It has been a beautiful surprise to have in my hands, precisely these days, a copy of the monograph I wrote upon finishing Theology at the Javeriana University, in 1984. Thirty-three years later … A work that today I look at with real affection in the light of my experience as a Daughter of Jesus and of the many formative opportunities that have been offered to me and that makes me appreciate it even more because although it was quite incipient, it was an endeavor supported by several of our sisters, especially by Teresa Lucia, who at that moment was finishing her work on the letters of Mother – and which we have in her two volumes – and sparing no effort, sent me a draft of it for my work, like friendly Jesuits who encouraged me to search a little bit in the epistolary material of our dear M. Candida.
Although the central theme was “THE PRAXIS OF SEEKING AND FINDING GOD IN ALL THINGS, FROM MOTHER’S EPISTOLARY”, it allowed me to elaborate as well some annexes on topics that seemed to me reflected in them, like “the feminine and maternal being incarnate in Candida Maria de Jesus”. And that in the light of the international day of women, I am encouraged to share some of the same, because for those of us who form her great family, Candida Maria was an authentic woman. Maybe not a woman educated in letters, but brave and daring, with a depth and liveliness that today invites us to contemplate her as a person who made history. And who went beyond her own hometown until she arrived with the legacy that she left to us in more than 19 countries, according to the congregational history.
“… we see how in her life this feminine and maternal being is expressed and how she embodies the love that opens her to the space of unlimited charity … She is a consecrated woman, a believer surprised by the journey of faith, seduced by God, who called her by name to share her life and destiny full time … she chose to live the demands of the Gospel in radicality as the Spirit gave her to feel … and exclaims: “the desires I have to be (a) very good (woman) are most vibrant and so I beg you not to cease praying hard for me, that I may be all that God wants me to be” (Letter No. 12). No doubt she did not want to be just any kind of woman!
A woman who lives from Jesus a strong and unmistakable experience of divine paternity, in her: unifying center of her life and who calls her to live universal fraternity. Candida Maria lives the feminine nature of her being from the source of her desires: Jesus Christ. And she becomes a creator of communion, inspiring donation and universal dedication coming from a gratuitous love, loving each person in totality and freedom, expressing her deep feelings: “… I always pray for everyone in my poor prayers and, above all, I do it especially for our most beloved Teresita. I can not forget her for a moment and I understand what you must be suffering. From the moment I knew that she was sick, I have not stopped praying for her, that the Lord may grant her health, if it is right for her …” (Letter 24).
A woman who, like Mary – keeping the proper distance, of course – definitely says Yes to God in faith, to the GOD LOVE who impels her to found and give rise to a congregation: THE DAUGHTERS OF JESUS. To respond, from him, to a great need of her time: the education of women.
She maintains with its members a deeply close, maternal relationship. Because she is free, freed by the Spirit, she is able to give her heart in a generous friendship, free, faithful, fearless, and able to live the greatness of human affections from the evangelical perspective and that never fail to bring her paschal mystery.
Candida Maria was a woman of deep and faithful friendships as we can read in several of her letters (Nos. 15, 22, 143, 188, 193, 194, 234, 358, 472 …). In them we see the fidelity of her sentiments not only by what she expresses but because she keeps them until the death of those loved ones, even beyond it. A complete woman, who becomes, throughout her life, a prophecy of human life, filial, fraternal because this is characteristic of a woman who lives in fullness the wealth of her being, who longs for her intimate and profound relationship with God and with her brethren as a sole commitment: “I wish you all to be very holy and good, being faithful to our beloved Jesus and dear Spouse of our souls.”
And a mother who fulfills herself in her motherhood, beyond the physiological, with deep closeness to everything human: to the joy, pain, worry, sickness of every person since she knows that she is supported by a love beyond the depths of her being: “dearest daughters of my heart … take good care of yourselves for God, do not let yourselves get sick …”.
The fact that all the letters addressed to Daughters of Jesus begin by treating them as “very dear daughters,” goes beyond a routine phrase in her epistolary communication. She has truly experienced her maternal being, with an exceptional capacity to love because she knew how to live her virginity in the style of Jesus, enhancing the fecundity of one who knows best to love in totality, in the manner of Christ, putting in the human and divine tenderness that was given to her: “who could, my daughter, give you pleasure in everything? Who better than a mother wants to remedy the needs of her daughters …? (Letter 192). She was a woman and mother who made visible the maternal face of God in the ordinariness of her life, loving in truth, with the love that Paul shows us in loving without measure, coming out of herself to seek the good of all and especially that of the sisters who shared with her the grace of the same vocation and for whom she sought and wanted the best of goods: “I pray for everyone, and why not? You are my daughters and I want you all to be very holy” (Letter 190). A mother who, before the loving word of the Lord, responded in the Church with all possible fidelity, from her vocation as a believing woman with which God embellished her.
Teresa Ramírez Gélvez fi