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Women and the intellectual world (1931)

Personal letter to a young teacher, Julia Ochoa, who took responsibility for the University Residence of Madrid in 1931. Dated in Madrid in September of that year.

The Lord bless you: Shortly you are going to inaugurate the house we have placed under the protection of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and in which we place extraordinary hope for many reasons. The timing of this opening, the need for it, the work we project, the class of students you have to teach, the staff, the sacrifice involved, the purity of intention that guides us and, above all, bearing the name of the Blessed Virgin under such a revered advocation in the Teresian Association promises the success we seek, which is not human, but the glory of God and the salvation of souls. If this were the case and we did not make our effort, it would not be worth even thinking about the new house.

We propose that this residence for university students be a real home of formation, precisely for young people who tomorrow will be directors, teachers of centers of higher education and always people who are outstanding for their knowledge and virtue. It is not easy to measure and appreciate the importance of the work you have to do in that house, because the destiny of the educated woman and her influence in modern society is now something as big as elusive (...)

The intellectual world is the world of the future and if a few years ago a female student followed a safe road map, today such effort is geared to denaturing and de-christianizing young women, so that there are frequent desertions and impiety and immorality are growing among those students who, because of their studies, their knowledge, and their culture should be models by all counts. How much the Teresian Association has done in this area and how much it has avoided and prevented! It is not we who must say so, but we must acknowledge the assistance of God to whom we owe all that constitutes our being.

Julia OchoaOur responsibility is huge before God, the Church, and society if, at the very moment when the glory of God and the honor of the Church and the good of society beset us, we deny, with our lack of sacrifice, the history of our apostolate (...) If when we were almost nothing we tackled a task as difficult as new that humanly speaking could have been called reckless, if it had not been founded in God and for his glory it would not be haven accomplished. How great it would be our fault and our ingratitude if at the present time, with staff, means, experience, and even fame, we would desert our position and let down our hope. Because the Church, the bishops and Catholics place much hope on our performance, as well as enemies of Christ and his Church fear our work. This is the supreme hour and we are obliged to the maximum effort, which is not ours, but if founded on God, it will be fruitful and significant.

We have to forget about ourselves to think only of the most sacred interests you represent and defend; we have to put all our trust in divine light and aid, but we must think, plan, work, watch, suffer, sacrifice as if the whole success of our endeavor depended on the effort we put into it.

You should be convinced that the success will be as big as your distrust of yourselves, your trust should be in God and sacrifice for the salvation of souls. You have to give and not ask, you have to be everything to everyone in order to win them to Christ; you must seize every opportunity, every appropriate moment: the joy and sadness, triumphs and humiliations, the joy and pain of the young people entrusted to your care, in order to draw from all psychological and even physiological states the greater good of souls; you must have the gift of opportunity always and there should be no inconstancy or setbacks; you must be fair and persevering against all internal and external variation, yours and those of others; you have to be fair with mercy, kind without being overly sweet, polite, attentive, and courteous without ridiculousness, without pretense or pedantry; you must speak in a timely manner and be silent when needed; you should put your heart on the spiritual while keeping your hand on the material; you have to teach by doing and suffering. There you have your program!