GOD'S GOOD TIME
Archbishop Ibarra was firmly
convinced of the authenticity of the revelations to Conchita,
and that God willed the foundation of the Religious [Men] of
the Cross-. This conviction moved him to plan another trip
to Rome, but this time taking the "black eye", that is to
say, Conchita, with him. To this end, Archbishop Ibarra
organized a pilgrimage to Rome and Palestine. Circumstances
were unfavorable because Mexico was in the midst of a
revolution since 1910. Although there was poverty and trips
were dangerous, 123 persons signed up. That is the way
Mexicans are! Conchita and two of her sons were part hi' the
Archbishop Ibarra wanted
Conchita to be known and examined in person in Rome.
Moreover, he had with him two very authorized opinions about
her and her writings: that of Msgr. Maximino Ruiz, who had
been Conchita's spiritual director for 7 years and that of
Father Poulain, a well-known Jesuit who had written a
"Treatise of Mystical Theology". Both opinions were very
The pilgrims left Mexico on
August 26, 1913 and arrived in Rome on November 13, after
visiting the Holy Land.
Bad news awaited Archbishop
Ibarra in Rome: Cardinal Vives had died the 7th of September
and Msgr. Caroli had been named Bishop of Ceneda on October
19th. These two men were the principal sources of support
Archbishop Ibarra had in the Sacred Congregation for
Religious and both had left.
Those who had examined
Conchita’s writings by order of Cardinal Vives had rendered
an unfavorable opinion. In their judgment, everything seemed
to be due to an exaggerated sensitivity and to an exalted
Moreover, false accusations
had reached Rome to the effect that the said Mrs. Cabrera,
against the wishes of the Holy See, directed the Sisters of
the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In short, at the Sacred
Congregation for Religious everything related to the Works
of the Cross and to Mrs. Cabrera had lost prestige.
Therefore, all the petitions related to the matter of the
Religious of the Cross were sent to "the basement file."
However, Archbishop Ibarra
requested an audience with the Pope for himself and Mrs.
Cabrera which was granted for November 17.
In the few days that preceded
the audience, Archbishop Ibarra visited all the members of
the Sacred Congregation for Religious who had anything to do
with the foundation and tried to dissipate prejudices,
clarify doubts, explain situations and remedy
misunderstandings. He delivered the new reports from Msgr.
Maximino Ruiz and Father Poulain. He wrote several letters
to important Vatican figures and, above all, he prayed a
great deal, together with Mrs. Cabrera and all the Mexican
On the day of the audience,
Archbishop Ibarra entered the Pope’s office first and spoke
with him alone; then they called Conchita. In her diary she
recounts the meeting with Saint Pius X:
"The Pope was sealed behind
his desk and Archbishop Ibarra was in front of him.
"I knelt down and, crying,
kissed his feet. Finally I regained my composure. He
stretched out his hand and asked me what I wanted:
-That your Holiness approves
the Priests of the Cross, I said without letting go his
They are approved, he
answered and before this year is over, this whole matter
will be settled.
-Most Holy Father, I do not
wish to stand in the way of the Works o£ the Cross, and I
beg you to leave me out, do not take me into account, forget
all about me, so they can continue.
I already spoke with
Archbishop Ibarra about this, and everything will be settled
this year. Do you wish anything else?
-A special blessing for the
Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Works
and my children.
Yes, and for you too, in a
He looked into my eyes with a
penetrating and sweet glance, and I felt I was at the feet
of our Lord Jesus Christ. He blessed me several limes and
Prega, prega per
me. (Pray, pray for
Then he spoke for a long time
with Archbishop Ibarra. Finally I heard the Pope telling
Msgr. Ibarra to see the doctor and take care of his health,
Archbishop Ibarra and
Conchita were delighted with the audience.
They were surprised that so
many obstacles had been overcome, and did not tire of
Humanly speaking, and given
the state of things, the Pope's approval did not seem to the
forthcoming, since he himself had canceled the permission in
1910. Therefore, what was to be expected was rather that he
would have ordered that everything be studied in depth; this
would have been the most tactful way to say no.
How could one then explain
his approval and promise that within the year everything
would be favorably completed?The only explanation is that
God's good time had arrived.
Fearing that new difficulties
would arise because of the relationship between the new
foundation and Conchita’s writings, Archbishop Ibarra wrote
to Msgr. Sbarreti proposing that the name of the future
congregation be changed from Religious of the Cross to
missionaries of the Holy Spirit. This would make it caster
to separate it from Conchita’s revelations and writings.
Msgr. Sbarreti answered that he would bring the matter up at
his next audience with the Pope which was scheduled for
September 16, and the Pope would decide.
Finally the day of the
decision arrived. Archbishop Ibarra and Conchita spent the
day in prayer, awaiting the final and official decision of
the Holy Father.
Not until the next day did
Archbishop Ibarra learn about the Pope's answer: he had
granted the permission for the foundation.
On the 18th he received
officially and in writing the decision of Pius X. The letter
was written by Msgr. Sbarreti and said:
“I hasten to communicate to
you that the Holy Father, at the audience granted the
Cardinal Prefect on the 16th of this month, has graciously
consented to the request you and the Archbishops of
Mexico and Michoacán have presented for authorization to
found a new congregation of men religious: especially in
light of the fact that you have declared that the said
institute will be completely unrelated to the supposed
revelations of Mrs. Cabrera de Armida.
However, the Holy Father has
set the following conditions:
1. That the new institute be
called "missionaries of the Holy Spirit".
2. That neither Father
Alberto Cuscó y Mir nor Father Félix Rougier, both former
spiritual directors of the above-mentioned Mrs. Cabrera,
ever belong to the institute."
The hour of God was at hand,
but a problem had arisen... The Pope himself was commanding
that Father Félix not be a part of the institute.
What to do now? Look for
another founder? But...who? Who else was so imbued with the
spirit of the Cross? Who else was so enthusiastic about the
work? Who else but Father Félix was worthy of having the
work entrusted to him, since he had waited ten years for the
permission? Moreover, what about the Lord's promises?
Archbishop Ibarra thought
through the wording of Msgr. Sbarreti's letter: it said that
Father Félix was not to be a part of the institute, that is
to say, that he was forbidden to join it as a missionary of
the Holy Spirit, but it did not say that he was forbidden to
be in charge of the foundation and formation of the first
missionaries, remaining himself a Marist. Maybe the solution
lay in some arrangement along these lines....
So as not to make a mistake,
Archbishop Ibarra decided to express his doubts to the Pope
himself. So it was that on December 22, in a last audience
which he had requested to say good-bye and thank Pius X, he
asked the Pope about it. The Pope answered that his
intention was that Father Félix not leave his congregation
to enter that of the missionaries of the Holy Spirit, but
rather, that with the permission of his Superior General,
Father Félix would be responsible for forming the new
priests until they could rule themselves.
The Pope’s answer calmed
Archbishop Ibarra's concerns; its mission in Rome was over.
Now all he had to do was to fetch the founder. With this
goal in mind, Archbishop Ibarra left for Lyon, France, with
the company of a small entourage which included Conchita and
They arrived in Lyon on the
afternoon of the 3rd of April. Right away, Archbishop Ibarra
send a letter to Father John Raffin, Superior General of the
Marists, in which he requested an interview and in which he
explained the reason for his trip to Lyon. The next day,
after consulting his Council, Father Raffin went to the
hotel where Archbishop Ibarra was staying and told him that
he was very sorry, but the Council had decided that due to
the shortage of priests, it was impossible to grant Father
Félix permission to go to Mexico to be in charge of the
foundation. He explained that the shortage of priests was so
acute that the school in Mexico was on the verge of closing
because France could no longer send teachers.
Archbishop Ibarra and Mrs.
Cabrera, most sorrowful, and considering the case hopeless,
left for Mexico. They arrived in Paris on the 9th of January
and the next day Conchita received an unexpected visitor:
Mr. George Gréville, an Englishman in the diplomatic service
and his wife, Elizabeth. Father Félix was the couple’s
spiritual director, and they also had known Conchita since
the time Mr. Gréville had worked in Mexico as
plenipotentiary minister of Great Britain. That is why they
knew so much about the works of the Cross.
At home in London they
learned that Conchita was going to go through Paris and they
went to greet her. She and Archbishop Ibarra told them the
story of Father Félix and the Grévilles offered to go to
Lyon to try once more to obtain the desired permission
because they were good friends of Father John Raffin, and
like good diplomats, they expected to be successful.
Father Raffin was happy to
see his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gréville and explained to them
that the only reason why he could not lend Father Félix was
lack of personnel. Then Mrs. Gréville had an idea. She made
a proposal in the name of Archbishop Ibarra: if Father
Raffin would lend Father Félix for the foundation,
Archbishop Ibarra would provide three priests for the Marist
school in Mexico to keep it from closing.
After consulting with his
Council, Father Raffin accepted the proposal. Archbishop
Ibarra also accepted it, and a formal contract was drawn up
including the following clauses:
"1. The Superior General of
the Marists agrees to lend Father Félix Rangier for at least
two years, to work to establish the missionaries of the Holy
2. Father Félix will go to
Mexico after the school year ends at Saint-Chamond.
3. Archbishop Ibarra agrees
a) Supply three
teachers/priests to the Marist school in Mexico City during
the time that Father Félix is lent to work on the above
b) He will pay a thousand
francs to the teacher who will take Father Felix’s place at
the school of Saint-Chamond.
c) He will cover Father
Felix’s travel costs to go to Mexico."
Once more, and when from a
human point of view there was no hope, the obstacles were
overcome, the doors opened and the way was clear. Truly, it
was God's time and God had acted.
In her diary, Conchita
reflected as follows:
"How faithful the Lord is in
the fulfillment of his promises”.
As soon as the school year
was over, Father Félix traveled by boat to New York and from
there to Cuba. There he received alarming news: because of
the Mexican civil war, the ship lines had temporarily
stopped their travels to Mexico. But thanks to the efforts
of some influential businessmen, Father Félix was able to
get to Veracruz. There he met his Excellency Francisco
Orozco, Archbishop of Guadalajara who, because of the
religious persecution, was on his way to Havana. Father
Félix shared his plans with the bishop who answered:
- Father Félix, it is not the
time to found anything in Mexico. We cannot even minister to
the people. All the bishops have had to go underground. Go
back to Havana with me and I will help you do anything.
Thank you, Archbishop, but I
have waited ten years to be able to return to Mexico, and
from the beginning I had been warned that I would establish
this community "in the midst of the agony of the country".
-You are out of your mind!
But if God wills it, go in peace, because the country is in
Father Félix took the train
to Puebla while the revolutionary army of General Obregón
entered triumphantly into Mexico City.
At the Conferences of Torreón
(July 8, 1914), the revolutionary heads had agreed, among
other things "to correct, punish and demand the proper
responsibilities from the Roman Catholic clergy". And
Francisco Villa, in his September 1914 manifesto exhorted to
the fulfillment of these dispositions "because of the just
resentment of the Constitutional Party against the members
of the Catholic clergy who had a role in supporting the
dictatorship". These were the excuses used by many liberals
and masons who joined the ranks of the revolution to
persecute the Church, confiscate its possessions, shoot many
priests, close the seminaries and Catholic schools as well
as the convents and churches.
And under these circumstances
Father Félix came to found a religious congregation of
He arrived in Puebla looking
for Archbishop Ibarra, but its Excellency was in hiding in
Mexico City because of the persecution. Father Félix himself
had to remain in hiding in Puebla, in a house, together with
his Marist brothers who worked in a school in that city. It
was not until October 24th that he received a message from
Archbishop Ibarra and at that time he went to the capital
taking all due precautions.
That same day Father Félix
went to Conchita’s house. For ten years they had no
communication at all. Father Félix shook her hand and he simply
"I still feel the same way
about the Works of the Cross."