me, that I should see what it is like on the Cross, where the great Works of Love are realized. Because, from that time on He gave me many crosses—but many souls! The conversion of great heretics, among them my father. The conversion of priests who were living for years past in hidden sins, the conversion of women of very sinful lives, but ultimately, it was something for which to praise God. It was in that epoch that Jesus made known to me in prayer the sins of some consciences, and then He ordered me to approach them and, it was to be by writing if they were far away, or personally speaking with them if they lived near me; I was to say to them, for example, that they should repent, because their death was near! And I had to do it, because I was consulting my Father Director, and he ordered me to do so; and through those divine messages, I suffered reprisals from the persons, and I passed through great conflicts; but the fruit was eminently good, because they repented and died in peace with God.
Due to this epoch of divine messages, one time I had to suffer a reprisal from a priest who spoke with me in the chancery of Guadalajara, and I was suspended from the Holy Sacraments. But my spiritual director, although residing in Mexico City while I was in Jalisco, a different diocese, defended me, communicating directly with the ecclesiastical superiors, and everything redounded in glory for God and for the good of souls.
In this way Jesus told me to see how suffering is the only thing that redeems souls, and the lesson was so beneficial for me; because I knew human misery to the depths, and I realized that without divine grace, one cannot be lifted in the least from sin, and my zeal and my charity for souls increased.
But I wanted, Holy Father, to refer to the conversion of my father’s soul, which was, for me, the best fruit of that time of my captivity and of my great sufferings. For it happened that God permitted to be awakened in my parents and in my sister, who were all those of my house, a hate against me, almost diabolical, for it was diabolical!
They lashed me and they mocked me, and they said that I was possessed by a devil, in order to cause war in our home! And they made common cause with the parish priest in my town, to take away my religious vocation, and they wanted me to marry. And my father even came on several occasions to try to kill me with a weapon. And…I suffered morally, seeing myself an orphan among my own. But Jesus reminded me how He suffered the same among His own, and He was exhorting me to bear everything for the love of His souls, and in this manner, after some years, one day, unexpectedly, my father felt the touch of grace, and wanted to return to Catholic doctrine. And returning to the faith, he humiliated himself profoundly and confessed and practiced his religion as a good Catholic, and two years after his conversion he died a holy death! Because my father had many natural virtues, and perhaps supernatural, for his mother was a very holy soul. But in him there was a very strong devil that Jesus taught me to know and He said: that I should see how certain devils cannot be cast from souls except by penance. Because, apart from what I was suffering at that time on their account, Jesus asked a great deal of penance of me at that time, in payment for what the conversion of their souls was costing. That is why He himself said to me: that preachers themselves are deceived at times, thinking that souls are saved by the word. He said: "They are not saved, except by prayer and penance." And so it was that He made me write for His Work of Atonement, that the children of His Order would be souls of intense prayer, if they wanted to save souls. And so He calls them to these ranks: to be victims—He says—it is necessary to suffer persecution, and to offer it with love for the persecutors themselves, following His example, persuading ourselves that, "they know not what they do," as He said it on the cross about those who crucified Him; and He wants that spirit for the victim souls of His divine Justice. And He says that only a legion of victim souls will save the world in the last hour of time; but He wants it initiated now, at this time, because, He says, that the reign of His Justice is not far off, and when the time has passed, then there will be no occasion for mercy, but rather, pure Justice. Then His victimhood will have to cease and to give way to His Divine Justice alone. That is why He says the Work of Atonement, the devotion of love and surrender to His Justice, is urgent now.
These, then, were the best lessons that I had in the time of my captivity, lessons that let me feel the fruit: souls…souls! The conversion of many souls, about which the victim of Divine Justice must think: without anything else mattering, whatever it may be, or the fatigue that it costs him, for that will pass, and only the harvest will remain. It is clear—it does cost! And it costs a great deal to suffer it; but He helps much more than what you do, for at the end everything seems to be a game of reciprocity alone between the soul and divine grace, which in those cases, if the soul is faithful, is lavish. And that fidelity consists in not retracting in the moments of trial, but rather, giving oneself up to the Cross, as He taught us by His life and example. The rest, He does Himself, even to the fortitude that He gives to His souls that suffer, comes from no one but Him, from His grace. It is only necessary to surrender oneself with faith and confidence, and a great deal of love, love for Him and love and zeal for souls! Thus He left me convinced by that time of such suffering, giving me the harvest of souls and at the end, as I said, my liberty to serve Him, which was when, finally, I succeeded in founding the Pious Union of the Franciscan Minims of the Perpetual Help of Mary, the House of Atonement, in Zamora, Michoacán, the diocese of His Excellency, Manuel Fulcheri-Pietrasanta (may God grant him joy).
A Marvelous Conversion
Holy Father: Although I already announced the theme for this chapter, this is where I must explain the marvelous conversion of my father, because it includes noteworthy details for the praise of God, and in it is felt the vocation that He always offered me, and the work that He asks me to promote, and for which I would like only to be His portavoz (messenger).
For the reasons I already mentioned, that of never being understood by my own, I never confided to them my intimacies, for Jesus Himself was telling and teaching me how I would have to be discreet and not expose His things to the mockery of those who did not have the light necessary to see them. Nevertheless, when my father died, I believe that he was illuminated to understand something of my path. For, at the moment of his death, there were unmistakable details due to the power of grace. His death was on the last day of the month of April, 1940. All that time, my father was telling me: "Daughter, I know that I must let you go in liberty to save souls and to serve God; but I am a cowardly man: I love my daughters in such a way that I cannot free my heart, and I want to die quickly to let you go free." My father was crying; he was suffering in silence. And I was praying a great deal for him. But it seemed that it was contrary to his desires, because at that time I became ill to a very serious degree. I had a gastric ulcer that provoked in me two vomitings of blood and I was prostrate, seriously ill, in Lent of the year 1940. And I was in anguish, only because I would not see and realize the work of God, but I was happy to be dying, for I had always loved death that, for me, is not death, but the liberation of my soul and to be able to fly to God, the happy ending of my longing. But my father suffered seeing me consumed in the bloom of youth, and although he did not understand what was the mission of my life, rather he thought I longed only for the religious cloister, a spiritual disturbance was noticeable in him when he saw me so gravely ill, for all the best doctors had already predicted that I would not reach Easter alive. I had a perforation in my stomach, and they would not let me move from the bed, and I was like a skeleton, for I had suffered with that terrible illness for more than ten years. Then, one night, my father and my sister were watching me, for, by that time, all those in the house had changed with me, and they were pious and received Communion daily. And my father said to my sister: "My daughter—will she die?" And my sister answered: "Yes, the doctors are certain of it." And my father asked, thinking that I was not listening, but indeed, I heard: "Why has this child been so sick, being so young?" And my sister answered: "Because she lives always in contradiction; this is not her environment; she aspires to I-don’t-know-what, she wants to leave us; she longs only for the convent." And my father cried and then said: "No, I do not want her to die, rather I should die, so as not to feel the pain of seeing her go, and neither do I want her longings not to be realized, for she has rights; I understand it."
And…my father was healthy. And, nevertheless, two days later, my father died.
And I, knowing of his grave condition, was able to get up and go to his bed, which was on the upper floor of the house, and to do everything, to call a priest, to help him to die well. And I was well, and everyone was astounded, my own family and strangers, to see how I had recovered so quickly, and my father who was well had died in less than three days. For he died of gangrene in two and a half days, gangrene in a leg that traveled to his heart. Because the doctor wanted to amputate the leg, but he did not want it; he said: "I want to die; God is asking my life of me." And he did not explain his words, but from the moment when the condition presented itself until his expiring, he was seen to be immersed in a meditation that delighted him. Because the same priest to whom he had confessed on being converted to the faith, helped him in his last hour, and he said: "This soul has been as if confirmed in grace before dying; he is a great example." And my father, when he was in a coma, nevertheless had no fever, and he was lucid and courageous in the face of death, and he was saying beautiful things. He stated that the Blessed Virgin was there next to him and she said to him, that soon he would receive the sacred Viaticum, because if he did not receive it soon, he would not get well. And my mother thought it was the cure of his body, but he shook his head and said: "No, the cure of my soul." And at that moment he wanted us to go to call the priest, for it was three in the morning. And I ran through long streets to bring him and it caused me no harm. And the priest came and anointed him at five in the morning. And my father responded well to the entire ceremony of Extreme Unction and sacred Viaticum, with firmness, in spite of his tremendous sufferings he did not complain, and my mother and we, his daughters, knelt by his bed, and there, too, were relatives and friends, and the doctor and the priest, when he said words more beautiful than I had ever heard from mortals, and even more so, from a man like him, who had spent many years away form religion, and traversing battlefields. First, addressing my mother, he said: "How much I have loved this woman! She has been the perfect companion of my life." Then he said to his daughters: "My daughters, never be ashamed of the name of your father. Your father has never known any other woman than the one God gave him for a wife, nor has he had other daughters than those of his legitimate marriage. Nor have I ever stained my hands with a single penny of anyone else's." And the end was emotional to a superlative degree, because he stretched out his hand, quivering, and took mine and tried to raise it very high and to hold this position several times, in silence, praying, and my mother asked him what he meant by that, and he answered: "I beg God, by means of my daughter, to forgive me for having delayed her vocation for so many years, and I ask you to give her the liberty to realize her desires." Then, after a pause, he added: "If she wants to go to Rome, let her go there, and give her money for her journey. Do not detain her, so God may forgive me, because she has a mission on earth."
And everyone, on hearing it, was crying, filled with emotion and looking at each other, as if my father were inspired at that time, and the priest said: "It is now that your father has been converted to God with all his heart." And so it was. At exactly five in the morning, he received the Sacred Host on his tongue, devoutly, almost ecstatically, looking toward Heaven, and when he had received it, he neither spoke nor moved, nor lowered his eyes, and thus he expired at five in the afternoon, in a state of coma, according to the doctor; and in the state of grace, according to the priest who saw him and heard his confession. And I was crying more from joy than from sorrow, intoning interiorly the Magnificat and the "Nunc dimittis" to Heaven as an act of thanksgiving. It was the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, intercessor of the dying, and of whom I have always been a good friend, and she has been my intercessor with God. Thus Jesus granted me the fulfillment of one of His great promises, that He was always making to me when I longed for the conversion of my father, thinking it would never come, and He was saying: "Trust in Me, and you will see the wonders of your beloved." And thus it has been, that I have seen His wonders over a long period of time, realized, as now, for I am going to Rome, a desire nourished in my soul for long years, for which I never tire of blessing the Lord.