Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center
THE PRICE OF CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO
“My desire is to show myself a mother to you and to your people.”
It was in these words that the Mother of God spoke to a Mexican Indian named Juan Diego in the early winter of the year 1531. As a token of her maternal concern for Mexico, the Blessed Virgin gave to Juan Diego a miraculous picture of herself, and which Mexican Catholics still cherish under the title of Holy Mary Ever-Virgin of Guadalupe.
During the first three hundred years after the Guadalupe apparition, the Catholics of Mexico, under the eye of their Mother in Heaven, lived, as it were, the quiet life of Nazareth. They were intimate with the things of God, and blessed with a share of earthly things. Mexico had become for them the happy proving ground of a boundless life to come, beyond the limitations of their mountains and their coasts. It was an indifferent matter that the foreign people who first brought them the news of their Mother in Heaven had remained as their governors. Mexico, for the Mexicans, was birthplace and contentment.
Until, suddenly, as the nineteenth century began, a cry went echoing, “Mexico for the Mexicans!” Whereupon, birthplace gave way to battleground, contentment to contention, and the Holy Mother of Guadalupe prepared her children for an extended Passiontide, whose “long Good Friday” is still within awful memory, and whose delayed Easter Sunday we must yet pray for.
The Revolution which kicked Catholic Spain out of Mexico, and intended that the Church should go tumbling after, has been classified with those European movements of “liberation” which were sparked by the French Revolutionists of the late 1700s. The relationship is close. Mexico’s Revolt was a colonial cousin, somewhat less lettered, but schooled in the same theories and — most important — tutored by the same masters: those apt and apronned enemies of the Church, the Freemasons.
Woven through the history of Mexico’s Freemasonic era (from 1800 to the present) is a variable pattern of American Masonic intervention. Now by means of big business, now through private individuals, now through the American Government itself, the lodges of the United States have kept a firm hand on Mexican developments. Of U. S. Government interference in Mexico, for example, the Jesuit weekly, America, made this briefest of summaries in its issue of June 25, 1927.
“Always, an American hates to say it, there was the sinister shadow of the Power of the north, meddling always, officially and unofficially … Joel Poinsett, American Minister, introduced the York Rite of Masonry, and kept the Mexicans fighting over it for a dozen years. Later, President Polk made an agreement with Santa Ana to fight a fake war — which we call the ‘Mexican War’ — with our forces, in return for some millions of dollars. After our Civil War, General Sheridan allowed Juarez to ‘steal’ American army stores, and conquer his enemies with them. In our time, Bryan and Wilson, by as dark a piece of double-dealing and treachery as history can show, put Carranza into power — and we are reaping the fruits of their policy today.”
The foregoing, an American hates to say it, is a lenient summary. The names and incidents could be expanded to a thick volume. The impression would remain unchanged: never did the forces of American Freemasonry act so purposefully as when they espoused the anti-Catholic cause in Mexico.
Because the project was already one hundred years old by 1917, and the Faith was still flourishing in Mexico, the Masonic crusade in that year took on a fresh impetus. With no less an adviser than Lenin himself, the Carranza crowd (the creatures of Woodrow Wilson) drafted a new constitution. Detailed oppression of the Catholic Church became the supreme law of the land. The 1917 constitution forbade the Church to own any property, to conduct schools, to preach to the unbaptized natives, to train additional priests. It confirmed the prohibition against religious garb for priests and nuns, and further provided that the government of each Mexican state should decide how many priests it thought it needed; these would be “licensed,” and all others expelled.
After the shooting of Carranza in 1920, the American lodges took up the cause of General Obregon, gave him a $10,000,000 arms credit, and sat back contentedly while he tried to blow up the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1921, and dared to expel, bodily, the Apostolic Delegate in 1923.
Obregon was followed by General Calles, and Calles it was who decided upon a universal and rigid enforcement of the 1917 constitution. To take care of offenders, a new penal code was enacted. The Church would be brought into Masonic line, or else! The date set for the beginning of the new offensive was July 31, 1926 — dramatically enough, the feast day of Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the order which had so long labored in Spanish America, and which had still one great glory to give to the Mexican Church.
One week before the July decrees were to take effect, the bishops of Mexico issued a joint Pastoral Letter, their answer to Calles: “Since the conditions imposed render impossible the continuation of the sacred ministry, we have decided, after consulting our Most Holy Father, Pius XI, that from July 31 of the present year until we determine otherwise, all public worship requiring the participation of priests will be suspended in all the Churches of the Republic.”
The announcement hit like lightning, both for the people of Mexico and for its rulers. The Masons’ policy had been a gradual one of subjecting the Church to the state, depriving the people of Mass and the Sacraments, keeping the children from Catholic instruction, and thus, little by little, causing the Faith to wither and die. By the bold, desperate stroke of halting public worship, the Mexican bishops were hoping to alert all Christendom to this Masonic intent. Calles and his crew might be able to withstand the Catholics of Mexico, but not the united opposition of the whole Catholic world.
When Calles saw that the Church in Mexico was going to resist his plans for destroying it by degrees, he determined to finish it off with a single enraged assault. Here are some fragments from the long martyrology of Mexican Catholics who died for their Faith between 1926 and 1929 — a handful out of the hundreds who may some day be invoked at the altars they gave their lives to protect.
Anacleto Flores: aged 23 years, lawyer, leader of the Catholic youth movement. He was hung by his thumbs, flogged, and slashed with bayonets for refusing to disclose the hiding-place of the Archbishop of Guadalajara. At last, in the presence of his young wife, he was put before a wall, with two of his companions, and shot.
Father Pablo Garcia de Jesus Maria: priest of Aguascalientes, seized by the police for giving absolution to a dying man. He was pummeled with rifles, his hands were smashed, his tongue cut out; finally he was ordered into exile and put on a train, where he died.
Seventeen priests of Mexico City: shot by a firing squad. Though many of them were not killed by the volley, their bodies were all thrown into a long trench and buried.
José Farfan: an aged shopkeeper. He was told to remove from his window a placard reading, “Christ lives! Christ reigns! Christ commands!” He refused, and was shot down in his store.
A twelve-year-old boy of Guadalajara: arrested for distributing Catholic leaflets. He was tortured to tell the name of his director; but urged on by his mother (“Say nothing, my son. Our Lord will give you heaven for your constancy.”), the boy kept silence. The soldiers twisted both his arms till they broke, and he died.
Father Sabas Reyes: parish priest of Tolatlan. He was hung by his wrists from the portico of his church and left for three days, without food or drink, exposed to the scorching sun. Then his feet were doused with gasoline and set afire. Finally, he was marched to the cemetery and shot.
Forty old men and women of Jalisco: discovered going to Mass in a private house, taken to the cemetery in the middle of the night and shot.
Father Miguel Augustin Pro: Jesuit priest, most celebrated of the Mexican martyrs. This almost-legendary popular hero was arrested on a confected charge and put before the firing squad, without trial, on November 23, 1927. As a supreme bit of Masonic bravado, photographs were taken of the execution. The next day, newspapers around the world were supplied with pictures of the priest, standing erect against the stockade, his arms outstretched to form a cross. The picture was taken at the moment the command to fire was given and Father Pro spoke his last words, “Viva Cristo Rey!” — “Long live Christ the King!”
After three years of soaking the soil of Mexico with Catholic blood, Masonry was ready to call the persecution off. It had proven one thing: that the Mexican people were determined, at any cost, to hear Mass and receive the Sacraments. The Faith had been dealt a death blow and was more vigorous than ever. Exhausted, the government announced there would be no further attempts to dominate the Church; and the bishops announced that public worship would be resumed.
But the government lied. As soon as the Masons had caught their breath, they renewed their efforts to crush the Church. Even today, though there are glimmerings of a dawn in sight, many of the anti-Catholic laws are still enforced. For the victory which the Catholics of Mexico bought with their blood in 1929 did not put an end to their sufferings. The Masonic hold on the country had not been broken. That general uprising of Christendom which the Mexican bishops had confidently looked for, when they closed the churches in 1926, had never come. Most poignantly, the sufferings of the Mexican Catholics had been hardly noticed by their numerous, prosperous, next-door brothers: the Catholics of the United States.
Some Americans had tried to help certain bishops, certain priests, certain groups of laymen. But these had never been able to convince the bulk of American Catholics that the persecutions in Mexico were worth getting excited about, being angry about, losing their composure about, making nuisances of themselves about. Nor did the Masons of the United States fail to notice this lack of indignation, and to be emboldened by it. One example: Two days after Father Pro’s murder, the American Ambassador to Mexico, Dwight Morrow, went aboard Calles’ private train for a tour of the country; the recognized purpose of this gesture was “to demonstrate to Mexican Catholics that they could look for no help from Washington.”
If American Catholics are wondering this year why it is their Christmas is losing its intimacy and significance and becoming an empty, commercialized holiday, the children of Our Lady of Guadalupe might be able to tell them.