“The Church has given us a special gift
in that the Beatification of Fr. Andrew Solá
takes place during the year of the Eucharist.
One of the pastoral tasks that Fr. Solá carried out
with great dedication during the time he was hiding,
was to take the Eucharist to those faithful
who were not able to assist at Mass
because of the prohibition against public worship”
(From the Circular Letter of Fr. General)
• It is advisable to hold this celebration in the framework of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
• As a special setting, it would be good to expose in a visible place an enlargement of the photo of Fr. Solá giving first Communion to a girl. The finding of this photo in the trunk of his belongings denounced him as a Catholic Priest. Beside the enlarged photo, a red rose, a big loaf of bread and a pitcher of wine can be placed, together with a poster with the inscription: “The Eucharist, a dangerous bread.”
• Eucharistic Song:
“I am the Bread of life” (or another similar).
Fr. Andrew Solá and his companions Trinidad Rangel and Leonardo Pérez nourished their martyrial faith in the Eucharist. For them, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and secretly to distribute the consecrated bread was not a routine but a dangerous act that brought them to follow the same itinerary of the Master. Their particular eucharistic Holy Thursday ended up in a Good Friday of blood and death and in the final Easter, in the Sunday without end.
Gathered today around Jesus-Eucharist, we commemorate the self offering of the martyrs of San Joaquín, we adore Christ who continues giving himself to us in the sacrament of bread and wine, and we pray for all those who make of their lives a continuous Eucharist in the service of the brothers.
Lord, you nourished with your Body and Blood our brother Andrew Solá and his companions Trinidad Rangel and Leonardo Pérez. Feed us with this same Sacrament so that, in the midst of the difficulties of our missionary life, we too may bravely proclaim your Gospel and make of our lives an offering so that all your daughters and sons, especially those in greatest need, may enjoy the eternal life that You grant us. We ask this of You, who live and reign forever and ever.
3. Proclamation of the Word of God
• 1 Cor 11,23-26:
“Whenever you eat of this bread and drink from this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes”.
• Psalm 16 or an appropriate song.
• Jn 6,53-58:
“Those who eat this bread will live forever”.
On December 3, 1926, only a few months before his martyrdom, Fr. Andrew Solá wrote to his friend, the Claretian Pau Aguadé: “In the four months since the closing of the churches, I have distributed the Bread of angels to an average of more than 80 persons per day.” This practice, which in other times would have been normal, even routine, was indeed dangerous in those moments. Fr. Solá had to choose between obeying the unjust orders of the government of Mexico which prohibited any act of cult, or accompanying the Christian people with his presence and, above all, with the celebration and distribution of the Eucharist.
In the months immediately preceding his martyrdom, Fr. Andrew Solá lived a genuine Quid prodest. Like Jesus and like Claret, he too experienced the contrast between the security of the world and the risk of the gospel. His Quid Prodest touched the center of his priestly and missionary vocation: What’s the use of assuring one’s own life if one abandons the community to which one has dedicated his own life till the end? When one is at the crossroads, one’s true convictions are put to the test. It is a fact that, by temperament, Fr. Andrew Solá was rather stubborn, but it was not his stubbornness that impelled him to stay. On February 9, 1927, he wrote again to his classmate P. Aguadé: “I do not recall if I ever told you in the seminary that I had a great desire to become a martyr. Who knows if the Lord will grant me this grace now. If this should be the case, may He accept my blood for the triumph of the Catholic Church in Mexico!” He was very conscious of the risk he was running. He accepts before hand the grace of martyrdom that may be coming to him.
Until that very day, February 9, he had been secretly distributing the Eucharist house to house, challenging the government’s order. That day he stopped doing it, by order of the Superior of the community. But not even then did he lose his calm or his joy. He wrote in the same letter: “I have always kept my good humor.” A joyless self surrender, born only of ethical indignation, is not worthy of a shepherd that follows Jesus Christ.
The Circular Letter of Fr. General reminds us of these facts and invites us to draw out the consequences that can help us develop our own spirituality. “The beatification of our brother will be a permanent reminder to us to live the Year of the Eucharist with intensity. The Eucharist is the sacrament that preserves among us that presence of the Lord that the disciples of Emmaus demanded (cf. Mane nobiscum Domine -MND- n. 19). It is necessary that the Lord continue inflaming our hearts with his Word and that our community feel always his presence in the breaking of the bread. Our communion is consolidated in it because we see ourselves as brothers around the same table, sharing the same bread (cf. 1Cor 10,17; MND 20,21). The Eucharistic experience transforms us into dauntless apostles of that Jesus who gives his life so that all may have life and arouses in us the true missionary zeal (cf MND 24,25). The Eucharist, the Pope tells us, is “a project of solidarity for all of humanity” and “a great school of peace;” “the Christian who takes part in the Eucharist learns to become a promoter of communion, peace and solidarity in every situation” (MND 27). In it “we receive an impulse toward an active commitment to the building up of a more just and fraternal society (MND 28). I want to bring here what the Document of the Congress on Claretian spirituality has to say: “Gathered around the table of the Lord, who shares his life with his disciples, we experience the sorrow of the exclusion of so many people from that other table the Lord has prepared for his sons and daughters: the good things of Creation entrusted to the human family. The Eucharist is a powerful call to work together to transform the world according to God’s plan.” (“Our missionary Spirituality Along the Journey of God’s People” pag. 39).
When the soldiers arrived to the house of Señora Alba, where Fr. Andrew Solá was hiding, he presented himself as a commercial agent. And he really was, but in a peculiar sense. He had dedicated himself to the surprising “commerce” of distributing gratis the bread of the Eucharist from house to house. In fact, just a little before the soldiers arrived at the residence where he was staying, he had given the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament to all those present. But his words were of no use to hide his condition as a priest and deliver him from death. When the soldiers registered his trunk, they found among his few belongings a photo where Fr. Solá appears giving communion to a girl, dressed with the liturgical vestments. There was no more doubt: he was a priest. The “document” that condemns him to death is a “eucharistic” document.
While he is detained in jail with other companions, Fr. Solá entertained himself throwing crumbs of bread to a little dog of General Sánchez. When the General saw it, his words could not be more cruel: “Don’t throw it bread. You are unworthy of feeding my dog.” It seems startling and painful that he who had dedicated himself to distribute the bread of Jesus was not worthy of throwing some crumbs of ordinary bread to a simple dog. It was just one more sign of the complete self surrender implied by martyrdom! He who distributed Jesus in the Eucharist was transformed himself into an immolated offering.
The Eucharist of his life came to an end on 27 of April in the km 492, in the neighborhood of ranch San Joaquín. The three companions are shot at 8:45 in the morning. Fr. Solá survives for three hours in an agony that recalls that of Jesus. Like Him, Fr. Solá also asks for some water to mitigate the heat of fever. They gave him water in an earthen plate. He repeated many times: “Jesus, have mercy, Jesus forgive me.” Toward midday he expired. It was the sixth hour.
As it happened several years later with our brothers, the martyrs of Barbastro, also in the case of Fr. Andrew Solá the Eucharist was the sacrament that nourished his faith and gave him strength to accompany the people, like the shepherd who does not abandon his sheep when the wolf comes. This Eucharistic passion was nothing improvised in the last months of his life. From the years of his initial formation he had been a man of the Eucharist. His companions testify that he spent long periods praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He was attuned with the spiritual heritage of our Founder which he signed with his own blood.
How can we prolong this Eucharistic heritage today? It is not only a matter of celebrating the Sacrament daily, as our Constitutions ask us, but of making of our entire life a Eucharistic existence. We freely accept to be taken, blessed, broken and given on behalf of all the daughters and sons of God. Fr. General exhorts us in his Circular Letter: “Let us welcome as grace the fact that the beatification of our brother will take place during this Year of the Eucharist. Let us strive to turn the exhortations of the Holy Father into concrete actions. I am convinced that this will help us be more daring in our attempts at fulfilling the priority indicated by the General Chapter for this sexennium: ‘We choose as priority, solidarity with the poor, the excluded and those whose right to life is threatened so that this impacts our personal and community lifestyle, in our apostolic mission and our institutions’ (THL 40). Our commitment for justice, peace and the integrity of creation should find greater importance in our spirituality and in our missionary projects.”
5. Silence of Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament
(It can be introduced with a song: for example, “Adoramus te, Domine,” from Taizé).
• O Lord, you sat down at the table with sinners and distributed the bread among those who listened to your word,
– let no one be excluded from the table of creation and let us learn to share our goods with those in need.
• O Lord, you celebrated a farewell supper with your disciples and left them the gift of your Body and Blood,
– let your Church continue to celebrate the Eucharist, thus proclaiming your death and resurrection till the end of time.
• O Lord, you nourish our faith with the bread of your Word and of your Body on the way of life,
– let us recognize you living in the Scriptures and in the fraction of the bread.
• O Lord, you strengthened our brother Andrew Solá and his martyr companions with the strength of your food,
– let their testimony be a stimulus of courage and fidelity for the Church of Mexico and for our Congregation.
• O Lord, in the life of Andrew Solá and his companions, you show us an example of the true disciple who gives his life for his brethren,
– let us give up our own so that those who need it most may have a life worthy of your kingdom.
• O Lord, you have transformed the death of the martyrs of San Joaquín into fullness of life by the power of your resurrection,
– grant this same gift to all our deceased brothers and relatives.
7. Our Father
8. Final Prayer
We thank you, Lord, for the life of our brother Andrew Solá and of his martyr companions. The strength of your grace has shone in their frailty; the vigor of your resurrection shines forth in their death. May we recognize your gifts and may the daily Eucharist we celebrate help us enter into communion with you and make of our lives a courageous and dedicated service to the announcement of the gospel.
9. Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament
10. Final song