Anna-Ma. Cinco, F.I.
“I am not pleased that you spend time thinking that you are poor and that you will not be able to go forward. What, did I not know that you did not have the wealth and goods of the world? Yes, I knew it, and I know who I chose and why I chose her. He who gave you the desire, will give you the power and grace, if you are faithful to my call, and they will sense that the work is mine and not of men.”
We find these words in the spiritual notes of St. Cándida María de Jesús. They seem to be a gentle rebuke from the Lord to the young woman, formerly a domestic servant used to taking orders and now called to give orders as a foundress. A woman with scant material resources called to “found a Congregation with the title of Daughters of Jesus, dedicated to the salvation of souls, through the education and instruction of children and youth” [“fundar una Congregación con el título de Hijas de Jesús, dedicada a la salvación de las almas, por medio de la educación e instrucción de la niñez y juventud”]. A young woman baptized as Juana Josefa who was now called to change her name to Cándida María de Jesús, a name whose first word repelled her because it reminded her of the name of a drunkard in their village. A reaction portrayed by her own words, “María de Jesús sí, pero Cándida no.”
I cannot even begin to conceive the thoughts and feelings that must have come to this young woman called to give up her name, her habits, her sources of security, her fears and uncertainties, etc. — one would think, called to give up her very identity.
But her deepest identity was rooted in being a child of God very much loved by Him, along with His other children, and protected and guided by Mary Immaculate — Hija de Jesús.
And so, through the years, I imagine, the constant return to this deepest identity would fortify and encourage her to continue answering that call before the altar of the Rosarillo. Thirty three years after she founded the Congregation, already in the last decade of her life, she would write, “How true it is that Jesus does not abandon these poor and unworthy daughters of his!”
So too, I realize, am I called to cast off all the false sources of security to which I cling so stubbornly, all those things that I swore to abandon, taking on poverty, chastity, obedience and availability, and to place all my hope in God in whom I can trust to accompany and fortify me with His grace.
It is a long and difficult road along which, I have to admit, I frequently stumble and give in to my selfishness. But it is also a road filled with joy and peace, because His patience, forgiveness and love accompany me, if I give way to Him. I can almost hear Mother Cándida saying, “Steady, my daughter, and be cheerful; God is with us; this is enough for us, and we do not want more.”
And so I keep walking with His grace, putting all my hope in Him, and looking forward to that moment, when, like Mother Cándida, as creature facing my Creator, I may joyfully describe my state of being as “tranquilísimamente tranquila” [supremely at peace], having had the tremendous privilege to share and experience the beauty and the grace of her call at the Rosarillo. Thank you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank you, Mary Immaculate. Thank you, Mother Cándida, pray for all of us in this your Family.