Saint Luis Batiz Saenz was a Mexican Catholic priest who suffered martyrdom at the beginning of the Mexican uprising against the anti-Catholic regime of Plutarco Elías Calles. Luis was born in 1870 in San Miguel del Mezquital, Zacatecas, then in the Archdiocese of Durango. He was said to have been a devout, prayerful, young boy. At age 12 he entered a minor seminary in the archdiocese. He continued his path to the priesthood and was ordained on January 1, 1894. Soon thereafter, Father Luis gained popularity as a confessor and spiritual adviser and accepted an appointment to be the spiritual director of the seminary where he studied. He also had assignments as a parish priest and became pastor of San Pedro parish in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas. Father Luis was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 2367 and employed its organizational model to evangelize and call parishioners of all ages to service in the parish and the community. He also established Catholic elementary schools and technical training programs to encourage skill development among the local populace. Promoting a love for the Eucharist was said to be Father Luis’ first pastoral priority, however, and he spent a great deal of his time integrating the theology of the Eucharist in his religious education of children and his adult faith formation classes. He encouraged adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. In 1926, Mexican president Plutarco Elías Calles, an atheist who was determined to eradicate Catholicism from Mexico, enacted several laws to enforce the anti-Catholic articles of the 1917 Mexican Constitution. He severely restricted the activities of the Church and especially its priests. One such law prohibited public displays of piety and devotion. Another outlawed the wearing of clerical apparel by priests outside of church buildings. On August 14, in the Zacatecas town of Chalchihuites, government agents arrested Father Luis on suspicion of violating the “Calles Laws,” took him to an isolated spot and shot him to death along with three young men belonging to the Mexican Association of Catholic Youths. The murders were among numerous assassinations that ignited reprisals and counter reprisals. The resulting “Cristeros War” would exact a heavy toll on Mexico’s priests, where approximately 4,000 of them were either executed, murdered or expelled from the country. By 1934 there were less than 350 priests in all of Mexico. In the Jubilee year of 2000, Saint John Paul II canonized Father Luis Batiz Saenz along with 24 other Mexicans, mostly priests, who suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Mexican federal authorities during the Cristeros War. May 25 is the feast day of Saint Luis Batiz Saenz.
In today’s Gospel we witness the last evening Jesus spends with his disciples before his death. He has already made it clear that his followers will show their love for him by serving others. To live that kind of love, they will need the active presence of God in their midst. Jesus tells his disciples that he and his Father will come and make their home with them. He also tells them that the Holy Spirit will be among them to teach them and remind them of all that Jesus had taught. Good stewards recognize that God is in their midst and that the Holy Spirit is guiding them. How often do we acknowledge God’s presence in our lives? How often do we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us?
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen! If you’re thinking this greeting comes a little late, since Easter Sunday was April 17, think again. As Catholic Christians, we celebrate the Easter season for seven weeks, until the fires of Pentecost once again inflame our hearts on June 5. Indeed, how could we not continue to celebrate this event that has changed everything for us? It’s easy to slip into a cultural way of thinking about our great feasts. Many people have the Christmas tree taken down at the end of New Year’s Day, rather than waiting for Epiphany. Likewise, most of us have long ago put the Easter decorations away. But the Christian steward is aware of the beauty and meaning of the seasons in the liturgical calendar. The Easter season remains a special time for recommitment to the Lord. One word for this period is “mystagogia,” and those who were newly baptized at the Great Easter Vigil are especially familiar with this term. It literally means that we delve more deeply into the mystery of our faith. But exploring this mystery is not just an endeavor for new Christians. As we prepare for Pentecost, we prayerfully examine what the Resurrection means in our own lives. For Christian stewards, it’s a time to reevaluate how faith in the Risen Lord informs every aspect of our lives – how we labor, how we play, the way we pray, how we allocate our resources, where we spend our time, how we love, how we extend our compassion to others. If Christ is truly risen – an astounding and life-altering belief – then this Easter time brings immense joy and a continuing desire to know the Risen Lord. The Scripture readings of the season are especially helpful. We hear once again the stories of the appearances of Jesus to his friends; how often they failed, initially, to recognize him in his glory. The Acts of the Apostles tell us of the struggles and the excitement of the new community of believers. We spent forty days in the penitential season of Lent. Now, we are embarked on fifty days of joyous celebration. Let us experience this joy throughout the Easter season, so that when we celebrate Pentecost, we may truly find our hearts on fire with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, the “Good Shepherd,” makes a promise in today’s Gospel to those who hear his voice and follow him. He promises them eternal life. Amidst all the other voices that clamor for attention in their daily lives, the voices that make demands, give advice, seek to persuade or like to gossip, Good stewards listen for the Good Shepherd’s voice. The other voices are legion and we do not always recognize how contrary they are to the voice of the Good Shepherd. Good stewards know that it takes a compassionate heart, a habit of prayer, a hunger for the Eucharist and a love of neighbor for them to truly hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. What might we do in our daily lives to prepare us to more authentically hear the voice of the Good Shepherd?
I remember as a young girl being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Without hesitation, I answered that I wanted to be a wife and a mother.
I think part of that came from the vibe of the 50’s and 60’s with stay-at-home moms who vacuumed wearing pearls (just kidding!), sewed kitchen curtains, cooked all meals from scratch (except the once-a-month tv dinner).
And part of it came from my mom personally who, by her actions, showed me how valuable a mother could be in a child’s life.
As I grew older, I aspired to being a culinary scientist or a math teacher. But at the same time, I still had the burning desire/need to be a mom.
After I got married—quite young—we decided to spend some time getting to know each other. One year turned into two, into five, into ten. Finally I couldn’t deny the calling to be a mother, and we started our family.
I remember being asked how I could bring another human being into the mess of today’s world. (Little did they know that it was going to get a lot messier.)
My heartfelt response was that I thought the world would always have its issues, and I wanted to add one more human being who could be part of the solution.
I set about to raise people of faith and good moral standing who could think for themselves and have a desire to make their lives and those around them better.
I will borrow the words my mother said to me once, because they are true for me as well: “I did the best I could and I prayed a lot.” There’s a good chance that you would agree.
Both of my children had meandering paths (I’ve talked about it before), but they always came back around to what is right and what is good. And they never lost track of the value of family.
I love being a mom. I would do anything for my children. They are both adults with spouses (who are wonderful people), careers, real lives. I wasn’t sure how much better it could get.
Until. I. Became. A. Grandparent!
Neal Finnegan McGrane entered my life 10 months ago and I have cherished every moment I share with him. He has brought me such joy and a fullness that I could have never imagined.
My daughter would like a sibling for Neal and asked me if it was hard to juggle two children! Oh yeah! My children were 17.5 month apart. Two in diapers, two with bottles, two in a stroller. And yet, I couldn’t have been happier.
I was told a long time ago that our children are on loan to us. They belong to God and He has entrusted their care to us. I want to wish every mother, grandmother, mother-to-be a Blessed Mother’s Day. As women, we have a special role to be part of the miracle of life. I pray that moms value what a gift it is to be blessed with such a miracle.
- Join or start a summer bible study group.
- Plan an outing with your family.
- Introduce yourself to a fellow parishioner with whom you are unfamiliar.
- Pray for peace on Memorial Day.
- Help a neighbor who is physically unable to clean their yard.
- Invite someone to attend a weekend liturgy with you.
- Make a blood donation.
- Show genuine hospitality to visitors at your church.
- Don’t text when you drive.
- Reduce your stress by getting outside and getting some exercise.
- Drive courteously.
- Make contact with a relative you haven’t seen in a long time.
- Take time to pray each day.
- Treat your family or loved one to a day at the museum.
- Volunteer to participate in a community cleanup effort.
- Make a gift to your diocesan annual appeal.
- Plant flowers, shrubs or trees in a park or other location.
- Collect stuffed animals from friends and neighbors, write messages to tie or clip onto the animals and give them to a local police department to use in comforting children.
- Don’t drive while impaired by alcohol.
- Donate gently used clothing