The Mexican Martyrs of th 20th Century

Mexico – Land anointed by the blood of Martyrs

As we have seen, down through the centuries, the Church will always rise from the ashes of Martyrs.  And that is what this  is about.

The Revolution, purportedly for the freedom of the working class, was anything but that.  It was just a changing of the guard: the few still had too much, and the many still had too little.  The faces of the few had changed, but not that of the many.  Only now, all were to be robbed of what treasure they had: the Catholic Church and their Salvador Jesús.  The Revolution, although started under the guise of equality for all, was to continue as a subtle and then outright “life and death struggle with the Church“.[1] But the Revolution and its instigators did not reckon with the faithfulness and Holy Stubbornness of the many who refused to give homage to man.  This ancient people, who survived pagan atrocities and Spanish betrayals, knew Who their King was and no one was going to depose Him.

Priests were rounded up, and expelled from many of the states of Mexico.  But not even threats of imprisonment and death could deter these representatives of Christ.  They returned (disguised as laity) and returned, and returned until they were, yes, imprisoned and executed.  Their only crime was, they celebrated Holy Mass.  You see, services were no longer allowed in Church.  The government even closed the Churches down, in an effort to keep people from silently praying within the holy walls.

Unable to celebrate in a Church, the faithful with their loyal Priests went underground.  They would pick a house that would not arouse suspicion, and they would come together.  There were as many as seventy at a time.  They crowded in as many as they could.  You may have heard the expression: “They were so close there was no room for the Holy Spirit“, well the Lord had no problem here.  He reigned!  They may not have had spacious quarters for their Lord to be born again in the Holy Eucharist, but their grand hearts adored Him, just as His Mother, St. Joseph, the Angels, and the shepherds did that time, long ago, when the world changed in Bethlehem.

They went to confession and then Mass.  Several of their number would unobtrusively stand guard outside the home.  They all knew the price, but they would not allow their Lord to die.  If they were caught, the home, where the Mass and services were held, would be confiscated with all its contents,[2] or burned.  That was the least of the punishment, they would suffer.  Many men were separated from their families, and never seen again.  The women had their children taken from them, never to see them again.  And then, there were those who were made an example and shot after they were mutilated before their families and friends.  And still, the people worshiped their Lord.

There were Communion stations set up around the cities and villages where the faithful would go, and after hearing the Word of God extolled, would take Communion themselves.  The Pope gave them dispensation to do so.  As with Jesus his Founder, the Pope knew that the Church without the Eucharist would not last. The Blessed Sacrament was hidden inside radios, medicine cabinets, behind books in a bookcase, in some of the most unlikely places in order to avert the Lord falling into the wrong hands.[3]

They knew Who their Lord was; they did not take Him for granted.  [A Priest in the United States, grieving over the lack of respect and reverence shown to our Lord and Savior in the Blessed Sacrament, said he wished that all the Churches would be closed for 90 days.  Then, he said we’d see how we all felt about our Lord.]  Do we take Him for granted?  Do we assume we will always have a Mass and a Priest to administer the Sacraments?  So did the Mexican people.  We were once told that we were too fat, in the United States, that we would only have vocations after we were made lean like Poland, Ireland and Mexico!  We were told we would become a catacomb Church in the United States.  We felt as if someone had thrust a sword in our hearts.  But, did we believe it?  Can it happen here?  Can we be the next Mexico?

Mexico, in the twentieth century, from 1927-1929, had its jails crowded with Catholics whose only crime was, they refused to deny Christ and His Church.  One of the prisoners had a beautiful son who was six years old.  As with St. Tarcisius, he was so lovable, even the jailers loved him.  Little did they suspect his true mission, as he danced and sang.  He was entertaining not only his father and the other prisoners, but he was truly delighting the jailers.  What they did not know was that on certain visits, he left the captives the only lasting Joy, our Lord in the Eucharist.  How precious and important was the Lord that a father would allow his son to face torture and execution if he was caught.

[Author’s Note, a lawyer came to visit one of the pro-life prisoners.  His client was a Catholic who had been arrested for demonstrating outside of an abortion clinic.  The lawyer was bringing consecrated Hosts to the prisoners when he was stopped, searched and ordered to hand Them over.  When he refused he was arrested for smuggling in contraband!  He was brought before a judge who sentenced him to a suspended sentence and warned if he were arrested on any future charge he would have to serve time for this crime!  No, this is not Mexico, but the United States!  Could it happen here? It did.]

[1] from chapter Dilemma P.7-Mexican Martyrdom by Father Wilfrid Parsons, S.J.

[2]Usually it went to the governor or a captain of the army.  Sometimes as a reward to the informer.

[3]“The Pope gave the privilege on December 23, 1927,” – P.9 Mexican Martyrdom by Father Wilfrid Parsons, S.J

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