Monday, May 21, 2007

St. Christopher Magallanes: More Saintly Wishes for Our Favorite Chrisses

"I die innocent and I ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren."
–St. Christopher Magallanes' last words

Today's saint, yet another of John Paul II's canonizations, couldn't be more timely in terms of FIT's latest subjects and his native country's needs. Here's how the story goes:

Christopher Magallanes Jara was born July 30, 1869, in Totatiche, Jalisco, Mexico. Growing up on a farm, Chris ironically took the job of the shepherd. Following in the footsteps not only of the Good Shepherd but holy men like St. Patrick who also spent their youth tending the flock, Magallanes later went on to study for the priesthood, entering the famous Seminary of San Jose in Guadalajara. After ordination, Christopher became a parish priest in Totatiche. Fr. Chris served here for nearly twenty years and seemed to be the rare exception of becoming a prophet in one's hometown, not only working in the parish but teaching in the local School of Arts and Works of the Holy Spirit, and also founding a carpentry shop (to create local jobs) and helping build the town's dam.

In Graham Greene's book The Power and the Glory, the Catholic novelist writes of the period where the Mexican government tried to eliminate the Catholic faith completely, capturing priests and forcing them to either denounce their faith or be shot. The subject of Greene's book was a whiskey guzzling Padre who feared damnation due to the fact he would not be able to confess his mortal sin of adultery to a fellow priest before his execution. In the beginning of persecution, however, it was only the holy priests that were singled out and Fr. Christopher certainly fit the bill. After the government closed down the holy seminary in Guadalajara for obvious strategic reasons, Chris (who as one might guess, was sending more than his share to San Jose to be ordained) opened a makeshift seminary right in Totatiche, and within days had seventeen students. This obviously didn't jive with the ruling powers' idea of de-emphasizing the faith, and Christopher, along with many of his companions, were rounded up, Magallanes himself arrested on the ruse charge of plotting revolution. Convicted without a trial, Chris uttered his famous last words, and was executed along with twenty-four companions on May 21, 1927.

Christopher's feast day comes at the perfect time for several reasons. Canonized in 2000, I could not have known this man would be my patron when I chose Christopher as a confirmation name nearly thirty years ago. Back then, I was a disappointed youth who saw the original St. Chris stricken from the liturgical calendar, but today I not only have a great patron saint that longed for unity as much as I, but Thomas Augustine Christopher O'Toole also has another St. Augustin to pray to. St. Augustin Caloca, who died together with this St. Chris on that same May day.

Also, St. Chris is a perfect role model for my previous blog entry Chris Zorich, for both of these men worked to help those in their home towns, and both worked primarily with the poor. Also, as the current anti-Catholic Mexican government works to legalize abortion, there are no better saints than Magallanes and Companions to put up heavenly resistance for our Mexican young patriots.

And finally, St. Chris can help us locate a favorite priest this blog has lost—Fr. Christopher Floss. Many have inquired of me about Fr. Chris' whereabouts since he left Visitation Parish in Elmhurst, but I have not heard a word since his departure. Perhaps this courageous North American saint can also bring Fr. Floss back—or at least keep him safe from "the adversary." St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions, pray for us!


JimAroo said...

Viva Cristo Rey!

The brave Cristeros suffered much to preserve the faith in Mexico. If we would respond to God's ever abundant grace the way that these "Champions of Faith" did, we could set the world on fire for Christ!

Blessed Miguel Pro - Pray for us.

Joseph Arsenault said...

This is the first time I have come across you work. I really like you writing and insight. God bless you and your work.

Fr. Joe Arsenault
St. Bridget's Parish
Abington, MA