He kept the Faith!
The following is my translation of a letter (source in Spanish: Mater Castissima) from the Cristero martyr José Maria Fernández, addressed to his beloved wife.
It makes one reflect: How many of us are prepared for the same sacrifice if need be?
My beloved wife,
The pencil falls from my hand; I do not know whether to write to you or not to do so: I say this because, if I do write, perhaps by writing, I will increase your sorrows; if I do not write, you might form the idea that I do not love you, that I have forgotten you and those children who are the treasure of my existence, for whom I have shed an abundance of tears.
I am going to tell you: Will you have the courage to hear me out? On the 27th of April, 1927, I left, as I told you in a letter which I addressed to you in Mexico from Tepalcatepec, and which I believed you would receive. I went from San Isidro to Coalcoman to meet with don Guadalupe Lucatero, with the aim of arranging that matter of which you were aware regarding the cattle. But on arriving at said place, I found Mr. Lucatero “up in arms”, and a multitude who supported him – though I do not say all – including that gentleman whom you know.
Arriving and seeing that exhilaration of the people en masse acclaiming Christ exposed in the monstrance, who perhaps was watching with a pleased smile, the enthusiasm of His children desirous of their God, whom men without conscience wanted to expel from the churches, from homes, etc. For me to see that commotion and to feel the enthusiasm, everything was one. The blood was boiling in my veins, and do you want me to tell you? You won’t get angry? It happened that in some moments I forgot about my wife and my children, and roused with fiery enthusiasm, I too, came out and yelled with all the force of my lungs: “¡VIVA CRISTO REY!” –
Since that instant, I am a soldier of Christ, and you will not now be seeing your husband paying the servants, cattle dealing, negotiating business, but you will see him with a weapon in his hands defending the faith of my wife, of my children, and mine. Is this not a proof of the love I hold for you?…Here I am fulfilling a due of the Christian, and embracing it with a cross so heavy that I am barley able to sustain it.
How many things! Hunger, cold, persecutions, calumnies, but what hurts me most and makes me suffer is the remembrance of all of you… I know that you suffer much, my beloved; you, not being accustomed to any misfortunes in life, the only one in your house, and always attended with the greatest care! And now, to be the cause of your sufferings. But what am I saying, since I know you to also be a Christian, and you will second my labors in your own way. I, with a weapon and you with your resignation; I burnt with the sun and hungry, and you with your prayers, together we are fused in the same crucible working for the same ideal and our sight fixed on the same point…God…
Just imagine, there are times when we have battles that last without ceasing, 24 hours, and that on the right and on the left, fall dead our valiant soldiers. Many have died in my arms, and in dying, do you know what their last words are? “¡VIVA CRISTO REY!” And immediately they will receive their palm of Glory…I have the hope of seeing all of you here on earth, but if I die, have the courage of “Mrs. Gutiérrez” – doña Carmen Alfaro Madrigal, widow of Navarro Origel – Do not cry for me, but on the contrary offer to God the sacrifice of my life, and ¡viva Dios! that if you lose me on earth, you will have a greater watchful solicitude from Heaven over you. From that mansion of peace, I will pray for you and for all those who do you good…
Over here, there is talk of negotiations; hopefully, hopefully, that this turns out to be as we asked. We will not back off for one moment: to win or to die, that is what we have declared, making the offering with an oath, and for it to be not as we have declared, better for God to take away my life.
From these desolate regions, I hug you, and even though I am not with you in person, I am in thought and in ideals. I do not abandon you; I am with you, but an irresistible and stronger force obliges me to leave you. There is something greater than the wife, the children and goods, and it is Christ for whom I fight, for whom I suffer, for whom one must leave his most cherished in this world. He knocked on my heart once, then another, and I ran like Saul saying to Him: “What do you want of me, Lord?” He told me: “Go on, defend Me, because my enemies persecute Me.” Without waiting any longer and without wavering any, I left what I had: interests, business, and the greatest, the most loved: my wife and my children. It is very sweet to suffer for Christ the King.
In our sufferings, we have much to console. We know that they call us: bandits, highway men, in the end, a list of calumnies. But, what does it matter? They also slandered Christ. And has He not Himself said: “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake.”?… Do not be distraught over me, on the contrary, live with satisfaction over your husband. Do not worry about the future. God will be with you. Do you think that He would leave the family of him who left all for His sake? Impossible.
I have already made my pact with God: almost on a daily basis, not saying every day, I receive Him in my breast and it all comes to my talking to you…Make the children understand that if I left them, it was for God; that they may not come to believe that they were abandoned for another reason. Speak to them always of God… Goodbye, my dear companion, my one and only confidante of my worries and troubles; with you, I hug my dear children and you know that if we do not see each other on earth, I will live for you in Heaven.
Your husband, José Maria Fernández.
God and my liberty. ¡VIVA CRISTO REY! ¡VIVA NUESTRA SEÑORA DE GUADALUPE! ¡VIVA EL PAPA!
*José Maria Fernández killed in the Cristero wars on May 9, 1929.