Each Monday, during May and June, a reflection was posted on the Congregation's Facebook page on the theme of how Aguchita's virtues intertwined with the core vision and values of the Congregation. Here we reproduce the seven reflections to offer you another opportunity to embrace and understand our dear sister, Aguchita.
Aguchita’s mission of mercy
In the following excerpt, adapted from her introduction to the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, Sr. Eliana Güisa describes how Aguchita embodied the value of mercy.
Her mercy was unpretentious. She was a gentle breeze who advocated on behalf of the vulnerable, the abandoned, and those most affected by abuse and structural violence. Away from public gaze and prestige, Aguchita's humility and mercy were revealed through her kindness, help, service, and compassion. Aguchita was a woman who was given to us as a gift for consecrated life, the Church, and the world.
Aguchita’s life speaks volumes to us of God’s mercy, love, kindness, and wisdom. She embodied the Gospel, understanding the words of Jesus: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Mt. 10:28). Her martyrdom was the consequence of the way she lived mercy and justice. She was a faithful witness, since she "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), as Jesus did, "so that they might have life and have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10:10). We firmly believe that Aguchita lived her vocation to the full and unconditionally surrendered herself to her God and Shepherd, thus deserving the crown of martyrdom, having fulfilled God’s mission "to love until the end" (Jn. 13:1).
Does your life speak of God’s mercy? In your mission among the people of God, how do you reveal your mercy? What touched you in this paragraph?
[Posted on May 17]
Serving with dignity
In the following excerpt, taken from the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, one of the bishops who knew Aguchita recalls how he was moved by Aguchita’s dignity, as follows:
I had the good fortune to know her, and over time, I came to appreciate her great value, as a woman, and as a religious sister. She was attentive to me and to all of us, including the archbishop of Arequipa, then Mons. Rodríguez Ballón. Her most distinctive traits were her unconditional helpfulness and her love for priests; she gave us more than we could have asked for. Her dignity moved us, she won our hearts, and we affectionately called her “our mother.” Our sister supported us in every aspect of a priest's life, she was very considerate and had the gift of intuition. Before we even had to ask her, she already knew what we wanted. I was struck by her attentiveness in staying up late, waiting for us to return from missionary work in Lima. She waited for us with hot food.
Aguchita won over the hearts of those she served through the dignified way she carried out her service. In your ministry, are you respected and appreciated by those you serve? Are you unconditionally helpful and do you give more than you are asked?
[Posted on May 24]
Entering into reconciliation
The following excerpt, adapted from the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, demonstrates how Aguchita taught people how to forgive with a generous heart and always looked for ways to resolve conflict and reach a workable solution.
One day, a woman went to Salamanca to ask Aguchita’s advice about what to do about her partner who was being unfaithful. On seeing her worried face, Aguchita said to her: "Let's go to the chapel to pray and let's talk afterward." Aguchita saw that the woman was more relaxed and attentive there. Finally, she said: "You have to be patient. You're a brave woman. Cling to God, to the Virgin Mary, offer up your sufferings, don't bear grudges in your heart towards anyone, and forgive."
Following this, she asked the woman about her behavior towards her partner. The woman realized that she, too, had made mistakes in the relationship. After a long talk, Aguchita advised her to read Psalm 22 and let the Lord speak to her; to pray often, and to learn how to forgive him. She urged the woman not to leave her partner and to do her best to talk to him. As promised, Aguchita visited the family one evening, and calling the woman's partner aside, she spoke with him. It would appear that the conversation worked. The man began to change his behavior and the couple eventually married.
Place yourself fully within this story as the woman, her partner, or a bystander present in the chapel or the house. Try to imagine what you might see, smell, feel, and hear, and what the other people in the scene might be doing. How would things be different if the characters weren’t open and willing to listen, pray, understand, forgive, and reconcile? What can you learn about Aguchita and her role as a reconciler through your connection with each of these characters?
[Posted on May 31]
A Celebration of Life
On June 13, 101 years will have passed since Aguchita was born. Last year, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth, a tree-planting ceremony was held at the Generalate. Below we share some of the reflections by Sr. Ellen Kelly and Sr. Susana Franco from that day.
Aguchita was born in Peru and through her life and martyrdom she gave us one of the highest examples of how to follow God in a very special way! We would like to thank her for this special gift, as gratitude is what we all feel today. Gratitude is founded on humility, which is the virtue by which we know and acknowledge ourselves as we truly are. It consists of accepting the truth about ourselves, as sons and daughters of God.
In all of her letters, Aguchita revealed her love for the virtue of humility, often signing with the name “your little sister”. In one of these, addressed to a friend of hers, she confided that the virtue that she loved most was precisely that of humility and for which reason she told her, “I wish you always to be little”. Aguchita is an example to us of humility coupled with great love and respect for Creation, which she has always recognized as God’s revelation! She gave us a real model of how to find ourselves, though humility, as creatures of God, all connected by his love!
This Sunday, on June 13, plan to spend some time alone or in community to learn about Aguchita and contemplate her life, ministry, and legacy. Aguchita most loved the virtue of humility. What importance does it have for you? What can you learn from her example to accept the truth about yourself through humility and follow God in a very special way?
[Posted on June 7]
Justice leads to empowerment
In the following excerpt, adapted from her introduction to the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, Sr. Eliana Güisa describes how Aguchita upheld the intertwined values of justice and empowerment.
The Congregation has opted for the theme of justice since 1973. Aguchita embraced this and endangered herself to promote it because she had internalized the institution’s directives through her faithfulness to Good Shepherd spirituality. She encouraged the empowerment of women and girls in a real and concrete way. Aguchita did not merely comfort and console, she offered active support in her daily practical activities, with a constant eye to the future. An example of Aguchita’s clear understanding of justice and peace in La Florida, Peru, is how she welcomed anyone who wished to engage in the activities that she organized, not just Christians. Aguchita’s vision was so broad that it went beyond religion: she always welcomed everyone.
In the same way, the ministries that have been established since her death and that bear her name, do so not only to remind us of Aguchita’s significance but also to empower us. These ministries do not simply bear her name, they encourage us to broaden our horizons, and remind us that the work of empowerment has been carried out for a long time and that it is in our hands to renew it and develop it further.
What does it mean for the Congregation to use Aguchita's name in the context of women today? How does her example challenge the Congregation, your ministry, your personal daily life? How does the way she conveyed many of the Congregation's morals and values through her work encourage you to promote justice and seek to empower women and girls, in an entirely inclusive way?
[Posted on June 14]
Being holy means being human, not perfect
Forty years ago this week, Aguchita wrote the below personal reflection in her notebook from a series of lectures on ongoing formation that she attended during her tertianship. Now known as the Notebook of Meditations, on June 22, 1961, she described a certain conflict that caused her to reflect upon her shortcomings, and on her need to trust in God to come to her aid in moments of crisis:
Things flared up, I don't know what harm has been caused or how things will end ... You know everything, and you see my intentions, I’m capable of so many calamities. Hold me, my Father, by the hand, I’m so disillusioned by everything, by my work, my failures, my lack of organization, etc., etc., only you can put things right.
Two years later, on June 24, 1963, towards the very end of this notebook, she showed compassion when she wrote:
Lord, save these souls that you send to me, they are sick, heal them quickly; as a Good Father, resolve their spiritual matters.
Aguchita is on the way to sainthood but she is no less human. Like Jesus, like all the saints, and like you, she experienced the full spectrum of emotions. There is no sin in the experience of the emotion, but rather in your response to that emotion. With humility, Aguchita reflected on her shortcomings and abandoned herself to God to put things right. How do you process your emotions? Do you entrust them to God who can transform your heart?
[Posted on June 21]
Patience is a virtue
In the following excerpt, taken from the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, one of Aguchita’s ex-students, María del Pilar, recalls how patience was another of Aguchita’s traits.
She patiently taught me [how to crochet], I sat beside her so that I could learn and improve my technique. I was eight years old then. She spoke to me affectionately and told me that women had to know how to embroider, [and] learn how to do things around the house so that we could take care of ourselves in life.
A further adapted extract from the book highlights Aguchita’s patience through how, in particular, she focused her efforts and attention on girls who were slow to learn.
One of the girls who was so reluctant to sew that she asked a classmate to do it for her, learned her lesson. After submitting the work made by her classmate, Aguchita praised her for how good her sewing was and insisted: "You can now make two skirts." The girl then looked at her classmate who was beside her, as if to say, "she knows." Despite the girl’s ploy, Aguchita had the patience to sit with her and teach her how to sew until she could do it.
Aguchita’s patience stemmed from her concern to empower the girls for life, not simply teach them new skills. This holistic attitude demands an approach that is affectionate and patient. Like the Lord in Psalm 103:8, she appears ‘slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’. We even have a glimpse of her humor in how she deals with the work-shy girl. In your work, when others are reluctant or slow to learn how do you respond? What can you learn from Aguchita’s example?
[Posted on June 28]