BLESSED IS SHE…
Virtues attributed to Aguchita
Emanuele Spedicato and Waldery Hilgeman
13 June 2020
E: Blessed is she, Aguchita, who modelled for us the scripture readings of today. In the eyes of those who knew her, there is no doubt that Sister Aguchita lived the three evangelical counsels with steadfast commitment. Aguchita also professed a fourth vow, that of zeal for the mission of the Congregation. Through this, Aguchita committed herself "to live and work for the salvation of persons, especially those to whom [she was] sent."
W: She worked tirelessly to offer suitable training to the people of La Florida, especially to young people, promoting their integral human development in line with the specific charism of the congregation. In addition to the catechism, she taught them, in her own small way, practical skills that would enable them to break free from the extreme poverty in which they lived, by giving lessons in sewing or teaching them how to cook. As a lover of Creation, she tended to the vegetable garden with devotion and taught others to do the same. In fulfilling her vow of zeal, she demonstrated not only spiritual qualities but also shared her material goods in offering daily support and accompaniment.
E: Through the vow of chastity, a gift of grace given by God, Aguchita offered herself to Jesus with an undivided heart, loving Him and becoming, in turn, a witness of His love. She had already learned the "cleansing of soul and spirit" in her family, and she nourished this vow with Marian prayer and devotion. Aguchita expressed this virtue through her motherly love, proving herself to be free from every human attachment. Someone described her as "a woman who had a singular belief, in her connectedness, in zealously giving everything for the glory of God, in a transparent way." Aguchita showed herself to have that simplicity and naivety characteristic of a child.
W: One can sense Aguchita's fidelity to the evangelical counsels, given the absence of any vain action or any malice in her interactions with others. Sister Aguchita, therefore, was not only a sister who was able to offer herself spiritually and materially, but one who knew how to understand "that everything is done out of love." She appeared to be a woman of affective maturity who had no difficulty relating to men and women with great ease and gentleness, especially to priests, to whom she had a particular devotion.
E: Even the virtue of obedience, everyone who knew her remember Aguchita as a sister who was wholly immersed in her apostolate, and who respected and loved the Constitutions and the mission assigned by her superiors. Her remote willingness towards martyrdom can be illustrated by examining how she did not abandon her mission but remained there until her death, despite being aware of the dangers involved. In fact, it is clear that Aguchita "was murdered for serving her people, for obedience to her mission."
W: She did not allow herself any small pleasures that might distract her from her apostolic work. For example, in response to an invitation from the Province Leader, she wrote: "I appreciate your invitation for me to go to Lima, I would very much love to, but it would disrupt the work and besides I'm not too bad. We've stayed close to Jesus for Him to take care of this matter, while I do what I need to do."
E: Her love for the virtue of obedience was, therefore, the fruit of her love for the Church: "she was a woman who deeply respected the Church;" someone said "she loved priests, she was always in communion with the members of the congregation; I know myself, the respect she always showed to her superiors." None of her superiors made any negative comments about her, to whom, on the contrary, Aguchita showed deep respect.
W: Sister María Celina, who had been her local leader during the final years of Aguchita's life, is clear and substantial in this regard. She described her as "a woman who obeyed the rules to the letter":
[Aguchita] never contradicted her superiors. She accepted everything and was always available to everyone. She used to say: 'I am in God's hands for whatever He wants.' She was a woman who gave herself to God, to serve, and to work, to do everything she could.
E: Fidelity to the vow of poverty is also extensively attested. Aguchita, who did not come from a wealthy family, never sought the easy route for herself and, as a religious sister, always zealously carried out the humble tasks that were assigned to her. When she began her mission in La Florida, she became poor among the poor, sharing their difficulties, while remaining humble and trying to alleviate the hardships of her people. Many witnesses recalled her resourcefulness and creativity. Precisely because she was aware of the poverty in the area, she tried to make the most of what she had, to then share it with the people. Poverty was not a problem, but a means for her to become closer to her neighbor.
W: Poverty never let go of hope: even in that situation, despite being aware of the different needs, Aguchita became an exemplary witness of trust in Divine Providence. She never put anything aside for herself, fully embodying the poverty that surrounded her. One sister recalled a situation in which she had witnessed that people had begun to despair in the face of lack of food.
E: Sister Aguchita, confident that God would hear their prayers, told them not to lose heart, and so it was that a truckload of cobs arrived at the community. Immediately, these were shared among the people, and Aguchita "blessed the food, and there was enough for everyone." Aguchita "knew that in giving, we receive more. She abandoned herself to God's providence. She used to say: '[What] I have today I will give away, and tomorrow we will have more,' she trusted that more would always arrive. She knew very clearly how to see the suffering Christ in the poor." Reaffirming this abandonment to God, Sister Celina vividly recalled that Aguchita "often prayed to the Providence of God and said that we wouldn't be short of anything because God is provident."
W: However, it is interesting to note, how for Aguchita, the virtues of humility, poverty, obedience, and living the vow of zeal are also deeply linked to other virtues, such as prudence, faith, charity, and chastity. In a concise but straightforward and exhaustive sentence, it was testified that:
Sister Agustina was obviously a clear example of a great missionary; this was the fruit of being faithful to the virtue of obedience to which she had made a promise on the day of her profession.
E: Similarly, someone emphasized how her obedience was linked intimately to her humility, her love of neighbor, her poverty, and her lack of pride, stating that "she was an ordinary person, she lived like any other villager; despite her age, she never complained about anything […] Anyone could talk to her with ease because she was simple and modest, she was not arrogant in any way, and she never imposed her own will."
W: The recollections of one sister are also worthy of mention as they link humility and the absence of vainglory with the virtue of chastity as an example of love:
She expressed her vows by loving her neighbor; chastity was reflected in the example of her life. She was very humble and simple. […] people would say to her, 'Mother, you can do miracles,' [to which] she would reply, 'I don't, God does.'
As could be expected, there are many examples in this regard, and all are worthy of note. Small pieces that reconstruct the life of a humble sister who was entirely devoted to the mission, and who fully lived and put into practice the evangelical counsels. However, just a few of those considered most significant have been highlighted, but which, it is hoped, have done justice to a truly virtuous life in which martyrdom was only the final and most exceptional testimony. Blessed is she….