Posted by: wordofthevine | April 13, 2014

The Virtues and Resolutions for Holiness

Concepcion and the Living Cross of the Apostolate of the CrossMore than just rules for the spiritual life, the virtues and our own resolutions for that matter, are templates for us to follow as we struggle against our own tendencies that are less than loving. If you have ever purchased a new pair of shoes and had to pull out a cardboard mold from inside your shoe before you could try them on, the virtues and the summary of these good habits in the Chain of Love, are just that- a form or pattern that helps us hold our “Jesus shape” until we react transforming union with him. Our destiny is to walk in his footsteps to and through the Cross. On the Cross, we are most ready and receptive to be filled to the brim with His loving, Holy Spirit.

We want to be systematic in growing more open, more responsive to the graces that God constantly showers upon, although sometimes unrecognized, so we present no obstacles to moving in His preferences and perspective that percolate through our human reactions and resources. We want to progress and grow into the reality of the Cross, as a true path to sanctity through studying the fourteen principles of the “Chain of Love” the daily system of resolutions for holiness of Venerable Concepción Cabrera and her spiritual family. These principles encourage us to take our lives seriously as the ways and means of holiness. These principles lead us to discuss the virtues and to formulate a personal plan for holiness by reviewing our own stories, needs and experiences so we can incarnate Christ from the inside out, where ever we go.

We investigate the virtues, not that we can become perfect, for in our human lives this isn’t possible. We look at the virtues because they are movements of loving God better. Love stops at nothing short of surrendering all to God. He is not taken back by our weaknesses, but rather, he is attracted to us in our deepest needs. When you see that you may have fallen short, rejoice that you see this and have confidence that He meets you there. What will transform the human heart is to transform it in pursuit of love. Jesus is most tenderly moved by our hopes and our efforts. The goal is that, once examined in the light of the virtues, that our hearts can radiate the living presence of God to others!

In our time, the light from the virtues is very important for each of us, the laity and the ordained alike, for this is the time where we are expectant that God is acting to bring about an intimate “Interior Pentecost of the Heart” which will enable us to love others in the Holy Spirit. God has a mission to impact others for each of us, an unrepeatable mission that will be left undone, if we do not form ourselves and respond personally to the graces that Jesus liberated for us. The Holy Spirit wants to act in our time in us and through us to manifest His Kingdom on Earth. We have gifts that make us holy from the inside and gifts that propel us and empower us to act in the lives of others and the Church. Let the Holy Spirit begin with us!

In our time, the Holy Spirit is drawing us together, into being intentional disciples, people with a mission or apostolate. We need to learn from each other, laity and ordained alike, to become disciples and apostles for Jesus. The Apostleship of the Cross, a lay apostolate and community founded by Venerable Concepción Cabrera, is a beautiful example today of a community of lay persons in close mutual mission with the ordained, the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. The Apostleship of the Cross follows and implements the Chain of Love to reach those in the world with the good news of the Cross, while the Missionaries guide and support their efforts all the time learning and listening to them intimately in retreat work, confession, spiritual direction and friendship.

From simple, practical discussions on holiness, we see that, like Venerable Concepción Cabrera, each of us can allow the acorn of our baptismal graces to become lofty oaks grounded in the life and Cross of Jesus. These conversations of the Chain of Love and the Virtues are for everyday people in love with Jesus, the lay person, the religious sister and the priest and deacon who want to stop for a moment in the whirlwind of life to sip and savor this “new wine” of life.

Posted by: wordofthevine | April 11, 2014

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Maybe you read th194is and wondered why I would include it in a blog post.? It is because that God can speak to our hearts from any good and beautiful created good. I found this poem because my husband, an engineer, is developing his shadow side. He spied this book of poetry on the shelf  behind us in the quiet nook and cranny of a local coffee shop where we were eating. He opened the book and began reading out loud this “Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

This poem chides us to keep pushing into the “winds of life” to find God sustaining us. Longfellow asks us to become heroic in pursuing life in the depths.

What is truly remarkable, is that Longfellow wrote this beautiful poem from his own reflections following the death of his wife from complications of a miscarriage. He wrote it, it seems as a way to find his wife still with him in the providence and love of God, the true cement of his life.

We want to leave behind us “Footprints on the sands of time!” ~ Mary



    TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real !   Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

    Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Posted by: wordofthevine | April 7, 2014

Consecration to the Holy Spirit

I haFelixdeJesusve been writing a lot lately here and in other places about the Holy Spirit and learning to offer your life with Jesus through the Holy Spirit to be a redeeming force for others. We can do that you know by learning to harness the simple opportunities of daily life as “living sacrifices.” What are you willing to offer to the Lord for others; and how intimately are you willing to engage the process?

I am remembering a situation that my husband reminded me of [husbands are so good at doing that!] It was a situation at work with a co-worker that was fine, but we seemed at times to rub each other the wrong way because we just had different priorities. He said, “Why don’t you invite her over for dinner? I did and it turned the corner in our relationship to understand each other in context. At first thought, however, I was resistant. “Could I see her at work and then include her in my world and do it charitably? We each can if we can just get ourselves out of the way!

Sometimes, a daily resolution or prayer can help perk us so we are ready for the challenges that lay ahead of us in the day. I pray “The Consecration to the Holy Spirit” as a reminder of how I am trying to live in the moments of the day: surrendered to the Holy Spirit and as an offering for others! This helps liberate graces to the world and helps file off my imperfections in the meantime. We can make great growth in the spiritual life if we make intentions and learn to follow through! This prayer was written by Venerable Felix Rougier, M.Sp.S., the first master general of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

Consecration to the Holy Spirit

O Holy Spirit, receive the perfect and complete consecration of my whole being. In all my actions grant me the grace of being my light, my guide, my strength and the love of my heart. I surrender myself to you, and I ask of you the grace to be faithful to your inspirations. Transform me, through Mary and with Mary into a true image of Christ Jesus , for the glory of the Father and the salvation of the world. Amen. ~ Mary


Posted by: wordofthevine | April 3, 2014

The Offering of the Incarnate Word

felix rougier father

Father Felix Rougier, M.Sp.S.

Sometimes it is great to find a new and inspiring prayer. I hope that you feel that way once you read this post. Copy this prayer off. Stick it in your Bible, journal or put it next to your prayer chair. It was written by Venerable Father Felix Rougier, M.Sp.S.

The Offering of the Incarnate Word

Heavenly Father, through the hands of Mary,

we offer you Jesus, the Incarnate Word,

the victim in whom you are well pleased. Moved by the love

of the Holy Spirit in our Hearts,

we offer ourselves completely with Him,

as living hosts. May we be a living sacrifice,

out of love for you in all the events of our lives,

obtaining graces for the world, the Church and

especially your priests and deacons.

Say this everyday in the morning and watch what qualities surface in your own life and those you pray for! ~Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 29, 2014

An Acorn for Jesus

Lately, I have been writing on the “Chain of Love.” To be honest, this is realtime fruit of my own spiritual journey. I have been reading and reflecting on the principles of spiritual growth contained in the fourteen principles of the “Chain of Love” for many yacorn-necklace1ears because I just couldn’t seem to put them together concretely as something to be lived. I kept asking, “How do I do this?” They are the fruit of mystical union between Jesus and Venerable Concepción Cabrera. What difference can they make in my journey.

Lots! They show us that God is calling us to commune with Him, to clear away any obstacles to finding Him with us, in us and between us. God wants to capture us hook, line and sinker, to use a fishing example. He wants us to find in our human limits, an invitation to let go of our selfish clingings to find find ourselves securely embraced by His providence. He wants us to draw our lives into a synthesis where everything, even our limits can lead us to surrender more, to receive more. He wants to help us cultivate the soil of our lives so we can grow from “acorns” into full blown oak trees.  Download a copy of the fourteen principles of the “Chain of Love” from and pray along with us as we explore them in the next several posts. ~ Mary

Golden Links of Love


Posted by: wordofthevine | March 25, 2014

The Mystical Incarnate: A Gift to the Church


On this feast of the Annunciation, I am drawn to a recent experience that I had.

A woman that I was well acquainted with described her experience while traveling to Assisi, Italy and attending Mass in the Porqiuncola, St. Francis’ first Church which is enclosed inside  the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. As she finished celebrating the Mass in the little Church, she was moved or rather enraptured in prayer while gazing upon the image above the altar by Ilario da Viterbo that depicts the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. She said, “I experienced this immense sense of spiritual light engulfing my soul and person; the radiance of the Father’s love seemed to come to me with a sense of burning intensity of desire for God. I was being beckoned by the Lord to offer myself into this fruitful light, and heard in the depths of my heart:

“Mystical Mary, I am drawn to you to incarnate within you, surrender yourself to me, surrender yourself without reserve into me and my heart. Become radiant within and let my Mother guide this grace of all graces. This grace requires the context of mutuality within my Church for it to become most active.”

She continued, “It was as if the grace of the Incarnation had become active within me somehow and all I could do was receive it and respond to it. I was quite interiorly centered for the rest of that day and even now perceive a new sense of the Lord present to me somehow.” 

This woman’s words seemed to penetrate my heart. What stood out for me was that the fruitful “radiance of the Father’s love” had engulfed this woman after she had encountered the Holy Mysteries of the Mass through the ministry of a holy, ordained priest. As I held in my hands the writings of Ven. Concepcion Cabrera de Armida or “Conchita” for short, the woman’s  experience seemed to bring Conchita’s words off the page. “Conchita” was a Mexican lay woman and mystic from the early 20th Century that received mystical intuitions and lights of spiritual doctrine describing the advent of a new Pentecost in the Church through the sanctification of the ordained priesthood. Ven. Concepcion received the profound grace of transforming union with God called the mystical incarnation that the Lord had described to her as available to all the baptized but  particularly important for and accessible to ordained priests through the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Orders.

This radical movement of “incarnational” grace that Conchita and the woman I described had experienced seemed to shed light on the dynamics of this new Pentecost within the Church, a Pentecost that calls forth the fruitfulness of the laity through the spiritual renewal  of the ordained priesthood. Although, in Il canto dello Spirito (Ancora 1997, p387), Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Papal Household, describes the writings of “Conchita” as having a “prophetic character” for today’s Church and world, how do all the baptized and particularly priests make sense of this profound reality of mystical incarnation?  How do they become receptive to this grace and action of the Holy Spirit?   Stay tuned to read about his in upcoming  posts! ~ Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 24, 2014

Fourteen Principles of Spiritual Growth:

Venerable Concepción Cabrera, a wife, a mother and a mystic, who lived in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution, formulated fourteen principals of spiritual growth called “The Chain of Love.” Jesus tutored her how to cultivate the contemplative life in the world by intentional effort in the spiritual life. The Chain is a trajectory of progress, a journey into the Cross personally. Prior to reading this post, you may appreciate downloading a copy of the Chain of Love from

Father Luis Ruiz Vazques, M.Sp.S. in his review of the Chain of Love in O1380449_10200730437448314_225844702_nblations of Christ and Priestly Dimensions of Baptism in Concepción Cabrera, says Concepción shows us this battle through the Chain of Love takes dynamism and intensity. The Cross will come and we want to leave nothing in our lives unaddressed or offered to the Father. This sense of dynamism means that we have “to scrutinize the Cross and probe it’s depths” by discovering it as a living force in our experiences. The Cross is not simple a platitude but something that we live. We have to be intense Christians to hold nothing back from Christ or in making our lives a living offering for others, including those who hurt us. The Chain of Love shows us how to be purposely intense and rightly ordered in the spiritual life.

Through baptism and the grace of Jesus, we are wired, according to Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O. P. in Three Ages of the Interior Life, to “manfully do battle, to struggle against the withering effects of original sin” by accepting and struggling with our crosses. The fourteen rules of Venerable Concepción show us how to formulate a plan of battle, for other people’s salvation depend on our faithfulness to the mission of Christ that hits us in the face! ~Mary


[i] Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald, Fr., The Three ages of the Interior Life, Volume One, Tan Books, Rockford, Ill, 1947, p.xi.

[ii] Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald, Fr., The Three ages of the Interior Life, Volume One, Tan Books, Rockford, Ill, 1947, p.289,290.

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 21, 2014

Why Work at the Spiritual Life?


Have you ever wondered how you can reach your potential as a spiritual person? Sometimes we practice our faith. We are faithful, but we are not passionate about it. We say our prayers, attend Mass on Sunday but we haven’t let a relationship with God “get under our skin.” Our task this Lent is to become more vigorous in loving God with everything, to reach our true “stature in God.”

St. Paul gives us a wonderful example of a human person who had been amazed by God and who had learned to welcome obstacles, challenges and the pursuit of God. While we are not all called to experience mystical phenomenon in our prayer lives, we all have received a universal call to holiness and to contemplative union with God. Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., that wonderful teacher and spiritual writer of the interior life, uses a wonderful illustration. He compares faith to an acorn. Summarizing him, he says, just because all acorns do not become oak trees does not diminish the fact that under the right conditions, all acorns are meant to become oak trees.

In baptism, we all receive “acorns” that once we learn to strive for certain conditions of heart, we all can grow into full trees. We want to welcome humiliations, reversals, obstacles of all kind for they shake us out of our pursuit of comfort. The Cross helps us welcome and receive the Love of God, so we can emulate St. Paul.

St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:14-19:

“I bow my knees before the Father…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened  with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Be an acorn this Lent, let God plant you solidly in the soil of your everyday life…let it come on you…humiliations, obstacles, experiences of deep and honest love of God.~ Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | March 16, 2014

An Intentional Plan for Holiness!

Catherine of Siena and Jesus

I was considering how to make a plan for holiness practical one night when I woke up early.  I was also concerned about my family and the amount of time my teenagers used the media.  I was tired of harping on them.  At four in the morning, using my computer, I made a “Blue Zone” chart for the Kaufmann teens.  It was a poster with a young adult in boot camp at the top with three columns below, a column for each aspect of the person that I wanted them to develop, one for body, one for soul and one for mind.  I listed choices they could make, like eat vegetables, weigh yourself, read a book on a new topic, go to Confession and left blank space for them to fill in their ideas.  “Blue zone” is a designation that cities and states can achieve by making their area more conducive for good health.  They pour sidewalks so kids can walk to school, change school lunches and restaurant menus.  Now is the time for you to make your own “Blue Zone” chart, to determine, with God’s help, how you will cultivate your vocation at each of the three levels, and how you may implement the number of ideas for holiness that we have discussed throughout this book.  Start by taking your calling seriously, to consider the power of motherly love that God wants to unearth in your heart.

Think body, mind and soul.  Do you have habits of eating or lack of exercise that make you feel drowsy and lethargic?  ~Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | February 3, 2014

What is Spiritual Motherhood?


I picked up a paper from Cardinal Hummes, the past prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy. The Congregation for the Clergy is that part of the Roman curia that deals with all matters pertaining to the ordained, to bishops, priests and deacons. Cardinal Hummes wrote, “Adoration, Reparation and Spiritual Motherhood of Priests.” In this statement, he encouraged all women to consider that they have a gift in their femininity that orients them to care about people, to journey alongside others to bring them to growth. He was suggesting that women grow spiritually and pick up the task of praying for priests and to awaken more vocations. Hummes sited several holy, yet normal women from our tradition that had lived this life of intercession for the Church, describing that the mothers from a small village of Lu in northern Italy had awaken 323 religious vocations (152 priest, 171 nuns) from their small town. Can’t we do the same. The women from Lu gathered for a few minutes following Sunday Mass and prayed a simple prayer:

“Oh God, grant that one of my sons may become a priest! I myself want to live as a good Christian and want to guide my children always to do what is right so that I may receive the grace, O God, to be allowed to give you a holy priest! Amen.”

To learn how to cultivate your own life as a woman who prays for others, learn how to move the heart of God for those close to you and for the Church: register for our new online, interactive retreat on spiritual motherhood.

Also, watch our short, informative video on spiritual motherhood. 

[i] Hummes, Clᾴudio Cardinal, p19

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