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The Virgin of Lujan, Mother of Vocations to the IVE

This coming May 8th, the Church throughout the world will celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will happily coincide with the beautiful feast of our Most Holy Mother, the Virgin of Lujan as well as the 5th anniversary of our offering of the golden rose “as a perpetual testimony of our love and gratitude for the vocations which she has sent to our Religious Family…and as a vow of confidence for the many more which we hope to bring forth through her intercession”[1]. How much we have to thank the Virgin for!

Since the last General Chapter (July of 2016) until today our small Institute has given to the Church 103 priests for the greater glory of God. This is a very great grace for the Institute. In order to measure the blessing which this signifies, we can call to mind that there are very important dioceses that have not had or have had very few priestly ordinations in the last 10 or 20 years, which also unfortunately happens with religious congregations of great prestige and tradition.

On the other hand, today we have 503 vocations in formation[2] and of which only 16% are Argentinian while the other 84% come from other countries[3], which speaks of the fecundity with which God has been pleased to crown the efforts of evangelization of our missionaries throughout the world so that the message of Christ can arrive most effectively to the heart of each culture.

Let us likewise consider that it is not just a simple detail that the Virgin of Lujan has sent vocations to the Institute that come from the same family. The double family ties-by blood and spirit-not only contribute to the unity and cohesion of the Institute, but it is also an important apostolic witness for other families and, in fact, for all other Christians.

Therefore, in order to celebrate the Word Day of Prayer for Vocations this coming 8th of May within the framework of the Solemnity of the Purest Conception of Lujan, within these lines we would like to speak about the primary commitment of each member of the Institute to promote vocations and about one of the means of promoting vocations, which is precisely “family ministry, which is in itself vocational”[4].

The document is divided into 3 parts:

1. Primary Commitment

2. Family ministry is in itself vocational

3. Mother of the Lord and our Mother

To read it in its entirety, click here. For now, we will only focus on one part of the text.

How can we promote priestly and religious vocations?

We know very well that at the foundation of all vocational work, as Our Lord Jesus Christ taught, is found authentic and persevering prayer, asking for more workers for the harvest[5]; nevertheless, our Proper Law explicitly points out to us a necessary and consequent means: “through the faithful and joyful witness of consecrated life”[6]. This is what St. Paul expresses when he says: I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called[7]. “Conduct that responds to a vocation,” says St. John Paul II, “gives rise to new vocations. This coherent conduct is like the permanent basis of prayer; it prepares it, and prayer is like its development; reciprocally, prayer continually calls for such behavior”[8]. For this reason, before the other hundred projects that we could carry out in view of vocational ministry, the first, together with prayer, is that of priestly and religious testimony. We cannot ignore the fact that our life is always a significant presence at the side of young people: it encourages or discourages, it awakens the desire for God or constitutes an obstacle to following him. Hence, consistent and joyful witness is the first vocational proposal within the reach of any of our members. 

If we really give a joyful testimony in serving Christ “carrying out our apostolates with competence and generosity”[9], if we are able to radiate hope because of the faith that dwells in our heart despite of all the fatigue of the struggle, if we truly give ourselves to souls without failing in prayer, how can we doubt that vocations will spring up around us? The vocations which God has sent us though Our Lady of Lujan from Christian minority countries such as Tajikistan, the Gaza Strip, Egypt; from places where the Institute has very little presence, as in Papua New Guinea, or none at all, as in Sri Lanka, India, Guatemala, Slovakia, etc., prove that prayer united to a coherent life always produces fruit wherever God wants and how God wants.

However, none of us is unaware, no matter how few years of religious life we may have, that missionaries are lacking in the suburbs of the big cities, in the rural areas, among the inhabitants of the high mountain areas and in the immensity of the jungle. There is a lack of priests who are dedicated to the youth, to families, to the elderly and sick, to workers, to the intellectuals, to the professionals and the ignorant, to the artists, to the rich and the poor, to citizens of our country or immigrants… it is our experience that there is an urgent need for a greater number of priests and religious in parishes, in parish groups, in schools and universities, in factories, and in so many other fields…until we can say “that the ends of the earth, to which the Gospel must reach, are getting farther and farther away”[10].

This lack of workers for the harvest was already a challenge for Jesus Himself in Gospel times. His example allows us to understand that the too small number of consecrated persons is a situation inherent to the condition of the Church and the world, and not just an accidental fact due to current circumstances. However, the Incarnate Word, having compassion on the multitudes, offered them his teaching because he saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd[11], but He also wanted that His disciples participate in the solution, inviting them before anything to pray[12]. We also can and must influence the number of vocations by prayer.

Sometimes when we say that we must pray for vocations we often believe that this is a general intention, however, we consider that it would be convenient to pray frequently and explicitly for vocations, especially for our Institute. It is not of less importance to invite others to pray-as they are in fact doing in various places through the “40 Hours Project” or the “Thursdays of the priest” or the “rosary for vocations”-because we must be aware that vocations cannot take the next step with their own strength, and for this reason, they must be stimulated by prayer, accompanied and supported by the understanding that vocation is a true gift from heaven. We emphasize here the predominate role that the contemplatives of the Institute have, since the abundance and quality of priestly, contemplative, missionary and consecrated vocations for the Institute depend to no lesser degree on their generous and joyful fidelity to the contemplative life. It is moving to think that our Lord wanted to associate to the joined hands of a monk and to his silent immolation the precious gift of vocations for His Church.

 

Dear Moms, let us zealously continue praying for more laborers for the harvest and that all priest and religious will respond with generosity and faithfulness to their vocations, as well as be instruments themselves in awakening more vocations. 

 


[1] P. Gustavo Nieto, IVE, Speech at the presentation of the golden rose (8/5/2017).

[2] Among brothers of temporary vows, deacons, major seminarians, minor seminarians, postulants and novices.

[3] 45 countries in 5 continents.

[4] Directory of Vocations, 84.

[5] Cf. Mt 9:37-28.

[6] Directory of the Evangelization of Culture, 196.

[7] Eph 4:1.

[8] To priests and consecrated persons in Beauraing, Belgium (18/5/1985).

[9] Directory of the Evangelization of Culture, 196.

[10] Directory of Missions Ad Gentes, 80.

[11] Cf. Mk 6:34.

[12] St. John Paul II, Catechesis on Consecrated Life (19/10/1994).

The Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida

 

The Venerable Concepción Cabrera de Armida was born in San Luis Potosí, Mexico (1862) and died in Mexico City (1937). She was the wife of Francisco de Armida (1884-1901) with whom she had 9 children.

 

She was a model wife and mother. She is popularly known by the name of “Conchita”.

In the Spiritual Exercises she made in 1889, she received a strong inspiration that marked her for life: “Your mission is to save souls”. She founded and promoted the “Works of the Cross”: “Apostolate of the Cross” (1895), “Religious of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus” (1897), “Covenant of Love with the Heart of Jesus” (1909), “Fraternity of Christ the Priest” (1912), etc. In 1914 she cooperated, with the Venerable Fr. Félix Rougier, in the foundation of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual Mother of souls, especially of priests:

Concepción Cabrera de Armida, guided by the Lord, became progressively aware of being a mother of souls and, in a special way, a spiritual mother of priests. These great desires, aroused in her heart by the Lord, became a life of spousal syntony with Him, sharing His same priestly oblation.

Her spiritual motherhood was initially oriented towards the salvation and sanctification of all the redeemed, as the Lord had indicated to her: “You will give me many souls”, “you will save many souls”, “thousands of souls will pass through your hands to offer them to me”, “many souls will profit from the favors I have done for you”, “love souls as I love them”.

 

Conchita is not centered on herself, but on the good of others, in imitation of the love of Christ. Love for souls became concrete in the desire for the sanctification of priests: “You are destined for the sanctification of souls, especially that of priests”.

 

For this reason, Conchita’s heart should reflect the maternal tenderness that Christ found in Mary: “For this maternal tenderness, derived from Mary’s, I come to seek in your motherly heart, and in the hearts of your people.” From there, Conchita will derive the need to imitate Mary in her generous fidelity and her immolation with Christ: “My Mother, holy Virgin, give me your Heart and your heartbeat to know how to love Jesus”.

Conchita’s life is consecrated to the sanctification of priests, as a consequence of sharing the experiences and loves of Christ the Priest. This was the commission she received from the Lord: “through you, many priests will be set on fire with love and pain”. “I have asked you many times to sacrifice yourself for them, to receive them as your own, because of the reflection of Mary in you”.

Characteristics of Conchita’s spiritual motherhood with respect to priests

Conchita’s spiritual life is all priestly. She lives by the love of Christ the Priest or of his Heart. It is the Lord himself who communicates to her the love of priests, explaining to her, at the same time, the purpose of the ministerial priest, his process of transformation in Christ and his need for holiness. Her “destiny” is thus to become a victim for the sanctification of priests. It is a kind of spiritual motherhood, in imitation of Mary’s motherhood. This is why she desires that all priests burn with apostolic zeal.

She became aware of her spiritual motherhood with regard to priests, guided by the Lord’s indications: “You will be a hidden spiritual mother… Your mission is all cross and all hidden”.

Main objective: the sanctification of priests:

That is the intention underlined by the Lord: “I need holy priests, who, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, will be the great lever that will lift up the materialized and sensual world. Go, daughter, help me to fulfill my desire. A Crusade is needed to save the bad Priests, they must be sanctified, activating their zeal and kindling in them the divine love.”

“Do you not see that they must be a reflection of My Father, a perfect imitation of Me, other Jesus? I insist and will insist on this capital point of your mission on earth: the priests.”

Conchita’s consecration for this maternity, love for priests united to the oblation of Christ:

Conchita’s oblative response will be continuous and enduring: “I have offered everything, in union with my divine and most beloved Word, for the priests so dear to the divine Heart, I am theirs, I am their firewood, and to the last pain and breath of my existence, I will offer it in their favor. I am theirs, I am their firewood and even the last pain and breath of my existence, I will offer it in their favor. Oh sublime mission of pain and love that I do not deserve! Thank You, my God, and in all priests I will see You, High and first Priest whom I want to love so much”, I feel that I am not satisfied in fighting to sanctify myself, but I long to give to Jesus and through Him and with Him, in the same sacrifice, to sanctify what He loves most, His beloved priests in all their hierarchies, the Church in all its weight”.