Friday, June 30, 2006

If i had the misfortune of denying God, I would die of grief (Maria de la Luz Camacho)

Maria de la Luz Camacho, a young single woman, was a member of the Franciscan Third Order. She was also the head of the Catholic Action in her parish. As early as the age of 15, she started teaching children catechism underground. She wanted to be called the “Maria of Coyoacan” after Mary, the sister of Martha, who was one of Jesus’ disciples. She worked tirelessly collecting clothes and funds for the poor, teaching catechism and literacy.

Maria was a young woman, very pretty and vibrant. She loved to act and put on plays. She loved to work with children and taught religion through the organization of the Catholic Action that provided religious formation for young children. She was extremely dedicated and many came to learn from her. She loved the Eucharist and took advantage of any opportunity she could to receive and to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. In 1932 the persecutions began again in Mexico and churches were being set on fire in protest of people practicing their faith. Catholics lived in fear. One night Maria dreamt that she had to choose between dying for her faith and being happy. Her friends asked her, what was her response in the dream and she responded, “God would give the grace to be faithful to him and besides, if I had the misfortune to deny God, I should die of grief.”

In December, 1934, Tomas Garrido Canabal, the former governor of Tabasco, sent young thugs to Coyoacan to burn down the church there. At that time, a children’s mass was going on in the church. On hearing the news, Maria dressed in her best garments. Together with her sister, she rushed to the church to protect it with her own body. The thugs, who were drunk, kept shouting blasphemies. Many people who saw how brave Maria was joined her in protecting the church.. One by one, the children inside the church escaped. A friend of hers asked her to leave, but she wouldn’t. They all began to shout, "Long live Christ the King! Long lives the Virgin of Guadalupe!" But the Reds charged and shouted, 'Long live the Revolution!" and a bullet was shot through her breast. It was reported that she died with peace on her face on the steps of the Church she loved with her life.

Shortly before the firing began, a young man approached the young woman standing so fearlessly in front of the church. "Miss Camacho, please go to safety," he begged with tears in his eyes. He risked censure from his companions, but wasn't this the same lady who, misguided thought she was, had prepared him so lovingly and carefully for his First Communion? Truly, God was only a myth, but Miss Camacho had been kind. He could not bear the thought of killing her, even if her foolish beliefs led her to take such a stand against the power of the state. "Please leave," he begged. Maria refused his tearful request with sad reproachfulness in her beautiful eyes. There were children in the church, and time must be bought for their safety. Her brave stance indicated that any who entered the church with evil intent would do so only over her dead body.

Thousands of people came to her wake. She had been laid on a bed of flowers and the priest who had known her so well told the people not to cry and reminded them that she had entered heaven and was now interceding for them. She was a martyr. The archbishop of Mexico, His Excellency D. Pascal Diaz Barreto said at her funeral, “Hail to the first martyr of the Catholic action!” “Hail,” the crowd repeated, “Viva Cristo Rey!” Maria lived the motto of the Mexican Catholic Action to the fullest, “Apostolate, Eucharist, and Bravery.”


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