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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For this chapter, I will excerpt pertinent material from Father Vicente Méndez’ writing and talks. 

"Our founding father is a real teacher. When I entered the novitiate with other classmates, we knew nothing about the religious life, nor about the spirituality of the missionaries of the Holy Spirit, but Father Félix taught us everything." 


Father Félix insisted on this point. We can divide his teaching on this subject under three headings: 

A. Personal Prayer
B. Adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament
C. Liturgical and community prayer, especially the Eucharist 

Father Félix summarized personal prayer outside the chapel as paying LOVING ATTENTION TO GOD and he explained it thus: 

- Did any of you have a girl friend before coming to the novitiate? -Yes, Father. 

-And did you think about her a great deal? 


-Well, now you substitute God for your girl friend, Our Lord, who is not only next to you, but within you, and this is LOVING ATTENTION. 

- Do you know the sunflower? 


-Well, just like that flower follows the sun from morning till night, so our heart can be looking for God all day, and this is LOVING ATTENTION. 

-This is not something one acquires easily. We have to make an effort to acquire this habit until being with God becomes as indispensable to us as breathing. I suggest these three things to you: try to think about God a little more every day, avoid useless thoughts and do not allow your heart to become attached to anything, or anyone because then there will be not room for God. 

-Inner silence is also necessary. Avoid useless curiosity: wanting to know who comes in or goes out, or being on the prowl for news, or meddling in other people’s lives and things that have nothing to do with you.

-Do you think reporters have that inner silence required to find God? No. Well, in monasteries we sometimes find novice-reporters, and they will never advance in the ways of prayer. Avoid being like that.

-Try to keep the house quiet; do not only avoid useless conversations which distract you and the rest but also avoid noise: do not bang doors, or move chairs noisily; a silent house helps one to think about God. Do this for the love of others, so as not to distract them, to help them be with God." 

Father Félix lived in the presence of God. Hundreds of times we heard him summarize his talks in a way which characterized him: he would close his eyes and say slowly: "God... God...God...God... only God." 

He wrote to me: "My health is not very good; I am really full of ailments but the presence of God does not leave me even for a moment." 

He recommended frequent celebration of the Eucharist, but what really impressed us was to watch him celebrate Mass every day. I never saw him hurry or become distracted. One could see that he was practicing what he taught: "Offer to the Father the only perfect victim, which is Jesus, in union with our Mother Mary, who offers Him always in heaven; unite yourselves to her intentions which are so wise, to her great love for all. With her, offer Jesus to the Father asking that His kingdom come and His will be done on earth. But offer yourselves together with Jesus, unconditionally, for the Father to do what He will with your lives, without fear, because no one loves you as does that Father of infinite goodness." 

And I can say the same thing about prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  Certainly he talked much about it, but what we really learned was his example. Despite his multiple occupations, he was very faithful to his prayers, an hour during the day and another hour at night.  He told us one day: 

-When you see me in chapel, do not disturb me under any circumstances, unless a bishop wishes to see me. This is Jesus' time and everything else must wait. 

At, night he took his turn at adoration for an hour, just like we did: with a light wooden cross on his shoulder and a crown of thorns on his head.  The crown was not intended to hurt, but rather was symbolic. Our father told us that the purpose of these symbols was to make us aware that we were offering ourselves to the Father together with Jesus, the way He had done it when He was on the Cross and crowned with thorns, with all our love and for the salvation of all. 

Sometimes he took two or three turns. And we know that sometime he stayed all night before the Most Blessed Sacrament, because the novice whose duty it was to clean his room found the bed untouched. One day I got up quickly and went to the chapel and there I found Father Félix, fast asleep. He had wanted to keep vigil all night with Our Lord, but sleep had gotten the better of him. 

I remember that whenever I went out with him he would tell me: "Let's go say good bye to the Lord," and upon returning he would say: "Let's go say hello to the Lord." It was only for a couple of minutes but you should have seen his recollection and how he genuflected when he arrived and when he left the chapel... You could tell that he practiced very well what he recommended many times we do: "Let your genuflecting reveal your faith." 


On this point our founder did not set down many theories; he was very practical. This was some of the advice I remember he gave us regarding fraternal charity: 

"In conversation, do not interrupt the person who is talking; let him finish and show attention and interest although he be boring. Do not try to impose your point of view; know how to yield, because union and peace are worth more than anything else. Neither should you try to monopolize the conversation or always take the lead; let everyone participate and, if necessary, keep silent to give others a chance to express themselves. 

If you are angry, do not show it; the others are not responsible for what happened. Always have a pleasant demeanor and try in this way to make others happy. 

Never have a good time at the expense of another person. Know how to refrain from saying the clever or timely word if you believe it will hurt or bother your brother. Never make fun of anyone, or try to show off at the expense of another. 

During free time, go along with what the rest want to play although it may not be to your liking.

At meals do not pay so much attention to your food; watch to see if the others need anything, if they are lacking anything, and offer to serve them water. 

Treat with greater kindness those you like the least; that way you will get used to not discriminating against anyone; that is true love. 

Speak well of the others, because this tends to unite the community. Never criticize anyone.  Do not ever judge anyone because that is God's prerogative. 

Pay attention to the good qualities of the others. They all have good qualities although sometimes they do not know how to maximize them. Encourage others to develop their aptitudes.

Be good to your superiors. Be understanding. It is not easy to be a superior. It is an arduous and thankless task. Whether the superior fulfills his task well or poorly, he is never responsible for having been named to that office. And I assure you that they all wish to do their job the best they can." 

All his advice regarding charity was very practical, he was very kind when correcting our faults, but when we failed in fraternal charity, he became stern. 

Again, what instructed us best on this point was his example. Everyone says that kindness was his characteristic virtue. 

He was so attentive to each one, that we all thought we were his favorite person.  He had a list of our birthdays and he never failed to write us a letter of congratulations, very brief, but very loving, he used to handwrite these letters using two colors of ink, putting in red what he wanted to emphasize. 

He also showed his love through gratitude. I have never heard anyone say the words "thank you" with as much sincerity as our father. 

It came from the depths of his soul. "Thank you, my dear son!" was one of his favorite expressions.

Once when he was sick it was my turn to bring him lunch. When I returned to pick up the fray l asked him: 

"Was it good, mon pére?' 

"Oh yes, thank you. The taste of love was very strong." 


Father Félix did penance and fasted. But, good spiritual director that he was, he know that God does not lead everyone down the same path. That is why he used to say to us: 

"Jesus tells us that if we wish to be his disciples we have to follow him carrying 'our cross every day.' So, without a cross, we cannot follow Jesus. But this daily cross does not consist of doing penance, but rather of offering God with love everything that is difficult for us: religious observance, patience with the rest, the faithful fulfillment of all our duties, prayer when we find ourselves in a time of spiritual aridity, overcoming the temptations to fulfill the commandments... All of this is 'the daily cross.'" 

To be self-sacrificing is to say many times during the day: "Nothing for me, all for Jesus." 

The most perfect advice I can give you regarding this point is what our spiritually points out: To be victims in union with Jesus who always offered himself to the Father, moved by the great love that the Holy Spirit had poured out on Him. 

To be victims with Jesus does not necessarily mean to do penance. Rather it is an internal attitude, it is a constant YES to everything God wants; a big YES, as large as the sky; a confident and generous surrender, without limit or condition. That is what it means to be a victim; it does not mean to do something, but to really love, accepting all the consequences of a true love. 

Jesus' time came. Perhaps He did not do penance, but one night the hour of Gethsemani arrived, of the unjust judgment and of the condemnation and the lashes and carrying the cross and being nailed to it; and Jesus said YES to the Father: "Not my will but yours be done." "Father, I place my life in your hands." 

"Our time" will come to each of us. A time of sickness, of a very violent temptation; a time to lose our beloved relatives or friends; a lime of misunderstandings, false accusations, persecution, unjust judgments. And then we will say the same YES of Jesus, closely united to Him and with the force of the same Holy Spirit who always gave Jesus the courage and light and love to offer Himself to the Father for the salvation of all." 

"Do you understand the spirituality of the Cross? It is to be self-sacrificing, it is to carry one's cross together with Jesus." 

One day I went with our father to the Apostolic School. He visited each classroom and greeted each student with a handshake. Then he talked to them for a little while. I remember that he told the younger ones the following story:

"One day St. Peter lost the key to heaven, so nobody could go in and a long line started forming at the door. And the key was nowhere to be found. St. Peter himself was outside and could not get in and the line got longer and longer and they were all impatient... 

St. Peter started crying. But then a little old lady stepped out of the line and got close to St. Peter, winked at him and said: 

-Don't cry, I have the key...
-You have it! Did you steal it from me?  

- No, don’t be silly. And the little old lady took off a chain she was wearing around her neck with a cross her mother had given her when she was a young girl, and she told St. Peter:

-Don't you know that this is what opens the doors of heaven for all of us and that the person who carries the cross of Jesus never remains outside? 

And immediately they went to the door and the little old lady put the cross in the keyhole and opened wide the door so all could go in.

And you, my dear children, do you always carry the cross of Jesus?  Don’t think that you have to wear it on a chain, no. The point is to imitate Jesus who always obeyed the will of God the Father, always, always, even to His death on the cross..." 


Let’s not forget that Father Félix belonged to the Society of Mary from the time he was 19 until he was 53 years old.  It is not surprising that he would have great trust and love for the Mother of Jesus.  Our father was not a writer.  He wrote a booklet entitled “Conference about the Stars” and another on the life of Mary Martell.  But the only book he wrote was one entitled MARY. And this is very significant. 

Our father prayed the three parts of the rosary daily, that is to say 150 Hail Marys. We used to watch him walking in the orchard, rosary in hand, praying away... And since we were novices we were imprudent and would get near to ask for permission or to ask him something, something silly... But he would smile and answer us, as the Mother of Jesus would have done, she with whom he was so united at that moment. That is how I knew that our father prayed the rosary well. 

Father Félix instituted a custom that we still observe: in each house of our congregation there is always an image of Mary above the door of the superior’s room. Our Founder taught us that what that means is that the true Superior and Queen of each of our houses is the Mother of Jesus, who is also our Mother". 

This chapter would be longer if we wished to gather the testimonials that his students have given regarding the teachings of Father Félix. But that is not necessary, since the second part of this book deal with the Spirituality of our founder. We will read his teachings in his own words, from quotations of what he himself wrote.

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