Edification letter

 

J.M. +  J. T.
                          

DISCALCED CARMELITES OF SAINT

THERESA OF JESÚS

PALMA MAJORCA (BALEARICS ISLANDS - SPAIN)

                             

                                                       Edification Letter

MOTHER MARY  CONCEPTION

OF ST. JAMES AND ST. THERESA

(1905- 1999)

L.D. et Vque. M.

J.M.+ J.T.

The Heart of Jesus be always in our souls, dearestMother Prioress and Community.

It is with sweet nostalgia and at the same time with deep gratitude andhapiness, we inform you of the departure to heaven of our much loved MotherMary Conception of St. James and St. Theresa of Jesus, which took place on7 February 1999 at the age of 93, leaving behind a halo of virtue and holiness.We mean “sweet nostalgia” we wish we were able to always live with soul, soentirely given to the Heart of Jesus! With gratitude to God for having let herbe with us for such a long time  - shelived for 70 years in this little dovecot of Our Lady – giving  strength and solidity to each one of us and tothe whole Community. With “joy” as we suppose she is enjoying great glory inheaven.

Mary Conception de Oleza y Gual de Torrella was the first-born of Jaimede Oleza y España, Lt. Colonel of the infantry, and María Concepción Gual deTorrella Villalonga. Eight brothers followed her. Her father, Jaime, was alsothe first – born and the inheritor of his family.

ANCESTRY

We are talking about one of the most noble families of our city of Palma, who arrived at the time when King James I came toconquer Majorca. They were a very Christianpatriarch family and of good tradition. As a surprising note for our Order itwould be right to mention that the famous Carmelite historian, Fr. Angelo Torrens,writes in his book, “The Glories of Carmel” that in the year 1375, the Rv. P.Prior of the Order was Fr. Bernard – known also, as “Bernardino Olense” – wasan ascendant of the mentioned dynasty “Oleza” and was re-elected in Bruges in1379.

To a greater honour tothis family we can say likewise, that the first bishop of our island of Majorca,Ramon Torrella was also one of her ancestors.

       Her parents were verystraight and good Christians, and all the family were extremely devoted to theBlessed Virgen Mary and to the Heart of Jesus. All their daughters were christenedMary and their only son, Mariano, who in 1938, died gloriously on thebattlefront giving his life to save one of his colleagues of a lower rank.

CHILDHOOD

María Concepción was born on 25 of April 1905. The following day she waschristened at St. Eulalia Parish Church with the names Maria ConcepciónManuela Josefa and All the Saints, but was commonly known as Maria.She told us about a maid who said to her many times, “rata pinyada” – lying bat– and she said it so many times that at the end the little girl repeated it inthe way she could: “da- ta –pi –nya-da”. She told us with sadness: “you see,the first word that I said  waslying-bat, instead of saying Jesus or Mary”.

From very young she started to show her character and obstinacy. Oneday, her father made her pick up a paper on the floor, but she did not want to.So, her father warned her, and she was as willing as little St. Theresa. Shecried so much that her father took a photograph of her, so that by seeing howunsightly she looked, it would teach her a lesson, so she would not cry again.That famous and original photograph was in the house for a long time untilrecently, it was torn by her sisters.

She made her first Holy Communion at the age of 7 at the MM. Repairers’s Church.

In that house they practised the most devout and common prayers: Month ofthe Sacred Heart of Jesus, Month of May, the Holy Souls, and St. Joseph. Every afternoon in the house, thefamily said together the rosary with the domestic staff. It was usually led byher grandfather, and when he died, was then aimed at her father led it as hewas the eldest son. Meanwhile, they made purificators, chasuble and cingulosembroideries and embroidery in silk, etc..., all for the chapel at their home.As María was little and still did not know how to use a needle, they did notgive her any duties. Then, she complained strongly saying: “and myself, des,des, des” = res, res, res (nothing, nothing and nothing). As she wasgetting older she then helped doing things for the church. They gave her workthe same as to her aunts and elderly people. Then, she was very happy, becauseshe did not like being around doing nothing.

The three eldest daughters never went to school, but they hadgovernesses in their home to teach them. They studied in the mornings and theafternoons were free to meet their cousins to play. They led a very intensefamily life.

ADOLESCENCE – DEFECTS

 We wish now tomention about all her defects. We asked her relatives to tell us about them sothat you can see how the grace of God, together with her own efforts, workedwithin her. In fact, we need to do a true act of faith to believe theseapparent defects, as they seem to us highly unlikely, because we knew her inthe convent practising heroically the virtues contrary to such defects. Blessedbe the Lord who does great works in the souls who truly offer themselves tohim.

     María was a kind modest and very goodchild, but still not perfect nor saint. One of her main defects was being verylazy in getting up in the morning. She had tried many times, but it was no use.

Asshe had a talent for painting, Mr. Vicente Furió – a famous portrait painter-went to her house to teach her oil-painting. He taught her to do still-lifepainting, but María did not agree in doing only that, and very soon afterstarted to do portraits. She did it so well that Mr. Furió was alarmed, fearingthat she would take away his clients. Immediately, she realised what washappening and later she told us, with humility and truth: “from that moment onhe did not want to teach me anymore”. Among others, she did a master oil-painting: the apparition of Our Lady of Pilar to St. James (her father wascalled James) a magnificent and original composition in which she knew how tocombine the Blessed Virgin of Trinity byVelazquez and angels from different ofMurillo’s paintings and, at the same time, added a few more little angels thatwere portraits of her relatives like the one of her little sister, who died atthe age of two.

      We have already mentioned that she wasvery lazy in getting up in the mornings. When Mr. Furió called at the house andjust entered, at that moment and not before, María got up very quickly and,during the time he walked up the stairs, she got ready and greeted him as ifshe had already been up for a while. She also had another fault: when shefinished the painting session she never cleaned the palette or the paintbrushes.One particular day she did so and from then onwards. This was a detail whichthe teacher noticed, because it drew his attention strongly and he soonrealised that his pupil was going for a nun. What a relief it must have beenfor him! She would not be a competition for him anymore.

MORE FAULTS

Maria,although very good had, as we have already mentioned, notable faults, aboveall, to her sisters who lived with her: “She wasn’t humble, rather veryhaughty, and so when she was reprimanded she didn’t answer back, but lifted herchin up and had her own way”.

       She was, like our Holy Mother Teresa, avery keen reader. She read novels and novels non-stop. They were good booksfrom the Catholic library and some were religious. Perhaps, what was not sogood was her great keenness. During that time she looked after her littlesister, her godchild and, in order that she would leave her alone to read atease and not whimper, she made her a doll out of sugar in the form of a dummyto suck. She ordered the maids on the floor below: “Bring up some sugar”.She put her forefinger and middle-finger one each of the little girl’s eyelids,so that she would go to sleep at the same time that she was sucking the sugar.She was then able to read without obstacles. This idea caused the poor littlegirl’s teeth to decay.

     On the other hand, being the elder of thenine brothers and sisters she felt like another boss of the house, and shewanted to have them all under her orders, but there was one sister amongst theelders who did not go along with her so easily because she did not want thatMaría would tell her what she had to do. This sister also said about María: “Apartfrom that, she was selfish and spoilt. For example, if there was an armchairand she was able to sit on it she would not let me sit “. So, how gratefulwe are to have these confidences that will help us so much to glorify God andencourage us to overcome our own misery. If she achieved so much with God’sgrace, why can’t we!

COMING OF AGE

Although 18 years was the usual, María became of age at16. The event   consisted in putting herhair up, making a bun and wearing high heels. From that moment, she began totake part in the social events of the high society of her time. We have gotsome photographs in which María shows off her best and luxurious fancy dressesat the Majorcan social gatherings. Also, she went to Spanish musicals,comedies, operas, etc...In a word, to everything that was taking place. She wasby nature very modest and very straight in how she dressed and went about. Onthe other hand, her father did not let them dance.

      We have not said anything yet about herphysique. She was of medium height, of very fine and delicate skin-complexion,very white, blue eyes and reddish hair. As for one of the disguises, the“Menina” one, it was very difficult to find false hair ringlets of the samehair colour. At the end they found some. Judging by the photographs she lookedlike a queen. María always liked to look her best. Many times, in the conventshe told us with great sincerity that she thought she was ugly – and to be trueshe wasn’t at all – but, did she think like this during the times that she wasgoing to so many parties?

                  She was a great sportwoman.During the summer afternoons she played tennis with friends of the family inone of the properties that they had- they had many- or she used to swim at thehouse by the sea called ”Corp Marí”. Perhaps, what she stood out more washorse- riding. Those who remember her tell us that she was a great horse-ridder(riding side-saddle). “She rode with great elegance, and did so like nobodyelse”. As well, she would be noted for jumping high obstacles and some sodifficult, that very few would dare to do so.

                 So, this is how her life willbe: being moved by a burning love towards the Heart of Jesús and wanting not todisappoint Him, she would use all her strength of will and intelligence to jumpover with confidence and naturalness the highest and most difficult obstaclesthat God would put before her through out her life so as to bring her to thepoint of perfection.

                 As she rode so well, she was invited to takepart in one of the first Majorcan films titled, “El Secreto de la pedriza”(“The Ranny’s Secret”), sponsored by one of her relatives. It was a film aboutMajorcan customs, in which María rode a horse. However, the best film she madein her life, was the one she herself interpreted through her life, and whoseDirector and Producer was God.

                When she was 21, sheaccompanied her mother to Romeand they had the pleasure to be received by the Holy Father. Both wore thetraditional black costume and went dressed up elegantly with back combs. TheHoly Father conceded her and her family the Papal blessing and plenaryindulgence “in articulo mortis”, even though, in the case of not being able toconfess or take Holy Communion, prior act of contrition, by pronouncing theHoly Name of Jesús by word or by heart.

                 They visited the catacombs andholy places; and how well she remembered afterwards and with such veneration!Though, not all was so fervourous. Maria saw a lace that fascinated her, andasked her mother to buy it as a present for her wedding day. Her motheranswered her “If I like the son-in-law”.

                  In Romeshe met a minor Franciscan monk, a relation of the beatified Fr. JuníperoSerra, who a Majorcan from Petra, and a famousmissionary in California.Later, he wrote letters to her of spiritual direction.

A MISSION ISPREACHED: MARÍA FALLS OFF HER HORSE

We are now in Lent 1929 at the time when María was 22. Shewas surrounded by everything that a girl could wish for in the world. She livedcalmly enjoying her youth, when a famous mission was preached in the city of Palma by the Jesuits,Franciscan Fathers, Sacred Hearts Missionaries and Capuchins. They distributedthemselves between the Cathedral and the three big parishes of the town, whichwas completely mobilized. Big, small, rich and poor people came and took partin different events and preachings by the fervent missionaries. Many vocationscame out from this famous mission. María could not miss any of the events, butshe could never imagine that God would pull her off her horse like He did toSt.Paul, or better, out of bed where it was more difficult to pull her out of.

                    The first sacrifice that theHeart of Jesus would ask María, “the lie-in-bed”, was to get up at a time thatshe would never have dreamt of. Of course, in all her life she had never got upat 5,30 inthe morning. We already know how lazy she was in getting up in the morning. Shehad will-power and tried, but all was useless. She was in need of a specialgrace to be able to overcome this laziness; and this grace would come to herthrough Our Lady.

                    The mission began with therosary at dawn and, María, as she loved Our Lady so strongly wanted to attendit, but seeing herself incapable of getting up as early as 5,30 am, she calledupon Our Blessed Mother sure that She would help her. This incomparable Motherwas waiting for her. From that moment the young girl understood for the rest ofher life that her own efforts were not enough; she had to rely totally andabove all on God’s help. This light was one of the graces that set her up forever. The Blessed Virgin had already conceded her the grace. From that momentshe would be always the most punctual person that one could imagine, beginningwith this getting up in the morning at Carmel,which sometimes is not that easy. To hear the sound of the “tablillas” to wakeup the Community and jump out of bed was all one and it was for life. Moreover,during many years she would get up before the Community so she could sound theboards.

                    In this mission, the Motherof God did not only grant her the grace to get up early, but also, through thepreacher Fr. Iñesta, S.I., She delivered to her the gift of religious vocation.Our Lady is always so grateful, even though we offer her a little sacrifice,and seeing our love and good intention in return, grant us graces in abundance.

MARÍA teaching catechism

Maria already had a great missionary spirit. While she wasteaching   catechism to her two little sisters, Mercedesand Blanca and to her cousin Ana, she made them to see how the Catholics in Mexico weresuffering a massive religious persecution, by which they should be good andpray for them.

                     Also in order to instil inthem Our Blessed Mother’s love, she taught them some prayers to Our Lady, like:the “Blessed be yor purity...”, “the three Hail Marys” at night and in themorning. Apart from that, she would teach them other common prayers such as tothe Guardian Angel, the Creed, and the prayers before and after confession...If María stood out in her classes for her great patience, the small pupilsstood out for being little rascals.

                     María had a lot of veneration andrespect towards her parents and, at the same time, perhaps a greater trust.Proof of that, is that the first person in whom she entrusted her secret abouther religious vocation was her own father.

HER SISTERSNOTICED IT, BECAUSE...

                    Once she received the calling for her vocationshe decided to change her life completely and to begin her climb towardsholiness. The first step was to stop going to parties, theatre and other placesshe used to go. One of her sisters who used to go out with her, noticedstraightaway and told her mother, pointing out : “ she’s going to be a nun”,and she nodded her head without thinking.

                    Even one of the youngest,Mercedes, one of the little rascals to whom María taught doctrine and was atthe time nearly 5 years old, noticed the transformation. While she was givingthe class, the little one had the bright idea of pulling out the hairpins thatMaría wore in her hair, so as to loosen her hair-bun, and María did not getangry, which was very unusual, as before she would have given her a goodtelling-off.

                   Even the maids noticed, as María beganto help them to take up heavy jugs of water from the entrance, where the wellwas, up to the rooms as far as the third or fourth floor.

HER LIFE SECRET: HER CONFIDENCE IN THE HEARTOF JESUS

As anyone who believes he can reach the summit just byrelying on his own efforts, María soon tripped up.

As we have already said, she made a firm purpose since herconversion no to take part anymore in worldly activities, and she had no doubt.It was   decided. She was fully convincedthat by the mere purpose of her firm will, she  would comply without ado. It was imposible to stop doing what she had soseriously decided with all her will.

But the result was not the same. As there was a socialparty, one day, María, faithful to her firm promise, decided not to attend,putting all her trust in herself. As her grandmother was preparing her for theparty she showed her a gorgeous lamé to make her some shoes. Seeing it andfalling for, it was instant. So, without more ado, she went to the party. Buhow? Where was her firm compromise? Was it just a piece of cloth, no matter howgorgeous it looked, enough to make her desist?

This incident would mark her life for ever. From thatmoment, she was given such a profound and sincere humility, that it made herundestand the truth of the words of Jesus: “without Me, you can not doanything”. So, from then onwards, during her whole life, she began not to moveone step nor make any more proposals without counting, in a full and effectiveway, with the Heart of Jesus,in His divine and merciful Heart. She realisedthat she herself could not do anything without tripping up. Proof of that itwas that at the moment of making any kind of proposal she would add thesewords: “but, be you, Heart of Jesus, who makes me fulfil it”. She now clearly knew that without His help,she would fall without ado.

 She had understoodit for ever. Now, she could climb the hill towards holinness without danger offalling in arrogance. We are reminded of the words of our Mother Saint Teresa:“Teresa is a ‘maravedí’ (old Spanish coin: if you like, worhless), but Jesusand Teresa are one and can do everything.

Her father who used to say to María the famous proverb:“you’re quick at running away and slow-coming, like a donkey”, because of herlack of perseverance, she could not say anything  less than, with the Heart of Jesus she wouldnow walk away like a trotting horse and comeforth at the speed of a racinghorse.

SHORTLY BEFORE ENTERING THE CARMELITE CONVENT

One day, Mercedes heard a man who was walking along thestreet say a bad word and she repeated it. María, who was a straightforwardperson, wanted to correct her. So, the little one started to run off, becauseshe was afraid to be   scolded by herelder sister María, who immediately gave chase. The little rascal went to hideunder the table at the dining-room, but when María found her she put salt inher mouth so she would not say any more bad words.

When she revealed to her father that she wanted to be a Carmelitenun, he sent her to speak with Fr. Martín de Jesús María, C.D., so that hecould examine her to see if she really had a vocation. He was the founder andprior of the fathers’s convent in Palmafor many years. After speaking to her, Fr. Martín could not tell her fatheranything less than: “not only is your daughter’s vocation authentic, but also,-to her father’s surprise –in a short time they would make her prioress”.Later, as Fr. Martín saw his words come true, he added: “This wasn’t anyprophesy, it was something that was noticeable by seeing a young girl with sucha good disposition, and I saw that she would be a promising nun.

We do not know exactly the changes that were taking placein her soul, although, we do know some of the visible ones that were in her.What is remarkable is that María’s look on the photos we have after herconversion radiate peace and angelical pureness, which tells us what shealready had in her soul.

In the tradtional photo that was taken to aspirants at aprofessional studio, before entering Carmel, Maria, as anybody else forgotsomething: St. Theresa of The Andes put her religous headpiece on the wrong wayround and María, was also forgetful: she had not thought about taking her ringsoff.

There are always people who dedicate themselves todiscouraging those who decide offering themselves totally to God. One priest,who heard that she wanted to enter the Carmelites, warned her: “look, theCommunity will criticize and have a dig at a lady such as you, meaning, theywill make your life imposible”. She was not scared of anything. Later on,towards the end of her life when she told us this story, she said, full ofhumility and charity: “nobody has ever had a dig at me”.

 

ENTERING CARMEL

She entered the Carmelites in Palma Majorca, on the 24October 1928, the feast day of St. Rafael. She was 23 years old at that time.She chose this day so that the holy archangel would guide her along. She alwayshad a particular devotion for this saint.

Her father did not have enough courage to accompany hiseldest daughter to the convent gates. Although, he was a good Christian and abrave soldier, his strength did not reach that far. So, she was accompanied byher mother and some of her sisters. Nevertheless, María would remember for therest of her life, as a constant stimulus, the words her father told her: “Ifyou’re not a saint, there was no reason for you to leave us...” How hard it wasthat separation for her father. Of course, the noble gentleman would let her goonly for this reason – she had to be a saint- as he had a lot of plans for her.María would never forget those words, which gave her a sense of responsibilityfor good.

She loved her family very much and prayed for them, butwithout making an issue of it or showing the least importance. Many yearslater, one of her fellow sisters of the convent would remind her of her family“greatness”, but she answered: “we never talk about our families. We mustthink about Christ, Who left everything and was the King of kings; the more wedetach from ourselves, the more He will fill us with love”. With thisspirit and detachment, she tried to live the life of a descalced Carmelite nunfrom the moment she entered the convent.

As with all postulants, her mistress, one day, sent her togo and rest while the community continued in the choir. María did not like thisorder, as from the beginning she took very seriously the whole life ofobservance nor did she want to stint any sacrifice to the Heart of Jesús. Sheasked the mistress if she would let her attend the choir, but seeing that shewould not let her, she asked herself: “What suits the body more, to staywith the Community in the choir or to go to sleep? To go to sleep. What suitsthe soul more, to obey or to do one’s free will? To obey”, so she went tosleep to do God’s Will, and did not think of it anymore.

A NOVICE: Herreligious name

 

On her 24th anniversary, the 25 April 1929,María was dressed in the Holy Habit of Our Lady, what she so much wished for.The name that she wanted to take as a descalced Carmelite was MARÍA TERESADEL CORAZÓN DE JESÚS  (Mary Theresaof the Heart of Jesús) this name meant all she had inside her and she wanted topersonify it in her new life. Why? María: because of her tender Motherwhom she had always loved and the name she had since baptism. Teresa:because it showed her the charisma of Reformation and the way to perfection. Howwell she would live the spirit of our holy mothe Teresa in every detail of herreligious life!. del Corazón de Jesús, because she would only live forHis love, His glory, to give Him pleasure, to give Him souls... all was notenough for Him.

Altough, this was María’s wish, it was not the name theyimposed on her but: MARÍA DE LA CONCEPCIÓN DE SAN JAIME Y SANTA TERESA (MaryConception of St. James and St. Theresa). Thus, conserving her complete name ofbaptism, and at the same time, that of her mother’s. They imposed her St. Jamesin attention to her father.

The mother mistress taught them how they had always andeverywhere   try not to do as they wished: “You always haveto do the opposite of what you want to do”. The novice did not say anything,but she tought to herself: “I will always do what I want, because I neverwant to do anything more than God’s will. So I’ll do what I want”.

From the first moment she entered the convent she couldhave taken her vows, as her vision of religious life was so clear, like St. Theresaof Lisieux, nothing was surprise to her, nor was she amazed about anything. Hermotto was: “I have to work in such a way that everybody can do what I do”.How admiringly she fulfiled it during the seventy years of her religious life!She was truly a mirror of observance where we could all look at.

She never tires of thanking God for her vocation as adiscalced Carmelite. In a letter to an aunt of her’s, she wrote: “I thinkthat if I had to choose a thousand times over, I would choose the same athousand times”.

As she was a novice, she received a distinctive mysticalgrace, which we were never able to find out exactly what it consisted of. Themost we got out of her was that it was something very intense, like the fire oflove little St. Theresa had. Then she manifested to God that she wanted to liveon pure faith, and asked Him earnestly that He gave her these graces altogetherin heaven rather than here on earth.

They asked her if she would do a large oil-painting(approx. 2m X 1,5m) of St. Theresa Margaret, to be put in the church. TheCommunity wanted her father to sponsor it. Her father wanted to assure himselfof the artistic value of his daughter’s painting, as he was not ready to lookridiculous It seems that he consulted her old art teacher, Mr. Vicente Furió,who assured the noble gentleman, after seeing it, that it was quite good.

Her father wrote a little note to his daughter, who kept itduring all her life inside the Rule and Constitutions book. It read like this:“Dear daughter, I have read the life of the new beatified Carmelite nun thatyou have to paint, and I liked it very much. When you paint her, take noticethat she had red hair like you, and try, as you look alike in the hair, to lookalike also in holiness and obervance of the Rules of the Convent. Your fathergives you an affectionate hug and would as well like to be able to pay for yourpainting”.

Yes, they looked alike in their physique, and would alsobe in the observance of the Rules and Constitutions. This young sister MaríaConcepción would be for everyone a column of observance and faithfulness to ourHoly Laws.

THE TAKING OF VOWS

On  26  April 1930, the day after her birthday andthe anniversary of her baptism, she took her temporary vows for a period ofthree years, later on the same date, she took her solemn vows: withoutmitigation until death. We wish to point out clearly these words,because during her life she would repeat hem over and over again, whenever wewanted to give her alleviation: “when I took the vows, I did so withoutmitigation until I die”, she would repeat invariably.

As we have said, since the day she set foot in thisconvent she did so with “determinate determination”. As time went on she wasmore and more determinate until she became a distinguished figure in virtue andholiness: a complete Carmelite of rare sacrifice, observance and heroism.

OBEDIENCE: A LOOK OF FAITH

One of her first jobs was that of assistant sacristan. Thefirst sacristan was a sister to be reckoned as a hard worker and go-ahead. Thegood sister had the idea of making flowers and bouquets out of paper todecorate altars, during the time off at retreats and exercises. She was orderedto do it. Sister Conception   did notthink that the time she could have dedicated to meditate father’s talks wasprecisely the most convenient for that, –she did not see it necessary either –And internally she found it difficult to obey. Though, taking virtue out ofnecessity, as St. Theresa says, and with a clear image of faith, she appliedand dedicated herself, with all possible love, in making those flowers duringher free time. She knew that, at that moment, it was what God required from her.God rewarded her so much for that effort that she made in pleasing him andcarrying out his wish, that it just did not cost her anything. On the contrary,He awarded her a feeling of great taste inside her for that work. She wouldtell us about it after, so as to help us to live constantly in a supernaturalway, as she saw God’s will in all what we set out to do, although, at times itmay not be right.

She told us how she tried to obey any Sister, even if shewas young and had no authority over her. For example, one of the young sisters toldher that one could not go inside a particular room without lifting up herhabit. María Concepción saw the reason why it was like that before, but whenthe sister came to tell her about it, there was already no reason for it,because circumstances   had changed, andno sister would now lift up the habit to go in. However, as that meant no morethan self victory and humility on her part, she always remembered the warningof that sister, and obeyed that order for the rest of her life, even after thatsister had died. It was not until she was 87 years old that the Mother Prioressgot to know and took away from her that ‘order’. What patience and humility shehad had in accepting it! She was told by others that she had to lift up thehabit when she was going to the orchard. Nobody did, but she obeyed that hintuntil the end of her life.

On the other hand, she would never annoy others. She hadread how one should not interfere in the jobs of others, even if it was a smallthing like closing a window. She had always in her mind the ‘cautions’ and‘warnings to a religious from our father St.John of the Cross, of whom she was an illustriousdaugter. Also, the warning from our mother St. Theresa: “Ignore what you seeand practice the opposite virtue”.

When she finished her term as novice, she was given a cellas a professed nun, which she would occupy for the rest of her life. Behind thedoor there were some sharp points to hang things. When she saw them, theyseemed very few to her, as they would not be enough for her. So, she wanted toask for permission to put some more. Her strong faith and her spirit ofsacrifice helped her not to ask for more, and she spent the rest of her life asit was. Towards the end of her life she told us this detail by adding: “andit was enough for me and I did not need more”. When it seemed to us that wecould not do something she would usually say: “try”. Perhaps sheremembered the above incident.

THE CONSECRATION TO THE HEART OF JESÚS: the most perfect priniciple

After Pope Leon XIII gave the papal right, he thenconsecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesús. As a preparation he wrotethe Encyclical: “Annum sacrum”, in which it says: “This is the surest way tolive religion”; and also: “It is  appropriateand right to consecrate oneself to His Heart, because in Him  you find -the symbol and expression of  the infinite charity of Jesús. So, we promoteand exhort this devotion. This consecration brings hope of better times tonations. You have to put all hope in the Heart of Christ, plead to Him and waitsalvation from Him”.

Godconceded María Concepción to live for nearly a century this consecration. Shedied in 1999, the same year as the centenary.

PopePius XI (1928) wrote in his encyclical:”Miserntissimus Redemptor” thefollowing: “Is it not true that in this devotion it is preserved the synthesisof Christianity and the most perfect way of life? It is the way thatbest steers our souls to know Christ intimately, drive hearts into loving Himwith more fervour and imitate Him better”.

Sheconsecrated herself personally to Him with all she had on 8 August 1939, at theage of 34, and she did it with such sincerity that her life would not havesense in any other way. We have picked out some fragments of her consecration,which she lived heroically, with complete plainness, growing in happiness andgenerosity up to the last breath of her life:

“ImmaculateMother, I want to be all in Christ’s Heart, but you, being my mother, I do notwant to take one step further without you... Heart of Jesús, I want to be allyours and forever”.

“Iam glad to accept this pact that you desire with such sweetness and honour tolook after me, and I after you... Even though, You would take my life, I wouldtrust in You. My Lord, I want to forget completely of myself, of my owninterests and have absolute  trust inyou, resting with assured peace and tranquility in your sweet Providence...”

“Ipropose to do all that I can, so as not to have any ideals, here on earth norin heaven, than your holy interests”.

“Towork, because You reign in all hearts... to pray as constantly as I can,pleading your reign be in all parts at all times... and in all daily duties”.

“Passivesacrifices... so that You may reign... active sacrifice with penance andspiritual gains... mortification at all times...”

“Actsof virtue, carrying out carefully the duties of each moment, giving a goodexample, but without drawing any attention...”

“Iwant to do what is possible with sufferings, prayers and sacrifice, holy lifeapostolate so as to repair your divine honour and glory. Also, to restore them,according to my littleness and misery the shining glory and splendour that youdeserve...”

“Ihope all from You, but from me I hope nothing, and I am glad it is like that,so that it be always known that all glory is yours and nothing is owned to me.

Thisconsecration that she continually renewed would mark all her life. The wordsthat she had just written are now her autobiography. All she promised, we sawher to practice, day after day, at all moments, never tiring, fully convincedand with a joy and generosity always on the increase. She usually repeated tous: “love doesn’t tire, if it does, it’s not love”. María Concepciónnever got tired of loving the Heart of Jesús, and with Him and in Him, lovedeveryone.

HUMILITY OF HEART: TOTALFORGETNESS AND CONTEMPTM OF HERSELF.

One of her main characteristics was this total forgettingo and total self-contempt of her and her things. She never thought aboutherself but about everyone else beacause of her sheer love for Jesús.

When she entered Carmelshe delivered herself, truly and without any reserve. She was dwellingcontinually in the Heart of Jesús. She learnt in His school not to complainabout anything or anyone, whatever treatment she would receive from God’s partor from other creatures, even if they were rational or irrational. She knew shewas nothing, and nothing is ever due to nothing. So, she never complained. Shenever talked about her family, her things, or anything that could exalt her.She liked repeating in her own and usually chanted at night, when she had theduty of saying the last jaculation around the cells, these words by Kempis: “Manhas nothing good to boast about”. From this she became fully convinced withthe humility that comes from the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

She learnt in this schoolof Divine Heart – accordingto what she showed to her confident, Benigna Consolata – not to claim anythingfor herself, not to assert her right and never to excuse herself. So, shelearnt TO BE HUMBLE OF HEART. For pure love for Christ, she tried withall her heart, the faithful   observanceof the Rules and Constitutions, Rights of Carmelites, Novice instruction andCeremonial.

She was determined, like St. Theresa, in keeping the vows with allperfection that was possible on her part, and to be infused with the spirit ofour Reformers. One novice said when she died: “if I would not have read thewritings of our Holy Fathers and our laws, I would have known by detail fromwhat I have seen María Concepción practice, just in the last year of her life,which was when I came to know her”. She was, in fact, an entire example, anunimaginable column of observance. Her interest and participation in allCommunity events could not   be greater.She was meticulous in observance and in virtue, without tension, neverreproaching others that they could act better. All involved in the greatest naturaleness, kindness, understanding,simplicity and concealment. The words of our Father St. John of the Cross werefulfiled in her: “work and keep quiet”.

She always arrived the first one, when there was a tough work to do.Others were not so punctual, and another one would tell her in confidence, thatit was painful that not everybody would come to work in time. She answered. “Iwork with my hands” meaning: “whether the others comply or not, I try tocomply to the maximum possible and not look at what the rest do. This way, youget through the work, never lose peace and are not uncharitable.

She had a marvellousmemory; all she read was well-stored in her memory. She was a real library, atravelling archive by which, if we needed to know anything rightaway, she wouldknow with her little finger, as she knew everything. We are referring tomatters such as Chronicles of the Order, of our Mother St. Theresa or St. Johnof the Cross,  history of the past,customs of the Community, cannon law, Carmelite’s law, and later, thecathechism of the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, etc.

It was a true delight being with her. She was virtuous, moderate, awhole-hearted discalced Carmelite, level-headed, prudent and farsighted. Shehad read so much, was supernatural in everything and God had endowed her with amarvellous understanding. Altogether, it made of her a true oracle, givingsolidness, firmness and security around her. To this respect, various conventswrote to us remembering her when the Pope came to Avila: “the novices approached her as much asthey could to ask her about anything; and her being so small in height wasgreat in the knowledge of things having to do with God”.

She read about three times the complete Sacred Scriptures. She knew thecathechism very well by heart. When she was unable to get a hold of the writingsof St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross, she copied complete texts of theirworks, or of other saints, documents of the Pope (Pope Pius XII’s famousmessage via radio to the enclosed nuns)... and did not stop until she made thempart of her life. It can be said that all we have found from her own handwriting(most of wich are copied texts) was the way she lived her life as a Carmelite,which is now her own autobiography.

She practiced all virtue and followed with admirable perfection thedoctrine of our Holy Doctors. She was inclined towards what is less rather thanwhat is more. She was a hidden soul with Christ in God. She avoided as much asshe could to go to the parlour and preferred others to talk. She was alwaysfinding ways to be unnoticed and anonymous. She always looked for situations ofreject, uncomfortableness, hard work or of complete humbleness. That is whywhen she was young she was envious of the elder nuns, because they were notgiven relief in their hard work and yes to the young ones. She said to herself:“I want to be old, so as to be able to be like them, working hard and withoutany relief”. So, if it coincided that at night when she did not feel well,she would be happy that she had a bad time at night and not during the day.Thus, nobody would notice anything during the day and she would be able tocarry out her duties, and work with everyone and like eveyone.

 MORTIFICATION

Her mortification was continuous and extreme. She saidthat according to the Council, penance had to be generous so, when it came, shewould rightaway give thanks to God for it, would offer it, and not only did shenot avoid it, but wished to be able to sacrifice more, thinking about thesewords of the Council: “generous penance”. By her own, she tried to makesacrifices always and in everything. Since she was a prioress she had morefreedom to mortify herself. Thus, she got used to never having breakfast andwent through many years without doing it until, after being eighty years ofage, she was prescribed some medicines and she had to have breakfast. She said:“having breakfast makes you waste a lot of time”. For many years shefasted on Fridays having only bread and water.

She always managed to keep the worst, what nobody wanted,what was no use. She tried to sacrifice in all things, such as clothing,posture – never leaning back- nor stretching her legs nor crossing her feet,even when she was alone in her cell. Her modesty was quite singular. Sheavoided as much as she could any kind of comfort. She had complete contempt ofherself. She sacrificed in all her senses, for example, not wanting to smellany perfume, not wanting anything smooth. She sacrificed in things of her use.Everything was poor, simple, rough and patched. She sacrificed in everythingshe had, but without drawing attention and always with surprising naturalness.

Duringmeals she never left a bit of food from the first and second course in order totaste some fruit or dessert that was put in the refectory from time to time.She was in the habit of taking bicarbonate after meals. When the cooks saw thatshe ate everything they would give her more and more soup, and she used tofinish it all. Consequently, she had to miss out something from the secondcourse and it was out of question to eat the dessert. To this respect we wereamused one day, already at the end of her life (nearly 94 years old), a   Sister, who was full of charity, told her:“Mother Concepción, don’t drink so much soup, because soup does not feed. Youhave got to drink less soup and eat more of the second course”. She limitedherself by answering with a plainness and charm that moved us: ”Well, it’sfed me for 70 years”.

LikeSt. Peter of Alcántara who, as to deceive his body in very cold times, he wouldopen the window, so that after closing it he would find her body more calm. Shedid the same. Only when she had little appetite, she made her mind up to seasonedher food, and that new taste was a relief and a gift. She sacrificed in allways. She told us:”really when I find a sacrifice to be  hard, then I try to want more of it and immediately, I don’t know how, it disappears, and then I don’t find ithard. It’s alright for me”. She taught us that as one of her tricks. Thisis the explanation o what cannot be understood at first sight. Despite hergreat pains, how could she often say truthfully these expressions? For example:“It’s alright with me”, “I don’t need it”, “I can do it”, “It’s nothard for me”, “It doesn’t hurt at all”, etc. She would affirm it with suchnaturalness, that we would end by believing that it was really like that.

Shehad a total forgetfulness of herself. For example, she never went to theeye-specialist, but instead, went to a drawer where there were old pairs ofspectacles and used the ones that seemed adequate to her. Later on, she usedthose of one of her own sisters. She said:” these are alright for me. Whenmy sister has to change her spectacles, those that she leaves are those thatneed. Her lenses were one number stronger than mine”. This is how she wentthrough life up until that which we will mention at the end of these pages.Meanwhile, when the sisters asked for the lights to be switched on in recreationbecause they could not see, she -I do not know how she managed- always saidthat she could see. She would continue with her work, eventhough, there washardly any light. How good  her sister´sspectacles must have been!.

Thisis how she was. Whenever we asked her something, she always said   she did not need anything that she wasalright. If we said to her that something was of no use to her, she wouldanswer: “It’s alright for me”. She gave the best to   otherswhich all naturalness, just like St. Peter of Alcantara who said to St. Teresaof Jesús:” why are you surprised, if it is quite possible to live like that”.So, M. María Concepción was telling us the same. Everything was so natural andinnate in her! It seemed all the sacrifices she made were without any effort.Everything sprang out of her because of her profund love for Christ. She fellprofoundly in love with Him, and as time went on she fell in love more andmore. She wrote in some of her retreats: “I tried to fall deeply in lovewith Christ. This is the secret of her heroic life:  Sheer love. She would repeat tous over and over again: “love is giving oneself, sacrificing and forgettingabout oneself for the one you love”. This is why everything was sweet, easyand smooth for her. She learnt from our Holy Father St. John of the Cross andrepeated this phrase, tirelessly: “when the soul is really determined– and she underlined the word “really”- in wanting to find and carry outwork in all things for God, she will find in all things great relief andsoftness to follow this path, disposed of everything an   wanting nothing”. Yes, she was reallydetermined from the beginning to find and carry out this work in all thingsbecause of her sheer love for the Heart of Jesús. For this reason, she alwaysfound, truly and willingly, great relief and peace.  That is how it was. Her happiness was greatfrom the first moment, because from the first moment she was really determined.

Sherepeated to us: “I don’t want to live without the cross, because I know howimportant it is during life, long or short, to suffer or to die”.

Shewas a true soul. We can see the words of St. Teresa of Jesús:“Humility means walking in truth” incarnated in this holy soul. Some people havetold us that what was most notable in her was her straightness andtruthfulness. She was really so detached from everything and from herself, thatshe did not bother about what people would say, whether they had a better orworse opinion of her. She never did anything to make herself well-thought of,nor did she avoid saying the necessary for fear of being badly thought of, andnor did she have mediators so as to avoid being badly considered No, nothing ofthat. Only straightness and righteousness guided her. She only lived towardsGod. At the end of her life she was able to say, referring to people who usedto go to her asking for advice: I always told them the truth”.Later on she taught us:  We’ve gotto feel happy even if people think badly about usand also Ifthey think badly of us, better. Such were her motto and life. Allvirtues strengthened, sprouted and flowered within this soul so founded inwilling humbleness.

Beingyoung, you could see in her a great presence and union with God. Usually, whenshe went from one part of the house to the other, she went quietly saying the rosary,wich she said complete everyday. Also, she would say, with her arms crossed amistery that she usually offered for Spain She repeated continuosly her prayerof abandonment and trust: “Heart of Jesus, I trust in You”. 

They put her as a nurse and she became quite alarmed,thinking: “I haven’t ever been ill and I won’t be able to understand the sufferingsof the Sisters”. So, she suffered for it. Though, fortunately, it was notlike that but to the contrary. Each time the sick sisters fell ill, she said: “I don’t have experience of this pain, but it must be big”, and for thatreason she did the best she could to ease the sick as if she had already hadexperience of such pain. She said to one of them: “How envious I am of you!How I would like to have this pain so I could   offer it to Jesus!” She sawJesus in the sick. She looked after an old sister and thought: “I’ll lookafter her as if she was my own mother, as I won´t be able to attend to her”.

She wanted to help to the maximum, and as she did not knowhow to give injections she devoted herself to testing on her own body byinjecting herself. She did not want to hurt others and preffered hurtingherself beforehand.

PRIORESS DURING 21 YEARS: God’sWill and Divine Providence

 

TheCanon Law at that time did not allow anyone to become Mother Superior until theage of 40. There were elections in 1946, when Sister Concepción was nearly 41,and she was elected Prioress. When asked if she would accept it, she onlyanswered: “if it’s God’ Will”. These were the same words when she wasre-elected six more times. She was a Prioress for 21 unconsecutive year, thesister who has been a prioress for the longest time since the foundation of theconvent in 1617. It didn’t bother her nor did it change her being a Prioress,and when she was not, she did not lose her happiness or her peace. GOD’SWILL!  That was her peace. She livedfor God’s will and for it she moved around. This divine will was the secretof her composure and changeless peace on all circumstances. MotherConcepción and God’s Will would always go bound together. Whenever we went toher with some sufferings or questions, or for whatever reason, she would guideus each time towards God’s will like to north in a compass. “Voluntas Dei, pax nostra”. Shelived perfectly set in this divine will. Nothing could take away the peace andcalmness of her soul, whether life or death, sickness or health, being aPrioress or not being so; to obey a  Prioressor another, any happening or circumstances within or outside the convent. “Nothingtakes away my sleep” she said, because she rested completely and in fact inthe arms of the loving Providenceand in the Divine Will.

We are going to tell a story which makes us see until whatpoint she had trust in the Divine Providence, and how this Divine Providenceguarded her interests.

Ayoung novice had to study music. The teacher offered to teach her free, butdemanded a piano, as the harmonium did not suit her. Where would she get apiano from? It coincided with the novice having a visit with her family. Sheasked María Concepción, Prioress at that time, if she could ask her mother forthe piano that they had at home. M Conception thought for a while and replied:“No, have trust in Divine Providence”.The young novice did not know what this was, but she did know what obediencewas.

So,her mother came and asked her if she wanted anything, or if she could do herany favour. For three times she had to control herself saying she did not needanything. She was thinking about these words: “no, you have trust in   Divine Providence”. She did not do itbecause of the Providence,but because of sheer obedience towards the Mother Prioress; and how much itcost her! The novice was thinking to herself: “but, how are we going to entrusta piano to Divine Providence? If it were something of little importance, youcould understand; but a piano! Who has got to give us a piano?”  Divine Providencewas not slow in giving an answer. That same week we received a piano from Seville, which was givento us with transport and turning paid for. So, from that day, the novice knewhow great the Providencewas.

Besides,Mother Concepción wanted very something else: TO BE MARTYR. When weasked her what kind of death she wanted, be this or that, how she would like todie, in what circumstances, we were only able to get  the same words: whatever God wants”,always God’s will. Then we asked her if she would like to die a martyr. To thatshe did not reply: “whatever God wants”. She could not resist. Her face lit upand she answered in a lively fashion: “ I’ ve always wished that”and she added: “ and I still trust and hope to die martyr”. Shealways told us that with renewed love and happiness, and invariably so untilthe end of her life. We think that being her wish so great, it will befulfilled in her what our fatherSt. John of the Cross writes about the martyrdomof wish, and in fact, she will have received the martyr’s crown.

Oneprioress said of her: “Mother Concepción is a very good prioress, but is also anexcellent religious subject!” In her we saw how true the saying is: “one isonly fit for the leadership, when has been outstanding in obedience”. This ishow she was, with a supernatural look of faith, she did not see anything in thesuperior than God Himself: “Whoever hears you, hears Me, and whoever scornsyou, scorns Me”. I was amazed, one day, by her image of faith: as I went in hercell, being already very old and with two broken hips, she got up immediately.I said to her: “No, Mother, don’t get up for me”, to which she replied, withouteven thinking about it: “No, Mother, I don’t get up for you, I get up forGod”. Her look of faith was really constant. As she entered recreation – atthe end of her life, when she was nearly blind, the first thing she asked was: “Isour mother here, so I can kiss her scapular?”

Onenovice tells us how much she taught her, seeing the enormous respect that M.Concepción had for our bishop. It drew her attention a lot that after thecelebration, presided by our Bishop D. Teodoro, he went up to the grid of thebass choir to greet the Community. All of us went up to the grill immeditately.M. Concepción, as she knew the bishop was approaching, despite her age (93), sosmall and hardly able to see, hear or having enough balance, approached thebars aswell. She ended up at the back of the group, where she could not get toknow what was said. Despite neither the bishop nor anyone else could not seeher, she stayed there standing with great reverence, and began to say therosary, praying quietly. The novice asked her if she wanted to sit down – therewas a chair right there-, she said, no. After about half an hour, she asked herif she wanted to go. Mother Concepción, asked her if the bishop was stillthere, but when she found out that he had already gone a good while ago, andthat other people were there, without hesitance, she left the choir. She was93.

Oneof her aims was: “I won’t do anything without interior life” and also:“I propose that my life be a sincere one, and I propose to be sincerelycharitable”. We’ve already mentioned it: sincerity and straightness wereher characteristics. Perhaps, while she was a Prioress, it was more noticeable. 

Oneof her maxims that she repeated to us and taught us with her vivid example was:“equanimity regardless to contradiction brings the soul to great perfection”.How admiringly she lived in constant equanimity in whatever event that tookplace. Nothing drove her back, nothing scared her, and she was never worried byanything. Her peace was unalterable. Her fortitude of will was quite uncommon,unknown to a woman.

Oneof the virtues that characterized her most was God’s peace that inundated her,and irradiated around in whatever circumstances. You could come up to her atany time and you would find her with the same God’s peace,  the same serenity.

Shelived perfectly according to the definition that the Second Vatican Councilgives about contemplative life, of which advised us many times by word: “solitudeand silence, praying constantly and generous penance”. She was a soulcompletely hidden in God.

Whenwe say she repeated such and such a phrase, it is the same as saying she liveda virtue. All she told and taught us, she lived in fullness. She taughtwith “authority”, as she never told us anything that she would not practicebeforehand with all her might. She was a very consequent person of greatconviction.

Whenshe was not a prioress she stood out for her obedience and humility, even withthe prioress had been one of her own novices, and even the youngest of all, didnot stop her from having a supernatural sight. She asked permission foreverything, even the most insignificant. In recreation she was sometimes theonly one who got up when the prioress walked in and was always the first to doso. She did not give her opinion if she was not asked. She spoke with greatreverence and humility.

CHARITY

Sheloved God so intensely that, as we have already mentioned, she wished to be amartyr all her life. All what she did: sacrifice, virtue and observance werebecause of sheer love of God. Her face shone when she told a secret to asister: Do you know what it means, that because of a smallsacrifice  here on earth, we will know,love and  see God eternally more andmore?  She was overwhelmed withjoy and would repeat again: “but, do you know what this is?” and sherepeated with admiration:  For all ETERNITY!We will see, know and love God more, for ever!” she repeated again.

The charity of this soul so transformed in Jesús deservesa separate chapter. While she was so austere with herself she was most humanitarianto others, most understanding. When we were thinking of what to say about hercharity, and to what point, no other text came to our minds but the magnaletter to Corinthians where St. Paul,in chapter 13, writes about charity. By just substituting the word “charity”for M. Concepción, and the word ´is’ for ‘was’, we will have her spiritual portrayal“M.Concepción was  forbearer and kind.She was  not envious, boastful, nor didher interrrupt. She was not rude, she did not look   for her own profit, and she did not getangry or thought badly of others. She was  not happy about injustice and she took pleasure in truth. She pardonedeverything, believed everything, hoped in everything and tolerated everything.Mother Concepción never lost heart.

Whatthe apostle says is the exact description of how M. Concepción was. It is notthat she did many or few acts of charity, big or small, but that all herperson, all her heart was charity towards all: towards those near to andfaraway. Her charity was so true because it sprang out from her humility ofheart.

Theunderstanding she had towards the others sisters! The countless hours thatpassed listening to them, one by one, day by day, year after year. Her heroicpatience surpasses all than can be thought. and the charity of thisincomparable Mother who was all for all. Who would ever be able to describe hersuch as she was in reality?

Onecould see in her the fruits of the spirit: love, hapiness, peace,understanding, helpfulness, forbearance, goodness, kindness, and self- control:year after year, at all times, until the very moment of her death. Also, shetried to promoted love, charity and the unity among all the Sisters. She didnot want at all – and this is how she described it- that we were “littletelltales” (to accuse others). She taught us with her example to “endureeach other patiently with love”. She told us that charity was “havingmercy by suffering with patience the faults and weakness of your neighbour”.So, that is what she did with us. She never used to judge our own faults. Sheexcused everything, understood everything, forgave everything and always hopedfor.

Shewas the mother of Mothers. She was the adviser and comforter of the Community.All the prioresses always gave permission to the nuns who asked to discusstheir matters with her. Some had her as a true spiritual director. Hergoodness, straightness, understanding, farsightedness, experience and patiencewith everybody were so much that the prioresses rested on her advice. They knewvery well that the nuns could not turn to a better remedy for their souls thanspending some time with her.

Thissoul of God that wished and loved solitude and silence, was the “reliever” ofthe Community, many sisters went to her to let off steam. She had to attend toone sister and another continuosly... who went seeking her advice. While sheattended other sisters, she usually occupied herself, in sewing up or makingscapulars. You saw her spirit concentrated and near God. She longed so much tobe alone with God without interruption, that when she saw her solitude beinginterrupted, over and over again, she would say jokingly: “when I’m inheaven, leave me in peace completely with God, and alone with God, and don’tcome  knocking on the door now and again”

Whenshe was a Prioress, it was above all, to attend to her sisters to whomshe gave priority in her attention. The most delicate and uncommonthings she did them herself, but the more usual everyday things, she tried todeal with   the help of other nuns. Thus,she was free for to attend the sisters fully and at any moment that they couldneed her. She avoided as much as she could outside communication, and she askedto the portress to free her as much as possible of having to go to the parlour.She used to pass me the telephone when I was Sub prioress. In that way, shecarried out her purpose to be in her cell or office (clothing room), and so,the nuns would always find her at their disposal.

Shetalked little and listened a lot. She would ask the novices if they had sleptwell. She took an interest in all concerning each of the sisters: their family,themselves, their matters, their spiritual life, their health, theirproblems... everything found an answer in her motherly heart. She prayed foreverything and tried to make good what was in her hand. She was ingenious andcapable for whatever job, and she would put a remedy when it was required. Forexample, if any object got broken she herself would fix it by putting clamps wherenecessary. She gave us a hand in everything.

TRY TO BE LOVED, SO AS TO BEOBEYED”

Thisis what she proposed: “I propose to love my sisters as Jesús loved us bybeing, understanding, indulgent... good like a mother” that she   fulfilled her purpose. If she realized thatwe could not, for whatever reason, or because we were not the handy type, andwe were unable to do something, she herself, for example, would mend us thehabit, the canvas shoes, the strap. She would fix whatever thing for us, andwhen we gave her anything that we thought it of no more use, she then would mendit and make good use of it herself. She remembered very well and would repeatwhat ‘the Novices Instruction’ says: “that sometimes the mistress shouldsweep out the novices cells” or other things along this line, so as to winthem, and by this, we learned from her example.

Shewas very concerned for the ill sisters. And cared that they took what thedoctor had prescribed them, even if they had a casual illness. She herselfapplied the remedies: fetching camomile, applying massages, ointments, drops...whatever thing. Everything that had to do with humility, charity and service wentwell with her.

She accompanied the nuns to the doctor and to the diverseoperations that took place. She would enter the operating theatre if she could,so as not to leave them on their own for one moment, day or night. She keptwatch over them and gave all the attention with her own hands not letting thenurses do it. When the stay in hospital was for a few days, she took thenecessary things to make scapulars or pray sitting down on the floor while thefamily of the sick sister came to visit her. Maintenance staff and family werevery moved by her example and her supernatural spirit, charity and humility.

In adifficult operation of the cataracts where the doctor had big difficulties, shedid not stop repeating in low voice her prayer of all times: “Sacred Heartof Jesús, I trust in you. Sacred Heart of Jesús, I trust in you” She saidit non-stop through the operation. When it had finished the doctor exclaimed:It has helped me the prayer of “this little bird” with her chant: ‘Sacred Heartof Jesús...”

“Tryto be loved, so as to be obeyed”. This advice from St. Teresa, wich M.Concepción reminded us, was practiced by her to the limit. We all loved her tothe extreme and she loved every one of us deeply with all her heart. How wellone   felt near this mother! We felt soloved by her, so welcomed and so understood!

 She gave herself entirely to each andeveryone. By her, one experienced like a shadow that gave shelter: God’s peace,comfort and a sheer mother’s love in whose heart we all had a place. She gaveherself to help others, and made virtue pleasant, as St. Teresa recommended.She was not amazed by anything. She was not offended by anything. All was loveand understanding. She understood whatever fault or weakness. She excusedeveryone while she could, at least where there was goodwill, and would entrustit to God. She did not allow any kind of criticism.

“Don’tjudge and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn, and you won’t be condemned”.She told us these words from the Gospel many times, words that penetrated hersoul more and more as time went on. She would meditate, ponder and repeat to usconstantly: “this is my commandment: love one another as I’ve loved you”Charity was acquiring a deeper perfection within her. The greatest charitythat she has had with us has been the example of life she has given us.Everything in her was pure charity.

 Various communities have written to us as theyhad met M. Concepción in Aviladuring the Pope’s visit. She was “removing chairs like the very young ones, andthere was no way she would leave them”. This fact that seems insignificant andunimportant drew the attention of many nuns and it precisely what draws ourattention, now.

It was not just a coincidence to “remove chairs like thevery young ones”. It is that her whole self all her life – those 70 years as adiscalced Carmelite- were like that always, at every moment without fainting.On that ocasion she was 77 years old, with her body getting smaller and alreadywalking with her body bent, she found herself away from home. It did not matter;she was so used to practicing, always and at every moment, humility, sacrificeand charity that she took any kind of hard work as if it was hers, somethingthat was for her to do. So, if the novices did it, what was the differencebetween one novice from her that always felt the last, although she had been aprioress for 21 years and was 77; it did not matter at all for her.  That is why – even if they insisted upon her,she would not leave that work that she thought it belonged to her to do. She neverleft   anything that meant effort andlove. She had already promised it to the Sacred Heart of Jesús when sheconsacrated herself to him.

Shealways sat on the floor, with or without degenerative osteoarthritis, withor without pain, being able or not, up until the age of eighty. She sat on thefloor until she wore out both hips, and even so, she said: “I couldstill kneel down and sit down on the floor if you helped me after to get up. Ican be on the floor, but to get up you’d have to help me”. But the doctorshad forbidden it and she had to resign and obey.  

               It is worthwhile at this point,mentioning in the way of a brief biographic profile, the words a priest told usconcerning her when she died and whom he heard in confession for 38 years – howwell he knew her! He wrote about her:

“Shewas sparing with words. She would give short answers and sentences, concise butwith a lot of expression and meaning. She said a lot with few words

 “She was always in an equal mood. Her answerswould impress you and, now and again, confuse you for being unexpected, butafter a time you would understand. She was always happy and got on with herlife”.

“Sheshowed firmness and persistance along the road that she had embarked on, to suchan extent, that people would admire her. She did not hurt anyone. I think shehad made a decision when entering the Carmelites and she held on to it withoutmaking it public and not bothering about it. Her works spoke for her withoutever talking about herself”.

“Shewas very observant of the rules and very faithful to the spirit of Holy Mother Church

   She also loved the Church of the Council(1962-1965). Also, she loved the changes that the Church wanted, but not thosethat originated from   innovations andimprovisations. This kind of changes have disturbed many minds and createdstrong crisis, ruining people.”

“Shewas a person with a great spiritual life, very reserved, with a lot ofhappiness and firm will, and at the same time, very hospitable, pleasant andvery charitable with everyone. She also had a very expressive smile”.

“Ithink that the Carmelite order can thank God for nuns like her. Let us hopethat young people of today would like to be as generous and decided like her,along the path of spiritual life and the observance of the rules that help togain experience in the three vows”. The words of this priest go as far here.

SAINTS OF THE ORDER

Sheloved the Order very much and, knowing how much the memory of   our Saints stimulated her, she wanted thatall were represented in our church. When she was a prioress she painted a largepicture (2m x 1,5 m)for the beatification of Mary of Jesús. The picture represents our Mother St.Teresa giving the book of Las Moradas to her “letradillo”

 Apart from painting St. Theresa Margarita, aswe already said before,  she painted ourFr. St. Elías, our Mother St. Teresa, and the foundress of this monastery:sister Eleonor Ortiz; and she made sure that another nun would follow hersteps. She made her paint Blessed Isabel of the Trinity, and in another picturethe rest of our Saints that was going up to the altar for beatification orcanonization.

MISTRESS OF NOVICES

 

Shewas mistress of novices during a lot of periods of three years. She lived and taughtwith her way of life the maxima of our Father St. John of the Cross: “Forgetness about what is created and remembrance of Creator. Attention   towhat is spiritual and continuous loving of the Beloved”. She taught firstand above all with her own example. She did not talk much. She taught evenbefore the Second Vatican Council, what after said the “Perfectae caritatis”:“Devote yourself to God in solitude and silence, in assiduous prayer andgenerous penance”. She said that work was penance. She was a perfect example ofwork. She taught us that “each one make sure she works, so that the otherscan eat”. In the noviciate it was kept complete retreat in the cell, as therule orders us. She was most observant of the Rules and Constitutions. Shetaught that a discalced Carmelite nun who fulfiled very well the two hours ofprayer, but then, during the day did not pray continuosly, would not be a realCarmelite nor would she fulfil her vocation. She explained the rule to us.During the noviciate she read us various books about our Holy Rule.

Sheformed us according to the spirit of St. Teresa, all what is laid down in herworks and in her book “Road to perfection”, also the constitutions, ceremonialand the convent own customs. She taught us above all with her conduct, all whatwe had to do: the spirit of the Order, cautions and warnings of our father St. Johnof the Cross, which she wanted to insert into our heads. She made a greateffort and was set on it very much, because she said it was a remedy againstany obstacle. She did not impose her authority, but everything was done withfirmness and softness at the same time.

She brought breakfast to the noviciate. Meanwhile, as shenever was having breakfast, she took the chance to go to the choir to do herpersonal devotions when she would remain knelt down all the way through,unnoticed. She was a soul of great spiritualism, of great faith and lovetowards the Eucharist. She made many phisical and spiritual visits to theBlessed Sacrament. After her prayers she went back to her cell and did not goout anymore, except for community and noviciate events. She kept completesilence, and if she could use signals with the novices to communicate, shewould not talk. She was a soul of really intense prayer and of profundspiritual life.

 As we saw her always being the first at workand in all virtue and observance, we did not need much more to understand ourobligations and the spirit of St. Teresa. She taught us and repeated many times:“how we must be so as to reach this from God (the salvation of souls). Sherepeated a lot: “if you were to see the order falling down, then try to be thestone which lifts the building back up”. She hardly told us what to dospecifically, as we knew what we had to do at each moment by her own example;she was always used to being at the front.

Sheliked that the novices went about always happy. “God loves the one who giveswith joy”, she used to say. She liked us to do representations, so as toliven up the community recreations. She was very happy spiritually to see thenuns happy, and she enjoyed their happiness.

She went with the oblate novices to the kitchen, and asusual, she took up the worst jobs. She spent time peeling minute potatoes, whichbeing so small,   hurt her hands. She whitenedthe highest and most difficult parts of the kitchen, so as to help them, as theoblate novice did not have much health. The good mistress replaced her ineverything; and taking about the kitchen, during her first time as a prioress,one of the oblate nun, those who looked after the kitchen, became ill. With thehelp of another nun took this job on herself, and being a prioress, cooked forthe community during the whole month. The novice who helped her said: “onething that drew my attention very much was that she seemed as she was alwayswith God. For example, she would be peeling potatoes and you could see verywell that she was not with her work, eventhough she   peeled them, but you could see that she waswith God”.

Itwas not strange that the nuns could see what her aim was: to doeverything thinking about God, loving God and doing everything, because it wasthe Will of God, and repeating these acts twelve times an hour” (anaverage of every five minutes).

She had very much in mind the life of Nazareth and relatedall her simple daily work to that life and apostolate “I have tried to look atJesús in his zeal for the souls, so as to imitate him in Nazareth in hisapostolic life:  “My Lord, I wish thatall my life be an apostolate, in the way of a Carmelite, hidden in your Heart”.She lived intensely the spiritual infancy of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus.

THE FIRST IN EVERYTHING

 

 Since she entered the Order she proposed theapostolate of the good example, but with the responsibility of being a Prioressshe still insisted more on it. She did not grant herself dispensations of anykind nor did she ask for them when she was not a Prioress.

Whenit had to do with an event or some community work, she would be there withoutfail, regardless of how many urgent engagements she may have. The moredifficult the work was, the earlier she arrived. She was always the first oneto be there and the last one in going. She took for herself what meant morework and humility. She always took the toughest and heaviest jobs. She used tocook, apart from being on weekly duty like everyone else, on the feastday ofOur Lady of Carmel or on Holy Thursday that we have a special meal that takesmore time to make it.

Oneday, when she was painting the walls, she was stood on a one-legged ladder andshe suddenly slipped and the ladder gave in. She fell down, breaking the partof the hand near the wrist. Blood was pouring out and the nuns gathered overher to help her. She, as it was natural to her, not bothering the least, wasflattering the raised part of the skin with the other hand by banging it likesomeone flattering a steak. One horrified nun said: “but Mother, do you mindbehaving normally?  Seeing them so afraidshe answered with all her assurance: “It’s you who are not normal” Thematter was solved by calling the doctor who had to give her a number ofstitches.

Shewas proper, straight, very prepared and level-headed, perfectly balanced andwith a marvellous memory. When the nuns admired her for her great memory, shewould answer: “it’s just that all of you have a memory like a sparrow”.

When she was not a Prioress she would continue to enquireabout the health of each one of the nuns, She would ask the novices or the sicksisters if they had slept well and if they had been to the doctor, whichmedicines had been prescribed, and she made sure that they did not forget totake them as she herself would remind them; and if necessary she administeredthe medicines herself.

HEROIC FORTITUDE

 

Some may think that M. Concepción’s unselfishness andsacrifice throughout her life and the regular observance that she had been ableto keep, was due to her great health. At first sight one may have thisimpression, because    she always assured that: “nothing is tufffor me”, “everything is alright with me”, “nothing hurts me”, “I can dothat and it’s not hard for me” etc… So much so, that some nuns said that M.Concepción would be crowned with a “brass” crown in heaven, because she has notmade any sacrifice.

Ofcourse, as St. Teresa of the Child Jesús says,we will only know many things in heaven, and above all, when we wanted to getsomething out of her cunningly she usually repeated: “my secret is mine”Fortunately, God’s providence, for our own edification, has wanted to give us alittle light about this soul and real concrete actions, so that we knowsomething about the truth.

Fromsmall things such as chilblains and cracks in the hands and feet and moreserious things that she suffered, to her all was as it if it did not exist. Ifit was to do with her it did not have the least importance, but it wasdifferent – as we have already seen- when someone else was suffering.

Theremedy she gave us for chillblains that went well for her was: “to let themitch, and so, when they have been itching for a while they get tired and do notbother you anymore”. As for the rest, she would put a little stickingplaster to avoid that the blood from the large cracks in her hands would stainthe clothing of the community that she was darning. That was all the remedy.

Duringher first priory, one of her blood sisters who followed her in age died ofcancer in the womb. By the way, when she was going to be operated it coincidedwith a visit that there was in the parlour. Mother Concepción made an act of abnegationby not letting her to go to the speaking room nor mention to her anything aboutthe visit that there had been, and she attended her trough the small closedrotating wooden vestibule. She did not see her again for the rest of her life.As she could have the same symptoms as their sister, she tought: “I won’tsay anything to anybody. My sister has told the doctors and they’ve operated onher and there has been no cure. So, why have I got to say anything if there’sbeen no cure?” So, she decided to keep quiet. Fortunately, it was notcancer what she had, but as she felt the same, with a continous haemorrhage,she took the life of observance like the rest without saying anything toanyone, but without anyone noticing anything about her and without exemptingherself from anything.

Once,she had a herpes zoster in her muscle and leg. As she was the Prioress, shesaid nothing and continued her normal life. She said to one of the nuns who wasa Chemist: “can you give something for one of the nuns who’s come out insmall pimples?” so ‘the chemist’ without thinking at all what it was to dowith, gave her an ordinary cream that was not for herpes and she made do withit. Meanwhile, she continued sitting down on the floor, as usual withoutshowing signs to anybody what was happening to her. So, as she was sointerested in regular observance and in giving a good example, nobody knewabout it until many years after when a nun, talking to her about the custom ofthe Carmelites   of sitting on the floor,confessed to her: “the truth is that it’s taken some doing for me to sit onthe floor, it hurt. I would have sat on a bench, but I thought, if I startsitting on it, then I won’t be able to sit down again on the floor. I forcedmyself to carry on sitting on the floor. If I had not have much interest, I wouldn’thave been able to do so again”

Howmany things must have happened to this mother of our’s without us knowing! Onething happened once which she, as always, wanted to hide from us, but God madesure we were witness to it.

Itwas 1982 when she was 77. She was in the choir offering the rosary kneelingdown, as usual, when all of a sudden when she was saying a Mystery, we did notknow what was happening to her. You could not understand her. We looked back ather and she was very pale, still kneeling down, and seemed to be in a faint andas if she had suffered some kind of attack. We sat her down immeditately and wethought she was going to die. Shortly after, there and then, she vomited blood,and we thought she had just died. Time passed by and she came round. It wastime to go to collation. We wanted to accompany her to her cell, but she didnot want, but to the refectory like everyone else and with everyone else. Thenuns said to her: “but Mother Y.R. you can’t go to the refectory, you’re notwell”. “Yes, I’m very well”, and then one sister said to her: “Mother,look how you have the religous headpiece”. When she saw it full of blood shereplied, continue unabashed: “well, I’m going to change myself and I’m goingto the refectory”. “But, Mother you can’t eat now”. “Yes, I can eat”“but what are you going to eat?” M. Concepción asked: “What is there to eat?”“There are lentils, and “cocarrois” (something typically Majorcan done withvegetables), both very heavy. She aswered ummeditely “Well, I’ll have whatthe others have”, then, I, that at that time was the Sub prioress said toher: “Mother, you can’t go now to the refectory, you have to go to hospital”.

Itwill always remain in me her gesture of obedience and without saying anotherword she was ready to do so. One sister helped her to get dressed, and when shewalked out of the cell she said to her, thinking she was going to die: “Mother, have we got to feel sad for lettingyou go out if you die out of the enclosure?”She always full of peace and calmness, answered “No, don’t worry; because Ithink you can reach heaven from the hospital as well as from the enclousure”.

Atthe hospital they had to give her various blood transfusions as she had lost alot of blood when vomiting and with the bleeding from the rectum that she hadbefore and would not to tell us about it. In spite of all that she was in thechoir kneeling down as if nothing had happened! How much she would have felt!If it had depended on her, if this happening would have been in her cell insteadof in the choir, we would have never have known, and she would have justcontinued with her normal life of obervance.

Aswe were very worried we sent our Chaplain to the hospital so he could tell ushow she was. He assembled the community in the parlour and said: “I’ve come on behalf of the Mother to tellyou that you’re all ‘blaies’, meaning‘a little silly ‘nitwits’ ‘frightened fuss-pots’.

Shealways played down when we spoke to her about it, saying that “that wasn’tanything, just an aspirin”.

Itwas true that she took aspirins quite often, but why would she take so many, ifshe was not in pain and felt perfectly well? When at the end of her life  we asked her in confidence so as to find outthe truth she, without giving the least importance, answered: “Nothing, justa little pain here”, pointing towards the right side of her back. How muchit must have hurt her because she had her back completely twisted!

Usually,she ate slowly. Why? As it was her custom, she did not say anything, but werealised that her denture had never fitted correctly. When nobody saw her inher cell she rinsed her mouth with salty water. She said: “water with saltis alright for me”. She, with a tumble, smoothed down the parts of herfalse teeth that were rubbing and hurting her mouth. When we asked her if ithurt, she always said: “It’s alright”. We saw that her false teeth wereto big and we insisted on calling the dentist to come to fit them correctly,but no way did she want to: “It’s alright”, so, from here we were unableto change her mind.

“It’s alright”, “I can do it”, “It doesn’t hurt atall”, “I can put up with it”, “I don’t even notice”,etc. This was her usual language, said with great simplicity and naturalnesswhenever anybody was pondering her work. You could even put together all herpains, but she would not alter these words. Everyone thought:  Whatcomplexion and health of iron does Mother Conceptión have. She is never ill!She seems like St. Peter of Alcantara “made from tree roots” What was her limitwhere she could cope with? It is that she was just used to going through lifewithout absolutely anything. For example, if the light was going and wethought about providing the cells with candles. She said: No, I don’tneed light. I got used to being in darkness and that’s alright”. Here,one of her secrets came out: From the beginning she had been used to thecomplete abstention of herself in everything materially, spiritually, in thesenses of the body and the senses of the soul (memory, understanding andwill)... in everything, and walking in darkness “without any other light norguide but the one that shone in her heart”. She added “and it’salright for me”. As our fatherSt. John of the Cross says: “Oh, blessed venture!”

Oneparticular day, she could hardly walk, and went very slowly. We called thedoctor and he said it was rheumatism and that they should give her messages.The nurse sister did it for her, but it seemed that the difficulty persisted.So, we took her to another doctor who confirmed that it was rheumatism and thatshould carry on with massages. The nurse put in all her effort and dedicationpossible. M. Concepción was not saying anything. When she was asked whathappened to her, she answered, “a bit ofrheumatism”. We thought how strange it was being so sacrificed and, becauseof a bit of rheumatism she now shows so much difficutly in walking! Being inthis state she climbed the high steps to the pulpit to read in the refectory.She walked up and down stairs because they told her she had to exercise, andshe obeyed without the least fuss, but one could see that she could hardly takea step forward. The whole of her leg began to swell. Finally, we took her to themilitary hospital, and   she climbed the stairs by herself. They tookher X- rays. Her hip was broken and they had to put a hip-replacement. So muchmassaging that was given to a broken hip. And she always kept quiet!

Thestitches from the operation had stuck in and, the nurse in order to take themout was going to be a tough job. She had to open the flesh to take each oneout. As she did not complain nor said anything, we asked her if it hurt: “Thisdoesn’t hurt”, she answered. We asked her what she felt and she saidwithout giving it the least importance: “nothing, like a tickle”.

                     The following year shefell off her straw matress. Apart from the big knock on her face, which was apity seeing her with so many bruises, she broke her right thumb and her otherhip. The doctors were stunned when they saw her strenght and courage towardsthe pain, and said a: “If all thepatients were like you we wouldn’t have so much work”.

Two days after the operation a laywoman nurse from theThird Order of Carmel, a close friend of the community, told us that she hadsaid to her: “Let’s see, sister. Show me how to walk with crutches”. “Mother, the wound now is still very tender” But as she insisted, I let her on... take another stepand “pum”, but she did not fall because I caught her. I said to her: Mother, you have already fallen once”. She answered: “come on,again, again”. The same thing happened again on the next go, but she stillwanted to try again. On the third go I said to her “mother, you have alreadyfallen three times” and she said:” You’ll show me then another day”. Shehad a great strenght of will, incredible.

After having the other hip-replacement, she had to use awalking frame, as she hardly had any balance. When she arrived at the convent,convalescent from the operation and with her right thumb in plaster, she wasset, like all the community at that moment, on making palms for Palm Sunday.

She never stopped to be punctual to all community eventsand to fulfil the Saturday sweeping and cooking week. How true it is that loveachieves everything! Only her love for Jesús, her fervour for the salvationof souls and the love that she had towards us, wanting to help us, giving us anexample until the end, could give her so much strenght and ingenuity. Sheput a saucepan on top of her walking frame covering it with a plastic piece, sothat it would not get dirty. She filled it with water and took it to thecooker. As each day her back was getting more bent, she hardly reached thecooker, and that is how she used to cook. She moved the saucepans full of oilin such a way that it seemed that the oil was going to drop down. We told herthat she was already of old age and that she could not do these jobs. Sheanswered: “and what’s that got to do with it, even if I was a hundred”.She added” Our Mother St. Teresa says: Look at necessity before age, as manytimes there will be more age than necessity”. She insisted that it was noeffort for her to do whatever; and for God’s sake, whatsoever, not to removeher from the kitchen, as she would say when she could not anymore, butmeanwhile, she was able to do it perfectly well “It’s no effort for me”.We realized that God put her as a model of heroic virtue and an example ofobservance, and that all what she did was of great value in the eyes of God andgood for the Church so, we left her alone.

 On variousoccasions she expressed how she was struck by a beatified woman who went blindand continued doing the housework to such a degree, that her husband did notrealize until one day he asked her to read him the newspaper. Then, she had totell him that she had become blind.

Lying down on her straw matress, the sister who was withher since she broke her first hip noticed one day that she closed one eye andthen the other and lifted up various fingers. She was testing with her fingerswith one eye closed and the other open and viceversa. As Mother Concepciónnever did anything unusual, rather she was the most level-headed person, itdrew her attention and she asked her what she was doing. She immediatelypretended as if she was asleep. When she must have thought that the sister hadgone back to sleep, she did it again. The nun got alarmed and asked her whatwas the matter. As she was strict about silence she signaled her to be quietbecause it was time of silence.

The following day, faced with persitant questions from thenun, she made her promise not to tell anything to anyone. If not, she would nottell her. So she promised her, and only then did she reveal her secret: On theday of Our Lady of Carmel she suddenly went blind in the right eye; andnobody knew nor suspected anything!

When we went to see Dr. Manuel de Timoteo Barranco for thefirst time on 2 November 1990, who with great interest had been looking afterher until the end, and to whom we are very grateful, told us: “When the pupil expands I see that behind the cataract there is a largeshedding of the retina that has already takenplace in two thirds of the retina, and the forecast is not good”. Heinformed the patient about what was wrong and why there was nothing that couldbe done. He admired her for her great spirit of calmness and temper, unknown,by accepting her illness as God’s Will, and with perfect resignation having toface up to seeing with only one eye where a cataract was already begining todevelop with 40% vision. She was having continuous complications with her goodeye, leaving her with small vision at long sight and minimum vision at shortwith the help of a big magnifying glass until she died.

Dr. Timoteo was astonished by her calmness, and whenlearnt of her death he quoted to us in writing: “She never complained about the treatment applied. She was obedient and resigned, suffering in silence, doing itas an offering of her suffering to God; and she told me that there were peoplewho were suffering more than her”. It was like a challenge what she was willingto face, she said, with a spirit unknown to us, that if it was God’s Will tobecome blind she would accept it with astonishing patience. She did not livefor herself. She used to keep herself in her “interior castle”, and what wasoutside her, except all what referred to charity; her sufferings were, as shesaid: “steps to climb”. Sheamazed me with her spirit and faith. As an example for me, a man of littlefaith, perfection and holiness is not just to have a holy picture, but to livein holiness day by day. This Mother was an example of sacrifice, perfection,holiness and all what meant strength of prayer. Rest in peace and be “light”for all of us”.

I had to turn to Dr. Timoteo, so that he would stop herwanting to continue her week of kitchen duties; as she was walking with awalking-frame and nearly blind, and was still saying: “I could do it”.The doctor told her that the fumes from the pots were damaging her eyes.

 

 

EVENTHOUGH YOU WOULD TAKE MY LIFE,  I WILL HOPE AND TRUST IN YOU...

 

That is what she promised the Sacred Heart of Jesús on theday of her   Consecration, and indeed shefulfilled it everyday until her death. She was asked by a nun if she had gonethrough the dark night, which our Fr. St. John of the Cross talks about. Shetold her in confidence: “If at anytime I came across that, I madeimmediately an act of faith, hope and charity”. And she  told her there was a saint, who being temptedto go to hell while he was offering the Mass, took the Holy Host in his handsand exclaimed: “Lord, if I’ m to be sounfortunate to lose you eternally,now that I’ve got you I won’t let you go”.

With profound humbleness and intense theological life, shecontinued saying: “I know I can be condemned, but then I think: I knowthat if it happens that way it will be only my fault, because you are good andjust. Therefore, I now want to praise and glorify you”.

 For years, she keptrepeating a phrase from St. Theresa of Lisieux: “I don’t refuse a long life,but if it were your wish, I would like to go up to heaven now”. She wishedheaven so as to be with Christ, but as St.Paul she saw that being with us was what we neededmost.

“THE CARMELITE APOSTOLATE: HIDDEN IN YOURHEART”. Thirst for love and souls

 

“Dear Lord, I wish that all my life be  a Carmelite apostolate hidden in your Heart”.

“The priest has read passages from the HolyGospels connected with the crucifixion, and then he told us to go to our cellsand finish our meditation in presence of the crucifix. I read the Gospel of St. John and it moved mea lot where it says: “I’m thirsty”. I imagined that Jesús was looking at mesaying :” I’m thirsty for love and souls”, and I’ve promised him that I’ll dowhat’s possible to quench his thirst, but that it’s got to be him who makes mefulfil”. (Exercises, 1971)

As during the remaining years of her life she becamenearly blind, she asked me if we could write for her some words in big lettersfor the cell. She asked that we wrote these words, that she knew by memory andrepeated to us constantly, which was the least we could do in favour of the Church:“The contemplation of divine mysteries and the continual union with God inprayer is not just the first and main duty of the discalced Carmelites, but thatit forms the actual essence of your vocation and unique and exclusiveapostolate life wholly, immolated in contemplation. Therefore, make an effortto progress each day in divine intimacy by being with God, converting your lifein prayer” (Cfr. Can. 663.1)

Her soul was so united to God that she was burning withthe same interests as God. She constantly implored for the Fire of the HolySpirit to be over the whole world. She found more and more a complete meaningin the Mass, in which she would offer herself, together with Christ for theredemption of the whole world. In the Eucharistic sacrifice she found thestrength for her daily santification and constant immolation. This was herlife. She felt so full of God! And with immense joy and gratitude she said: “howwe realise that we take Holy Communion every day, even at times twice!”  “Does Y.R. notice it? “Yes”.

She was concerned about the salvation of everyone, andalso the welfare of all our brothers and of those who were in missionarycountries. She was counseler until her death. Even when she was not a Prioressshe used to make very sure with great interest that charity was sent, so as tohelp the spiritual and material needs of the whole world. She taught us: “Eachone should make sure they work so that the rest can eat”. Each oneshould make sure they work so that the rest can eat”. These words of St.Teresa, that refer to the convent, were also extended by her to the wholeworld, and for this reason she liked working for this cause so that we can helpwith the needs of all.

Whenever they wanted to offer the Mass for her, or whenshe had the opportunity to do so, she would ask that it be offered through “theneeded Church” so as to help the priests of other countries who needed help.

She loved everybody, starting with those “closest” to her,her own community, but her zeal reached as far as the outmost parts of theearth. She prayed, sacrificed and immolated for all and each one of us. Nobodywas left out of her life of prayer and love in the Church, which she loved somuch and by which she offered herself and prayed everyday for hersanctification. She was very aware of her contemplative apostolate in the heartof the Church, with her hidden life with Christ in God.

“I think the more you have risen and neareryou are to the top of the mountain of holiness, the greater effort you have tomake to reach the goal. So, the more years have gone by and the nearer you areto death, the greater the effort you have to make to make up for the lost time.As there isn’t much time to go, you can’t waste a second. Sacred Heart ofJesús, I trust in You that You will give me the necesary strength” (This isthe last retreat she wrote, because she went blind afterwards. The retreat wasgiven by Fr. Juan Bosco de Jesús, C.D.)

Love did not let her rest. Redemption! “I supply in myflesh what is missing in Jesús’s sufferings through his body, which is theChurch” The salvation and zeal for the souls; God’s glory; Jesús’s cry on theCross: “I thirst for love and souls”; her own: “so that You reign”...

In some retreat she wrote: “I am a daughter of the Church. Everything is summed up in one word:“LOVE”. She had a strong desire for the evangelization of allnations. She prayed ever so much for the intentions of the Pope: THE NEW EVANGELIZATION!

God granted her with a great memory so as to remember topray for many people, one by one, mentioning their name in particular. Itsometimes happened that a priest would come or for example, Mr. Rafael Stern,“the St. Paulof the 20th century”, as he was known. When they asked if weremembered them, she answered with complete simplicity: “I am praying for youeveryday”. We were full of admiration for her zeal and great charity. You couldsee her completely dominated by the Holy Spirit and living immersed in the HolyTrinity, but at the same time she was always natural and extremely pleasantwith everyone.

THE SPOUSE IS COMING!: “I can’t waste asecond”

 

She had already written in 1958: “what would I wish atthat moment of death? Dear Lord, I wish to choose now what would bring me morepeace at that moment”

She proposed the following: “Everyday I’ll make sure Itake Holy Communion as if it were the viaticum” She still had another 41years to live. However, she had been preparing herself for a long time in caseof death at any moment. “I’ll make sure I choose what will bring me morepeace t that moment. “Work always as you would have liked at the momentof death”. She lived in fullness these last words that she repeated to usin nearly every Chapter when she was a Prioress. Everyday she prayed with thewhole heart the prayer of accepting whatever death God wanted to send her. Thisprayer has plenary indulgence at the moment of death. One nun asked her if shethought she would go to purgatory. Whith humbleness, she answered that she wasin the hands of God and she was ready to accept whatever He wanted of her; butas the nun still insisted, she then said that to this full acceptation ofdeath, the Pope conceded for that moment of death plenary indulgence so, forthat reason, she did not think she would. She added: “Perhaps one mightthink that I’m satisfied about the things I have done. Not at all, I think ofmyself as a useless servant of God. I don’t trust at all in myown works, but in the infinite merits of Christ, and I only unite whateverI do to them”.

Shefelt the “burning flame of love in her soul” “Do it now if you want, break therope of this sweet encounter”. While this happy moment was to come, she did notslack off one bit in her observance, but the contrary, saying “I cannot wasteone second”. If she ever had compassion on herself she had less compassionlatter on. “I can’t waste one second”. “Love is giving oneself,forgetting and sacrificing for the one you love”, she had repeated to us somany times. She wanted to give herself, forget herself and sacrificied herselfuntil the end, with pleasantness and happiness. At the begining of herreligiuos life she said: “It seems to me that if I had to choose a thousandtimes over, I would always choose the same thing” And at the end of her life she no longer said “as if it seemed to her” but affirmed, completely decided: “If had to enter theOrder a thousand times, I would do it again another thousand”. She assured us,time over again, that she had always been immensely happy in the Carmeliteorder.

In spite of the fact she had nor balance nor strenght towalk and stand on her feet, and being deaf and nearly blind at her age (93),she would climb the stairs every morning to the clothesroom to mend clothingwithout being able to see, because “she had to work”. So, there she spent hermornings. She attended all community events by foot with total naturalness,without comments, without creating problems, as if nothing was wrong with her.She was going with the community to the low choir for Mass, that means to haveto climb up and down   some largestepladders, and she did not want us to hold her, so as not to be a burden toanyone. Some of the nuns stayed in the high choir for Mass, and when they sawher coming down, being the older and perhaps with more ailments thanthemselves, they were amazed (even though, as she did not reveal what was wrongwith her, they did not know she had so many things wrong ). One novicecommented to her about this in order to know her reaction. She quite calmlyanswered: “I can climb down without any problem”. M. Concepción was noteven surprised, nor felt proud, nor did she criticise those who were in thehigh choir nor did she feel superior to them...

At the end of 1998, she was in a delicate state of health,because of flu. We called our doctor D. Vicente Pieras, who was very surprisedby her strength and calmness when he asked her what was wrong, if she did notfeel well; she said that she was feeling well, that it was us who were gettingalarmed just because she was a few tenths over (she had a temperature of38º-39º). Dr. Vicente exclaimed: “she says a few tenths!” Well it seemed to mewise that for a period of time she did not get up so early nor come down toMass nor come out of her cell to go to the refectory, so as not to get a cold.She did go to the high choir because it was just a few metres from hercell.  This went on for a while. Sheinsisted that I let her go down to go to Mass with the Community. We took her temperatureeveryday. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception she went to Mass with therest of the Community.

THE LAST DAY OF HER LIFE

 

We finished our Exercises with the morning conventual Mass.The Exercises were given by Fr. Jacinto María de la Cruz, D.C. Mother Conception,because of her sickness, followed them from above. At the end, Fr. Jacinto gavethe Apostolic Blessing with plenary indulgence. In the afternoon, after Nona,we had the community embrace. As at that time she was left to rest in her cell,one sister went to seek her for the embrace. She got there, when there stillwas quite a large group of nuns, who all noticed M. Concepción was overpoweredwith an   indescribable and deephappiness in her bursting out with a heavenly smile, so angel-like, that couldnot hide. She embraced us full of happiness. She had always repeated to us: “thislife is heaven, if it could be on earth, for the one who just wants to fulfilGod’s will; but  wanting more everythingis lost, as you can’t have both”.

Even at the time when she was in delicate health, exceptfor Laude  and Nona, she would attend thehourly liturgy with great interest and punctuality. She got up and sat downwith the community during the choral prayer like any other nun in good health, althoughshe could not read the breviary nor hardly understand anything (she prayedafterwards, the “Our Fathers” stated in the Rule, however much we told her thatfor having attended the choir, she was not obliged to) and this lasted until Matins,when Jesus came for her. During these midnight prayer of matins the nuns, whowere next to her, noticed she was breathing very heavily, which was what drewtheir attention. However she, like always: “I’m alright”, “there’s nothingwrong with me”.

As nearly all of us had gone down with the flu, we broughtforward the Matins and went to bed earlier. The nun who had been with her atnight in the cell for the past 12 years, helped her to lie down. Before lyingdown, she was accustomed to making the act of contrition, patting herself onthe chest and kissing the crucifix with great love and reverence. She said theacceptance of death, and then she lay down. She asked the nun to pray for a soulin particular without saying who. “It’s not that I know anything, but thissoul has come to my mind”. The Sister helped her to pray. She said threeHail Marys and then she   repeated them;so the nun told her: “we’ve already saidthe three Hail Marys”. “Those were for me, but now these are for thosewho don’t pray”, she answered. She said many other prayers, as she wasaccustomed. Her answer to the nun’s question before going to sleep was that theperson she loved most of all was: the Heart of Jesus and Our Lady, It was 10,30p.m.

THE EARLY HOURS OF 7TH FEBRUARY, 1999: “I’VE TO GO UP”

 

It was after 2 a.m. when shewalk up for her needs, but without calling the nun, so as not to botherher, she got up herself in the dark. A strange noise was coming from her, butit was not her breathing. Straightaway, the nun got up and asked her what thatnoise was. She said she did not know, without getting alarmed or losingher calmness. Her lips were very white and foam was coming of them. Thenoise continued. She was standing up while the nun was tidying her up. She musthave been in a lot of pain as she looked at her right hand. The nun was lookingat it aswell, seeing how dark her veins were black. She hid her hand immediatelyso that the nun would not see it. She did not complain, nor said anythingor asked for anything. The nun said to her: “mother, what’s the matter? Areyou dying?” Mother Concepción just nodded her head, looking at her full oftenderness. “Shall I call our Mother Prioress?Shall I call the doctor? It was theearly hours in the morning and all the nuns were asleep. The nun did not wantto go looking for anyone and leave her on her own right at that moment. Seeingthat the nun did not know what to do, she herself decided; just as St. LuisGonzaga was asked while in recreation, what he would do if death came upon himat that moment, he answered: “I wouldcarry on playing”. So she, as it was sleeping time, returned to her bedwith steadiness as if nothing happened, to the highest degree and in a lot effort to fulfil God’s will.“Mother what are you doing?”I HAVE TO GO UP, I HAVE TO GO UP” she repeated, and gaveher soul to God. It was 2, 15 a.m.on Sunday, 7thFebruary, 1999. She was 93 years, 9 months and 15 days old.

She had never said anything, as much as shewas in pain; and when she was asked, she nodded her head and died.

FUNERAL SERVICE

The funeral took place the following day, on Monday, at 6,30p.m. offered by our chaplain Fr. D. Juan Torrens, diocesan delegate of the ofpopular devotion, who always officiates the liturgy with great dignity andunction. Eighteen priests crowned the altar, two of which were cousins ofMother Concepción. When the funeral ended, Fr. Juan asked those present to sitdown and said among other words: “the just one shines in darkness like alight...” “These words that we sung yesterday, Sunday, as the responsorialpsalm, could sum up the whole life of M. Concepción. Before such an exceptionallife, we cannot less than thank God for granting us, in the midst of oursufferings, this wonderful light, which also drives us to her imitation. It’snot that I am trying to praise or cannonize anyone, but just to sum up the goodexamples that take place in the world, amidst so many bad news. It is whatyesterday’s (Sunday’s) gospel said: “that seeing your good works, glorify ourFather who is in heaven”. This had been my aim in my final speech, and thismust be the aim in our life”.

The person in charge of burying contemplative nuns, eventhough he has buried 52 nuns, was extremely impressed by seeing how peopleasked us to put rosaries and crucifixes on her body. They also asked us forpieces of the scapular that she was wearing at that moment, and he himself cutthe first piece of her cape. He entrusted himself to her, as since he was a littlechild (now is 45 years old), he had been suffering from very strong pains dueto arthritis in the head and neck which reached the whole of his left arm, whichwas hereditary. The medicines hardly did anything for him, and he had tried allkinds of remedies, so he just gave up. Then, by seeing what was happening withM. Concepción, he said a little prayer to her and at the same time he touchedher forehead without the others noticing anything; then he placed his fingerswhere he had the pain and in an instant the pain disappeared, and to thedate, nearly a year after, he has not had anymore pain.

Whith great sorrow I was unable to attend the funeral,because I had a high temperature, and so I had to offer this big sacrifice. Thenuns who were there, told us: “when they put the coffin in the grave, it didnot fit in the recess, which was a few cm. too short. So, the burier began tochip off more, but it seemed to him more appropriate to go and get a smallercoffin that he had in the workshop. M. Concepción’s sister, Pilar de Oleza, whowith the rest of the family who were waiting at the sreen of the low choir,exclaimed:” It already seemed to me that María would not like to have beenburied in this coffin” (she was referring to it being of calved wood and notreally austere). Indeed, it was like that, but they did not have anything elseat hand. The other coffin arrived, something of board in very poor condition,simple, and apart from that, the damp had caused the lid to rot to such anextent that they were unable to close it. We placed her in the other coffin,and at once, her image from 42 hours back, suddenly changed. The seriousexpression on her face changed to a beautiful and uforgettable smile, somuch so that it was a shame to burry her. We all began to notice and when welooked at her we exclaimed how beautiful she looked, how she was smiling; howlovely! We understood the reason for this smile: she wanted to live in Carmel with what was mostaustere poor and useless, and like that she wanted to be buried. It washer last smile on this earth.

Eventhough we hope that our beloved Mother will already behaving a beatified vision, we however, ask you to devote to her the prayersthat we have as a custom; but rather than sending copies of the letter ofedification she would had prefered that the money we could spend on stampswould be used for Masses.

Pray also for this community and for its little sister.

María Rosa del Niño Jesús y San José, i.d.c. Priores.