Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 5

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 War Again, Don Pedro held council with Emmanuel and Father Juan José to decide their next move. The modest successes of their first two strikes and the relatively few losses they had suffered gave them courage. After spending a fortnight in and around the mountain, gathering what arms and ammunition they could, they decided to target the nearby State-controlled town of Tecalitlán in Jalisco. They planned to take hold of the town hall and church and ring the bells of victory from the high tower. After four days of steady but unhurried travel, they spent one night hidden just beyond the town as they prepared to attack. As with their two previous uprisings, they chose to open fire on the federales in the early morning before sunrise. In the growing darkness of evening on September 8, Father Juan José heard a long string of nervous confessions and prayed a quiet mass with the rebellious, silent militia. With the first glow of dawn intimating the coming day, ninety-seven cristeros approached the town from three sides in three battalions. Don Pedro in his bursting charro suit, Emmanuel with his … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 4

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr Continued from Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 The Call To Arms Back in San José, Emmanuel eventually accepted the unexpected alteration of his life and met with a few other young men who had been turned out of the Zamora seminary. They wasted no time in joining together with other youth of the village to start their own branch of the resistance. The Catholic Youth of Mexico had been growing rapidly throughout the country, and led by these former seminarians so desperate to find purpose in the lives they felt had been stripped of meaning by their own government, they began the agitation in earnest in San José. Emmanuel knew his father would never approve of such militaristic political involvement, so he worked hard to find excuses to get away from the ranch when he could and other ways to aid the movement when he could not. Juan Diego joined his brother as soon as he learned about the League, already calling himself a cristero and collecting all he would need for an armed rebellion. These boys had no experience of war and its damages, no understanding of the immutability of death, and as a result … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 3

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2 A Lost Vocation Five months before the churches closed, on March 8, the State forced the seminary in Zamora to turn out its students and seal its doors. Among the devastated students sent back to their homes was Emmanuel Francisco. He had known that other seminaries had closed, and a part of him intellectually knew that the same could happen in Zamora, but he had never truly acknowledged that reality. In spite of everything going on throughout Mexico, in spite of schools and convents closing, priests being deported and shot, he maintained an almost supernatural certainty that Zamora would remain open and he would soon enough be ordained a priest. But that certainty was eventually broken, strong as it was, and became dismantled slowly in agonizing stages. As Emmanuel travelled the sun-blistered roads back to San José and his family on the ranch, he passed through phases of disbelief. At first he walked with an expectant sureness that at any moment he would be caught by a fellow student running after him, telling him that the priests had resisted, that the seminary would remain open. Every few steps he would look over his … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 2

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr Continued from Part 1 The Argument The night before they prepared for what would be their last trip to the church in San José, Adán and Eva sat in the kitchen and argued in voices hushed so as not to be heard by their children. The argument had begun when Eva told her husband that the Senate had rejected the petition and that she had heard members of the League discussing plans for a response. Adán took up his old argument with fire as he tugged uneasily at the ends of his broad, bristly mustache. “What kind of response do they propose? Do they think that a few farmers with guns and pitchforks can fight against an army of federales?” “Perhaps not, but we must try. Would you have us do nothing and be killed one by one in our homes, in our churches? Would you have our son never learn the love of God because Calles tells you he cannot?” “But he can and must learn of God’s love, and because of that we cannot fight. If we kill in His name, how can we teach our son to love, to forgive? How could we hate … Read More

Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 1

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr All this week we will be sharing portions from the novel “Image an Likeness”, set in the time of the Cristero War in Mexico. The story follows a Catholic family, and their struggles and faithfulness during that time.  Prelude to a War In 1917, seven years of revolution that had started in order to end the ruthless Porfiriato finally produced a comparably stable president in Venustiano Carranza. One reason his presidency could claim a certain level of legitimacy is that it produced in that year a new constitution that has survived—in altered form, true, but still not superseded—until today. This constitution outlined in its many articles, among other things, the socialist and nationalist ideals of its creators. As part of that nationalism, it also included at least seven anti-clerical and anti-Catholic articles that gave the State ownership of all churches and church property, outlawed any worship outside of church buildings, banned foreign priests and limited the number of priests allowed in Mexico, closed down religious schools, and outlawed religious orders, among other things. To the Catholics of Mexico, these posed severe threats to their way of life. To the men who created the constitution, they were necessary … Read More

Is That a Tree or a Window to God?

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

Reflections on The Presence of God by Tracey Finck “One winter’s day,” Brother Lawrence “saw a tree stripped of its leaves would appear anew, followed by flowers and fruit. He then received a lofty awareness of the providence and power of God which never left him”(Lawrence 14). Brother Lawrence was a person who really lived the good life. He was surrounded by deep and steady peace, had confidence in God, felt joy in ongoing secret conversations with God, and had a fearless ability to face whatever happened knowing God was ordering all things well – these were his riches. How did he receive these riches? He received them by training his mind to attend to God. Like a doctor might put a child’s twisted foot in a brace to train it to grow straight and strong, Brother Lawrence braced his attention Godward again and again and again until it grew strong and steady in the right direction. Eventually the things and tasks around him became almost transparent. They transformed into variously shaped windows through which he saw new aspects of God at work in the world, “In all that he saw and in all that happened, he lifted his thoughts immediately, … Read More

“Roses, Poppies, Forget-Me-Nots” – Short fiction

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Susan Severson Rose Quinn sullenly watched her grandmother hide her saltine crackers under the frayed tablecloth. As she studied the hunched figure she noticed that her grizzled mane was even more shockingly disheveled than usual and that the strawberry patterned apron she wore every day had cranberry juice stains bleeding through the fabric. Rose couldn’t understand why she wore the damn thing; she couldn’t even cook anymore. “Grandma, you know you really don’t have to hide your food. The depression is over.” Rose scolded as she set her journal and pen aside and reached for the bowl of crackers that her grandmother’s hand was currently raiding. Rose was surprised at how young her hand looked next to the mottled one of hr grandmother’s. “What’s that?” the old woman stared at her quizzically. “I said… Oh never mind.” Rose shook her head as she stood up and leaned across the table to expose her grandmother’s stash of contraband, “Here, let me take these.” “No!” Rose clenched her jaw in anticipation as the old woman made a fist and then swung a left hook into the girl’s forearm. She was shockingly strong for an elderly lady. The surefire punch reminded Rose … Read More

Keeping Love Alive: A reflection on Karol Wojtyla’s “The Jeweler’s Shop”

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By R. Mary H. Lemmons Years before the surge in divorces made long lasting marriages seem remarkable, Karol Wojtyla wrote a play about married love called The Jeweler’s Shop. This play, billed as a meditation, explores the love of three couples and raises the question about why the love of some couples endures while others perish. To guide our meditation on these questions, Wojtyla focuses our attention on the thoughts of Andrew and Teresa whose love dies only to be rekindled at the end of the play. Let us begin with Andrew. Wojtyla uses the character of Andrew to describe the loneliness and the blindness of those who live by their sense or lustfully; these find not true love but only islands. The objectification of typical lust makes one unable to see and to value the personhood of the other. Years later, after Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, he wrote in an apostolic letter called On the Dignity and Vocation of Women that lust explains the male domination of women. He also argues that it was Christ who revealed that women were equal to men in dignity and pershonhood. Hence, in This is complementarity at its most personal level and it is … Read More

Humility

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

By Jo-C Elsenpeter I have always rejoiced in the beauty of God’s creation in the world. Today I rejoiced in those things in the parts that are not full of beauty in the eyes of the world, but are full of everlasting beauty in the eyes of its Creator. Take, for example, the majestic trees of the forest, even the aspiring sapling, and how they are humiliated by winter’s effect. Reducing their grandeur to mere emaciated branches that somehow still can bear the weight of Winter’s white, sparkling shapes. They bow down, gracefully accepting their breach of duty as Breath of Winter exhales her beauty. Until Spring Wind, Scamper Squirrel, then Turning Temperature disrupt Winter’s Whirl to bring about rebirth. Humbled no more, remembering their place in The Plan, Tree and now Young Yearling remember their purpose. Perking up toward Heaven, searching, reaching, sprawling across space, pronouncing a new Springtime, even more glorious than the previous! Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find mercy in the sight of God. For great is the power of the Lord; by the humble he is glorified. (Sir. 3:18-20) Whichever sapling, yearling, or tree I am in the forest, let … Read More

Soul Work

Mary TeckYear of the Pilgrim

  By Charlotte Ostermann You’ve got work to do: roles, duties, tasks aplenty. If I suggest more work, your first thought is probably, “No time!” and your next, “No energy!” Yet, I do suggest you take on more: the work of cultivating freedom. Interior freedom lightens all the other loads you carry. Whatever realities you face can become doorways to freedom if you perceive them as means to your own formation. Your power to bear tension of all kinds is enhanced through the practice of placing your interest into the people, world, works, and words around you, and through the practice of allowing your heart to be deeply affected by it all. Harness intellectual and emotional power to increase your capacity for reality, for Christ. Mind and heart are not superfluous – to be ignored until after the chores are done – but are the very muscles to engage more fully to lift the various ‘loads’ of life. It may frustrate you to start exercising a rusty brain, and it may hurt to allow your heart to respond more fully, but without these powers, you can become just a body going through the motions of life, instead of wielding yourself … Read More