Let us remember these words
written by Father Félix:
"She (Mrs. Cabrera) told me
that it was necessary for me to shake the spiritual lethargy
which invaded me; that I needed to surrender myself to God
seriously, and that I should start a new life". (Letter to
his General Superior)
"During this conversation, my
life moved towards new horizons." (Diary)
In a letter to his brother
Manuel, he writes:
"From that day on, a change
has taken place in me: my future is now of another color. My
heart has become inflamed with love for the Cross of Christ
which now appears to me to be more desirable and bright."
In another letter to the
General Superior he says:
"Since that conversation with
Mrs. Cabrera I felt changed and I resolved to live
henceforth as a perfect religious."
To Conchita he wrote:
"Since you spoke to me for
the first time until now, I have changed completely. I love
Our Lord and think of Him constantly." (April 4, 1903)
In his diary he says that he
made God a total gift of himself and renewed his religious
vows with special fervor. Moreover, he increased his
penances considerably: he slept on boards and used a piece
of wood for a pillow. Every day he gave himself 200 blows
with the cord scourge and 300 with the "bloody one" made of
barbed wire. He used the hair shirt day and night, He
branded the initials JHS on his chest. Every night he rose
to pray for an hour, putting a crown of thorns on his head.
We are horrified by these
kinds of penances and moreover, we see no need to do such
things to progress in the spiritual life. But during the
last century and the beginning of this one, these practices
were recommended by the ascetic masters in order to "subdue
the evil passions..." What is important in the case of
Father Félix is the generosity and surrender which the
undertaking of these penitential practices implies.
In a letter, Father Thrill
comments that he and the other Marist Fathers who lived then
with Father Félix noted a decided change in him:
"He was no longer the same.
He spent much time in front of the Blessed Sacrament; during
recess he was not so full of fun, he seemed to be in another
world." (Letter to Father J. Padilla, M.Sp.S.)
Conchita herself was in awe
at the spiritual progress of Father Félix:
"I have the joy of verifying
that Father Félix corresponds unceasingly to the grace of
God. I see clearly how the Holy Spirit impels him, and how
Father Félix takes advantage of this divine wind that leads
him towards the Cross. I understand the struggle within him.
I have seen a vocation being born in him which grows like
fire and I understand his inner distress, his aspirations
are very high and he is called to very high perfection."
For his part, Father Félix
wrote in his diary:
"I am aware of my
worthlessness. I remember my abominable and innumerable
mortal sins, my relapses, my little intelligence, my lack of
knowledge. There is only a thin veneer over me which makes
me scum like something, but it is not that way. Everything
is superficial ill me except for the thick coat of pride, my
hasty judgments, and my disorder in all things. This is the
instrument which the Lord has chosen to call to help Him...
Oh, the mysteries of God!
But now, my beloved Jesus,
make it possible for this wretchedness to correspond to your
grace. You can change me radically." (Good Friday, April 10,
That same Good Friday, Father
Félix wrote this prayer:
"Jesus Crucified, I want to
crucify myself for you. I want to keep my body in line,
treating it like firewood for a sacrifice. I wish to die to
everything that is not you or leads to you. I am deeply
grateful for your kindness and want to correspond as much as
I can, given my weakness and great misery.
Yes, my Jesus, despite my
imperfections, I am all yours, at all times and everywhere."
A month later, Conchita wrote
to her spiritual director:
"What a forceful character
and what a heart of fire Father Félix has! One has to hold
him back so that he does not run so fast...
I see something extraordinary
in the plans God has for this soul because I have
experienced how the action of the Holy Spirit has
transformed him. But, why with such unusual speed? Without a
doubt this is due to the promptness with which Father Félix
has corresponded (to the grace of God) and because God is
preparing him for that end." [To be the founder of the
missionaries of the Holy Spirit.] (Letter to Father Mir).
Two months later, on July 13,
Conchita wrote to Father Félix:
"Once more I have caught a
glimpse of the perfection that the Lord wants in your soul.
Without your being worthy, God is filling you with gifts:
those impulses towards recollection, that thirst to invoke
the Holy Spirit, that need to surrender completely to Christ
and to be with Him in the tabernacle, your progress in
prayer, in penance, and that desire to know yourself well."
Since June 13 of that year
(1903) Conchita had taken Father Félix as her spiritual
director. This proved to be the cause of great spiritual
advancement for both of them.
Father Félix had the
opportunity to read Conchita’s writings and learn her
spirituality in depth, that is to say, the spirituality of
the Cross, which consists of the following of Christ as
priest and victim.
This situation lasted only a
year and a month, for reasons we will explain later. Father
Félix said that "it was his year of novitiate."
As the time passed, Father
Félix became more and more certain that all of this was the
work of God: the revelations to Mrs. Cabrera, his
providential meeting with her, the Works of the Cross, and
his vocation to be the Founder of the missionaries of the
Holy Spirit. This certainly, which came to be immovable, had
a variety of sources: the principal one was the interior
light which God communicated to him; but besides that, there
was the sanctity of life which he had been able to verify in
Conchita, the benefit of the foundation itself, that is to
say, the spirit and the goals of the new congregation, and
lastly, the notable progress of his own spiritual life since
that meeting with Mrs. Cabrera and with the Works of the
All of this could not come
from the spirit of evil or from anyone's fantasy. Everything
had God's stamp on it.
On the other hand, Father
Félix, with great humility and prudence had consulted about
this with several bishops and priests and all of them gave
him their enthusiastic approval.
He writes in his Memoirs:
"To tell the truth, I had no
doubt that my calling was the work of the Lord, but I
understood that, in order to avoid creating doubts in the
minds of future members of that congregation, it was prudent
to consult competent persons on this delicate matter."
But, above all, Father Félix
considered that the only sure way to discover God's will was
in obedience to his legitimate superiors. Therefore, as we
will see later, he chose the decision of his Superior
General as the ultimate criterion.
On April 17, Father Félix
traveled to Oaxaca with two other Marist Fathers to make his
spiritual exercises, since he had chosen Father Mir as
preacher. Father Mir lived in Oaxaca and, as has been
mentioned, had been Conchita’s spiritual director for eleven
Father Félix told Father Mir
everything that had happened to him since the 4th of
February (1903). The two priests prayed a great deal,
carefully weighed every aspect of Father Félix’s new
vocation and decided before God that undoubtedly the Lord
was calling him to be the Founder of the "Religious (men) of
Upon finishing that retreat,
Father Félix wrote in his diary:
"Lord, I give myself to you
completely, and I offer myself for the founding of that
congregation, according to your divine will."
When he returned from Oaxaca,
Father Félix wrote to his brother, Manuel:
"My dear brother Manuel:
God's ways are so strange! They are mysterious ways, full of
mercy, pardon and tenderness. I had not come to know Jesus,
the beloved master, very well. I now feel I would give my
life a thousand times for Him. I had abandoned Him: I was
living in lukewarmness, an extreme lukewarmness, with
occasional flashes of deep repentance that made me serve
Jesus, but later I again drifted away from Him. I think that
now this is indeed finished. I feel that I belong to Him
forever. I want to do His will, all His will.
"I foresee that many things
will be said against me; that I will be slandered and my
intentions misunderstood, that people will think me crazy.
But that does not frighten me; in fact, I look forward to it
for the love of the Lord. I am so sorry I cannot explain
things more clearly! Do not think that I am thinking about
joining the Trappists. I have another dream. I have not
sought it; Jesus has sought me out. Later you will know
everything. I hope you will not be the first to consider me
out of my mind.
I have started a great work
linked in some way with everything I have told you: it is
the work of the Apostleship of the Cross. It was established
in our parish on Good Friday in the presence of our Father
Pray that the will of God be
fulfilled in me, that I correspond faithfully to it." (May
In the months that followed,
Father Félix dedicated himself to consolidate the
Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus which underwent a deep crisis. He helped these
religious women find God and he became their second
So we come to the year 1904.
On February 4th, Father Félix and Conchita began writing the
constitutions of the men's order they wanted to found. They
finished the latter part of April.
However, Father Félix took
nothing for granted. He foresaw that this foundation would
cause him many headaches.
In a letter to Conchita he
"Jesus wants to use us for
this beloved work; He wants to use you especially, and me as
a hidden tool in your hands.
But I know I will be crowned
with thorns. Those who now respect me, will make fun of me.
Everyone, my Provincial Superior, the priests who live with
me now and obey me, my brothers in Puebla, Oaxaca and
Guadalajara.... they will all consider me a traitor to the
Society of Mary.
Jesus, I understand that I am
not worthy of carrying this crown of thorns, of being
despised for obeying you, of being considered crazy for
being faithful to you. But perhaps you will speak soon, you
will let me know what the first step is to be on this road
to Calvary which is known to you...
I am miserable and weak, but
with your grace I will go, run, to do your will.
Make me completely yours,
Jesus. Make me courageous always. Let me be able to smile
when faced with pain and difficulties, and let me receive
them with open arms, as messengers of your love.
Make me humble and obedient.
Make me hungrier to do your will. Let me always remain
hidden at the foot of your tabernacle, pressing you close to
my heart, sacrificing myself for you and yours. Amen."
On Wednesday, March 30, most
unexpectedly, Conchita warned Father Félix that he was going
to receive "a very dangerous [prick with a] thorn".
Father Félix wrote in his
"For a moment I felt
frightened, but then I told myself: For the love of Jesus,
let that thorn come. With His help, I will receive it with
I cannot even imagine what it
could be: a death? A cruel illness? I don't know... Whatever
you want, beloved Jesus, although I am unworthy to suffer
for you." The morning of April 1st, Good Friday, Father
Félix learned what the "thorn" was. Through Mrs. Cabrera,
the Lord was asking him to cleanse his heart from everything
that belonged to this world, everything that was not
Himself, renouncing also the idea of founding the
Congregation of the missionaries of the Holy Spirit.
Father Félix, kneeling before
the tabernacle, wrote in his diary:
"That is all right, Lord.
Certainly I am not worthy even of touching your Works. Your
poor Félix thought himself called and he was happy. Now that
he knows that it is not your will to use him, and that he
must remain where he is, he offers you his heart as a
"I will serve you always
wherever I find myself and I will offer you all my life, in
silence and darkness, for the sake of the Religious [men] of
"May You be my all. May You
be my only love. May you be the only object of my soul."
The masters of the spiritual
life, especially St. John of the Cross, insist on the need
for a total detachment from all creatures as an essential
condition for intimate union with God. It is necessary to
renounce the attachment we feel towards persons and things,
although these things are very holy and good, such as the
works of apostolate. The disposition of one's heart has to
be this: Only what God wills...Only because God wills
it...Only when God wills it.
Father Félix made great
strides on this road of total detachment. His novices at
that time remember that very spontaneously he would repeat:
"God... God... God... only God."
Let us go back to that Good
Friday morning. Father Félix renounced whole-heartedly
becoming the founder of the fifth Work of the Cross, and his
heart became ever more full of God. He was at peace. But
that afternoon, Conchita spoke with him to say that the Lord
was satisfied: that he had passed a test similar to that of
Abraham and that he would indeed be the founder of the
Religious [men] of the Cross. The time had come, therefore,
to seek his Superior’s permission.
That same Good Friday, after
praying the office, Father Félix wrote the Superior General
a brief letter:
"Very reverend Father: For
several months now I have been intending to write to ask you
permission to go to France and speak with you about two
"One has to do with my
family. My father wants to will his farm on Les Iles to my
brother Stanislaus and he wants Manuel and me to be present
and to make the arrangements.
“The other is a very serious
matter concerning myself. I should like to make this trip as
soon as possible."
The feelings and optimism of
Father Félix are present in this letter which he wrote to
Msgr. Ibarra, Archbishop of Puebla, about that time:
"I strongly believe that what
I am about to do is the will of God. I will need to leave
the Society of Mary, perhaps on the verge of being named
Provincial or Vice-Provincial; this appointment is a sign
that they appreciate me. But I will do it because I am sure
that Jesus wishes it.
I know that humanly speaking,
my Superior ought not to grant me the permission that I will
request, but he will do it because it is the will of God
that the Work is carried out. Afterwards I will go to Rome
to ask for the blessing of the Representative of Our Lord
and I am sure I will be well received. Later I will sock
vocations in France.
I do not have a cent to
travel and less to bring ten or more vocations. Nor do I
have money for other important expenses. But I am not
worried, because knowing that it is the will of God that
this happen, I am sure He will send me the necessary
"I cannot take much credit
for believing in so many things which humanly speaking are
so difficult to carry out, because my faith rests on such a
series of happenings that it is impossible for me to doubt.
(April 30, 1904).
On May 11, Father Félix
received the much awaited letter from his superior in
France. It was dated April 24: "... If you have a real need
to speak to me about very important personal matters, which
cannot be dealt with in writing, you may come..."