Jesus Healing the Man Born Blind by El Greco, 1570


It is time to wind down this autobiography.  There is so much more that I could have written, but in medio stat virtus according to Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas.  I would have had great difficulty making this autobiography be 100 pages but I could easily have made it be 1,000 pages long.  The virtuous thing for me to do is to find a moderate position between the two extremes.  The leitmotif running through this book has been my constant struggle to learn what God wants me to do with my life and then, to the best of my ability, with God’s grace, to do it; as you can well imagine, that was a daily struggle.

When Saint Joan of Arc was being interrogated by her prosecutor, Bishop Cauchon of Beauvais, he asked her, trying to trip her up so that he could accuse her of pride, “Joan, are you in the state of grace?”  To which question Joan replied, “If I am, I thank God, if I am not, I pray that God will soon enable me to be.”  I am not a saint.  I am not even sure to what extent I am securely in the state of grace.  All I know is that without formally seeking to be holy I have tried throughout my life to meet the Church’s definition of holiness.

Saints were canonized in the first centuries of the Church, and even later at times, by public acclamation of the holiness of an individual.  When the Church began the formal process that leads to the Rite of Beatification or Canonization of a person the Church found it necessary to establish a uniform canonical definition of holiness.  There can be, and there have been many definitions of holiness offered by spiritual writers and theologians down through the centuries, but here is the definition the Church has used to establish the degree of sanctity that must be possessed by a person being considered for Beatification and Canonization:   Sanctity consists in the heroic performance of the duties and responsibilities attached to one’s state of life.   That definition is so short that it does not seem to be a valid definition, but do not let its brevity fool you.  It is profound.

Everyone at anytime in one’s life has and is in a state of life:  son, daughter, student, husband, wife, father, mother, teacher, religious, priest, bishop, etc.  Most people go through several or even many states of life in their lifetime, as I have done.  The question the definition of sanctity frequently poses for each of us as we pass through life is, “Am I heroically performing the duties and responsibilities of my present state of life with all its difficulties and challenges ?”  The following is something that has helped me throughout my life; I offer it to you in the hope that it will help you.

Early in my life I was given a beautiful insight into the story of Our Lord’s healing of the man born blind as recounted in the Gospel of Saint John (John 9:1-12).  You know the story:  Jesus was walking along and a man called out to him asking to be healed. Jesus, after a little dialog with the man, spat on the ground, mixed the spittle with the dust of the road, made a little mud paste and applied it to the man’s blind eyes and told the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  The man did and his blindness was healed.

The insight I was given by the Holy Spirit was this:  we are made from the dust of the earth, we are mud, and just as Jesus used the mud to heal the man born blind, Jesus can use us, who are made from the dust of the earth, to heal the blindness of others if we let the light of Christ really shine forth from who we are:  in what we say, in what we do, in how we relate to others, etc.  Given the rejection and opposition we receive from others as we go through life it is difficult to do that, sometimes it is very difficult to do that.  And that is where heroism comes in.  It is easy to go through life going through the motions of being a good son, daughter, student, husband, wife, father, mother, teacher, religious, priest, bishop, etc.  But doing it with heroic virtue, out of love of God and love of the other person, that is not easy, and if we do in spite of the difficulties, that is heroic.

All my life I have sought to do God’s will.  Some people say that it is impossible to know God’s will.  I say that they are tragically wrong.  One can discover God’s will for oneself by prayerful examination of the external factors that are imposed on oneself by life.  I did not choose to go to school; my parents made that decision and I was forced to become a student.  Without formally realizing it I recognized my duty and responsibility to be a good student; I was the Valedictorian of my High School graduating class.

I did not choose to go to war in 1943.  The Federal Government required me to serve my Country, which I gladly did,  and I tried to the best of my ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of a tail gunner and a flight engineer on a B-17 bomber.

The pressure of common sense told me that I should use my intelligence to get a college degree; to study architecture at Rice University and the University of Houston.  I did so to the best of my ability and when I graduated the University of Houston made me a Teaching Fellow in the School of Architecture.

As I told the reporter of the Miami Herald, “God did not audibly call me to be a priest,” but he did leave me no mental or spiritual peace until I recognized that he was calling me and then I decided to enter Saint Vincent Archabbey.    Only God knows if I performed the duties and responsiblities of my state of life as a monk heroically, but I know that I tried to do so even though it was painful and difficult at times.

I did not choose to be a bishop, on the contrary I was free from clerical ambition because of the impediments I received when I was dispensed from my solemn vows.  But I evidently performed my duties and responsibilities as a priest so well that I was made a bishop.  I have tried to perform the duties and responsibiilities of my office as a successor of the apostles, a bishop,  as best I could, at times in the face of great oppositon from laity (lawyers, politicians, journalists, etc.) , religious, priests, bishops and cardinals as you discovered as you read my autobiography.

Now I look forward to the judgment of God.  I know that I may have to spend some time in Purgatory because of my sins and the demands of justice, but that’s alright,  I know that God is not only just but, above all, he is a loving God.  I trust in his love to bring me eventually to the end for which he created me:  perfect union with him.

It is my hope and prayer that reading my autobiography has inspired you to have courage in the face of the challenges of the present time that confront you.  The Church is in crisis, our Nation is in crisis, the world is in crisis.  It takes courage and reliance on God’s grace to perform the duties and responsibilities of your present state of life heroically in these times.

Keep in mind the motto which I chose to be the guiding plan for my life as a bishop:  Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, “Deep Calls to Deep.”  Call out to God in prayer from the depth of your need to perform the duties and responsibilities of your state of life heroically, call out to the depth of his love and grace to help you.   Then, keep in mind what Our Blessed Mother said to the servants at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you!”

That in All Things God may be Glorified







About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas


  1. Dear Rene Henry, I will write you in English the best I can, considering that Spanish is my native language.

    I have enjoyed very, very much reading all of your biography, your education, your terrible experiences as a gunner in the B17 airplane during “War World II, and all of the problems and successful you had with some priests, bishops and cardinals, your adventures as a pilot, and all of the good things you have done as a bishop, so I´m very proud of having such a valuable person as my cousin.

    Congratulations for all you have done in your life according to your religious and moral principles.

    Now about your biography, I have to make some precisions or accuracies about what you wrote on the second page of it:

    A.- When our grand father died in 1918 the three brothers did not returned to México (Oaxaca) as you wrote.

    1.- José María went to Puerto Progreso Yucatán, and stayed there until he got married in octuber 1923, then he went to Mexico City and after some months he returned to the USA, Houston, where the three first children were born, Betty Mary, Joseph and Louis.

    When your Dad moved to Texas City, in Houston, he met again with his oldest brother José María, who returned later to work at Puerto México (now Coatzacoalcos) in the state of Veracruz.

    2.- Rafael Returned to Mexico City, not Oaxaca, where he was working in a telephone company, from 1919 to 1932, when he was killed at the subway in New York.

    3.- Manuel, my father, went to Chicago Ills. And worked there from 1919 to 1922, when he traveled to Puerto Progreso, Yuc. He got married there on the same date than his oldest brother, octuber 3, 1923. He stayed there until 1928, and returned to Oaxaca, and doing a join venture with his brother Rafael bought the “Noriega Farm”.

    4.- Carlos, in 1919 he kept traveling for several cities on the USA, and returned to Mexico city to live with his brother Rafael, and some months later, in 1925 he returned to Oaxaca to work in the administration of La Soledad Farm, that was the estate of his grand parents.

    B.- There was never a family estate named Santo Espiritu. The only estates were “La Soledad”, and the house they had in the city of Oaxaca.

    The only thing with a similar name was the “Colegio del Espiritu Santo”, created by the “Padre Carlos” Gracida Márquez, our grand pa´s brother.

    “La Soledad” farm was sold in 1950 or 1951 by our ant Delfina Gracida Márquez, who was the inheriting of her parents ´ estates.

    I wrote all of this because my father was one of the brothers that you wrote they excluded your dad from sharing the inheritance, but as you can know now, none of the brothers, divided any inheritance among them. So, I still can be proud of all my fathers´ acts.

    God bless you.

    Carlos Gracida Maldonado

  2. Treacy Gibbens says:

    August 27, 2014

    Dear Bishop Gracida

    I have finished reading your posts # 1- #26 and I am now further convinced that Sr. Lucia of Fatima was correct when she spoke of the “diabolical disorientation”. As small thanks for your past work I am having a Mass offered by a priest of the Underground Church in China for your intentions and protection.

    With prayers,

    Treacy Gibbens

    Naples, FL

    Grant ,O Lord, that from the

    greatness of the Remedy (Crucifixion),

    I might learn to estimate the

    magnitude of the danger (Hell),

    and the Eternity that awaits me.

    St. Bernard

    Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 03:26:38 +0000 To:

  3. Peppy Forshaw says:

    Thank you for this fabulous and inspiring autobiography. I just wish every Bishop and those that will be called would read about your life. God bless you and thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are in my humble prayers as I leave for Holy Mass. Mrs. Joseph Forshaw 111. (87). St. Louis

  4. Dear Bishop Gracida, our whole family has been reading and discussing your autobiography. We thank God for your priesthood and hope and pray to become a defender of life like you. We are praying for you and all the Bishops and religious. God has inspired us to become more active in the prolife movement, it was so confusing during the SB303 days with the catholic community practically in factions and fighting among themselves. Thank God for Gov. Rick Perry and courageous men and women like you! We love you and you have our prayers!!!

  5. Thank you, Bishop Gracida, for sharing your wonderful life story. I am happy that I participated in your journey while stationed at Corpus Christi Naval Station. It was a great honor to share moments with you that I will always cherish, especially riding in the elevator at the Pastoral Center and seeing you wear your cowboy hat! I will never forget that down to earth image! Thank you for the gift of your priestly and episcopal life that you continue to share with us. Remember me in prayer as I do for you.

    Father Henry Liguori

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