“Blessed Conchita and the Word Vibrating in our Souls” (5/4/2019)
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
In the Acts of the Apostles, we continue to hear about the growth of the newborn Church. From nothing, to a small group of followers, to a large following. And then after that to be spread out through the whole Roman Empire in only a few centuries. It’s really amazing! To see it simply in terms of history, one has to scratch his head and wonder, How did Christianity take over the world so quickly?
Church Fathers like St Augustine and St Cyril of Jerusalem will use this fact in their apologetics against unbelievers. Look, they will say, how much the Church has spread and how quickly. How could this happen but by an act of God!
And here we are in the 21st century and maybe a little worried (and rightly worried) about the state of the Church. Membership has continually dropped in many parts of the world. The culture has become more and more anti-Christian and certainly anti-Catholic. Do we even have a chance in our world today?
Well, we don’t. On our own, on our own, we don’t have a chance to turn the tide. It’s not going to happen on our own. Ahhh, but God can do it. God can bring it about, as the Church cooperates with him, in not just surviving, but in spreading the Kingdom of God.
We need today, what we hear taking place in the Acts of the Apostles. In our reading from Acts, we hear about Spirit-filled servants of the Gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit and man’s docility to it. We hear about people being dedicated to the service of the Word; their whole lives shaped by the Word. We hear that “the word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.”
This is what we need today. A new hearing of the Word, a service of the Word by men and women anointed by the Holy Spirit. We need a new work of God today. We need a new impetus to respond to God’s work. We need a renewed hearing of the Word that makes Saints.
So in God’s providential plan, we look to Saints of our own time for help. Today Conchita, Concepcion Cabrera de Armida is being beatified in Mexico City. She was a Mexican lay woman who died in 1937, who had an uncanny ability to hear the Word of God. She also had a refined docility to the Holy Spirit—a strong devotion to the Holy Spirit. She helped found the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, for instance. Here’s an example of the way Conchita can help us.
One time in 1928, over some days, Conchita experienced a period of silence and God’s seeming absence. As this went on, she complained about it to the Lord, and eventually she sensed that the Lord responded to her in this way, saying “I always speak, I am the Word, and I know how to vibrate in souls in many ways” (To be Jesus Crucified, 10). Right, the Lord Jesus is the Word, so he always speaks, even in the silence and seeming absence, for he knows how to vibrate in souls in many ways—ways that we might not perceive right away.
How does the Word of God wish to vibrate in the souls of people in our world today? We can’t answer that question until we first see how the Word of God wishes to vibrate in our souls today—the souls of the faithful in the Church.
As the word of God multiplied and spread in the early Church through the Holy Spirit, so we look to the Holy Spirit with Blessed Conchita. She says of the Holy Spirit, He cannot be grasped, “One can only perceive and love the Holy Spirit…Yet the soul needs Him. He is its breath and life, and for this reason, once the soul has tasted Him, the heart, the soul, and the whole being of the creature cries out: Come!” (Loving with the Holy Spirit, 66) Brothers and sisters, how are we going to perceive the work of the Holy Spirit? How are we going to perceive the vibration of the Word in our souls?
By prayer, by much prayer and love. Like the disciples gathered in the Upper Room with Mary: by much prayer and love.