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We must prepare for the day, even if it never comes, by being faithful to Him each and every moment. Indeed, as we learn through experience, each day is an opportunity to be a martyr witness by accepting His will with joy. That is truly a challenge, but we should always be inspired by those who have gone before us, as recounted in these stories of Mexican Martyrdom:. Remembering the Mexican martyrs of the Cristero rebellion.
By Ann Ball. Until the May 21, canonization of 25 Mexican martyrs, many Catholics—even in the neighboring United States—were unaware of the scope and ferocity of the persecution unleashed against the Catholic Church in Mexico during the s and s.
The bitter conflict known as the Cristero Rebellion the Cristiada is rarely mentioned by popular historians. Under the dictatorship of Plutarco Elias Calles, from to , the Mexican government was bitterly anti-clerical; Calles wanted to eradicate the Catholic Church. In he attempted to establish a national church, expelled all foreign clergymen from the country, and confiscated the property of Church-affiliated agencies such as schools, hospitals, and charitable institutions.
In , 33 new legislative measures designed to suppress the Church—measures which became known as the Ley Calles the Calles Law —were enacted. The Ley Calles limited the number of priests who could serve in any locality, and the number of services they could lead, closed down seminaries and convents, and barred foreign priests from serving in Mexico.
Faithful Catholics mobilized, collecting over two million signatures on a petition calling for the repeal of the Ley Calles. But their efforts were ignored by the Mexican regime, and finally some Catholics, concluding that they had no other choice, took up arms in an effort to restore their religious liberty. The rebellion began in Jalisco, and spread rapidly to surrounding areas. It ended 30 months later, with the results settled at a bargaining table rather than a battlefield. Most of the Mexican Catholic bishops had always opposed armed conflict.
From his place in exile, Bishop Pascual Diaz of Tabasco ceaselessly worked to formulate an agreement with the government that could bring an end to the fighting.
Portes Gil was more flexible than his predecessors, and on June 21, his government reached an agreement with the Catholic negotiators. On June 27, the churches of Mexico were re-opened, to the joyous pealing of their bells. Although it was not successful in meeting its goals, and anti-Catholic legislation would remain in place in Mexico almost until the end of the 20th century, the Cristiada left an indelible mark on Mexican history. In May, some 20, Mexican pilgrims traveled to Rome for the ceremonies in which 25 heroes of the Cristiada were canonized.
Among these new saints were the first six members of the Knights of Columbus ever to attain beatification. And many more Cristeros are being studied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Finally there are eight other laymen whose causes have been opened. Here, in brief, are the stories of those eight Mexican Catholic heroes. The social activist. Anacleto Gonzalez Flores was a fiery young attorney from Tepatitlan, in Jalisco, who had pledged to use his oratorical talents in service to God and his country. He studied law in Guadalajara, where he was an enthusiastic member of the Association Catolica de la Juventaud Mexicana ACJM —an organization founded in Guadalajara in , dedicated to the restoration the Christian social order in Mexico.
He taught catechism, and as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul society, visited the poor, the sick, and prisoners. He wrote articles in magazines and newspapers, and founded a periodical to refute the anti-religious arguments that lay behind the Mexican Constitution of Alongside these activities and studies, Gonzalez cultivated a deep interior life as a daily communicant, and a third order Franciscan.
In July , Guadalajara had seen the first violent conflict between government forces and the Catholic faithful. Gonzalez worked to defend Catholic interests, and was able to secure the revocation of some unpopular decrees. In leading the Catholic response to the increasingly anti-clerical government policies, he elaborated a philosophy of resistance based on the non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi.
He was jailed briefly in , and by , he had come to prominence as a coordinator of the first national congress of Catholic workers. That meeting, held in Guadalajara, led to the organization of the National Confederation of Catholic Workers, a group which soon spread throughout Mexico.
The Union Popular rapidly gained strength in Guadalajara, with the blessing and approval of Archbishop Orozco y Jimenez. Next Gonzalez and a colleague, Luis Padilla, founded a new periodical, Gladium , in which they wrote:. The country is a jail for the Catholic Church. In order to be logical, a Revolution must gain the entire soul of a nation.
We are not worried about defending our material interests, because these come and go; but our spiritual interests, these we will defend because they are necessary to obtain our salvation. The Union Popular was based on pacifist principles, in contrast to the more militant line developed by the Liga Defensora de la Libertad Religiosa.
El Mártir de las Catacumbas by Anonimo (Trade Paper)
I said to him -- "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day! But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts. Lawrence, D. Una injuria queda sin reparar cuando su justo castigo perjudica al vengador. It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will.
El Asesinato de Cristianos (Killing Christians)