RECOLLECTION ON THE MARTYRS OF FERNAN CABALLERO & SIGUENZA

Broken, But Whole, A Martyrial Eucharist

Remembering the life and death of the Servants of God Jose Maria Ruiz Cano, Jesus Anibal Gomez, Thomas Cordero and Companions who gave testimony of their faith in Christ by the shedding of their blood and now shine in the Church with the crown of martyrdom.

AMBIENCE
 
The place of the celebration of the Recollection may be ornamented as follows:
• The official picture of the beatification of the martyrs
• Photographs of the Martyrs or labels of their names and surname with an unlighted vigil candle. The candles will be lighted during the designated moment.
 
INITIAL ADMONITION

As a Claretian community, we are called today in this day of recollection to recall the memory of our sixteen brothers, who gave their lives as martyrs in the 27th and 28th of July and the 2nd of October of 1936.

In the eyes of the world the death of this handful of young missionaries can be a mere disappearance in time buried in oblivion. For us, however, they have reached the highest point of missionary life and become icons exemplars of vocational consistency and fidelity. They won the palm of martyrdom two days after the first group, the Claretian Seminarians of Cervera, entered the glorious cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.

As their heirs and successors, we remember these brothers of ours with great emotion. They lived and died as Claretians, sublimely consummating the mission: to be a living Eucharist, united to Jesus. They did not improvise anything. They simply testified the shedding of His blood that they had kept in the depths of their hearts. When you live in this way, the missionary life becomes precious and death becomes fruitful and fascinating. May their memory become for us a deep spiritual impulse, able to renew, sanctify and strengthen the spiritual and apostolic life of the congregation and of the Church in these difficult times.

Canto de entrada: Testigos de la fe
(Himno a los mártires claretianos de la Provincia Bética)

Emilio Vicente Mateu
Cuando la fe anunciaba afanes misioneros,
cuando Claret trazaba caminos de ilusión,
entonces apagaron las luces y los sueños,
brillando en vuestros labios palabras de perdón.

Semillas de esperanza; por donde el sol abrasa
los surcos y las mieses, florece vuestro altar.
Allá fuisteis testigos en palmas de martirio;
allá fuisteis promesas que saben a verdad.

SOIS EL TRIGO TRITURADO
EN LA NOCHE DE LA FE.
SOIS EL CÁLIZ GENEROSO
QUE MITIGA NUESTRA SED.
SOIS AMOR DE EUCARISTÍA:
CUERPO Y SANGRE DEL SEÑOR
QUE SE ENTREGA Y SE HACE VIDA
EN LA CRUZ DEL REDENTOR.

El hierro del camino retarda vuestros pasos
en ese largo viaje con ansia de volar.
Y al grito de la guerra, en vuestra tierra joven
la entrega fue más firme y más fértil la paz.

Quedaron en la tierra las sombras del Otero
en busca de veneros y cumbres de otro Sol.
Y allá voló la vida, aupada por el fuego,
donde María espera; donde se palpa a Dios.
Si entonces apagaron las luces y los sueños,
el odio nunca pudo vencer sobre el amor.

Maestros en la fe y en la fidelidad.
Si vuestra voz callaron, hoy somos vuestra voz.
La sangre derramada también es nuestra sangre:
a todos nos hermana un mismo Corazón.
Familia Claretiana forjada a sangre y fuego,
aurora renovada sobre vuestra oblación.

Initial Greeting

The Lord God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who do not deliver us to death nor let his faithful know corruption (Ps 15) be with you all.

Presentation of the group of martyrs

After the greeting of the celebrant, a reader comes to name one by one each martyr. As each name is loudly proclaimed, their last name is placed and the candles are lit.
 
Reader: "These are those who came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb "(Rev 7:14):

• P. CANO JOSE MARIA RUIZ who died on July 27, 1936 in Siguenza (Guadalajara).

• The Missionaries in formation who were martyred on July 28, 1936 in Fernan Caballero (Ciudad Real).

- SCH. ANÍBAL JESUS GOMEZ GOMEZ (a Colombian)
- SCH. THOMAS CORDERO CORDERO
- SCH. PRIMITIVO BERROCOSO MAILLO
- SCH. GOMEZ ROBLES VICENTE
- SCH. GABRIEL BARRIOPEDRO TEJEDOR
- SCH. CLAUDIO LOPEZ MARTINEZ
- SCH. ANGEL LOPEZ MARTINEZ
- SCH. ANTONIO LASA VIDAURRETA
- SCH. MELECIO PARDO LLORENTE
- SCH. ANTONIO M. ORREGO FUENTES
- SCH. OTILIO DEL AMO PALOMINO
- SCH. CÁNDIDO CATALAN LASALA
- SCH. ANGEL PEREZ MURILLO
- SCH. ABELARDO GARCIA PALACIOS

• Finally, BRO. FELIPE GONZÁLEZ DE HEREDIA BARAHONA who died on October 2, 1936 also in Fernan Caballero (Ciudad Real) at the gates of the cemetery.


PRAYER

Our Father
You conferred on our Claretian Martyrs
of Siguenza and Fernan Caballero
the grace to shed their blood
confessing the name of Christ.
We thank You for the gift of their testimony
and the fertility of their mission.
We ask that you help us in our weakness
so that, as they did not hesitate to die for You,
so are we,
with the protection of the Heart of Mary,
we remain steadfast in the confession of your name,
nourished with the Word and the Eucharist,
in the midst of adversity and persecution.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD OF GOD

A reading from the 1st Letter of Peter 4: 12 - 19

Be glad to share in the sufferings of Christ

12My dear people, do not be surprised at the testing by fire which is taking place among you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13Instead, you should be glad to share in the sufferings of Christ because, on the day his glory is revealed, you will also fully rejoice. 14You are fortunate if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, for the Spirit of glory rests on you. 15I suppose that none of you should suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; 16but if anyone suffers on account of being a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace; rather let this name bring glory to God.

17The time of judgment has come and it begins with God’s household. If its beginning so affects us, what will be the end of those who refuse to believe in the Gospel? 18If the just one is barely saved, what will happen to the sinner and unbeliever? 19So, then, if you suffer according to God’s will, entrust yourself to the faithful Creator and continue to do good.
The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 30, 3cd-4. 6 and 8ab. 16bc-17

R. Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
you are my rock and my fortress;
by name lead me and guide me.

R. Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
you, the faithful God, deliver me.
Your mercy is my joy and my joy.
Have you noticed my distress.

R. Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Deliver me from my persecutors enemies;
make your face shine upon your servant,
save me for your mercy.

R. Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.

Alleluia and verse before the gospel (1 Peter 4: 14)
You are fortunate if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, for the Spirit of glory rests on you

Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John 12: 24-26
Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world save it even to everlasting life. Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me; and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The Gospel of the Lord.

REFLECTION

Recalling the history of martyrdom

The group of Claretian martyrs, our brothers, that the Church is going to beatify on the 13th of this month, and that we commemorate in this recollection are composed of Fr Jose Maria Ruiz Cano, priest, martyred on July 27, 1936, at Mount Otero, near the town of Siguenza (Guadalajara, Spain), the 14 students who were immolated on July 28, 1936 on the railroad tracks near the town of Fernan Caballero (Ciudad Real, Spain), and Brother Felipe Gonzalez, who offered his life in front of the Fernan Caballero Cemetery on October 2, 1936.

The P. José María Cano was the Prefect of the minor seminary that the Province of Betica once had in Siguenza (Guadalajara, Spain). He made an offering of his own life to the seated image of the Heart of Mary, who currently chairs the chapel of our Theology Community of Granada. At the feet of Our Lady, he uttered these words that a large group of postulant witnesses best kept in their memory: "If you want, Mother, one sacrifice, here I am; take me, but do not let anything happen to these innocents who have not harmed anyone." And it happened that way. He was the only one who died in those dark days. All postulants entrusted to him, without exception, managed to survive and saved.

The blessed student martyrs, after being expelled out of from the Claret Theology House of Zafra (Badajoz, Spain), sought shelter in Ciudad Real, a place that seemed safer. But with the dark complexion that was taking the situation in that city, the superiors of the Province of Betica understood that the place does not guarantee protection either. And so, after receiving a false promise of security, they were determined to move to Madrid the fourteen students that were taking refuge there. But they were recognized as religious men despite their secular clothing disguise at the train station of Ciudad Real. At the first train stop, near the town of Fernán Caballero, militiamen forced them off the train with insults and death threats. Once on the ground, after being placed between the second and third railway track, barrage of bullets ended their lives while screaming: "Viva Cristo Rey, Viva Corazón de María." It was July 28, 1936.
 
With them must be added Brother Felipe González, who was martyred on the 2nd of October 1936, not in the railroad station like the students, but at the gates of the cemetery, also in Fernan Caballero. For this geographical coincidence the group were joined in the process of their beatification.

Who are the martyrs?

The most precious treasure of the Church are the witnessing of the martyrs. From the early Christians, the primitive Church worshiped martyrdom as the most excellent service that one can give. A Martyr is someone who accepts "to die freely and resigned for the faith” (K. Rahner)  The martyrial sacrifice is a spectacle that continues to impress those who looks upon it with clear eyes.

There is no one form of martyrdom. The forms of martyrdom of our martyrs, whose memory now we revere, were determined by immediate diverse circumstances. But within the diversity of forms comes and exists a common unmistakable note: The Martyrdom of each of them reproduces the event of the death and resurrection of Christ in the cross. And in them was fulfilled the prophetic words of Jesus: "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (Jn 15:20).

But their epic should not lead to confusion. It should be noted that during the Spain's religious persecution of 1936, our martyrs were not combatants in resistance, carrying guns in their hands or die trying to kill. Neither they fanatic revolutionaries attracted to messianic ideologies, or opposed to rabid and violent resistance in their desperate and extreme situation. As rightly noted by Benedict XVI, their testimony does not bring a message of social revolution like the Spartacus ... but like Jesus, who was not for Barabbas’ political liberation. What brought them to it was their encounter with the living God, who transforms life and the world from within.  That was the only powerful reason that kept them firm to the end.

Our brothers Martyrs of Fernan Caballero received the supreme gift of likeness and image of the Lord, who shed His blood for pure love. Like Christ, they gave their lives to those who took it from them. That was the only reason that moved them to embrace martyrdom. By this, they have overcome hatred and violent murder, and paradoxically, they were able to bring life out of death.

"Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude. "Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God."(Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2,473).

We might ask: Did they have fear of death? How naive are those who believe that faith is a morphine against the fear of death! Who, though they know that there is life bigger after life on earth, is not afraid of death? How do you not mind everything that you feel from within as you face an imminent tragedy? Our martyrs of Fernan Caballero were missionaries, but they were also human. For sure they had fears and hesitations, I am sure of that. They were not insensitive Titans. Their great ideals did not prevent them from loving this adorable world of ours. But they showed to bear in their souls a 'greater love ".

This greater love tested their ability to suffer for following the missionary Christ. If " there is no greater love than that who gives one’s life for one’s friends;" (Jn 15:13), our brothers showed the size of their love with what they did. They carried the cross of the persecution and death. They trusted God not only with their mind or feelings, but particularly with faith "like gold tested by fire" (cf. 1 Pet 1:7). Shouting "Viva Cristo Rey!" Sealed with blood for their fidelity to their vocation without yielding to the temptation of abandonment or betrayal or deny their discipleship. They knew that what truly kills life is not suffering, but the sadness of denying Christ. Their martyrdom proved the authenticity and consistency of their consecration to God who is love.

Why were they martyred?

Martyrdom has no other reason than that of "the greater love" (cf. Jn 15:13). There is no reason to justify it outside “love.” Without a powerful 'why', it is as absurd as a useless decision. "If the proofs of natural selection are lost, why then, there are no proofs of natural selection; and there is an end of it " sentenced Chesterton. And how was this love? Why this love led to the martyrdom of our brothers?

They were martyrs because evil is very active and harmful. Their martyrdom, as all martyrdom, show us above all the "odium fidei" (hatred of the faith) in their excessive monstrosity and danger. Christ paid with death his opposition to the "world". That very opposition continued against those who tried to follow Him consistently. As St. Augustine said: "It is not the suffering, but rather it is the cause, that makes authentic martyrs.”  The stories of martyrdom unmask the mystery of iniquity that seeks to eliminate the history of God's plan of salvation. If all death is in itself already terrible, a death caused by human evil is in its superlative degree. How can you find some beauty in the cruelty and monstrosity of evil and death? How do you explain that evil, at its best, destroys the bodies, but is unable to destroy what has been so loved and what has been lived?

They were martyrs because they believed that Christ is risen. Evil and death have the last word, but not the final word on anything. I truthful words of the Lord Jesus who knows both sides of reality certifies. Our brothers believed in the Risen Christ and because of this the violent death was not able to stifle their hopes. Empowered by the Spirit "They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they gave up their lives going to death." (Rev 12,11). They did not greedily protect their earthly life as the maximum value to keep. The sacrifice of their lives points to something higher. Their disappearance were not in vain or empty. Theirs was not a journey to the land of nowhere or the valley of oblivion. Rather it was the gesture of the triumph of Christ in glory. Because it is not enough to proclaim that he had risen; they have had to do this in a visible form. Only after death their lives had been safe, definitely invincible, returns only with light.

They were martyrs because they died as authentic Christians. The martyrdom of our brothers makes them exemplary Christians. Death did not caught by surprise, for they knew they could die at any moment because the situation was very tense. It was not only unjust, but also cruel. Faith does not eliminate the pain or an anesthesia to sensitivity. Though at times enlightens up, mitigates pain when it is linked with hope. They died with dignity and nobility. Despair failed to degrade their soul. Their demeanor was dominion. Determined to be faithful to their missionary commitments, the moment of death gave them the last chance to take their lives into their hands and return them to their Creator. Therefore, they were able to give everything to God. They transformed the imposed violence into pleasing offering to the Lord of life. Consecrated by the Spirit and united to Christ, their sacrifice destroyed the sting of death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15.56) and made life flourish more abundantly.

    Fueron mártires porque tuvieron la certeza del amor de Dios. Anticiparon la en¬trega de su vida mortal que era un precioso regalo de Alguien que les había amado primero con amor entrañable. El martirio fue su gran respuesta de amor al inmenso amor de Dios. Murieron comulgando con quien ya había muerto anteriormente por ellos. Experimentaron cómo Cristo les había alcanzado “de su alma en el más profun¬do centro” (san Juan de la Cruz), derribando de su trono al egoísmo y colocando en su lugar el amor. Y como Cristo es radical, les pedía el amor más absurdo que existe: el dirigido a quienes menos se lo merecían, a sus enemigos. Fue la quemadura del «amor loco» de Dios (P. Evdokimov) -que se llama misericordia- lo que les convirtió. “Cuando el amor no es locura, no es amor” (Calderón de la Barca). Si nuestros hermanos Már¬tires llegaron a arder en ese fuego, nos abren la esperanza que algún día lo logremos también nosotros. No sólo murieron por amor, sino también de amor. Dios no sólo les amaba; sino que además Él, como un mendigo, les pedía su amor depurado ya por el dolor. La vida no consiste en algo que hacer, sino en algo que amar. Gratis se da lo que vale mucho o… lo que no vale nada. Ellos lo dieron todo, gratis.    

Fueron mártires porque fueron capaces de perdonar. El perdón es la única he¬rramienta capaz de hacer añicos las cadenas del odio. Al perdonar a sus verdugos actualizaron el mismísimo gesto que desde la cruz pronunció el Testigo Fiel: «Padre, perdónales, porque no saben lo que hacen». Nuestros hermanos Mártires no hicie¬ron otra cosa que poner en práctica aquella escandalosa petición del Crucificado. En ese relámpago de luz que acompaña a la muerte, entendieron hasta qué punto los hombres podemos cegarnos y volvernos ignorantes con el mal. Saramago decía que “todos somos ciegos que pueden ver, pero que no miran”. La más oscura de las trage¬dias humanas es la de ser ciegos e inconscientes al cometer el mal. Nuestros Mártires sabían que los humanos estamos hechos de esa torpe y ciega pasta, por eso no ne¬cesitaron maldecir ni condenar con asco a quienes segaban sus vidas. Los derrotaron con el perdón. Para unos misioneros con fuego en las entrañas no podía ser de otra manera. ¿No fue el perdón, en definitiva, la clave radical de toda la vida de Cristo? ¿No fue acaso la primera y última razón de su muerte? Y después de perdonar callaron para siempre, iniciaron su silencio. Todas las cosas verdaderamente importantes ocurren en silencio: se crece en silencio, se sueña en silencio, se ama en silencio, se piensa en silencio, se vive en silencio. Con su silencio, nuestros Mártires han hablado más que con sus palabras: «Non loquendo sed moriendo».

¿Qué nos enseñan nuestros Mártires a nosotros hoy?

Ellos se erigen ante nuestros ojos como maestros de vida misionera. Dicen que los «ca¬tecismos» hitlerianos explicaban a los niños la «vergonzosa» muerte de un Cristo aterrado en comparación con el heroísmo sonriente con que morían los jóvenes nazis por la patria. En absoluto es ese el magisterio de nuestros Mártires. Se colocan en sus antípodas. No hubo en su gesta ni un gramo de petulancia o de exhibicionismo. En su último abrazo a la muerte parecen decirnos: ¡Lo grave no es morir, sino morir inútilmente! Su martirio repre¬senta para nosotros un “test” de vida misionera, un control de calidad.

Porque al filo del martirio no hay posibilidad de engaño. En los momentos finales, las personas acreditamos con autenticidad lo que verdaderamente creemos. La muerte con¬sigue fulminar la vana palabrería, la apariencia hipócrita y la falsa fe. Las palabras y gestos de nuestros Mártires son, por ello, lecciones de vida. Después de muertos, nos siguen hablando desde la cátedra del ejemplo. Sus vidas no solamente deben ser conocidas y admiradas; constituyen sobretodo un poderoso imán que atrae y convierte. Nos ayudan a desempolvar y sacar a la luz lo que todos llevamos dentro: que podemos ser fieles hasta el final; que al mal sólo le vence el bien; que María está siempre a nuestro lado y que nuestra vida debe ser “sinceramente eucarística” (P. Casaldáliga). Lo meditamos despacio.

    Es posible ser fieles hasta el final. Su primera lección nos espolea a tensar las fibras de nuestras intenciones más hondas y dirigirlas a su último fin. Pero, ¿cuál es nuestro fin último? El día de nuestra profesión religiosa abrazamos “la decisión de caminar en una vida nueva, orientando el corazón hacia Dios” (Cf. CC 52). Ante ese nuestro fin, el martirio del amor cotidiano (martirio “blanco” le llaman) y el martirio de sangre se completan y se llaman el uno al otro. Vivir bien orientados a veces duele, pero es el secreto de la paz y de la alegría que necesitamos y buscamos. Sabemos por experien¬cia lo amarga que es la desorientación. Tantas veces sentimos como H. Nouwen, que decía: “Quiero ser santo, pero me gusta todo lo que hacen los pecadores”. Nuestros hermanos Mártires nos advierten cuál es nuestro norte. Quien tiene una sólida razón para vivir, afronta las pequeñas o grandes mortificaciones y renuncias sin victimismos ni deserciones. El sentido de la vida es más importante que la vida misma. La batalla de la fidelidad se libra no sólo ni principalmente en la montaña del heroísmo, sino sobre todo en el llano de la cotidianeidad.

No se trata en absoluto de despreciar ni de antipatizar con nada; tampoco de cen¬trarnos en denunciar con acritud las incoherencias de los demás. La brújula de la vida misionera señala siempre hacia el amor de Dios. Y lo vivimos siempre en contextos donde reina el pecado, que fabrica flaquezas, miedos, egoísmos, mediocridad y trai¬ción. El Señor nos lo advirtió. Seguirle a Él acarrea dolores y cruces. Los más peligrosos son las que nacen dentro y tratan de demostrarnos con razones la inutilidad y el absur¬do de nuestra vocación. Jesús nos alienta: “¡Animo! No tengáis miedo, porque yo he vencido al mundo” (Jn 16,33). Nos acompaña y asiste en las dificultades. Nos conforta con la fuerza del Espíritu que es la fuerza del amor y de la seguridad en su infaltable cercanía.

    El mal solo es derrotado por el bien. La memoria de nuestros mártires nos mues¬tra, además, que vivimos en un mundo difícil, en el que operan los poderes del mal que quieren organizarnos la vida desde la comodidad, los placeres o el poder. No es posible una vida misionera concordista. Evitar el duro combate contra el mal de este mundo no puede ser nuestro deseo primario ni la norma general. La fidelidad a la vo¬cación puede exponernos al conflicto no buscado ni deseado. Nuestros Mártires nos advierten de esa permanente refriega contra el mal en la que nos va la vida y, a veces, la muerte. Y hay estilos de morir. Podemos morir por enfermedad, por accidente, por vejez y decrepitud,… La manera eminentemente evangélica de morir es la Pascua: el amor libremente entregado. Como la de Jesús a quien “no le quitan la vida, sino que es él mismo quien la entrega” (Jn 10,18). Esta divisa debe ser la nuestra. Al final de nuestra existencia, como epitafio del sepulcro de cada misionero debiera colocarse lo que dice san Juan en su primera carta: “Nosotros hemos conocido el amor que Dios nos tiene y hemos creído en él” (1 Jn 5,11). No debe paralizarnos ni el dolor ni la muerte; no deben angustiarnos las dificultades ni los fracasos. A lo único que deberíamos tener pánico es la mediocridad, la incoherencia y la cobardía de quienes se atrincheran en un bunker defensivo, eludiendo la entrega.

La condición martirial de nuestra vocación ha de expresarse en la vida de cada día. Debe llevarnos a renunciar con prontitud a todos aquellos planteamientos de vida que inciten a la tibieza en la entrega, a la ambigüedad en las opciones, al descrédito espi-ritual. Hemos de hacer nuestras las palabras de Pablo: «Estoy crucificado con Cristo, he dejado atrás la vida dominada por el pecado, lo que ahora vivo es una vida nueva, en comunión con Cristo, en la presencia de Dios, de modo que es Cristo quien vive y actúa en mí» (cf. Gal 2, 19 y 20).

    María nos acompaña siempre en nuestros sufrimientos. Cristo eligió la vocación de sufrir y de morir por la salvación del mundo. María no estuvo ausente de esa misión. Ella permaneció al pie de la cruz colaborando en la redención del mundo y cumpliendo su papel de madre del discípulo amado (cf. Jn 19,27). Desde aquella oscura tarde del calvario, entró en la misión de su hijo con el mismo oficio que tuviera en su origen: el de madre. Es claro que cuantos a lo largo de los siglos sigan a Cristo han de aceptar esa misma vocación de sufrir y morir con Él. Abrazados a esa misión son también urgi¬dos a acoger a María como madre. Bien sabemos los claretianos -y jamás lo podemos olvidar- que un hijo del Corazón de María “no piensa sino en orar, trabajar y sufrir…”.

Los “vivas” al Corazón de María gritados por nuestros Mártires en el momento de ser ejecutados muestran a las claras esa íntima convicción. En ese postrer momento, palparon la cercanía materna de María, que les acompañaba en su agonía. En su su-plicio María permanecía junto a sus cruces como madre. Y no por simples razones sentimentales. Ella estaba unida no sólo a sus dolores y desamparos, sino a su misión. María no se jubiló de la maternidad. Seguía engendrando, engendrándoles. Ejercía de madre, tal vez porque es lo único -¡lo único y lo más sublime!- que sabe hacer. ¡Y qué bien lo hace! Un bello canto, que guardamos en nuestro patrimonio provincial, recoge esa preciosa herencia. No ha perdido vigencia porque nos conecta directamente con los más hondos sentimientos de nuestros hermanos:

Virgen sacerdotal. Madre querida Tú que diste a mi vida tan sublime ideal, alárgame esos brazos maternales ellos serán mis blancos corporales, tu corazón mi altar sacrificial

    Hemos sido llamados a “ser sinceramente eucarísticos”. San Ignacio de Antio¬quía, quien hacia el año 110, camino del martirio, escribía: “¿Cómo podríamos vivir sin Él?”4, es decir, ¿cómo vivir sin la fuerza interior que brinda el sacramento del cuerpo y de la sangre del Señor? Así lo entendieron los mártires de Fernán Caballero. Acepta¬ron libremente entregar su vida por Cristo, con Él y en Él. Rotos, pero enteros, se con¬virtieron en Eucaristía. El martirio es el supremo ejercicio de la libertad humana y, por ello, es el acto más pleno de amor; es la cima de la santidad. Murieron convencidos de que su aparente fracaso era redentor. Estaban unidos a Cristo, que es la Verdad que les hizo libres. (cf. Jn 8, 31-32.36). La vida verdadera que nos hace libres nos la muestra el Señor: “El que quiera venir detrás de mí, que renuncie a sí mismo, que cargue con su cruz y me siga. Porque el que quiera salvar su vida, la perderá; y el que pierda su vida a causa de mí, la encontrará” (Mt 16,24-25). Como el grano de trigo que cae en tierra y muere, la vida de los mártires se transfigura, se hace eucarística. “Sois aquello mismo que recibís, el Cuerpo de Cristo”, decía san Agustín5. El Papa, en el número 73 de su exhortación sobre la Eucaristía, dijo que hemos de vivir desde el octavo día, desde el domingo. De la misma manera que «la Eucaristía hace a la Iglesia y la Iglesia hace a la Eucaristía», se puede decir que «la Eucaristía hace al mártir y el mártir es Eucaristía».

Un hecho de vida ilustra palpablemente lo que estamos diciendo: hace ya años, mu¬rió un sacerdote, párroco de un pueblo del norte de Italia, cerca de Milán. Un tumor lo había postrado como Jesús en la cruz de una gran invalidez, y a esto se sumaba una ceguera casi total. Cuando se dirigía a celebrar una de sus últimas misas, asistido por otro joven sacerdote, le comentó: «Hace mucho tiempo, en un retiro, nos subrayaron que también en nombre propio, y no solamente como ministros, deberíamos decir las palabras de la Consagración: “Tomad y comed, éste es mi Cuerpo, mi pobre cuerpo. Esta es mi sangre”. En aquel momento no lo llegué a comprender completamente pero ahora sí. Es todo aquello que me queda por darle a mi gente. Lo digo siempre: “Este es mi cuerpo ofrecido por vosotros; esta es mi sangre ofrecida por vosotros”». Y mientras decía esto, le descendían las lágrimas a causa de la enfermedad de sus ojos. Era la secreta grandeza de su vida: dar el cuerpo y la sangre con Cristo por sus hermanos.

Concluyendo
En su discurso a los universitarios de Stanford, Steve Jobs hablando de su muerte próxi¬ma dijo: “A nadie le gusta morir… pero la muerte es nuestro destino común: nadie esca¬pará a la muerte. Y así tiene que ser, porque la muerte es el mejor invento de la vida: es el agente de cambio de la vida. Elimina lo viejo y da paso a lo nuevo”. La muerte de nuestros Mártires es también agente de cambio, palanca de santificación. Ellos, que habitan ya en el misterio de Dios, nos inyectan un potente impulso de santidad. Su sangre es semilla de nuevas vocaciones y fuerza de crecimiento espiritual. Su Pascua es en verdad el motor más potente de transformación. Ellos no solo nos recuerdan que “no sólo que vamos a morir, sino que aún estamos vivos” (Chesterton).

Nuestro retiro no es solo un homenaje que desempolva su recuerdo. Es, sobretodo, un kairós que nos permite actualizar nuestro reconocimiento y nuestra gratitud hacia quienes tanto debemos. Ellos atravesaron el túnel oscuro del martirio, y al final vieron la luz y oye¬ron la música más hermosa. Una Congregación que cuente con hermanos de esa talla, aunque sea pequeña en número, es muy grande y su futuro es espléndido. Esta puede ser una parábola de nuestra vida: con frecuencia nos encontramos en un túnel oscuro en ple¬na noche, pero, por la fe, al final veremos luz y oiremos una hermosa música, percibiremos la belleza de Dios, del cielo y de la tierra, de Dios creador y de la criatura; y así, en verdad, spe salvi facti sumus (cf. Rm 8, 24).


PERSONAL QUESTIONS FOR THE COMMUNITY

• Devote personal time for the lectio divina using the biblical texts used in the celebration:
- 1 Peter 4: 12-19
- Psalm 30: 3-17
- John 12: 24-26

• As a written exercise, do these sentence completion then share to the community members during sharing time:
- In my apostolate I give my life when …
- In my community life, I understand as mortification the …  
- Individuals whose sacrifice I admire most are …
- I feel more motivated to sacrifice when …
- The major surrender that I made in my life was when …  
- Evangelical passages that motivates me to love the more …
- To learn more about the lives of the martyrs of Fernan Caballero …


PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

The Lord says in the Gospel: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 10,32). Trusting in the intercession of our martyred brothers who testified their faith in the Risen Christ with their words and with their lives, let us call on the Lord to help us to us so that we may endure until the end. For every petition let us say: By the faith of our martyrs, hear us, lord.

• For the Pope, bishops, priests and deacons, religious and laity, working for evangelization would be inspired by the spirit of the martyrs who have gone ahead of us. Let us pray to the Lord.
 
• That the testimony of our martyrs continue to inspire the People of God to desire of knowing more Christ, to love Him and always follow Him with great coherence with the vocation to which each has been called. Let us pray to the Lord.

• That the blood of our martyrs shed through love like that of Christ may be converted into seeds of new missionary vocations who, throughout the world, delivers with passion the proclamation of the Kingdom. Let us pray to the Lord.
 
• For those who persecute and denigrate the Christians or those who are culturally, socially, politically marginalized because of their faith, that they may receive the light of the Spirit that will move them to conversion and know that following Christ is the best service that they can render to humanity. Let us pray to the Lord.

• For our congregation who counts among its members to this group of servants of God whom we remember today, that the Holy Spirit maintain our holiness in our missionary life and in our contribution to the works of evangelization. Let us pray to the Lord.

• That our families, Christian and religious communities may keep as a precious heritage the living testimony of our martyrs and be for them a permanent stimulus in their fidelity to their vocation especially in difficult times. Let us pray to the Lord.

• For all of us, so that we may find the Word and in the Eucharist that we frequently receive, the strength we need to endure trials and sufferings that carries the consistency and fidelity to live with the demands of our respective vocation. Let us pray to the Lord.

God our Father, you have given to our brothers Martyrs of Siguenza and Fernan Caballero the courage not only to be coherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ, but also to give their lives in witness of his divinity, grant us also the strength to be worthy followers of the Gospel. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

OUR FATHER
 
We ask you Lord to fulfill in us the drama of the Mount of Olives, the internal struggle of a lifetime and the work that Jesus performed. United with Him and reminded of our Martyrs, who is one with the Father’s will, let us all pray the Lord’s Prayer.

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord our God,
Enlightened by the mystery of the cross
in the glorious death of the Claretian martyrs
hear our prayers
and grant that, strengthened by the Eucharist,
by the maternal intercession
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
we join Christ faithfully
and work in the Church
for the salvation of all mankind.
Through Christ our Lord.

BENEDICTION

(With hands outstretched)
May the Lord bless and keep you.
And make His face shine upon you
and grant you His grace.
Let Him turn towards you and give you peace.

And may the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
descend upon you. Amen.

FINAL HYMN