More 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.