TEACHINGS OF THE FOUNDER
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
A. Personal Prayer
B. Adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament
C. Liturgical and community prayer, especially the
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
-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
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
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
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."
LOVE OF NEIGHBOR
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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..."
LOVE FOR THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
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