An Echo of All Jesus’ Pains and Loves

A. We Are an Echo of Jesus’ Heart

Every baptized person must be an echo of all Jesus’ pains and loves, and this is even truer for a priest. All the pains and all the loves of the Heart of the Divine Spouse, each and every one of them, must resonate solemnly in the echo of the priest’s own heart.

This is one of the reasons why Jesus Christ tells these souls, “I am here; I want to mystically incarnate Myself in your heart. I will fulfill what I offer; I have been preparing Myself in a thousand ways, and the moment has come to fulfill My promise: Receive Me. I will take possession of your heart, not by you giving Me life, but rather by Me giving life to your soul.”[1] In this way Jesus manifests Himself to the souls of those who desire to live the spiritual priesthood and to be a spiritual victim. I am referring to Venerable María de la Concepción Loreto Antonia Cabrera Arias Lacaveux Rivera de Armida,[2] who was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, in 1862 and died in Mexico’s Federal District in 1937. She was buried in San José del Altillo (Federal District) after a life as a daughter, girlfriend, wife, mother, widow, grandmother, foundress, mystic, writer, and indefatigable apostle of Jesus Christ. She was declared Venerable by John Paul II on December 20th, 1999, in Rome.

Jesus teaches the soul to sanctify every moment of the day and every day of the year, saying, “You have with you the Most Holy Victim of Calvary and of the Eucharist: offer yourself in union with Me and offer Me to the Eternal Father at every moment with the most noble end of saving souls and giving Him glory” (June 21st, 1906).[3] We must remember that the Eucharist is simultaneously a sacrifice and a sacrament: “It has the nature of a sacrifice inasmuch as it is offered up, and it has the nature of a sacrament inasmuch as it is received.”[4]

The Second Vatican Council teaches: “For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne—all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:5).”[5]

In order that the consecrated soul might reach the point where it incessantly offers everything to Him, Jesus teaches it to pray the following: “I would ask that you repeat these words, without ceasing and with the intention of voluntary immolation: This is My Body, this is My Blood.[6] Let us emphasize that this must be done voluntarily, and with the intention of offering the soul’s spiritual sacrifices; the soul must immolate itself for this intention. He clarifies even more, stating, “Offer, along with your body and your blood, your soul and your heart, your powers and senses, your life and your death . . . the souls of your children, offer the Church, priests, the just and sinners, and Me together with all of these, in every moment, in every breath and always, because this is your spiritual mission upon the earth” (February 23rd, 1909).[7] What a beautiful plan!

In each moment and always, offer:

  • Jesus Christ Himself, the Divine Victim;
  • The Church, priests, all of the just and all sinners;
  • Ourselves, with our bodies and our blood, our souls and our hearts, our powers and our senses, our lives and our deaths, our kin, family, and friends.

“I want to make you an echo of all of My pains, an echo of all of My loves” (September 10th, 1927).[8] Jesus Christ, the Sweet Spouse, repeats these same words to every consecrated soul. He also says it to you in a thousand different ways! Even though you might have lost much time already! Even though you might feel surrounded by the things of the world! Even though you might think it is impossible to move forward on the path to holiness! Even though you might have attempted it a million times without succeeding!

Each priest must be the privileged echo of all the Divine Spouse’s pains and loves! Priests must be an alter Christus. They must learn from Our Lady, who is the best echo of all Jesus’ loves and pains.

B. The Virgin Mary Gives Us an Example

“Mary, the creature who transformed herself into Me the most, interiorly repeated: This is My Body, this is My Blood, and with what great perfection! With what right she could repeat [those great words]! With what great and intense union and mutual un-derstanding!” (March 21st, 1917).[9] She was the one who gave flesh from her flesh and blood from her blood so that the Son of God might become man. She, and she alone, did this!

“Each time that Mary, My Most Holy Mother, felt the pain of My absence in any way, she immediately offered that pain to the Father for the salvation of the world and of the new born Church. This apostolate of her pain in the time of loneliness was most fertile, and made a rain of graces descend from heaven. It is the same with you: you have begun a new stage of your life which will be a reflection of Mary’s. You must imitate her without letting any suffering be lost, a suffering which, united to hers and to Mine, will acquire value. In this way, you will transform all of the pains of your loneliness into something supernatural in order to obtain spiritual fruit for your other children” (March 21st, 1917).[10] We must not let the value of any of our sufferings be lost; we must know how to look after that treasure with the utmost patience, without any voluntary complaining. We must know to increase that value with our voluntary and incessant immolation and, by interceding for everyone, to make those sufferings fruitful for the benefit of all, in particular for the poor, for sinners, and for our enemies.

In his Spiritual Diary, Saint Ignatius of Loyola recalls: “While preparing the altar, and after vesting, and during the Mass, very intense interior movements, and many and intense tears and sobbing, with frequent loss of speech, and also after the end of Mass, and for long periods during the Mass, preparing and afterwards, the clear view of our Lady, very propitious before the Father, to such an extent, that in the prayers to the Father, to the Son, and at the consecration, I could not help feeling and seeing her, as though she were a part, or the doorway,[11] of all the grace I felt in my soul. At the consecration she showed that her flesh was in that of her Son, with such great light that I cannot write about it.”[12]

We must also do this for those who fulfill an important mission in the Church of Jesus Christ: “Offer yourself in oblation for My priests; unite yourself to My sacrifice in order to obtain graces for them. By the special union that you have with My church, you have a right to participate in her pain, and you have the sacred duty of consoling her [the Church], sacrificing yourself for her priests” (September 24th, 1927).[13]

C. The Vow of Victim[14]

When saying that the priest, the religious sister, or a baptized person, according to their state and with the end of achieving perfection, should offer themselves each day with Christ as victims, generously accepting the annoyances and sorrows that Divine Providence has reserved for them, we are not talking about the vow of victim. It is only under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that very generous souls offer themselves to divine justice or the merciful love of God with this extremely lofty vow; these souls offer to accept all the pains that God judges to be fitting for them in order to make satisfaction for sinners and to bring about their conversion. In this, they imitate Saint John of the Cross.

It is not uncommon that great pains, illnesses, and persecution follow as a result. Accordingly, such a vow must be made only under a special inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If done for any other reason, a person could set themselves on an extremely painful path which they have not been called to, with the concomitant penalties which they cannot bear if they professed such a vow through presumption.

On the contrary, if God foresees that a certain person will have enormous sufferings later on, for example, a painful illness that must be borne with great patience, He may inspire them to offer themselves in a particular way, that is, as a victim of love, so that their patience will be incomparably more meritorious (as something offered under vow) for the conversion of sinners.[15]

What is the matter of the vow of victim? The one who makes this vow promises to God to accept (not to deliberately or voluntarily reject) every sacrifice, minor or serious, related to the soul (i.e., privation of sensible consolation in prayer) or body, to fortune, reputation, or good name that is sufficiently understood to be the will of God. The adorable and divine will is manifested in events or circumstances that declare the disposition of Providence, events such as the death of parents, brothers, sisters, or friends, calumnies, dishonesty, persecutions, and so on. It is also manifested by the will of superiors, who represent God.

Nevertheless, this vow does not impede the exercise of the virtue of prudence. Thus, it is not acting against this vow if a person rationally takes prudent precautions in order to avoid evil.

This can be expressed in a positive way by Saint Ignatius’s third manner of humility in the Exercises: “In order to imitate and be more actually like Christ our Lord, I want and choose poverty with Christ poor rather than riches, opprobrium with Christ replete with it rather than honors; and to desire to be rated as worthless and a fool for Christ, Who first was held as such, rather than wise or prudent in this world” [SE 167].

The one who makes a vow of victim promises God that they will not let themselves be deliberately and voluntarily saddened because they have made the vow, no matter what the consequences might be. The heroic nature of the vow comes precisely from this. Full, deliberate, and voluntary consent to sadness would be a mortal sin because of this vow; if, on the contrary, such consent is not completely voluntary, it would be a venial sin. The perfection of this vow is seen in this, and so it must not be professed by anyone without a special inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, this vow could be professed for only a few months; since it is a free act, it could also be limited in its matter with the consent of one’s spiritual director. In addition, if the person who makes this vow belongs to a religious order, the superior needs to give their consent or, at the very least, they must not oppose it: this is a common teaching with respect to the vows made by religious.[16]

Setting aside what we have said, once the vow of victim has been professed, taking all the precautions that prudence advises, it would be a mortal sin to voluntarily reject a sacrifice if such a sacrifice would produce a notable good or avoid a serious evil. It would, however, be a venial sin to refuse a sacrifice if it was done without full deliberation or if the matter of the vow were of little importance.

To what perfection should a person who has made this vow aspire? They must seek to make all of their actions, including the most mundane ones, an imitation of those of Christ the Victim. They should also be disposed to accept any sort of sacrifice, and therefore should consider themselves as consecrated to the glory of God as they make satisfaction, insofar as it is possible, for the offenses committed against Him (such action, however, presupposes the full perfection of charity, the virtues, and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are not given without the mystical life).

Accordingly, the people who have made this vow should constantly aspire to interior and exterior sanctity, which is most fitting for a true victim. It is for this end that they receive the Eucharist, for by it they can carry their cross in an ever more intimate union with Christ the Savior. These souls should live the words of Saint Paul: Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).

D. The Incessant Offering

However, even without this vow, a person can make themselves into an oblation to the merciful Love of God. This can be done according to the formula composed by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and approved by the Sacred Penitentiary on July 31st, 1923, with a plenary indulgence every month for those who recite it every day:

“In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a victim of holocaust to Your merciful love, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God! May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without any delay into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love.

I want, O my Beloved, at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times, until the shadows having disappeared I may be able to tell You of my Love in an Eternal Face to Face!”

This can also be done by repeating, as Jesus taught Concepción Cabrera de Armida, “with the intention of voluntary immolation: This is My Body, this is My Blood.” [17]

Likewise, we can ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary to offer us to her Son each day according to her maternal prudence, so that we will not be sent pains and sufferings that are beyond our strengths. We can ask that she offer us in conformity with her ardent zeal so that we might be able to give her Son all that He awaits from us until the day of our entrance into glory. This offering made through the Most Holy Virgin is not presumptuous or minimalist; on the contrary, it is one of the most prudent and generous offerings possible. Furthermore, it is not a vow that obligates under sin, not even venial, but is rather a simple offering that is the same, in some sense, to a vow of doing what is most perfect for us in our lives.

We have seen[18] how each priest is called, according to his condition, to victimhood in order to be configured with Christ by making an oblation: 1. of the Divine Victim; 2. of himself as a victim; and 3. of all the spiritual sacrifices that the baptized make together with him and through him; these are things that he does in persona Christi. The sterility or great fruitfulness of his priestly ministry depends on this, as has recently been shown in those priests who, while imprisoned in concentration camps, sometimes carried out a very fruitful apostolate by generously accepting, for Christ and for all souls, all the suffering that fell to them. The religious sister makes an oblation by means of her baptism and her consecration as a Bride of Jesus Christ. The baptized make an oblation on account of their baptism.

Wonder of wonders! All of the baptized, whether they know it or not, participate in each and every one of the Masses that are celebrated around the world: some of them participate habitually (that is, included in charity although imperfectly in their shapeless faith), while others participate actually when, by an elicit (that is, free) act, they spiritually unite themselves to the Mass that is being celebrated right now in a particular place. There are perhaps around 400,000 Masses offered around the world every day! All of the baptized participate in this treasure in their degree and according to their dispositions.

What’s more, however, is that religious men and women participate under another title. Furthermore, ministerial priests also act in persona Christi.

Wonder of wonders! It is an echo, repeated and multiplied, happy and serious, profound and babbling like our springs, infinite like eternity and punctual like a second that has already filled twenty centuries of history and anticipates many more in the future. It is a grandiose echo that thunders as praise in the highest heavens, like a trumpet that calls to the battle of faith, in an uninterrupted hammering that raises great racket, that rises beyond the clouds with the clamor of a bellow, like thunder at a distance that surrounds a mountain peak, producing a holy uproar, deafening and raucous, before the Throne of God and the celestial court, and yet sweeter than the honey of millions of honeycombs. This echo ever repeats, like the waves of the sea: This is My Body. . . . This is My Blood.

Wonder of wonders! I like to imagine that a great orchestra plays with grandeur, accompanying the holocaust of so many spiritual victims throughout the centuries, saturating the spiritual world with its vibrations: clavichords and cymbals, harps and kettledrums, charangos, bagpipes, balalaikas, shepherd’s pipes, violins, xylophones, organs, oboes, castanets, flutes, fifes, shawms, timpani, tambourines, drums, bells, and so on, from which a music arises, a music never heard even in the greatest and best operas of the world, a music performed under the Greatest Conductor of all times.

The echo of centuries repeats, giving glory to God and saving humanity: This is My Body. . . . This is My Blood. Myriads upon myriads of angels and archangels make rounds of crystalline happiness, while the variously painted and uncountable multitude of saints, with “the old happiness of an afternoon at the oratory,”[19] fervently unites itself to the worship, the latria of the Holy Trinity. The Queen of Heaven and Earth looks on complacently and the Twelve Apostles, by means of whom we “have been given the table of Your Body and Your Blood,” gaze jubilantly on the fruits of their work.[20]

Wonder of wonders! This is what we must see in our world, as the poet says:

And still the wind keeps an echo of Your voice,

Still they know the paths of Your footsteps;

Still in Your Eyes the stars keep

The glow of Your prayer and ecstasy

Still the birds tell me of the support

That Your Father gives them without them sowing;

Still the lilies are dressed in beautiful finery

And exhale the aroma of Your breath

Still the cheeks flourish like roses

Of the children that Your hand had blessed

Still the angry s remembers Your command

Things saw You with ecstasy,

Oh Teacher, when You passed by the first time!

And still they wonder if You left or if You stayed.

[1] Sposa, Madre e Apostola. Servant of God Concepción C. de Armida (Rome 1999), 26.  

[2] Fr. Raniero Cantalemessa, OFMCAP, cited her twice when he preached to the Pon-tifical Household on March 2nd, 2010: see View.php?id=342  

[3] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 28.  

[4] Saint Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., III, q. 79, a. 5.  

[5] Ecumenical Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Genti-um, 34.  

[6] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 29.  

[7] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 29.  

[8] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 33.  

[9] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 30.  

[10] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 32.  

[11] In note 54 we read: “This is part in a causal sense, in the graces that the Son gives us, because she is together with Him, influencing Him insofar as she is the mediator who is together with the Son. Moreover, she is also a doorway because she is in front, as every door is; this is to say, she is the beginning, the path, and the means to the Father.”

[12] The Spiritual Journal of Saint Ignatius Loyola (Maryland, 1958), 7. Citation facilitated by M. María del Cielo Leyes, SSVM. This is a journal entry, and so the original text displays the lackadaisical grammar maintained in the translation.  

[13] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 33.  

[14] Cf. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Priest in Union with Christ as Victim.  

[15] See M. Giraud: Sacerdote y hostia, where he speaks of the vow of victim, or, similarly, in another work by the same author on the religious life: Del espíritu y vida de sacrificio en el estado religioso (Lyon, 1879, 20-81), principally in book I, ch. 8, “Difference degrees of union with Christ Victim;” ch. 9, “On the Union of Jesus in His Oblation”; ch. 10, “In His Immolation”; ch. 12, “The Maternal Assistance of Mary.”

[16] See Billuart: De virtute religionis. De Voto (Those who can profess vows).  

[17] Sposa, Madre e Apostola, 29.  

[18] Cfr. In the sermon “Los‘novios’ de la cruz” pag_res.asp?id=564 (Lovers of the Cross: this homily is translated and included in this book).  

[19] Cfr. Alesandro Pasini, Corriere della Sera, March 23rd, 2010, 50.  

[20] Liturgia de las Horas, t. 1, CEA 1990, 1129.  



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