See also: commentary by
Josep M. Rovira Belloso (Theologian)
CRISTINA KAUFMANN: Recreating solitude
Script interview Cristina Kaufmann - Francesc Grané
© Eulogos media, October 2006
When people come here, they think we are... we are peculiar. The are people who show great respect, but say: “It’s strange, I don’t understand, I don’t know what you find in this way of life.” And perhaps others, only few, but rather useless… leading a useless existence. Even within a Christian commitment! There are so many things, so many poor, so many sick, so many dropouts, so much misfortune in the world… and then… do something! Be more useful from a utilitarian point of view, or from a palpable efficacy.
This has to do with the difficulty to accept the transcendence of human life. That our ultimate destiny is not to cure all diseases, that we are all here on pilgrimage, in the condition of exile. Then, inside the Church, part of the Church can be devoted mainly and visibly and as a sacrament to the contemplation and the praise of God. To be like an image, like a sign, like a sacrament that every single person is called to live. The communion with God and praising.
I believe that contemplative life, our life, one of the nuances of our testimony is also the testimony of beauty. Our life has a harmony that is fine, that is beautiful. Because it bears in mind all aspects of the human being, but gathered as impregnated with the presence of the spirit of God, because God is beauty, God is love, God is beauty, yes. Creation is the reflection of God… creation is … beautiful.
Se me ofreció considerar nuestra alma como un castillo todo de un diamante...adonde hay muchos aposentos así como en el cielo hay muchas moradas...que no es otra cosa, el alma del justo, sino un paraíso adonde dice Él tiene sus deleites!
It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond...in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places...the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight.
Life itself, our life, should be a work of art. Within contemplative life, there have been many artists. .we, in our tradition, Saint Theresa and Saint John of de Cross… and Saint Teresina- and in here anonymous, We try to take care of the sisters’ artistic capacities. When making a bouquet of flowers for the church, or embroidering a tablecloth, or looking after the garden to make it beautiful.
The desire of God is already the presence of God.
I think that to desire God, we desire him when we already have a little experience of having found Him. Saint John of the Cross explains this when in his Spiritual Song he begins: “Where have you hidden, Oh Beloved, and left me…”
¿Adónde te escondiste,
Amado, y me dejaste con gemido?
como el ciervo huiste,
salí tras ti clamando, y eras ido.
Oh llama de amor viva,
que tiernamente hieres
de mi alma el más profundo centro!
pues ya no eres esquiva,
acaba ya si quieres;
rompe la tela deste dulce encuentro.
Saint John of the Cross
Where have You hidden,
Beloved, and left me moaning?
You fled like the stag
After wounding me;
I went out calling you, and you were gone.
O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center! Since
Now You are not oppresive,
Now Consummate! if it be Your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!
When one looks for God, or wishes God, it is that he or she has had an experience that has left him or her... looks for God... you look for something that you have had, we do not look for something that we have never had. If we look for love it is because we know that love is beautiful, it is good. And we have some experience of love. But we do not look for something that is totally unkown to us. We cannot look for it.
God: a social construction?
Saying that the idea of God is a necessity that man has created to be able to subsist, to survive. I think, at least, I think that this can be stated, but then, with the same reason, it can be stated: The idea that God cannot exist is also a human creation. Being able to state that God is, that God exists, and being able to state that God doesn’t exist, are two arguments that at least, should be at the same level.
Now, from the existence of Jesus Christ and also from the existence of other religions that throughout human history, are present in all the peoples, make us think it cannot possibly be that a transcendent being is a human creation.
I happened to think, no, that believing is being happy. I am happy to be as I am. And to know, somehow, that my life is not useless, that there is Someone who likes me to live, people around me, and also this person beyond humans, who is God.
Poned los ojos en vos y miraos interiormente... hallaréis vuestro Maestro, que no os faltará… Mirad que dice San Agustí que le buscaba en muchas partes y que le vino a hallar dentro de sí mismo
Turn your eyes inward and look within yourself...You will find your Master, for He will not fail you...Consider what St. Augustine says, that he sought Him in many places but found Him ultimately within himself.
I call him “God” and I call him “Jesus Christ”, the Christian God, The God who Jesus has come to reveal to us, the Father. And the Spirit of Jesus, who remains in the world after the end of his human existence.
If I prefer Jesus Christ , it is, first of all, because I was born in the Christian culture. Secondly, apart from being born in a Christian culture, within a Christian family that has transmitted me the Christian faith, I have had the opportunity to deepen in the Christian faith, in such a way that I don’t feel the need to look for something else. For me, in the Christian Faith, the Gospel or, if you want, in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, I find an infinite space to my searches of life, fullness, sense.
Sacred spirit, what does it mean?
For me is the life of Jesus that remains in the world. Jesus was a man, historical, but at the same time he is the presence of God in the world. And he has left us his spirit, which is somehow present in every single human being. And where a person loves, a person hopes, a person is happy… I think that as long as there are happy people in the world, even though the world is as it is, it is an evidence that there is a divine spirit in the world. That we cannot make it ourselves.
To believe, predispostition or effort?
Faith is not an effort, it’s a gift. Now, all every gift is also a task. And God offers us faith, he offers it free to anyone who wants it. Perhaps not everybody has the mission of being testimony of Jesus Christ. Now, the person who is aware of having received this gift, must respond and work on it. It is then when it becomes a demand. But a demand that liberates, not a had demand that conditions and compels. No.
I now see it compared to an excursion to the mountains. You know that climbing the Alps is fantastic, and if you have a good day, it is a unique spectacle. But it is demanding, you must climb. And the way to get there has its conditions. Don’t go too heavy, don’t carry too many things, wear the right shoes, the right coat, take enough adequate food, too. But in fact it is great. For the one who knows the beauty of the mountains, it’s a joy. The way, however, is demanding.
De noche, iremos de noche, que para encontrar la fuente, sólo la sed nos alumbra
Saint John of the Cross
By night we travel, by night in search of the spring, only our thirst lights our way.
Youth and Church
It is very difficult to know why young people are not interested in the church We, older people, mustn’t feel guilty, but we must be alert to this fact, that many young people have not found their way in the Church. Perhaps our society offers a kind of happiness that attracts young people primarily, and when they find their primary needs satisfied, they remain somehow inactive and don’t seek beyond. And, yes, we can do a certain examination of conscience and say: “The people of the church have presented the person of Jesus Christ, or have we presented it too much as an institution? Or we have not been transparent enough toward the person of Jesus Christ- We have rather wanted to create a world-wide organisation, big.
I don’t want to blame either society or the Church. Now, perhaps the Church lacks freshness to announce the good news of Jesus Christ, and not to conform with attitudes of habits, or ways of acting, or a way of organising, building the society, instead of starting from the roots of Jesus Christ. We can’t put the cart before the horse and demand certain rules when we have not been able to introduce the greatness of the love of God and the joy in Jesus’ love well enough and to live according to his way of life.
I would say that we have to emphasize the contemplative side of the Christian faith much more. What the image of Jesus, the person of Jesus invites us to see through things, to transcend….
Affectivity. Sexuality. Love
From my own formation, what I know is that the Christian faith precisely, and even the catholic faith, I think it has always had a very positive position with regard to sex, thus, generically, Later the rules, the conceptions have come. Perhaps there has been an attitude of unwillingness in front of research: in the scientific, anthropologic, psychological and even physiologic fields. It has somehow stayed behind in the way to understand human sexuality. This on the one hand. And on the other hand, it is also true that in our present society there is the danger that sex is seen as something strange to human being, something that does not involve the whole human being. It is considered as a form of entertainment, like having hot chocolate or smoking a cigarette. It is not a capacity of intercommunion, of joy, of deep human experience, even more, expression of reciprocal love. It is separated from this dimension and it remains as one of so many things that can be consumed. And this is certainly being wrong.
Isolated in the society of information
I believe that nowadays our society and also the church, lack communication. There are many means of communication… travelling, now there are no limits to travelling. Television, which brings our homes and even our beds, if you like, anything you want from the world. But there is very little deep communication from person to person! And then, young people feel this a lot, but we al feel it. What the human person needs is just be, and be, means to open oneself freely, and to know that one is accepted and welcome freely, with his joy, and with his sadness or problems. And the world lacks this. Then this can bring a kind of inner anguish: Where do I aim to? Where do I find support? Where do I encounter an echo?
"I neither forget nor forgive..."
When I hear about the murder of Fernando Múgica and his brother’s statements, I first thought: It’s probably the paper that says it wrong. Perhaps he hasn’t said this, and they give a sensationalist headline. But I happen to know some close friends of Enrique Múgica and later they confirmed that he had in fact said that. Then I thought: in the psalms we say or in the breviary - there are some parts that have been crossed out-, and that say these things. They even ask God: ” Do not forgive them, kill them, they are evil, they are the bad ones…” And I think … We have such a great God, such a great Father, that we can even address Him, o we can express a fit of hatred, or a fit of revenge because he knows out of what stuff he made us.
Now: it should be a primary expression, a first step, of a reaction that is not yet finished. I don’t know if this Enrique Múgica would have said the same, or perhaps now, or in a year. He is working it out. But first of all, if God accepts our condition of smallness when facing such an enormous pain, then we must also accept to be sympathetic. Now, it can’t be the last reaction, it can be the first one… it can last for years, but it mustn’t be a finished process. And to forgive, a the first moment, as perhaps other people have done or expressed, this is a gift of God…you cannot do ir by yourself. This is a mystic experience: That God, his Spirit, you don’t know why or how but you know that if you don’t say that you don’t forgive, you wouldn’t be yourself. And this capacity of forgiving is a gift of God.
Que no es otra cosa la oración mental, a mi parecer, sino tratar de amistad estando muchas veces tratando a solas con quien sabemos nos ama"....
"Praying is a relation of friendship with God and the wish to be often alone with He who we know loves us."
If we ask Saint Teresa what praying is, she has a definition that I think is quite well-known, that: “Praying is a relation of friendship with God and the wish to be often alone with He who we know loves us.” And then, she also has another definition, which I discovered not long ago and which I didn’t remember. She says that praying “is a divine journey”
No os espantéis, hijas, de las muchas cosas que es menester mirar para comenzar este viaje divino...
DO NOT BE FRIGHTENED, daughters, by the many things you need to consider in order to begin this divine journey...
I’ve felt really touched by this expression and I like it: praying is a “divine journey”, it is coming out from yourself, but not with your outer senses, but to come out by the back door, the inner door. To leave through our sensitivities, to go out through our inner and outer senses and to go deep inside where there is a mysterious presence, that is God, and to address Him, or to listen or simply be.
La puerta para entrar en este castillo es la oración y la consideración de con quien habla y lo que pide y quien es quién pide y a quien
The door of entry to this castle is prayer and reflection in which a person is aware of whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of whom.
To learn to pray… Go and learn from somebody who prays. And we Christians pray when we get together in the liturgy. But then, liturgy should have much more communion between those who participate. Acceptance of each one.
And also look for masters of prayer. But in any case, the person who wants to address God, should do it as it is, as it flows, as he knows...begin! When you start, “ The way is done by walking!” Learning to pray is learnt by praying.
If I must talk about my process of internalisation I would say it has not been hard. When you have the vocation of a contemplative, I think that you also have a natural capacity to internalise what you live, the experiences of your life. Now, this is sometimes like the foundations, the row material, and in this material there is a process, let’s say, of ascetics, of personal work, not to stay only with the aesthetic, religious feeling, but ascetic, but penetrating to the divine nucleus of your own existence.
Then going through the dark night of Saint John of the Cross, which can darken all luminous vision of existence.
The nucleus of the Christianity
You can throw overboard… I would say everything… except love.
If we say that the only absolute is God, and Saint John says “God is love”, and if we believe in a God-love, then we can throw overboard, and in fact we do throw overboard, or if you want, every day we get rid of the previous day. To throw over boat means that you don’t want to own as an absolute what it is not. And absolute is God, it is love.
EL ALMA QUE ANDA EN AMOR, NO CANSA NI SE CANSA
THE SOUL THAT WALKS IN LOVE, DOES NOT TIRE NOR GETS TIRED
Now, What is to love? What is love? This is the quid of the question. Or the complication. .sometimes, we people, complicate ourselves, because there are many people who know what loving means, they do not know the reason very well, but they stay by the bed of a sick person, a year, toe years, twenty years, or they are devoted to a family or a task… to humanity, day after day. .. Now, to throw overboard I would say: the actual way of living love can very immensely. And we human people tend to attach to things, to the ways of doing, and things change. The ways of doing change, even habits can change… but love cannot change.
¡Y como no le parece que ha de haber cosa imposible a quien ama!
And how true it is that nothing seems impossible to the one who loves!
If I had to summarize the gospel in two sentences I would say: the first one, “Gospel is love”, although it is from a letter of Saint John. And the other one, which is from a psalm “God is my shepherd, I lack nothing “, “ The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. Even though I walk through darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
And God has told us that He is the Good Shepherd.
To build a sense of one's own life.
We shouldn’t ask what faith is useful for,
because in fact it isn’t at all useful. From a utilitarian, materialist point of view is good for nothing, because the one who has faith suffers the same calamities then the one who has no faith: He gets sick, he dies, has no work, he suffers all kind of difficulties like anybody else.
But faith is useful. Because it gives another meaning to illnesses, to death, to difficulties, to sorrows… It is as if they are opened towards a perspective that you cannot have without faith…
The perspective that within this pain everything has sense… everything has sense and there are people, believers, who are testimony of extreme suffering and at the same time of extreme happiness. A mystical experience in this sense, which does not have much of a reasonable explanation, but which has an explanation in depth… of the being.
In ressurrreccionem tuam, caeli et terra laetentur
In your resurrection, heaven and earth rejoice
Cristina of the Divine Grace was born in Baden, Switzerland, in 1939.
She arrived in Mataró in 1964 and professed in 1965.
She died in Mataró on Easter Tuesday, 18 April 2006.
This dialogue took place in spring 1996.
Idea, script and director: Francesc Granè
Realization and set-up: Joan Granè
© Eulogos media, October 2006
The October 20 th 2006 the anniversary of the sister Cristina birth’s following day - the first pass of the documentary was made in the Monastery in Mataró Carmel, with the presence of two sisters Kaufmann.