THE END OF A JOURNEY
We have reached the year
1936. Father Félix was 76 years old, but continued to be the
leader and unifying force of his small Congregation.
This year the political
situation in Mexico continued on the same track. Father
Félix's letters reflect this reality. For example, we have
one letter from the 23th of March:
"The theft of our houses has
been completed. They have put us out on the street. But
everything has been to our advantage, because God has given
us many graces for having suffered for his sake. We have
lost all our material things, but we have gained everything
spiritual: more faith, more trust in God, a better spirit,
hope in a better future. We owe all this to God. Blessed be
His name" (To Margarita Boulagnon, March 23, 1936).
Besides the cross of
misunderstandings and persecution, God willed that Father
Félix also bear often the cross of illnesses. They were an
opportunity of personal purification for him, and of a
greater union with Christ Crucified. It will be
worth our while to focus on this aspect of his life because
it gives us priceless examples which we can imitate should
we become ill.
When he was very young, he
suffered from arthritis and while in Barcelona he suffered
tuberculosis of the lungs. When in Mexico, at 63, in January
of 1923, his leg became gangrenous for lack of care of an
infected sore. The doctors' diagnosis was worrisome and many
feared for his life. But he finally got over it:
“I am well now, thank God. I
was very ill. What a life! It can end when we least expect
it to... Ask the Lord that I serve Him better in the little
time I have left." (To Maria de Jesús Madrigal, January 10,
Father Félix regained his
health and continued to work intensely, but in 1927 he
became very ill again. The cause was amoebic dysentery but
the doctors had failed to diagnose it correctly.
"For the first time in my
life, our Lord has kept me in bed for a long time. Since
March 1, I have tried to get up to celebrate Holy Mass, but
I have had to interrupt it. Praise be to God! Illnesses make
us suffer, but they do us spiritual good.
"From my bed I have been able
to settle much pending business, thinking that the Lord may
want to take me to my eternal abode. But the doctor is
confident that I will get well again." (To Alice Calamy,
March 25, 1927).
In the early part of 1928 he
suffered from extreme exhaustion, because of excessive work,
little sleep and many concerns:
"I have touched bottom in
terms of exhaustion. Praise be to God! But I am sure I will
get well again, if that is the holy will of God. And if it
is not, whatever God wills. Today I had to stop in the
middle of Mass. The doctor forbade me to celebrate for a few
days. Our Lord has given me patience. Thank you, Lord!
"For me, the worst sacrifice
is not to be able to do anything... Well, I hope to be able
to give you good news soon. Thank you for your prayers." (To
the students in the house in Rome, February 19, 1929).
The doctors again diagnosed
amoebic dysentery and attacked the illness by means of such
strong intravenous shots that they almost killed Father
Félix. After the first injections he wrote to Bishop
"I am much worse. I can no
longer write to you. I am extremely weak. But I can still
dictate these lines. I want to be cured or to die happily
surrounded by my sons. That is why I will move in with them
in the novitiate. I will renew my religious vows there,
receive the Holy Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick, and
I will remain in the midst of my own as long as God wills. I
commend myself to your prayers and ask for your blessing."
(May 16, 1928).
No sooner said than done. The
next day he moved to the novitiate. He asked for the
Anointing of the Sick, which he received with great
devotion, and then he prayed: "My Father, if You wish to
take me, I accept your most holy will. If You wish to leave
me here longer, I also give myself to You to do as you
Later that day he wrote to
"I want to let you know that
I am at the novitiate. Today was a very happy day for me,
because I returned to my center, with my own. I have great
hopes of getting well because that is what we have asked the
Father repeatedly, in the name of Jesus. I commend myself to
your prayers and beg you to bless me and all the rest." (May
Father Félix regained his
strength, little by little, and with a great deal of
optimism he wrote to the students in Rome:
"I am very well, thanks be to
God. I eat everything, even beans and tortillas, but not
chilies. I can lead my normal religious life. I continue to
express my gratitude to God after having been so close to
death." (July 2, 1928).
The following year, 1929, in
the month of March, the amoebic dysentery returned in full
"The doctors say that the
same illness I had last year has returned and I think this
time it will take me because I am getting weaker. May the
will of God be done! The rest is nothing." (To Father
Iturbide, March 24, 1929).
On Good Friday he wrote to
the missionaries in Rome:
"Human life is a day of work
and love. But it finally reaches its limit. But just as
Jesus died to continue living and loving, so the
missionaries of the Holy Spirit will also die to continue
living in heaven a more active and more fruitful life. We
will continue to work and love in heaven, as Jesus does for
all His Church."(Good Friday, 1929).
The year 1930 was not a good
year for Father Félix's health. His appetite disappeared, as
he tells Sister Ana María Gómez:
"Every day I have to struggle
with my 'atole'" (a thick, hot milk drink). (March 20).
On June 28 of that year, he
wrote the following:
"For the last five years I
have been struggling between health and extreme weakness.
May God's will be done! I hope these sacrifices have been
beneficial for the Works of the Cross".
Two days later, he wrote to
the Superior in Morelia:
"I am more or less healthy.
But who is healthy any longer? It is no longer in style. I
am in bed and not feeling well since I returned from San
Luis. Nevertheless, I hope to recover because, I cannot be
accepted as a victim, for being who I am. God knows how to
choose souls that are valuable to be His victims.
Unfortunately, I am not one of them; rather, I am run of the
mill. That is why I ask the Eternal Father to cure me, in
the name of Jesus, and I am sure He will grant it." (To
Father Treviño, June 30, 1930).
He also wrote to the
Daughters of the Holy Spirit:
"My health is very
good...That is to say, it is the way God wishes to give it
to me these days. And God only gives His children good
"The truth is that I have
been working a great deal, beyond what I am capable of
doing, and now I am paying the price. But the worst days are
the best if we know how to take advantage of them.
"I promise to be prudent and
take care of myself. I am sure that very soon I will be
fine." (July 30, 1930).
He got much better during the
month of July because the doctors discovered he was anemic
and gave him four blood transfusions.
"Just imagine, I would have
died very soon if they had not given me a blood test.
Instead of five million red corpuscles that I should have, I
only have one and it is impossible to live that way.
"All the novices want to
donate their blood. How grateful I am!" (Letter to
After the fourth transfusion,
Father Felix told the doctor:
"Now you should congratulate
me because I have a lot of Mexican blood. I even dreamed
that I participated in a cock fight!"
On August 26, he took a few
days' rest in the home of Conchita Cabrera and his spiritual
director, Archbishop Ruíz, ordered him to take advantage of
that "vacation" to write what he remembered about his
participation in the Works of the Cross. Conchita wrote in
"That very afternoon we
started working. He dictated to me and I wrote it down. We
covered a lot of ground, remembering so many painful events,
so many grace filled moments and also so many successes.
Later he dictated a short autobiography." (August 30,
On January 6, 1931, he
suffered an intestinal occlusion and was taken by ambulance
to the French Hospital for emergency surgery. The operation
lasted two hours. There followed several days during which
he struggled between life and death, suffering greatly. The
sleepless nights seemed endless. Sometimes he would ask what
time it was and then he would comment: "Oh, Lord, this clock
is not working!".
But he got over the danger
and recuperated rather quickly, so that by the end of
February he could return to the novitiate. And the 20th of
April he wrote to his niece, Ivonne, as follows:
"I have started to celebrate
Mass again, after three months of enforced abstention.
Praise be to God for everything! Everything comes from God
and He is our Father. He is infinite love."
"I will be in bed for some
time. How long? ... only God knows. But if this is His will,
that is what I want."
In September he wrote:
"I am much better. However, I
feel as if I had wooden fingers and I can hardly manage
them. How instructive illnesses are! Pain purifies and
unites one to God. This time it has lasted a year already. I
hope I have suffered with love and resignation." (To Teresa
Lozano, September 21, 1931).
The year 1932 and 1933 were
good for Father Félix's health. He wrote to the students in
"I am pretty good, suffering
from the ailments proper to my age which, thank God, do not
keep me from working." (July 4, 1933).
And two more years passed
with ups and downs in terms of ailments, but not bad
considering his age. At Christmas in 1934 he wrote:
"I am well, very well. I have
some problems with my legs. My illness consists of having
celebrated 74 on the 17th. They tell me I look 50. That is
what they say... Please pray to God that in the same way
that my health has improved, my soul will improve also..."
(December 24, 1934).
Father Félix made his
spiritual exercises in May of 1935, although he complained
of a sharp pain in the area of the liver. After the week's
retreat, he wrote his resolutions:
"I will pray four hours a day
and I will be patient and kind." (Diary, May 30, 1935).
Around this time, Father
Félix agreed to staff another church: Nuestra Señora de la
Merced (Our Lady of Mercy) in Celaya. This was the fourth
church the Congregation served.
In 1936, Father Félix
accepted the church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Our Lady
of the Rosary) in San Luis Potosí on October 25. And the
next year he was given El Santuario de Nuestra Señora de
Guadalupe (the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe) in
Saltillo. This was the last foundation established by Father
Of the last two years, 1936
and 1937, Father Félix had the following to say:
"I went through everything:
colds, exhaustion, fevers, rheumatism and strong headaches
that forced me to go to bed. God be praised!"
On March 3, 1937 Conchita
Cabrera died. It was a terrible blow to all the Works of the
Cross, but even more so for Father Felix.
By this time, his eyesight
was failing him.
On June 29, he petitioned
"I beg you to grant me
permission to pray fifteen mysteries of the Rosary instead
of reading the Breviary. The last two years I could still
read the Breviary, although my right eye was almost gone,
but now the left one is also losing strength. For this
reason my confessor advised me to ask for this permission."
Such was the state of his
health when he celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest on
September 24, 1937.
This is the short speech he
made after a dinner offered in his honor:
"There is a great deal of
truth in the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians: that we
ought to spend our life being grateful for God's gifts. We
have received so many spiritual gifts, gifts of the body as
well as material gifts. He gives us all these benefits.
"But there are special graces
that we are unable to truly appreciate, such as the grace of
the priesthood, which has been the reason for this
celebration during which you have congratulated me with such
"I am deeply grateful to all
of you who wanted to be with me to thank God for so many
benefits which I have received throughout 50 years of
"May the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of Jesus, and mother of all priests, obtain for us
the grace of responding completely to our holy vocation. And
that after having worked following the footsteps of Jesus in
this temporal world, we will be united in the possession of
God in the world that endures forever, in an eternal life of
happiness, gratitude and love."