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'A Great Apostle of Charity'
Columbia ^ | February 2007 | Tim S. Hickey

Posted on 02/11/2007 7:51:49 PM PST by Coleus

Father Rafael González, postulator of the cause for sainthood of Bishop Rafael Guízar Valencia of Veracruz, Mexico, was interviewed for the February issue of Columbia. Additional questions and answers not included in the print edition are published here.

altHow did you learn about Bishop Rafael Guízar Valencia?

Father González: My family has had a devotion to him for many years, since my childhood. During the persecution, St. Rafael hid in my grandparents’ house. My grandmother would cook for him and all his priests. The last retreat he preached was in my grandparents’ house and there were 40 priests present. Every blessing in our family we attributed to his intercession.  His cause for sainthood was opened in 1951. There were two postulators before me, but I was serving during the time of his beatification in 1995 and his canonization last October.

Was he a popular figure in the Church in Mexico prior to his cause for sainthood being opened?

Yes, he was very well known because the Guízar family was very famous. He had an outstanding life in the Mexican episcopate because of his work for the peace, and he founded a newspaper called La Nación (the nation). His brother, whom he consecrated, was a bishop of Chihuahua.  St. Rafael intervened as a priest in episodes of the Mexican Revolution and opposed the Cristero war. He never agreed to weapons being used as the solution to the religious conflict between the faithful and the government. He always insisted that peace was the only weapon that would find the solution to religious freedom in Mexico, but never the weapons. He never backed the Cristero war. He was even criticized by other bishops of his time for not supporting the Cristeros. In Veracruz, he stopped many violent demonstrations, but he never used the weapons to defend the Catholic faith.

How did you become the postulator for his cause?

About 20 years ago I was the dean of the minor seminary here in Jalapa, and one day the archbishop called me and asked me to see him. I was really surprised when he told me that he wanted me to take responsibility for the cause of Bishop Guízar. My predecessor was getting older and could not travel, so he really couldn’t continue with the process of canonization. I had studied Chuch law and had taken courses in the saints at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The archbishop asked me to leave the next day for Rome, because progress on the cause had stopped.  I really felt in trouble. Our people wanted the beatification, and it was announced that it was coming soon and that was not true. We had false expectations. To take the cause under those conditions was really hard; I had to work under pressure. That was good because it made me work hard. I could not work full time on that because priests here are not “full time” for anything [besides being priests], because there are so few of us.

When was his cause opened?

The process started in 1951 as a diocesan process; it developed and concluded in 2006 with his canonization, 55 years later. There were two postulators before me that died. I was the one presenting him for the beatification and for the canonization.

Can you recall one incident from St. Rafael’s life that represents what made his sanctity “heroic.”

There are many, but there is one that draws the most attention. During the worst time of the persecution here in Veracruz, the governor ordered that Bishop Guízar be brought to him dead or alive. He offered a reward for his head. At the time there was a popular saying about priests and bishops that they had only three destinies, “destierro, encierro o entierro”; in other words, exile, jail, or burial.  When Bishop Guízar heard about the governor’s order, he personally went to see him and told him, “You have given the order to kill me and you offer a reward for my head. I do not want any faithful to stain their hands with my blood. If you gave the order, I come here to your presence so you yourself can execute it. Kill me.”

The governor was a persecutor of the Church, but he was also a well-educated military man. He always had a gun on his desk pointing to anybody that came to his office. The governor turned the gun to point away from Bishop Guízar and said, “I am a gentleman and because of your courage I drop the order, but get out of here.” So he exiled him. This was his second time in exile but now as a bishop. This time he went to the south of the United States. That was really a heroic act of fortitude because the governor could have just killed him.

Do you have any records of his missions? What he preached about or what made him so popular?

I am familiar with a catechism he wrote because it is the one I used to prepare myself for my first Communion. Prior to his canonization, the cardinal of Havana said as a young boy he, too, had learned his catechism because St. Rafael also taught it there. He also said he still uses it as the official catechism of his archdiocese.  St. Rafael taught about God’s endless mercy for sinners. God is a father of open arms for the sinner. The Eucharist is an endless source of love. In it, God’s love for humanity is manifested. He also had a very deep devotion to Mary. Those were the main points of his preaching.  He was so popular because he was a man of God. He had God in him and he reflected God. Whoever has God in him, people follow him. Bishop Guízar was able to convert sinners, to his great merit, but only because he knew God’s presence in his own life.

How has coming to know Bishop Guizar Valencia “personally” during your years of research helped you as a priest?

I had to deeply study Bishop Guízar’s life, his priestly life, and the more I studied it, the more unworthy I felt, the more that I had to ask for his intercession. I asked him to be of any help. I had to give a lecture to priests and I thought, “What am I going to say?” There were people there that I admired, and I was really afraid. But once I stood in front of them everything worked out well. Everything I said to my brother priests, I explained how it applied to me, or how St. Rafael would have acted in the situation. I gave them many examples that impressed us all. It was the spirituality of this man, which is why he is a saint.

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: columbiamagazine; cristeros

1 posted on 02/11/2007 7:51:50 PM PST by Coleus
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To: AlaninSA; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; afraidfortherepublic; Alas; al_c; american colleen; ...

2 posted on 02/11/2007 7:52:29 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, insects)
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February 2007

3 posted on 02/11/2007 7:53:53 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, insects)
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To: Coleus

A very fascinating tidbit I stumbled across is that his Great-Grand Nephew is studying with the SSPX.

What does this say about the state of the Church.

4 posted on 02/12/2007 6:52:03 AM PST by Cheverus
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To: Coleus
'A Great Apostle of Charity'

Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Apostle??? Surely you jest...

5 posted on 02/12/2007 7:38:45 AM PST by Iscool (There will be NO peace on earth, NOR good will toward men UNTIL there is Glory to God in the Highest)
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To: Iscool

And surely St. Paul was jesting when he called himself an "apostle," too.

6 posted on 02/12/2007 9:19:44 AM PST by Tax-chick ("It is my life's labor to bring Christ to souls and souls to Christ through word and example.")
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To: tlRCta; RKBA Democrat; fedupjohn; Warthogtjm; markomalley; lneuser; Coleus; ArrogantBustard; ...
Knights of Columbus: Celebrating 125 Years of Faith In Action

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be
added to or taken off  the Knights of Columbus ping list

7 posted on 10/17/2007 6:04:02 PM PDT by Coleus (Pro Deo et Patria)
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