Life and Spirituality of Félix de Jesús Rougier

Risking the Future
Life and Spirituality of the
Venerable Félix de Jesús Rougier, M.Sp.S
by Ricardo Zimbrón L., M.Sp.S.



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Conchita Cabrera had a jovial personality; she was unpretentious and accessible. Her personality was the result of a life lived both in the countryside and in the city. 

She was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, on December 8th, 1862. She did not have much schooling because she spent her childhood on the family ranch. She studied the equivalent of third grade in grammar school, took piano lessons and learned embroidery. Her mother taught her the rest: cooking, sewing, horseback riding, milking the cows, making cheese, teaching catechism to the daughters of the hired hands... 

Her adolescence was simple and commonplace, but she felt a strong interior call to a life of prayer. In her Journal we read: 

"During the time I was 16 to 20 years old, I lived a period of dances, theater parties, trips, vanity and the wish to please, although only Pancho (her boyfriend), because the others did not matter. 

But in the midst of this sea of vanity and parties, my soul felt a vehement desire to know how to pray." 

At 22 she married her only boyfriend (Francisco Armida) and had nine children, 7 boys and 2 girls. 

When she had been married for a short time, there was an amazing change in her spiritual life. She tells us about it in her Journal: "When I had been married only a year and a half, the Lord started to call me very forcefully to perfection. Extraordinary things started to happen from then on." 

We can distinguish two kinds of extraordinary graces in Conchita’s life: some were the graces the effected her personal sanctification; they were graces of purification, illumination and very intimate union with God. The other extraordinary graces were those that made of Conchita an instrument of God to accomplish certain external works in His church. These graces are related to the charism of "prophecy". This charism does not always consist in the announcement of things to come, but rather in receiving messages from God by means of words or visions. These messages were given to enrich the Church with sublime teachings regarding the mysteries of God, the ways of prayer and the Christian virtues. The purpose of the other message was to make it possible for five new institutions called "the Five Works of the Cross" to be established in the Church. 

When Conchita was 24 years old, she wrote in her Journal: 

“Today I don't know what to write. I don't know how to express what my soul experiences. Oh, my God, you have taken hold of me! You fill me completely. I don't know what you will ask of me, but I am ready for anything." (Journal) 

Regarding her prophetic charism, Conchita explains it thus:  

"Sometimes I do not wish to hear, and I hear; I don't wish to understand, and I understand; I don't want to turn in the direction of the Lord so as not to become committed and He comes to meet me and reproaches me. 

Sometimes He dictates phrases or words. Other times, He imprints within me a torrent of things at once. 

Sometimes He is very laconic, but He leaves me with a clear grasp of what He wants me to understand. 

My senses as well as my memory and imagination quiet down as if responding to a signal from the Lord, and I remain like a clean sheet of paper, somehow empty of myself. And without my coordinating the ideas, there comes to me a sequence of words or thoughts already formed, or paragraphs which I understand all of a sudden. 

I interrupt this interior talking with questions or with emotions, and then the dialogue takes place, because the Lord deigns to explain the message to me. I do not hear His voice with the ears of the body; this has only happened a few times. 

Sometimes there arise within me temptations as to whether I invent, or deceive; but when I am at peace, I cannot doubt that these things are of God. And besides, I verify that if the Lord does not give this to me, even if I spent many hours in prayer, I cannot produce even a line by myself; I could not invent things, even if I try. 

Sometimes months go by without the Lord talking to me. However, there are times when I do not have time to write everything He tells me. 

Another way in which the Lord communicates with me is by means of writing. I hear His voice which tells me "Write". At first, I resisted, but then I began to obey and the moment I took the pencil in hand, the Lord started dictating pages and pages, sometimes of very involved things, that I could not possibly invent." (Journal) 

Eight years after the Lord "started to call her very forcefully", that is to say, when Conchita was 32, God granted her the grace of what theologians call "spiritual marriage." This is a mystical grace, which means the person does not bring it about, but rather it is God who unites one to Himself in a special and intimate way which only the saints experience. Conchita describes this extraordinary grace in this way: 

January 23 (1894). "I was immersed in contemplation, without moving, understanding many things in great depth in the words Jesus was saying to me. He did everything. He put His hand on my head. His glance enveloped me. And all I could do was cry and keep still. What was I to tell him, if I could think of nothing except to humble myself? Jesus said:

 -Now you are my bride, and you are beautiful in my eyes, with the veil of innocence and the robe of penance. I love you very much, and beg you to call me Spouse. 

-No, Jesus, not that, because I am ashamed. 

-But, is it not true? Don't you know that nothing is impossible for Me? You have no idea how I rejoice in you because you are bedecked with my favors. I contemplate my own image within your soul. Never blur it, my spouse. 

-Jesus, I promise to love you always, with all my strength. 

-Ask me whatever you want. Today I can deny you nothing. -I ask to do your will always and to save many souls." 

Three months later, on April 18, Conchita drew up the statutes of the first of the Works of the Cross which was called "The Apostleship of the Cross": 

"I took the statutes of the Apostleship to Jesus, for him to bless and give them life. And after communion he told me: The purpose of this Apostleship is to offer up suffering lovingly in order to obtain the salvation of many souls." 

In the statutes we are told that: "The Apostleship of the Cross is a group of Christians who, moved by the Holy Spirit, take it upon themselves to offer Jesus to the Heavenly Father, and to offer themselves together with Him, as victims for the salvation of all. In this way they make an effort to participate intimately in the priesthood of Christ, offering themselves with Him on "the cross of every day." Matthew 10:38 

This Work is open to all Christians who seek to live their baptismal priesthood and, in this way, respond to the universal vocation to holiness. 

Later we will explain the apostolic and social ramifications of this Work. 

On February 9, 1897, Conchita received another extraordinary grace which the mystics call "the transforming union", which is one of the highest peaks to which God leads His elect. After receiving this gift, Conchita tries to describe it to her spiritual director: 

"Last night, since one o'clock, the call to pray was very strong. From the time the Lord awakened me, I felt full of Him; not in the usual sense, but rather in a special and complete manner. Without knowing why, I felt the weight of the divine majesty. It surprised me to find that when I awoke I was repeating these words, as if they flowed naturally from my heart: 'Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. You who are one God!' And I could not interrupt these praises. 

Jesus told me: 

-Arise. Here are the Father and the Spirit. They have come because I want to introduce them to your soul as my Spouse. 

I threw myself down and with my forehead touching the ground, I humbled myself and felt confused. And why shouldn't I be, since I felt the real presence of the Three Divine Persons! 

The fire in my soul lasted for two hours without diminishing until I felt something like a swoon produced by the impact which my spirit experienced. 

My soul continued to be filled with fervor. And there has also remained an effect which I continue to experience: a constant growth in love, respect and intimate knowledge, no longer obscure, of the Most Holy Trinity. Oh my God, three and one, blessed be you forever, forever and ever." 

Three months later, on May 3rd, through the intervention of Conchita, the second of the Works of the Cross was founded, that is to say, the first convent of the Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Lord had told her: 

"You will be the foundation of this work. The foundations are invisible but the building rests on them." 

In the Constitutions of this Congregation we read: 

"God has called the Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to follow Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim, very closely. Therefore, guided by the Holy Spirit, they have come to live united with Christ and in His likeness, becoming a permanent offering to the Father, on behalf of the Church and the world. 

They will seek God in a life of contemplation, solitude and silence, of humble and simple work, and in order to participate in the redemptive oblation of Christ Jesus, they will unite themselves to Him in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and will adore Him constantly in the Holy Eucharist." 

In the following years, the Lord talked to Conchita several times about a religious congregation of men with the same spirituality. She was anxious for the hour to arrive for this new foundation to occur. 

Meanwhile, the Lord continued to prepare this handmaid with even greater gifts, for the central grace of her life: the mystical incarnation. 

And so we come to 1903, and to the 4th of February, when Conchita had that providential encounter with Father Félix Rougier. 

She was 41 then, a widow, caring for and educating her nine children, and without their knowing it, practicing rigorous penances, praying three hours daily, constantly writing pages inspired by God and advancing in an incredible way in the mystical life. 

When Conchita Cabrera met Father Félix, she was already extraordinarily holy. 

For a saint to emerge, two conditions are necessary: On the part of God, special graces, which go beyond the common level of those all good Christians receive (and which, by the way, are enormous). But besides this, on the part of the person, there is needed an extraordinary fidelity to the graces received, an uncommon generosity and surrender to God. And it is in this that the saints are models for us all; not in the exceptional gifts they receive, but in the exceptional generosity with which they give themselves to God. 

Conchita’s case is out of the ordinary on both counts, even when dealing with the privileged level of the saints. To know her well, I once more suggest that those interested read my book "Priestly People" (this book has not been translated into English yet) which I describe in detail, not only the external happenings of her life, but especially the stages of her spiritual development.

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