Mora’s Rules

If they sell you sin, you sell them salvation!
by Reuben Nuxoll, LC | Source:
If they sell you sin, you sell them salvation!

The light turned red, and Brother Juan Carlos gently stepped on the brakes.

It isn’t always the rule in Mexico to stop at a red light, but it’s difficult to keep going when peddlers walk out in front to sell their wares … and Brother Juan Carlos had Father Mora with him.

Father Carlos Mora was superior of the religious community of the Legionaries of Christ in Guadalajara. Brother Juan Carlos Mari was a professed religious on his internship, the period of formation in which students for the priesthood learn the ropes of priestly ministry, like medical students do. As Brother Juan Carlos’s superior, Father Mora was to guide him on this practical level, and the guidance could come at any moment.

The people of Guadalajara who knew Father Mora loved him dearly. In his visits, he brought happiness to their lives, often just by his own cheerful, faithful example. He and Brother Juan Carlos were driving to one of these visits now.

As they stopped, a peddler approached. “Hola, how are you?” he asked, shoving a colorful slip of paper in front of the window with a big, eager smile.

Brother Juan Carlos glanced quickly at the sheet, and then felt the blood run to his face. He wanted to growl at the poor man innocently awaiting a response.

“No, thank you!” he snapped, “I don’t need this,” motioning the peddler to go away as he tried to make his Roman collar more visible. How could a peddler be so insensitive as to sell romantic adventures to a faithful Catholic, let alone a priest?

He turned to Father Mora and demanded, “Why do they offer me these things? As if he didn’t see I’m wearing a clerical collar! Father Carlos, don’t you see what they’re selling?”

“Brother Juan Carlos, why are you upset?” was Father Mora’s calm, soothing reply. “If they sell you sin, you sell them salvation.”

It was one more rule of ministry Brother Juan Carlos wouldn’t forget. His superior was always there for him with the right answer at the right time, just like Christ. Our Lord had said that “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matt 5:39); this applied to moral offenses too, especially as a priest. A priest is a man for others, another Christ. This was what Brother Juan Carlos found in Father Mora.

* * *

Father Mora died shortly thereafter, on November 4, 2006, having survived several rounds of cancer treatment. He breathed his last during Mass on the day of his patron saint – Carlos, or Charles, Borromeo.

The following spring, Pope Benedict XVI ordained Brother Juan Carlos Mari together with seminarians from the diocese of Rome, Italy. Father Juan Carlos is now a priest forever, thanks in part to the help of his superior, Father Carlos Mora.

Following his ordination, Father Juan Carlos testified, “I will never forget what Father Carlos taught me, the help he gave me toward my priesthood. If it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

And he’s not the only one who can say that.



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