By: Gabriel Sánchez Navarro
Diocese of Santa Rosa in California

My grandparents were survivors of the "Cristero War" in "Los Altos de Jalisco, Mexico, a region that gave the Catholic Church 25 holy martyrs, canonized by St. John Paul II in 2000. I am from a small town: Ojo de Agua de Latillas, municipality of Tepa: “La Perla de los Altos”. For this reason, I grew up surrounded by stories about the Cristera and hundreds of religious and folkloric tales and legends. My father loved the musical rhyme of poetry and entertained us with verses and tongue twisters. My maternal grandfather was a rural teacher, always with thousands of stories. I was his faithful disciple. I never got tired of listening to him! My paternal grandparents competed with their fables, proverbs, and popular sayings. They offered me books of saints' lives. Since I was a child, I loved the art and power of words. As a teenager, I thought, if Christ is the Word of the Father, then everything had its beginning in his "Divine Fiat."

Gabriel Sánchez Navarro

The Word is the Alpha and the Omega. As a child, I was asked: "What are you going to be when you grow up? I used to answer: "I'm going to write until I die." I studied theater and classical and contemporary literature in Mexico. In Sonoma, California, I worked as a theater director and playwright for seven years at the bilingual organization: "Nuestra Voz, Líderes del Valle de Sonoma, Inc." St. Joseph Health System sponsored this organization, so many of my community theater productions depended on the hospital's campaigns such as: Say No to Drugs, Prevention of Diabetes, etc. This organization sponsored me with a two-year program that allowed me to explore other contemporary literature topics. 

I received assistance from a professor of literature from the Sonoma State University when working on my first novel. At this time, I decided to obey the invitation; of the Living Word of God, Christ our Savior, to follow Him. And that novel had not seen the light yet. I experienced that He is the Mighty and Merciful Word. I thought that even if I were able to write a thousand books, I could not offer the peace, deliverance, love, and forgiveness that only Christ can provide through His Word. While the word of man lies, loses, and kills, Christ, the Living Word of the Father, is the Truth that frees us from darkness and death, the Way that leads to the Father; and the Eternal Life promised to the faithful servants. The Word of Christ is Light; my word is only a shadow. I have tried to put this talent at God's people's service in my vocational journey, especially in the seminaries where I received my priestly formation through plays and poems. I believe a little poetry, some coffee, and rain is always ok at some time of the day. 

Please enjoy one of my poems below along with an English translation done by our Spanish professor, Martha Yáñez Sheridan. Thank you. God bless.

¡Perdónalos, Padre!

¡¿Cómo puedo decir que te amo,

cuando me da igual, oh dulce Jesús mío,

lo que en silencio padezca mi hermano,

y que desnudo se muera de frío?!

¡¿Cómo puedo golpearme el pecho

y pedirte el perdón que no le he ofrecido

a quien muere abandonado en su lecho

de hambre, de sed y de olvido?!


¡¿Con qué cara voy a tu altar a jurarte

que te seguiré hasta la muerte si es preciso,

mas cuando debo mi amor demostrarte

me retracto y huyo de la prueba indeciso?!


¡¿De qué sirve mi palabrería, si al declinar el día

conservo un alma indolente y un corazón de piedra;

y la indiferencia, como una venenosa hiedra,

envuelve el alma amenazando mi propia vida?!


Si no me ayudas, Señor, nunca me daré por enterado

que soy yo ese diestro verdugo, que en la cruz

al Todopoderoso: Dios de Dios y Luz de Luz;

tiene clavado de pies y manos y abierto de su costado.


Los ciegos no te vemos en el rostro de los pequeños,

de los sufrientes, de los marginados, y por lo tanto:

pasa desapercibido, tu Rostro Divino y tres veces Santo,

entre los despojados de la realización de sus sueños.


Y de tus labios moribundos, sube una plegaria de perdón

para quienes como yo, el grano de trigo triturasen:

“Perdónalos, Padre, porque no saben lo que hacen...

Y ablándales con mi Sangre, su empedernido corazón.”


Escrito por: Gabriel Sánchez Navarro

Forgive them, Father!

How can I say I love You?

When I am indifferent, Oh my sweet Jesus,

whatever my brother suffers, in silence

and that he might freeze to death nude in the cold!


How can I pound my heart?

And ask for your forgiveness, which I did not offer him,

who dies, abandoned and alone in his bed,

of hunger, thirst, and forgotten!


How can I come before You, at the altar and swear?

I will follow you until death if necessary,

more than ever when I should show you, my love

I retreat and escape from the test undecided!


What good is my idle talk, if at the end of the day

I conserve an indolent soul and a heart of stone:

and indifference, like poison ivy

wrapping my soul threatening my existence!


If you do not help me, Lord, I will never know

that it is I, that skillful executioner, that on the Cross

The Almighty: God of God, and Light of Light

Has him nailed by his feet and hands and pierced side.


We the blind do not see you on the faces of the little ones,

of the suffering, of the marginalized, and thus:

Your Divine Face, three times Holy, goes unnoticed

amongst those striped of their dreams unfulfilled.


And from your dying lips arises a plea of forgiveness

for those who, like me, crushed the grain of wheat:

"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do…

and soften with my Blood, their hearts of stone."


English translation by:

Martha Yáñez Sheridan