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MEXICO and Texas

Mass at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio provides an excellent opportunity to follow Tex-Mex life and its relations with Mexico. While the cathedral is being repaired, mass is celebrated in the Church of the Sacret Heart of Mary belonging to the Claretian brothers, who are celebrating the centenary of their activity in the US. They are named after Saint Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), a wealthy follower of St.Francis who devoted herself to an austere life and founded the Order of the Poor Clares. Santa Clara is a Franciscan saint, and a mission just south of Stanford, founded in 1777, is devoted to her. The adjoining Jesuit university, founded in 1851, is one of the oldest in California, older than Stanford (1885). My guess is that the US Claretians broke off from the Franciscans in 1902 for reasons unknown to me. Every Sunday Father David Garcia thanks them for allowing him to use their church while the cathedral is being repaired.

Today the service was especially colorful because tomorrow, September 16, is Mexico's national holiday. San Antonio is celebrating it, and the visitors included a group of colorfully dressed little dancers and some men wearing charro suits. Mexico was very much on everyone's mind. Father Garcia devoted much of his sermon to a New York Times interview with President Fox devoted to the usual theme, better treatment for the Mexicans illegally in the US. Father Garcia referred to San Antonio's ties with Mexico and to the independence day celebrations. He ended proclaiming "¡Viva México!". Years ago, after having dinner with the presidential party in Mexico's national palace, I stood on the balcony while the president shouted "Viva México!"

The problem is that this is historically incorrect. On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo, priest of the small Mexican town of Dolores Hidalgo, shouted "Viba Fernando VII y la Virgen de Guadalupe, y abajo el mal gobierno". "Long live Ferdinand VII of Spain and the Virgin of Guadalupe, and down with the bad government!". It was not a declaration of independence, although Mexicans choose to interpret it as such. To bring in the Virgin of Guadalupe would violate the separation of Church and state. Finally, the crowd would applaud wildly to "Down with the bad government!", since it could mean the present government headed by the president proclaiming the glorious day. Keep your ears open tomorrow. It is a safe bet that President Fox will simply shout "¡Viva México!",

As for San Antonio, I would suggest a compromise. Like the Mexican people, those of San Antonio have little idea of who Fernando VII was. If Father Garcia shouted "Down with the bad government!", the FBI would begin asking questions. However, as far as I know, the Virgin of Guadalupe is not on the FBI's black list. It would therefore be safe for him to shout "¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Viva Mèxico!" I hope Father Garcia accepts this compromise. I shall be listening carefully on September 14, 2003, which is the Sunday closest to September 16. That is, if I am still around.

Ronald Hilton - 9/15/02