Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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Mercedarian Martyrs Among those Beatified as Witnesses to Christ's Redeeming Love

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Have you ever wondered whether you would have the strength to face martyrdom?

Hundreds of men and women faced that challenge not too many years ago in Spain, and they valiantly gave up their lives rather than deny their holy faith.

On October 13th, five hundred and twenty-two worthy Catholics were beatified in Tarragona, Spain for their martyrdom during the Spanish Civil war. It was during the already bloody war that the period known as the Red Terror began in 1934. Violence began when thirty-seven seminarians, priests, and brothers were killed for holding firm to the Catholic faith.

The violence quickly escalated. As anti-Catholic sentiments were fueled, Churches were burned, and sacred religious items such as tabernacles, altars, and statues were desecrated. Perpetrators did their best to erase Catholicism from Spain.

Among those martyrs declared blessed were nineteen friars of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. Following the example of Fr. Mariano Alcala Perez - the former Master General of the Order – they remained steadfast to the Church unto death. With the spiritual life of Spain under attack, the Mercedarian friars held a special mission due to their fourth vow, “to be willing to offer their lives for those in danger of losing the faith.”

From as early as the Order's genesis in 1218, the Mercedarian friars have valued their own lives secondary to the salvation of others. Again, during the Red Terror, these priests and brothers administered the sacraments and preached the Good News in the face of violent persecution.

Active Participation in Christ's Sacrifice

So great was their sacrifice, that it bears repeating, that these martyrs were honored not as casualties of the war, but as Catholics singled out and killed for their Catholic faith during Spain's oppressive regime. Although some were offered mercy if they denied the Church, they willingly gave their lives for the the greater glory of Christ's kingdom. According to the witness of those present, their final words were the proud cry of “Long live Christ the King!”

Sunday's Beatification Mass was held in Tarragona, Spain, and presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Holy See. The Cardinal spoke of the modern message given to us by the martyrs, the elimination of rancor and hatred, replaced by forgiveness, as well as conversion of the heart.

The Cardinal remarked, “With their charity, the martyrs opposed the rage of evil, as a powerful wall opposed the monstrous violence of a tsunami. By their gentleness, the martyrs deactivated the homicidal weapons of tyrants and executioners, conquering evil with good. They are always actual prophets of peace in the world.”

What better witness to God's mercy is there than the persecuted forgiving their
tormentors? This symbolizes in a special way, the charism and mission of the Order of Mercy. Surrounded by the violence of death, the light of Christ's redeeming love shines forth brightly from his faithful servants, these Mercedarian friars.


The Martyrs Forgave their Persecutors, and So Do We

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, October 21, 2013

Homily of His Excellency,

Jaume Pujol Balcells

Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain

We celebrate the first Vespers of Sunday. Sunday, says St. Jerome, is "the day of the Resurrection, the day of the Christians, our day." [1] In the late afternoon of Good Friday, our Lord died with the Psalms of his people on the lips and introduced "into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 83). We offer with joy this evening sacrifice, united to the Lord Jesus.

Pope Francis on screen, canonization
Pope Francis delivers his welcome message on the giant screen during the canonization.

Sunday shines more than the other days, but on [this] Sunday, the glory of the Lord shines in a special way in his martyrs. They ennoble the holy Churches of the Lord. The martyrs demonstrate the power of God's grace and presence of the Holy Spirit, because no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12.3). They are the witnesses of the Lord. And his martyrdom is "praise and glory of grace" (Eph 1.6). So they glorify the King of martyrs as he [the Lord] is the cause and foundation of Christian martyrdom. He is "the faithful witness" (Rev 1:5). His life and death are an Easter proclamation that "the birthday of the saints, the Church proclaims the paschal mystery in the saints who suffered with Christ and have been glorified with him" (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 104).

This Church of Tarragona, ecclesia Pauli, sedes Fructuosi, receives you all with affection and joy and gives to you all the kiss of peace and of communion.

In the first place, greetings to Cardinal Angelo Amato, who tomorrow morning, in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, will proclaim the blessedness of this great multitude of brothers.  Greetings to the Cardinals, to my brother Bishops. Also, to you, dear priests and deacons. To you dear Religious Brothers and Sisters, joyful because of the glorification of your brothers and sisters.  To all the holy people of God, who with praise and joy, venerate and celebrate the glory of the martyrs.  Peace to all.  Let us all be joyful in the Lord and may the gesture of the venerable and ancient Lucenaria be eloquently put: Lumen Christi cum pace!  We radiate, brothers and sisters, this light bearer of  peace.  The joyous peace of the disciples of Christ, that he has given us and that nothing or no one can take from us.

The glorification of our brothers and sisters, as I wrote in my pastoral letter, is not made against anyone nor even in the favor of anyone.  The martyrs are of the Lord, belong to the victory of the Lord, and not of that of men.  They are an annunciation of peace and of reconciliation.  It is simply the Church that, returning to the tradition of the first centuries, cannot forget those who died for the Lord and for the Gospel.  They were written in the book of Truth by their blood.  They are those that followed the Lord intimately.  As we have heard in the Canticle of this Vespers service: "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps" (1 P 2:21).

Martyrs of Spanish Civil War posterWhen our martyrs are beatified tomorrow in the Sunday liturgy, none of us will experience one iota of resentment for those who persecuted them.  Neither shall we have the satisfaction of having an act of historic justice done in a worldly way.  How can we not forgive if all of them died, in imitation of the Lord, with words of forgiveness on their lips?  The first fruit, one could say, the first grace of these new martyrs, would be the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Lord redeems the whole of history always, and these, the martyrs, redeemed with their silent immolation, that story of death, shameful. The Lord looks with compassion on one side and the other, the Lord looks with compassion on both the executioners as on those who died.  The ultimate gaze of the martyrs was this: a gaze that forgave.  May this gaze also be our gaze.

Martyrdom is the most perfect expression of faith, of hope, and of charity.  The martyr, in his total commitment to God loves the Lord in the most intense and possible form, with whole heart and as the only thing needed. He humbly experiences and accepts his total nothingness and the absolute necessity to be sustained by grace, he deeply obeys the will of God and freely allows himself to be stripped of all he possesses in the world, including his own life, so participating in the poverty of Christ on the Cross.

We evoke, then, with an immense and tender love, the biographies of our martyrs.  All were men and women of God, who, in sanquine, "washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb." First to our brother bishops of Lleida, Salvi Huix, the bishop of Jaén, Manuel Basulto, and are beloved Manue Borràs, auxiliary bishop of this archdiocese, and many brother priests who lived their martyrdom as the last Eucharist, offered not in the sacrament, but in their own person.  Of some manner, one can say that they received the martyrdom in persona Christi for the grace they had received in their priestly ordination.

Next, to our Religious Brothers and Sisters who brought to fulfillment the proper charisms and initialed their act of profession with their own blood.  They proclaim how each charism can be lived to the point of giving one's own life.

Then, to the seven lay martyrs, worthy representatives of the holy people of the Lord.  As it is said in the preface of the saints: for in crowning their merits, You crown the gifts You have given them.

It is characteristic of Christians to leave the past, they have been glorified and my predecessor in this headquarters, the venerable Cardinal Vidal i Barraquer Fransec D'Assis, from exile, with sadness and deep conviction, writes: "I console them did not miss God's mercy. "they live in Christ and in the communion of saints intercede for us," his death was a gain. "For us to live in the present, a present that is always time for Christians of grace.

Martyrs of Spanish Civil War coverLet us put ourselves in tune and in obedience to our Holy Father Francis.  He so insistently tells us that the Church is not self-referential from the Church of the Lord.  Certainly, it is not the Church that glorifies her saints. It is the Lord who does it! There must not be even a hint of self-glorification present among us this Sunday. We should be the Church that participates in the mission and in obedience to the Son, who with the strength of the Holy Spirit goes out of herself and wants to be radiant with the light of the Lord of glory, that destroys and unmasks all the darkness of the world.  And that comes humbly to meet a society where men need a greater love, where the poor are to be loved and the Church should have in her a celebration of life, since Christianity is an affirmation of life. An announcement of the saving love, from the conviction that there is no human existence is not loved by God.

And for another part, our martyrs were not ashamed of their baptism, their priestly condition, their religious consecration or their being Christians, Catholics.  In a limited moment they did not hide or renege their condition.  I ask the Lord, through the intercession of our martyrs, that our Christians may leave all anonymity, they don't hid the treasure of the faith, that they may be a light in the bushel to illuminate all.  Never shameful of the faith!  The world needs these Christians!  "The world needs evangelists, who are not sad or discouraged, impatient or anxious, but servants of the Gospel, whose life radiated the fervor of who they have received, before all in themselves, the joy of Christ."2

Whoever expressed our feelings better than anyone else is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the soloist of the people of God. She gives soul and song to the Church and is it now we will sing in the Magnificat: "The Lord has remembered Abraham and his descendants forever." Yes, the Lord's mercy to our martyrs accompanied in the dark hour of the day of his martyrdom, and gave them a glimpse of the dawn of the Day of Resurrection. The Lord accompanies us. He always " leads to his Church to perfection through love". The Lord be with those who will come after us and believe in Christ. It is the mystery of the Church, earthly and heavenly, glorious and pilgrim. The Saints are the first fruits of the heavenly Jerusalem. It ecclesial communion, is the mystery of Pentecost: " One Lord, one faith, one God and Father." The martyrs help us live this ecclesial communion. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as said the Bishop of Tarragona, holy Fructuoso moments before his cruel martyrdom of 259 January 21: " I’ll never go without mercy and the promise of the Lord in this world and the other." Amen.

+Jaume Pujol Balcells

Metropolitan Archbishop and Primate of Tarragona 

Tarragona, October 12, 2013

 1.) In die dominica paschae, CCL 78 (1958) 550

2.) Pablo VI, Exhort, ap. Sinodal, Evangelii nuntiandi, 80


"Long Live Christ the King"-The Background and Story of the Spanish Civil War Martyrs

Mercedarian Friar - Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sunday, October 13th nineteen Mercedarians will be declared blessed and martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. Few here in the United States realize how horrific this event called "the Red Terror" truly was or the reasoning behind it. In this short article, we can see the background which lead to the persecution and witness accounts of the actual martyrs.

They were conformed to Jesus' death
They were conformed to Jesus' death

The roots of the persecution of the Church was a slow process which began with a great anticlerical movement in the 19th century. In 19th century Spain the Church was closely linked to the monarchy by means of concordats. Catholicism was, in practice, the state religion, like the Orthodox religion in Greece and Romania and Anglicanism in England. The Republicans had built up so much hatred for the monarchy and everything relating to it, the Church included, that, once they seized power, they began to hit their enemies. Their first and easiest target was the Church, being defenseless. The new regime made laws against the Church; in the meantime anarchists, socialists and Communists began to use violence against people and things.

As historians have ascertained, a growing number of measures against the Catholic Church and religious practice were taken between 1931 and 1936. These oppressive laws aimed at a radical and antidemocratic conception of the separation between Church and State. Violent persecution proper began in 1934 with the "Turon martyrs," who have already been canonized, and many other believers murdered during the Communist Revolution of the Asturias, when priests, religious and seminarians, 37 in all, were killed and 58 churches were burned. After 1936 in all the main cities, cathedrals, religious communities and parish churches were attacked, ransacked and burned. These persecutions aimed at erasing all traces of Catholic tradition in Spain. Hatred for the faith or “in Odium Fidei” went even beyond murders and found expression in thousands of sacrilegious acts: tabernacles were emptied, consecrated particles were eaten, shot at, strewn in the streets and trodden on; churches were used as stables, altars were demolished, priests and nuns were held at gunpoint in the attempt to force them to recant their faith. Let us remember that persecutions started years before the beginning of the civil war, and the Church could be accused of supporting Franco's Falangists, referred to as "rebels."

It was within the context of this perilous situation that the Mercedarians of the Province of Aragon were called upon by God to exercise their 4th Vow: to be willing to offer their lives for those in danger of losing the faith. In this particular period all of Spain was in danger of losing their once cherished Catholic Faith. Lead by the former Master General of the Order Fr. Mariano Alcala Perez, 18 Mercedarian religious were martyred here we have a brief witness account for each of them:

Alcala_Perez

Padre Mariano Acala:“He was in a serene frame of mind, thinking about heaven and showing his hope for heaven to his relatives whom he as consoling by telling that they were not losing anything by his death. I have also heard that at the precise moment of being shot to death, he shouted: “Long live Christ the King.”

 

Padre Tomas Carbonell Miquel: “I saw a man coming down from the Via Bajada de la Trinidad with his arms up and his Carbonell_Miquelhead down. I heard all those who were going by say: ‘he is a Mercedarian, he is a Mercedarian.’... A short time later, several shots rang out and everyone commented that they had killed the Mercedarian priest.”

 

Gargallo_GasconPadre Francisco Gargallo Gascon: “…the Servant of God had accepted to shed his blood out of love for Jesus: he knew that he was running the risk of losing his life…yet he was calm, serene and completely surrendered into God’s arms. His sole preoccupation was to save the young novices who were with him.”

Padre Francisco Gargallo Gason & Padre Emanuel Sancho Aguilar: “Having placed the two Fathers and the deponent before the firing squad and as we were continuing to sing the Te Deum, the militiamen ordered me to leave their midst and to move aside. However, I must not have heard them since the Father pushed me aside so that I would be out of the reach of the guns. I heard the Servants of God forgive their executioners.”

Sancho_AguilarPadre Emanuel Sancho Aguilar: “When he was speaking about martyrdom, he seemed to become excited and very enthusiastic, manifesting an intense desire to suffer it especially when speaking of the difficult times that we were approaching and he often said: ‘my sons, the greatest benefit that God could grant us would be that of dying as martyrs.’”

 

Pina_TuronPadre Mariano Pina Turon: the Reds addressed him, “‘Get up, you are going to die but before that, we are going to make you swallow the Rosary.’ Before all this that man showed great fortitude and presence of mind.”

“The militiamen who got out of it were dragging a man, they put him with his back to them in an empty field and at five or six yards from where I was. The two or three militiamen who were leading him fired and he fell down from the shot.”

Esteban_HernandezFriar Pedro Esteban Hernandez: “Brother Pedro, the younger of the two, could have looked for a safer refuge but he refused to abandon Brother Antonio who was quite old and very tired. I always found them resigned and in conformity with God’s will.”

 

Lahoz_GanFriar Antonio Lahoz Gan: “I have a devotion to him since I already considered him as a saint when he was alive. Whenever he heard the sound of the Angelus, without any concern for the place where he was or who was present, he would kneel and pray fervently even if the ground was full of rocks.”

 

Trallero_LouFriar Jose Trallero Lou: “The militiamen were abusing the above mentioned Brothers with words and threatening them with their guns so that they would reveal where the other Fathers and Brothers were. Although they knew that they were not very far, the two did not reveal anything. They did not respond to the insults.”

“According to what my father, who spent the night there, told me, they attempted to take away Bro. Trallero’s (Mercedarian) metals and they tried to make him blaspheme by promising him that they would save his life but he said: ‘I will not blaspheme. Long live Christ the King.’”

“I heard the militiamen who arrested him say in order to free them and save their lives, they only asked them to shout ‘Long live the revolution and Communism, ‘to which the martyrs responded ‘Long live the Christ the King!’ ‘Long live the Catholic faith!’”

Codina_CasellasFriar Jaime Codina Casella: “When the militiamen threatened them so that they might reveal the hiding place of the other religious, he withdrew into absolute silence in spite of the threats. According to I heard, they kept urging them to shout ‘long live Russia’ and other things to which they responded ‘Long live Christ the King.’”

 

Rene_Prenafeta

 

Padre Jose Rene Prenafeta: During the revolution he stated, “Even if they were to point a gun at my chest, I would never deny that I am a priest.”

 

Campo_Marin

 

Padre Tomas Campo Marin: While in prisoned a witness said, “Fr. Campo Marin excelled by his resignation, his gentle treatment, his zeal, offering to hear our confessions, leading the Rosary out loud and other prayers”

 

Llagostera_BonetPadre Francisco Llagostera Bonet: “They were getting out of the truck, tied up two by two by their wrists and then in groups of fourteen, they put them in front of the wall and facing those who were to kill them. When the latter gave the order to ‘aim,’ the martyrs shouted ‘Long live Christ the King’”

 

Sanz_IranzoFriar Serapio Sanz Iranzo: “I know that when they went to Lerida, where he was, to kill the Fathers, when he saw that they were leaving him behind, he said: ‘I too am a religious like them.’ Then the militiamen took him away with them and they assassinated him with the Fathers.”

 

Morante_ChicPadre Enrique Morante Chic: “ The attitude of the Servant of God before those who were carrying out the religious persecution was that of his appearing serene and so proud of being a Mercedarian priest that he immediately revealed it to his assassins although he was well aware of the consequences.”

 

Massanet_FlaquerPadre Jesus Massanet Flaquer: “…the three militiamen who were leading them, shot them in the back. I saw them fall to the ground as a result of the shots. After they had picked up the corpses, one could see traces of blood on the ground.”

The assassins themselves reported that the Servant of God “had shown a great deal of serenity and he shouted ‘Long live Christ the King.’”

Moreno_NicolasPadre Lorenzo Moreno Nicolas: “before he was shot, he blessed his executioners and told them that he forgave them according to what the driver, who drove him to his martyrdom, related to them.”

“His martyrdom must have been terrible…he invited him to sit on the edge of the well and he shot him. When he fell to the bottom, they continued to fire from above and after they had left, moans could still be heard, from which it was inferred that his death must have taken place after a long and painful agony if we bear in mind that the moans of the five Brothers of the Christian Schools and of the Pastor of Saint James, who were all thrown into the same well and in the same way as Father Lorenzo, were heard the day after the crime had ben perpetuated against them.”

Mitja_MitjaBrother Francisco Mitja Mitja: “On the following day, along with six or eight men who were also in hiding, we went back to the same place. Among all of us, we were able to identify the cadaver as that of a Mercedarian Brother of Saint Raymond since, on account of the clothing and of the objects that he had on and even the alms that he had been given in different houses, he was easily identifiable…we could clearly deduce that he had not thrown himself down from a rock that was nearby, but that instead he had been pushed.”

 

Special thanks to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7999&CFID=14171491&CFTOKEN=16464908

Also see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyrs_of_the_Spanish_Civil_War

http://orderofmercy.org/2013/10/19-mercedarian-martyrs-of-the-spanish-civil-war-to-be-beatified-october-13th/#more-2679

http://orderofmercy.org/2011/12/nineteen-mercedarian-friars-named-martyrs-by-vatican/


19 Mercedarian Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War to be Beatified October 13th

Mercedarian Friar - Tuesday, October 08, 2013

In Vatican City, on December 19, 2011 Zenit.org reported Pope Benedict XVI on Monday met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, and authorized the promulgation of decrees concerning miracles, martyrdom and heroic virtues for a number of causes. Among those were Mariano Acala and 18 fellow Martyrs of the Order of Mercy. This beatification will take place  on Tarragona, Spain, October 13, 2013. Here is the formal announcement from the Mercedarian Generalate:

1240560_656769167675221_551287823_nWith the title "19 Palms. Martyrs of Mercy of Aragon in 1936 "Fray Joaquin Rubio Millan published in 2010 a careful publication on the martyrdom of the nineteen martyrs of the Order of Mercy in the province of Aragon, whose list is headed by the Servant of God Mariano Alcala Perez, born May 11, 1867 and executed on September 15, 1936.

The other 18 religious who met a violent death are: Padre Tomás Carbonell Miquel, Padre Francisco Gargallo Gascón, Padre Manuel Sancho Aguilar, Padre Mariano Pina Turón, Fray Pedro Armengol Esteban Hernández, Fray Antonio Lahoz Gan, Fray José Trallero Lou, Fray Jaime Codina Casellas, Padre José Reñé Prenafreta, Fray Antonio González Penín, Padre Tomás Campo Marín, Padre Francisco Llagostera Bonet, Fray Serapio Sanz Iranzo, Padre Enrique Morante Chic, Padre Jesús Eduardo Massanet Flaquer, Padre Amancio Marín Mínguez, Padre Lorenzo Moreno Nicolás, y Fray Francisco Mitjá Mitjá.

Beatification

The religious were 19 Mercedarians of the Province of Aragon who died martyrs, killed "in odium fidei" or out of hatred for the faith between July 25, 1936 and January 1, 1937 in Barcelona and Teruel, Spain. The diocesan process opened in Lleida in 1957 and concluded in 1959. The Congregation of Saints gave legal validity in Rome on June 9, 1995. The commission of theologians gave a favorable opinion on September 30, 2009. The December 13, 2011 the Congress of Cardinals and Bishops have recognized that the said servants of God were killed by fidelity to Christ and the Church. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI  then approved the martyrdom of the 19 Mercedarians on 19 December 2011. The celebration will be in Tarragona, Spain, 13 October 2013.

522 Spanish martyrs obeyed imperatives of faith before the world, remember Bishop

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/etiquetas/martires/&prev=/search%3Fq%3DGuerra%2BCivil%2BEspa%25C3%25B1ola%2BM%25C3%25A1rtires%2Boctubre%2B2013%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DUFZ%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official

Spain: beatification of 500 martyrs of the Civil War

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.zenit.org/es/articles/espana-beatificaran-a-500-martires-de-la-guerra-civilprev=/search%3Fq%3DGuerra%2BCivil%2BEspa%25C3%25B1ola%2BM%25C3%25A1rtires%2Boctubre%2B2013%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DkOZ%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official

 

 



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