Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Beatem Nativitatem!

Your birth, O Christ our God, has shed upon the world the light of knowledge; for through it, those who worshipped the stars have learned from a star to worship you, the Sun of Justice, and to know you, the Dawn from on high. Glory to you, O Lord!

From the womb, before the morning star, I have begotten you. The Lord has sworn and he will not repent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedek.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One; and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable . The Angels sing his glory with the shepherds; the wisemen journey with the star. The eternal God is born for us an an infant child.

Beatem Nativitatem!
¡Feliz Navidad!
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Mona Lisa and the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 2012

The Mona Lisa, or La Giaconda, is probably one of the most famous paintings in the world. It was begun around the year 1503, and was finished by Leonardo Da Vinci in France shortly before his death on May 2nd, 1519. It has stayed in France, mostly, for these past 490 years. After the French Revolution, it was moved to the Louvre. It was exhibited in Italy for a while after an Italian Patriot stole it, as he felt it should stay in Italy.

In a book by Jean-Pierre Mohen, Mona Lisa: inside the Painting, one can read that all through its history, the Mona Lisa has received exceptional and restrained care. An international commission in 1952 deemed that the care it has received has helped to conserve one of the most famous paintings in the world. This commission recommended that it be restored to remove some layers of varnish, and for some special treatment. It has also been treated with carbon tetrachloride, and later with an ethylene oxide treatment to preserve the painting from an insect infestation. In 1985, the painting was again treated with carbon tetrachloride as a measure to prevent further insect damage. To help with any warping, a crosspiece was installed in 1977.

In 2005, it was moved to a purpose-built, climate-controlled enclosure behind bullet-proof glass in the Salle des États in the Louvre.
Despite all of this work, and experts from around the world, the Mona Lisa will need further work in the next 15 years to fix cracking in the varnish that had been applied in the past century. Without this fixing of the varnish and further preservation, the Mona Lisa could face irreparable damage in the next few decades.

In December of 1531, 12 years after the Mona Lisa was finished, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in present day Mexico City. She left her image to us, and she is known under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is contemporaneous with the Mona Lisa.
The image of Guadalupe is on a Tilma, an outer garment that was worn by Aztec males, like a cloak, with a long front to it like an apron, and used as a carry all. At the time, and as is the case with the Tilma of St. Juan Diego, it is made of the ayate fibers of the Maguey plant. The normal life span of such a garment is around 20 years. As of 2009, it has been 479 years since the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe appeared in 1531.
For roughly the first 160 years, the Tilma of St. Juan Diego hung in damp air and before the emissions of numerous candles in the Chapel of Tepeyac. There was no glass to cover the image. No soot appears to have ever damaged the Tilma. Dr. Phillip Callahan of the University of Florida studied the image in 1979. He records that a single votive candle can put out in its life over 600 microwatts of ultraviolet light. If you multiply this over hundreds of thousands of candles over centuries, and it is an intolerable environment for a painting. That much ultraviolet light should destroy any painting. It is not a painting though, at least by human hands. Numerous people also touched the image.
In 1791, roughly when the French Revolution happened and the Mona Lisa was moved to the Louvre, the Gold and Silver Frame around the Image of Guadalupe was being cleaned. The image was miraculously preserved when Nitric Acid used to clean the Gold and Silver spilled onto the image. The only trace of this disaster is what appears to be a watermark.
The image is 479 years old, yet the image cannot be reproduced. The colours are as vibrant today as 79 years ago, as vibrant as they were 479 years ago. The fibers of the Tilma are as pliable now as a new Tilma, despite its age.

On Monday the 14th of November 1921, in the midst of Government Anti-Catholic activity, Mass was being said in the Basilica of Guadalupe. at 10:30 AM a bomb, placed by a Mexican government agent, Luciano Perez, went off right below the Image of Guadalupe. The bomb had been hidden in a wreath of flowers, and heavily damaged a nearby Altar, and much of the surrounding masonry.

A Bronze and Iron Cross right underneath the Image was bent over by the explosion, so powerful was the blast, as can be seen above. The image of Guadalupe was untouched, with even the thin glass that was in front of the image undamaged. Miraculously, none of the faithful who were present at the Mass were injured either. As a side note, After having ascertained that everyone was alright, Father Juan Bautista Rangel Avila had a Server summon the police, and then continued to say Holy Mass.
This is just a brief, very brief history of the Mona Lisa, and the Image of Guadalupe. They are both roughly the same age. One is one of the most famous paintings in the world, having received the attention of the world's Art experts, and roughly 20 million dollars worth of restoration.
The other, we Catholics hold to be the image of Our Blessed Lady, is an image that is on Ayate fibers from the Maguey plant. The Tilma should have disintegrated about 460 years ago, had been exposed to the Salt Marshes of Mexico City, had countless people touch it, was exposed for 160 years without protection, had acid spilled on it, and survived a Terrorist Bomb.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Feast of Christ the King, 2012

Sunday the 28th of October is the Feast of Christ the King, D. N. Jesu Christi Regis. It was instituted as a double of the First Class with the encyclical Quas Primas by Pope Pius XI. If you have not read it, it is worth taking the time to do so (Read it here).

Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King on the Last Sunday in October, the Sunday that immediately precedes the Feast of All Saints.  Up until 1969, this remained so until it was moved to the Last Sunday of the Year, the Sunday before a new year begins with the First Sunday of Advent. Although the eschatological importance of the Kingship of Christ is somewhat made clearer by this change, it was in fact obscured in some peoples minds. The Kingship of Christ does not begin at the end of the world, as signified by putting it at the end of the year. The Kingship of Christ began even before he ascended into Heaven, for the Lord said that, "All power is given to me in Heaven and in Earth. (Mt 28:18)"Our obligation to submit to our King and his Laws and Commandments does not begin when he returns, but actually began when Jesus ascended into Heaven.

Changing the date for the Feast of Christ the King breaks the relationship of the King and his subjects; in this case between Christ and his Saints. Changing the Feast to the Last Sunday leads some to believe that Christ is not King now, and that we do not need to recognize him as such, not in the interior forum, nor in the public square.  Changing the Feast to the Last Sunday has lead some to declare that Jesus will eventually be our King at the end of time. In other words, changing the date of the Feast defeats the very purpose of the Feast of Christ the King, to pray for the conversion of the world to the One True Church, and that the world conforms to the Laws and Commandments given to us by Jesus Christ the King.

We can relate this Feast of Christ the King to history and to our current situation. Right at the point in history when Pope Pius XI wrote Quas Primas, the Church in México underwent a tremendous persecution that had been brewing for a very long time. Many of the Faithful were martyred, including St. Cristóbal Magallanes and his Companions, and famously, Blessed Miguel Pro Juárez. The state (Cesar) tried to supplant Christ the King, and make it so that Catholics in México would not have the freedom to worship Our True King and his Church.

So it is in our time that society would not have us vote as if Christ the King does not rule now in our hearts. We should always act knowing that Christ is King now, not at the end of time with his second Advent.

¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7th: The Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto.  The story of this day is a fascinating one, one that I could not do justice to.

How similar the circumstances appear; The West was facing an onslaught by Islam, but due to various situations and mistrust, the realms that are most threatened cannot come to a common unity to defeat their enemy.

Constantinople had been captured in 1453.  From there, there was a slow march by the Turks towards the heart of Europe. There were various landings by the Turkish Navy in Spain, Italy, Greece, and France. Albania was captured, as well as much African territory from Europe. However, Malta had withstood a siege by the Turks (600 Knights of St. john vs. 30.000 Turks) six years earlier, so the Turks could be defeated.

The Turks were on the march.  The Turks had captured parts of Greece, particularly ports such as Naupactos, known in Italian as Lepanto. the Holy League was formed, made up of Spain, the Papal States, the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa, the Duchy of Savoy, and the Knights of Malta. All of these states contributed various vessels, plus various mercenary forces, so that the entire armada consisted of roughly 205 galleys, and 6 converted Galleasses, merchant ships converted to carry heavy artillery.  All the states saw the Turks as a menace to trade and the security of Europe, and a threat to the Holy Faith itself. The Holy League mustered 13.000 Sailors, along with 28.000 troops. The Turks had an advantage with nearly 300 ships, 13.000 sailors and 35.000 soldiers, led by the commander Ali Pasha.

Don Juan of Austria was the illegitimate son of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the half brother of Phillip II, the King of Spain. He had proved himself as an able leader, and was persuaded by Pope St. Pius V to lead the Holy League into battle. St. Pius V had tried for many months to alert Europe of the coming danger, but many realms were embroiled with the Reformation. Don Juan saw the danger, and even though very young (24!), persuaded others to join him in his doom.

Before the Holy League went into battle, in early October, Don Juan did the unlikely action of having his entire armada fast for three days and to pray for victory.

Ali Pasha was so confident of victory, he sailed at the forefront on his ship the Sultana with his harem.

Many books have been written about this battle. In short, Don Juan sailed right into the heart of the Turkish armada. The Venetians sailed right into the Turkish right wing, and crushed it. the Holy League was then able to come around that right side, and encircle the Turks. The battle took 5 hours. between 12.000 to 15.000 Christian slaves and rowers on the Turkish Galleys were delivered unto freedom. The Turks left with about 70 ships.

The Holy Father that day was praying the Rosary in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Whether the Holy Father had a vision, it is still unclear, but around the time Don Juan had gained victory around 4 in the afternoon, Pope St. Pius ordered that Masses of Thanksgiving be offered, and that the Confraternity of the Rosary proceed immediately to Roman Churches to pray.

Some historians report that just before Don Juan left to lead the Holy League, King Phillip of Spain presented him with a small painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This apparition had just happened less than 40 years before in the Spanish territory of Mexico. This painting was placed in the chapel of the admiral vessel of Giovanni Andrea Doria, the Admiral from Genoa. The painting can still be seen above the High Altar in the church of Santo Stefano d'Aveto, in the chapel of Madonna di Guadalupe near Genoa, Italy (Tried looking for a picture, but no success: Will keep looking, as this might be one of the oldest images of Guadalupe in Europe).

Pope St. Pius later that year declared that every October 7th, a commemoration of the Rosary would be a part of the Mass at the Vatican, and would be know as Our Lady of Victory. Two years later, Pope Gregory XIII established the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary and extended it to all Churches throughout the world that had Altars dedicated to the Rosary. In 1671, it was extended to all of Spain. After another vitory over the Muslims in Hungary in 1716, Pope Clement extended the Feast of the Rosary to the Universal Church.

Today, many forget why we have this Feast in our Calendar. Those who would bring terror to our country do not forget, so we should not forget the Rosary nor Our Lady on her day. It was through her intercession that victory was given to the Holy League that day. May we continue to seek her intercession.

Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eddie! 2012

Or, why we should rename this blog:

The Kramer Birthday blog!

Now on to the next birthday cake in a series of eighteen.  I think.

Happy Birthday, Eddie!

Can you believe that we first met you almost five years ago?   You have gotten so big in that time! You're like nearly six feet tall, now. Who gave you permission to grow so big?

Well, sorry we cannot be with you on your birthday, so here is a cake that looks like a submarine, because we know how to like to play with submarines.  Also, it's not on fire.

We out here in California wish you a happy birthday, and hope you get plenty of cake, nice presents to unwrap, and a good time with your family.

May God grant you many years to love and serve him, and may your patrons, St Joseph and St. Placid and Companions intercede for you. You are a good father, and even though humility prevents and protects you from saying so, you are a good role model of a Catholic husband, father, and friend.

I say "Happy," you say "birthday!"



Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Cecilia!: Once Upo A Unicorn

Happy Birthday, Cecilia!

A very Happy Birthday to our favorite Goddaughter, whose birthday is today already!

We know that a very special friend arrived for your birthday, and we thought you would like to know a little bit about her story.  

The Story of Rainbow Unicorn!

A Birthday Story For Cecilia

Hi!  I am your new pet Unicorn!

For a long time, I lived in this toy store with lots of other pillow pets.  We were all waiting for someone to take us home.

Pick me!  Pick me!

Hurray!  Today someone picked me!  They took me to their house.  I wondered who I was for?

They had some kids there, I wondered if I was for one of them?

"I'm cute!  Is it for me?"

"It feels comfy!"

 "Rainbow Unicorn and I are drawing a Chibi!"

The kids really liked me, but it turns out I wasn’t for any of them.  I found out I was going to be a birthday present!  How exciting!  I get to surprise a little girl who is hoping for unicorn just like me! 

But the little girl I would be surprising lived far away.  Too far away to drive in a car.  I was going to have to travel by box.

I wasn’t sure if I would like being in the box at first.  It seemed kind of cramped in there.

But it was actually quite cozy.

Before they packed me up, I had some fun with the family.  I went to the California Rodeo, and i went to In-N-Out Burger.  Then I did the evening weather and had to see for myself where I was going.  Then I went to Big Sur, but it was foggy, and finally to a San José Earthquakes game.  I think Uncle Juan is kind of silly, don’t you?

Now I’m on my way. 

I can’t wait until you open my box so I can meet you.  Also, I could use some air.

We wish we could be there for your birthday, but enjoy these digital Rainbow Unicorn Cookies.  They are delicious!

Uncle Juan, Aunt Heather, and the kids, Ramón, Mónica, Nicholas and Lizzie all want me to wish you a happy birthday and to let you know that they love you very much!

And every time you hug me, you’ll be getting some of their love.

Happy Birthday, Cecilia!  May God bless you on your second anniversary of when you came into this world.  You make it special by your presence, and you are a joy and gift to your mommy and daddy.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"He must increase, and I must decrease": The Feast of St. John the Baptist

June 24th is the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

Normally, we as Catholics celebrate the dies natalis, or birthday in Heaven of a Saint, Meaning the day of their death.  There are two notable exceptions in the Calendar of the Catholic Church.  One is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord, and St. John the Baptist.  June 24th is the day we commemorate his birth.  The day we observe his beheading and martyrdom is the 29th of August. If we add in various other days in the Eastern Catholic Calendar, St. John the Baptist has 6 days dedicated to him, one of the few Saints to have multiple Feast days.

Why so many days for St. John the Baptist? What is so special?

From these here on out, the days are beginning to grow shorter. This feast day is in a sense, a midsummer's Christmas Eve. This day holds so much promise, the birth of a babe to barren parents. The true prodigy is still yet to come, a babe born of a Virgin, indeed the Saviour of the world on Christmas Day.

From the very beginning, God and Holy Mother Church bring about with thoughtful care many such parallels between the two Solemnities of the birth of St. John and the birth of the Lord. Just as the Angel announced to barren parents that they would conceive, the Angel also announces to Mary that she would bear a child.  St. John, just like in many statues in our Churches, is always pointing to the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, "Behold, this is he! The one whose sandalstraps, I am not worthy to loosen!"

Ut Queant Laxis is the first line of a hymn in honor of St. John the Baptist. The Roman Breviary divides it into three parts and assigns the first, "Ut queant laxis" to Vespers. The second, "Antra deserti teneris sub annis", to Matins, the early morning prayer. The third, "O nimis felix, meritique celsi", to Lauds. Authorship of the hymn is generally credited to Paulus Diaconus, a Benedictine monk who lived in Lombardy during the 8th Century. A popular story amongst the Benedictines is that Paul the Deacon was to chant the Exsultet for Easter, but had a hoarse voice. Being as the Father of the Baptist lost his voice for disbelief with the birth of his son, Paul the Deacon prayed to St. John the Baptist that his voice be restored enough to chant for the Easter Vigil.

The hymn is written in Sapphic stanzas, meaning a type of poetry written over four lines. This first line is famous in the history of music for the reason that the notes of the melody correspond with the first six notes of the diatonic scale of C. This fact led to the syllabic naming of the notes as Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, as may be shown by capitalizing the initial syllables of the lines:

UT queant laxis
REsonare fibris
MIra gestorum
FAmuli tuorum,
SOLve polluti
LAbii reatum, Sancte Ioannes.

The UT has been replaced by DO as that has an open sound that is easier. So even is you have not heard much of this hymn to the Baptist, you know something of it, as we now have Do Re Mi from it.

Here is a Slide Show of images of Mission San Juan Bautista in California set to Ut Queant Laxis as chanted by the Schola Sanctae Sunnivae & Hartkeriana.

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum,
Solve polluti labii reatum,
Sancte Iohannes!

Nuntius celso veniens Olympo
te patri magnum fore nasciturum,
nomen et vitae seriem gerendae
ordine promit.

Ille promissi dubius superni
perdidit promptae modulos loquelae;
sed reformasti genitus peremptae
organa vocis.

Ventris abstruso positus cubili
senseras regem thalamo manentem,
hinc parens nati meritis uterque
abdita pandit.

Laudibus cives celebrant superni
te, Deus simplex pariterque trine,
supplices ac nos veniam precamur:
parce redemptis! Amen.

So that these your servants can,
with all their voice, to sing your wonderful feats,
clean the blemish of our spotted lips.
O Saint John!

An angel came from the heavens
to announce your father
the greatness of your birth,
dictating your name and destination.

He (Zacarias) doubted of these divine promises
and was deprived of the use of the speech;
but when you were born it recovered
the voice that had lost.

Still locked in your mother's breast,
you felt the King's presence housed in the vestal womb.
And prophet, before being born,
you revealed this mystery to your parents.

Now as the Angels celebrate thy praises,
Godhead essential, Trinity co-equal ;
Spare thy redeemed ones, as they bow before thee,
Pardon imploring. Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to Fr. Anthony and Teresa, 2012!

Today we bring out our official Mendoza Blog virtual birthday cake for our favorite Byzantine Catholic priest and our favorite mother of our favorite God-daughter.  Here is a Half Dome Cake.  Half Dome for our favourite camping family, and for a Priest who shows us the beauty of the Lord everytime we are at Divine Liturgy.
Thank you Father Anthony, for your Priesthood, for the Sacraments you bring us, and for being an alter Christus to us. When you celebrate Divine Liturgy, it is with great solemnity. When you show your humor, it makes us all laugh. You are a great example of what a Priest should be. You make us desire Jesus, and to aspire to holiness. Happy Birthday, Father!

Thank you Teresa, for being a great friend, even with such a great distance between us. You are a good mother to your children, in imitation of our Blessed Mother, and a good example of a Christian. Thanks for choosing us to be God-parents to one of your children. May God bless you, and may the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe watch over you.

May God bless you both, and have a blessed birthday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pentecost Ember Days, 2012: May 30th, June 1st and 2nd

What are the Ember Days? The Ember Days of Pentecost are this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. In fact, Ember days occur four times during the year. Some who are younger or converts may have never heard of Ember Days. They were once quite important in the life of a Catholic.

Where does the word, Ember, come from? In English, The word "ember" comes from the Anglo-Saxon ymbren, which means a circuit or revolution, to go around in a circle, relating to the annual cycle of the year, having to do with the seasons (from ymb, around, and ryne, a course, running). In Spanish, there is no equivalent word, so this was translated as “De Témporas.” Some think that the name Ember comes from the Latin title of “Quatour Temporum,” but it is disputed. For English, the Anglo-Saxon derivation is more likely.

The Ember Days are fasting days, so they have a penitential character to them. Pope Leo the Great (died 461) called these days the “ieiunia quatuor temporum,” the Fast of the Four Seasons. These days always occurred at the time the seasons changed. So on these days, we would ask for special blessings for the events that happened during this time, such as a harvest.

In the Old Testament, there were times of fasting proscribed for the Jews (Zechariah 8:19). There was also a Jewish custom at the time of Our Lord Jesus Christ of fasting every Tuesday and Thursday. Very early on, Christians amended these customs. Wednesday became a day of Fast because it was the day that Christ was betrayed (Luke 22), and Friday because it was the day Jesus gave up his flesh for us. Saturday as well became a day of fast as the Romans saw it as the culmination of the Ember Week. Pope Gelasius I also saw Ember Saturday as the day to confer Holy Orders, since Apostolic Tradition prescribed that ordinations be preceded by fasting and prayer (Act 13:3).

The Jewish seasonal fasts and the Catholic Ember Days invite us to consider the wonder of the natural seasons and their dependence and relation to God. The lessons that are read on these days remind us of the cycle of nature and even more, the story of our redemption. Traditionally, these times were seen as periods of spiritual exercise and self-examination, a precursor to modern retreats and missions.

When do these Ember days occur? They are on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, four times a year. In the Church year, they happen after the first Sunday of Lent, around Pentecost, after Holy Cross, then after St. Lucy, the 13th of December. There is a Latin mnemonic device to help remember when the Ember Days fell.

Dant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angariâ quarta sequens feria.

“Holy Cross, Lucy, Ashes (Lent), and Pentecost
are the days of Fasting and Emberings."

Besides the penitential nature of these days, the Masses for these days are slightly different. On Wednesday, there are extra lessons before the Gospel, and on Saturday there are six lessons (seven on Ember Saturday in Advent). Readings that are read on Ember days are about the seasons. As an example, during Ember Saturday in September, we hear about harvests, and how we should be grateful to God for them. You could regulate your life by the Church calendar, such as when to plant crops. In relation, there would be blessings all through the year. On the Feast of St. John the Baptist, there was a blessing for Bonfires. Why not? All the branches from the trees and harvests would be dry and ready for kindling.

The fasting regulation for the Ember Days was only one full meal on Ember days, and on Ember Friday, no meat either was eaten, just like Ash Wednesday or Good Friday (1917 CIC 1252). To look at the other lung of the Catholic Church, the Eastern part, there are fasts throughout the year, such as one before the Dormition (Assumption) of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and no Meat, Oil, Eggs, or Milk during Lent.

Currently the Ember Day partial fast is a penitential option (not a requirement) under current law. No one is obliged to observe the Ember Days. However, it is a beautiful step on the road to recovery of our Catholic identity. We can do what we did in the past, such as pray for the children to be born in the next three months, for a bountiful harvest, for many holy priests to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, do alms-giving and other penitential and charitable acts, and prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Let us especially pray for our priests and our Bishop, Richard Garcia, for without priests, we do not have the Sacraments. Without our Bishop, we do not have communion with the Pope, the Vicar of Christ. Let these Ember Days be especially oriented for Priests and Bishops of the Diocese for the upcoming Year of the Priest.

All things have their season,and in their times all things pass under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal.
A time to destroy, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather.
A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to get, and a time to lose.
A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew.
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (DRV)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Feast of the Mexican Martyrs: May 21st, 2012

A martyr is one who witnesses to the truth of our faith even to the point of death. It requires great courage and great faith for someone to become a martyr, but even more importantly, it requires tremendous love. It is for this very reason that Jesus said: “There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friend.”

In the two decades following the Mexican Revolution of 1910-20, a rabidly anticlerical government waged an ongoing war against Catholicism, confiscating church property, expelling missionaries and closing Catholic schools and seminaries. The Church hierarchy opposed the Mexican Revolution and bishops suspended services in the country to protest the increasing restrictions that Mexico’s new national government placed on the Church. They placed the entire country under interdict.

Catholic priests, laymen and Knights of Columbus joined a rebellion movement, the Cristeros ("Christers"), in response to the Mexican government’s actions. Dedicated to “Cristo Rey” (Christ the King), scores of those involved in with the Cristeros were killed defending their faith. The number of Priests in each state were also limited. In the state of Tabasco, only one Priest was allowed for the entire state. Priests and Nuns wee forced to marry. Bombs wwere set off in the Cathedrals of Guadalajara and Morelia. Priests and laypersons alike were ordered to publicly denounce their faith; those who refused were tortured and executed. By the time it was over, upwards of 50,000 Catholics were dead.
Here ever so briefly, is the list of the 25 Mexican Martyrs Canonized by Pope John Paul II on the 21st of May 2000 in the Jubilee year. They collectively have the Feast Day of the 25th of May after the Primary Saints' Birthday in Heaven, their dies natalis.

St. Cristobal Magallanes Jara (parish priest, started secret seminaries, shot to death alongside St. Agustin Caloca in Colotitlan, Jalisco, Mexico on 25 May 1927)

St. Julio Alvarez Mendoza (priest, shot to death in San Julian, Jalisco on March 30,1927)

St. Agustin Caloca (priest, seminary prefect, shot to death along with St. Cristobal Magallanes Jara in Colotitlán, Jalisco on 25, Mayo 1927)
St. Atilano Cruz Alvarado (parish priest, shot to death in Teocaltiche, Jalisco on 1, July 1928)

St. David Galvan Bermudez (priest, seminary instructor, shot by firing squad in Guadalajara, Jalisco on 30, January 1915)

St. David Roldan Lara (layman, officer of "Catholic Action" and a religious liberty league, shot to death at age 21 in Suchil, Durango on 15, August 1926 along with St. Salvador Lara Puente)

St. David Uribe Velasco (parish priest, shot to death in San José Vistahermosa, Morelia on 12, April 1927)

St. Jenaro Sanchez Delgadillo (parish priest, hanged from a tree in Tecolotlán, Jalisco on 17, October 1927)

St. Jesus Mendez Montoya (parish priest, shot to death in Valtierrilla, Guanajuato on 5, February 1928)

St. Jose Isabel Flores Varela (parish priest, tortured, throat cut, in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco on 21, June 1927)

St. Jose Maria Robles Hurtado (parish priest, founded women's Congregation of Victims of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, hanged in the hills of Quila, Jalisco on 26, June 1927)

St. Justino Orona Madrigal (parish priest, founded Poor Clare Sisters of the Sacred Heart, shot to death in Cuquío, Jalisco on 1, July 1928)

St. Luis Batiz Sainz (parish priest, seminary's spiritual director, shot by firing squad in San Miguel del Mezquital, Zacatecas on 15, August 1926)

St. Manuel Morales (layman, father of three, officer of "Catholic Action" and a religious liberty league, shot to death in Sombrerete, Zacatecas on 15, August 1926)

St. Margarito Flores Garcia (parish priest, shot to death in Atenango del Río, Guerrero,on 12, November 1927)

St. Mateo Correa Magallanes (parish priest, gave First Communion to Bl. Miguel Pro, shot to death in Durango, Durango on 6, February 1927)

St. Miguel de la Mora de la Mora (priest, shot by firing squad in Colima, Colima on 7, August 1927)

St. Pedro Esqueda Ramirez (parish priest, catechist of children, shot to death in Teocaltitlán, Jalisco on 22, November 1927)

St. Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero (parish priest, promoter of nocturnal adoration, blinded and beaten to death in Santa Isabel, Chihuahua on 11, February 1937)

St. Rodrigo Aguilar Aleman (parish priest, poet, hanged in Ejutla, Jalisco on 28, October 1927)

St. Roman Adame Rosales (parish priest, founded Daughters of Mary of Nocturnal Adoration, shot to death in Nochistlan, Zacatecas on 21, April 1927)

St. Sabás Reyes Salazar (Parish priest, tortured and shot to death in Tototlán, Jalisco on Holy Wednesday, 13, April 1927)

St. Salvador Lara Puente (layman, officer of "Catholic Action" and a religious liberty league, shot to death at age 21 in Suchil, Durango on 15, August 1926 along with St. David Roldan Lara)

St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez (parish priest, shot to death at age 27 in Tequila, Jalisco on 25, February 1928)

St. Tranquilino Ubiarco (parish priest, hanged at age 28 in Tepatitlán, Jalisco on 5, October 1928)

There were many more Priests and laypeople who were martyred. This first group was canonized in 2000. In 2005, another group of Martyrs specifically from the Archdiocese of Guadalajara was beatified. Collectively they do not have a Feast Day yet, although it could be anticipated to be the 1st of April. A list of them follows;

Bl. Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, and seven companions (Anacleto was a laymen, married, member of Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM), would give up information where Bishop Orozco y Jimenez was in hiding, tortured and feet slashed, shot in Tepatitlán, Jalisco on 1, April 1927 with José Dionisio Luis Padilla Gómez and Vargas González brothers below)

Bl. José Dionisio Luis Padilla Gómez (Layman, promoter of Eucharistic Adoration, member of Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM), shot in Tepatitlán, Jalisco on 1, April 1927 with Anacleto Gonzalez Flores and Vargas González brothers)

Bl. Jorge and Bl. Ramón Vargas González (Laymen, gave refuge to Priests, members of Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM), tortured and shot in Tepatitlán, Jalisco on 1, April 1927 with Anacleto Gonzalez Flores and José Dionisio Luis Padilla Gómez)
Bl. José Luciano Ezequiel Huerta Gutiérrez (Laymen, Father of 10, tortured and shot in Tepatitlán, Jalisco on 3, April 1927 with his brother Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez)

Bl. Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez (Layman, Father of 12, tortured and shot in Tepatitlán, Jalisco on 3, April 1927 with his brother José Luciano Ezequiel Huerta Gutiérrez)

Bl. Miguel Gómez Loza (Layman, Lawyer and defender of Catholic rights, shot near Atotonilco, Jalisco on 21, March 1928)

Bl. Luis Magaña Servín (Layman, shot in Arandas, Jalisco on 9 February 1928. He took the place of his brother who was going to be shot.)

Along with this group of Companions are the following;
Bl. Jose Trinidad Rangel Montaño (Priest, tortured and shot in Rancho de San Joaquín, Guanajuato 25 April 1927 along with Bl. Andres Sola Molist and Bl. Leonardo Perez Larios)

Bl. Andres Sola y Molist (Priest, tortured and shot in Rancho de San Joaquín, Guanajuato 25 April 1927 along with Bl. Jose Trinidad Rangel Montaño and Bl. Leonardo Perez Larios)

Bl. Leonardo Perez Larios (Layman, arrested for assisting at Mass of Fr. Sola, tortured and shot in Rancho de San Joaquín, Guanajuato 25 April 1927 along with Bl. Jose Trinidad Rangel Montaño and Bl. Andres Sola Molist)

Bl. Dario Acosta Zurita (Priest, shot in Veracruz, Veracruz on 25 July 1931 exactly three months after his ordination as a Priest)

And fourteen-year-old, Bl. Jose Sanchez del Río (Youth, followed his older brothers into battle to defend the Faith. Captured and tortured in a church Sacristy. Forced to watch an execution. Had feet slashed and forced to walk on salt to cemetery in Sahuayo, Michoacán on 10, February 1928)

There are many more people who were martyred for the Faith in Mexico who are honoured for the ultimate sacrifice that they gave during this time. One of them is Blessed Father Miguel Pro Juarez, SJ. It is important to note that he was not a Cristero but was in fact a pacifist, who was an underground Priest who baptized and secretly celebrated the Sacraments for the Faithful in and around Mexico City. He even studied briefly at the Jesuit novitiate that was once in the hills of Los Gatos near San Jose, CA. His is a famous story, but here is how his life ended. He was falsely accused of an assasination attempt on former President Obregon of Mexico, and arrested along with his two brothers. Without trial they were sentenced to execution. President Calles ignored a court order delaying the execution, and on the morning of November 23, 1927 Father Pro along with one of his brothers was shot while holding his arms in the form of a Cross, and saying, "Viva Cristo Rey! (Long Live Christ the King!)" It is believed to be the only martyrdom captured on film although the film is still hidden in Mexican government archives, and was photographed as well.
President Calles wanted plenty of photographs of this execution so as to discourage the Catholic population.
Not content with having fired a volley of bullets into Father Pro, another soldier went up to the body, and fired another shot into his head. The next day, over thirty thousand people were in the streets of Mexico City for the funeral.
There are yet other martyrs in Mexico of whom we know died heroically and as martyrs, but for various reasons, their cause for Sainthood to be recognized on Earth has not been advanced, even though they may surely be Saints in Heaven. Of some, there does not exist enough information. The photograph at the top of this post is of Father Francisco Vera, Parish Priest of parish of Sangre y Cuerpo de Cristo (Parish of the Blood and Body of Christ, or Corpus Christi) in the city of Jalostotitlan, Jalisco. While secretly saying Mass, Father Vera was discovered. Allowing his flock to escape, Father Vera was sentenced to death for the crime of being a Priest.

He was not allowed to take off his vestments. The photograph exists solely because the captain of the squad wanted to prove how zealous he was in the persecution of Catholics, so he had this photograph taken of Father Vera taken right before the volley of bullets struck him, and sent to President Calles. The best that this incident can be dated is to around early April of 1927. The faithful of the parish several years afterwards report that Septuagesima had begun, but that Father Vera was dead before Easter of that year. His body was dumped in a refuse pile outside of down and further desecrated.

Father Vera and others like him who were martyred do not have a case open for them for Sainthood, because there were no witnesses to his martyrdom other than those who executed him. In the case of martyrdom, the Church accepts the testimony of those who out of hatred, martyred someone for the Faith. Alessandro Serenelli, the murderer of St. Maria Goretti, was present at her Canonization, and had given testimony in her cause. In the case of Father Vera, there were no witnesses to his martyrdom, only a haunting picture of a 70 year old Priest, holding his hands in prayer, his back to the Church wall. He is still vested for Mass, the vestments indicating he is a Priest. You can clearly see his Maniple, the symbol of Christ's chains that bound him on that last day. This picture, that was taken to discourage Catholics, should instead give us joy. Tertullian said that the Blood of Christians is seed (Semen est sanguis Christianorum, Apolegeticum, 50, 13). We shall conquer in dying. Father Vera may not ever be raised to the Altars of the Church as St. Cristobal Magallanes, but we can be cetain that he died as a Priest, as an Alter Christus.

Someday, we will be able to paste into our Missals the Masses for new Saints that are on our Altars, such as St. Maximillan Kolbe. For these Mexican Martyrs, because of the date of, it will more than likely be a Third Class Feast along with St. Gregory that same day. The Mass will either be "Intret" if outside of Eastertide, or "Sancti Tui" if within. Do however, think of these and the other martyrs who have been the seed for our Faith. Know that this is a real Mexican holiday, unlike Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a temporary victory over an occupying army that eventually beat Mexico anyway, and amounted for nothing. The Martyrs of Mexico (and all martyrs) are the eternal triumph of Jesus Christ the King over Satan. We shall conquer in dying. That counts for everything.

All information is taken from the Vatican website, and from various books, among them;
La Cristiada by Jean Meyer, 3 Vol.
El Clamor de la Sangre by Joaquin Blanco Gil
Los Martires Mexicanos by Fr. Joaquin Cardoso, SJ

Happy Feast Day of the Mexican Martyrs!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kramer Sighting! California Desert Edition

It had been a while since we had had a Kramer sighting, but lo and behold, we had one in the Mojave Desert!

we were driving north from Joshua Tree National Park to Boron, CA (more on that later), when we came upon a sight that said we were only 7 miles away form Kramer Junction.  An entire Junction dedicated to our second favorite family (Sorry, you lost out to the Holy Family, but you can try again  next year!)?  What could we expect to see there?  A naval installation?  The Oklahoma Expatriate Museum?  Something related to the Oklahoma Sooners?  A tornado perhaps?  We wew really close!  And Los Ángeles is three hours away, and the whole Coachella Valley and and the Inland Empire is right over those hills!

What's that you say?  Were in the middle of the desert?  There's not much out here?  That that is the reason Edwards Air Force Base is out here, because of the lack of people?  Well, I think I am about to prove you wrong!


Kramer Junction (also known as Kramer Corner) is apparently a wide spot in the road, the intersection of Hwys 58 and 395?  DARN!

Apparently there is no significant oil around, no Oklahoma monuments, Grapes of Wrath statues to all the people whole came from the Dust Bowl area.  There weren't even any gi-normous white vans the size of the retired space shuttles.  Just a whole lot of truck traffic between Las Vegas and Los Ángeles, and Reno.  Gas was a bit cheaper here, but we had a late start, and lunch was awaiting us in Boron.

No Kramers.

Oh well!  We'll see them soon enough anyways at some point.  Meanwhile, we will keep a lookout for this intrepid family, and hopefully we will see them around California at some point.  Keep a lookout while we continue...


Super Moon, May 5th, 2012

The Moon made a somewhat closer approach to Earth on the evening of May 5th earlier this month.  Here is a picture from our backyard of the Moon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Salton Sea and Joshua Tree National Park

After leaving San Diego we made our way inland and down into the desert.  We stopped at the Salton Sea.  It was kind of a strange place.  Salton Sea Beach is an almost abandoned town, many of the buildings empty and falling apart.  It turns out the eastern shore is the much nicer side, but too far out of the way of our trip.  At least we got a look at the sea.

The salt content of the Salton Sea is much higher than the ocean which is one reason it never caught on as a big tourist attraction, another reason may be the beaches littered with fishbones.

  Just throw your towel down right there.

Pelicans out on the water...

and seagulls.  Mine?

After a couple more hours of driving, and finding an Indian casino where our GPS told us a MacDonald's was supposed to be, and a stop at a WalMart in La Quinta for some last minute camping supplies, we made it to Joshua Tree National Park.  Of course, we put the kids in front of the sign to prove that we  were there.

Our first stop was a short nature trail, where we learned the names of many of the plants found in the park.

Watch out for snakes!

Go ahead, touch it!  I dare you!

The desert just goes on and on.  Then there are some mountains, and then some more desert.  Right below is the Pinto Basin in Joshua Tree.  This is the border between the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts.  The Mojave Desert is higher in elevation, and different types of flora and fauna.

Cholla cactus up close.  Just brushing it lightly can cause it's needles to embed themselves in your skin.  Only the cactus wren can land on it safely.

The titular Joshua Tree.  They can only grow at certain elevations and certain climates, but here they were all over the place.

This one is about as big as they get before they fall over under their own weight.

Our trusty and much abused van.

We were running late all day, but we made it to the campground just ahead of sunset, so we didn't have to put up the tents in the dark, but it was close.

The night sky at Joshua Tree can be spectacular if the air is clear, and fortunately it was for us.  Juan got some awesome pictures of the night sky.  Click on any of the pictures to get a larger view.

The two brightest stars seen here are the planets Venus and Jupiter.  Higher in the sky, you can see the Pleiades (a sort of bright fish hook shaped group of stars)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Welcome To Legoland 2012!

So welcome to the highlight of the trip fr some of the children!  Welcome to Jurassic Park!

Oh, wait, tht wasn't real.  That was some book by Michael Crichton.  

Read it, it was better than the movie anyways.

Welcome to Legoland!

If you love Legos, then you will love this park, based and themed on all things Lego.  This is our second visit here, and we have had so much fun here.  Not the least of which is that they give a HUGE discount for homeschoolers.  On Mondays during the school year, each person gets in for 25 dollars.  This is such a bargain, as we saw a family right in from of us shell out over 500 dollars for a family of six.  We got in for 150 dollars for our entire party.

While the rides are not to the thrill standards of say, Magic Mountain, Cedar Point or Disneyland, it is perfectly fine as an intro to park rides, and it is not as crowded as some of its southern California Theme Park neighbours.

Welcome, to Jurassic Park!

Our obligatory "picture at the entrance to something."

A thing they seem to be doing at parks all over is to do a "soft opening," where part of the park will be open while the rest of the park is still closed.  Leogland had its scariest looking employee guarding the entrance to Miniland and the roller coasters.  I reckon 500 kids could take him on.  Anyways, at least we were in, and we got on the first ride that was open...

the Boat Tour!

It takes around to see some of the Lego creations that have made here.

Life-size Elephant.

The Taj Mahal.

Mount Rushmore.


More Jousting!

One of the rides that turned out to be one of the favourites was the Aqua Zone.  The kids had a blast here.

Elsewhere, we have posted about our previous vist to Legoland.  here are some of the sights that we saw this time at Miniland.  Iwo Jima above.

The Lego fan in the family being forced-choked by the dark lord, Chad Vader.

A new addition to Miniland is Star Wars.  The Original Trilogy of the films is finished, and the prequels will be done by late summer.  Here is the Ice planet Hoth.

Imperial attack on the rebels.

The biggest Millennium Falcon you will even see.  This recreation has over 19,000 pieces.

The Cantina scene for "A New Hope."  Han shot first, you know.

Imperial landing pad on Endor.

Imperial Shield Generator.  Why not have a back-up?

Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

San Francisco skyline in Lego.

Finally, it was time for lunch.  Lunch isn't horribly expensive at Legoland.  There is a family pack that includes a whole pizza, drinks with souvenir cups, and salads that is pretty good.  This one pizza place that we like is right near Miniland, and the Lego fan form about 100 yards, spies Lego Darth Vader!  "Can I go?"  "Of course!"  I think he gets there faster than Usain Bolt.  I took a long distance shot, while the oldest daughter got some close ups with her phone.

"Hold still while I point this light Saber at your gut!"

R2-D2 as he was meant to be, in Lego form.


We tried our hand at some boats and found out we can't steer on water either.

I gotta teach her how to drive in a couple of years.

For some reason or another, one of the kids' favourite movies is "Jaws."  So naturally when they saw a Lego shark, they started pretending they were the character, 'Quint.'

This man is clearly not enjoying himself.

I had been waiting to have a coaster buddy for the longest time, and thought i could make my own.  We never got around to getting to roller coasters, so the kids would be a bit intimidated.  This time, the kids discovered that they have a taste for roller coasters, and that they like them!  So now it is will be off to visit even more of the great roller coasters that we have just in northern California.


More water fun!

They have opened up a small Aquarium over at Legoland, and i seems to be a pretty nice place as well.  They had a homeschool event that they had advertised, but we figured that it would be super busy.  Turns out, they had no one show up for the homeschool Aquarium event.  We are going have to sign up next time.

Anyways, the main exhibit was called 'Claws,' so they were focusing on Crabs and Lobsters.  Here the youngest one says that she felt like a fish.

Lighting was a bit weird.  Here is a close-up of this giant Crab they had.

These guys we up to three feet across!  Weird.


They had a tunnel where you could walk underneath the main exhibit.  Very nice.

Mr. Ray out for a spin to the Drop-off.

Finally, another exhibit where one could feel like a fish.

So that was our trip to Legoland for 2012.  We actually did not see much of San Diego.  There is so much to see and do in San Diego.  Mendozas, another trip to San Diego, maybe to visit a friend who will soon live there?

Our next posting will be about going inland to the Salton Sea, and then north to Joshua Tree!