Weeks after leaving the de la Vega
rancho Capitan Monastario continued to feel the pressures of his past
indiscretions haunting him. Once Monastario was happy and in love,
looking forward to the birth of his child but in a cruel twist of fate
all had been taken from him. Instead of going on with his life he
became as evil as the man who had ended his dreams. His bitterness and
wicked behavior blanketed the area around Los Angeles including the
Mission San Gabriel. Rich or poor made no difference to the
commandante; all felt his tyranny.
Monastario was not proud
of the ruthless life he led, the heinous crimes or dubious characters
he used in his schemes to gain riches and power. His diabolical
behavior nearly cost him his life and that of the woman he loved.
Though the governor himself was nearly killed he chose not to charge
Monastario with any crimes in order to protect his daughter from
further hurt. However Monastario's hopes of future advancement in the
service of the King, riches and power, and a life with Leonar melted
Unfortunately Enrique Sanchez Monastario had given his
heart to Leonar. What was he to do? A marriage between the two was
impossible, almost laughable. Leonar, the daughter of the Governor of
California, led a respected and well-to-do life. How could a poor,
disgraced soldier who had no money or future hope to share his life
with a woman of her position?
tried many times following the capitan's departure from the de la Vega
rancho to get him to put aside his fears and take a chance at a new
life with Leonar before it was too late. Sadly Monastario could not
decide what to do. Each sleepless night brought him more pain until he
finally decided to seek the help of the one person who possessed
honesty and was without reproach. That person was Padre Felipe of the
Mission San Gabriel.
The trail to the mission was rough and
took several hours by horseback but the time was not wasted by the
commandante. As his horse galloped over the terrain he reflected on
his past and his hopes for a possible future with Leonar. Padre Felipe
was a man of the church who had given absolution to many in
confessional but Monastario wondered if the priest would be able to see
past his evils to offer help? Soon Monastario arrived at the church
and dismounted. Nervously he tied his horse before entering the carved
wooden doors of the sanctuary. Alone in the church his mind was
flooded with thoughts of his past. Clearly he remembered his wedding
in Spain and the joy he felt when told of the child that had been
conceived. Soon his happiness came to an end when his wife was
murdered. Instead of embracing the church during his sorrow Monastario
turned bitter and full of hatred. Lowering his head he prayed that
forgiveness in the church might lead to a cleansing of his heart and a
clear view of his future.
In the mission orchard Padre Felipe
and his Indians were turning the soil in preparation for the coming
season. As the site was cleared and the fallen branches bundled two
Indians dragged the dead matter to the front of the mission. While
returning to the orchard one of the Indians noticed a rider at the
church door and quickly related the news to the priest. Padre Felipe
made his way to the sanctuary where he saw the commandante's horse.
Preparing himself for the unknown he slowly entered the sanctuary.
"Capitan Monastario. To what do we owe this surprise visit?" the priest asked suspiciously.
"I find myself in need of help," said Monastario. "If you wish me to go I understand."
"My son the church turns no one away who seeks help," said the padre. "The church is open to all men."
I am not sure why I am here," Monastario said standing. "I do not
deserve the compassion of the church. Perhaps I have made a mistake
"I see that you are troubled, my son, and you have questions. Please sit and we will try to find the answers together."
"It has been years since I sought advice Padre. I am afraid I do not even know how to ask for help."
"You have taken the first step," the priest responded. "The church will not desert you."
I have led a miserable existence but I am trying to make amends,"
Monastario told him. "I just hope it is not too late."
"My son it is never to late to do the right thing," added the priest.
"Padre, how do I know what is right or wrong? If I am mistaken I could ruin so many lives."
life there are no guarantees, my son. We must do the best we can and
pray that our decisions are the right ones. Now tell me what is
"The governors daughter, Leonar…I care for her.
From the beginning she saw only good in me even with all that has
happened she still believes in me."
"She is a fine young woman, I do not understand the problem," asked the priest.
have no money, no hope of advancement. What could I offer her? A poor
life married to a dishonored soldier living in tiny quarters in the
cuartel. The Governor could never accept me as his son-in-law; it
would only put a wedge between the two of them.
have spoken with the young senorita many times and she has seen
something in you that was lost on the rest of us. She saw not the man
you were but the man you could become. She understood the bitterness
in you and wished only to help. I believe she has made her decision
for she remains at the de la Vega rancho."
"Padre I do not wish to lose her but I have nothing to give," uttered Monatario.
you do, Capitan, you have love," smiled the priest. "The senorita
knows of your past and she forgives you. Now you must truly forgive
yourself. If you can make peace within you; life can proceed. The
deeds of the past cannot disappear but they can be amended."
"Padre she deserves so much. I can offer but a small room and a soldier's pay?"
offer love my son," Padre Felipe answered without hesitation. "Without
love life would have no meaning? The senorita maintains her father's
house but it is not hers. The riches she has she has not earned. God
has seen fit to bless you my son…do not close your eyes and heart.
Come, light a candle and give your heart to God…He will show you the
The flickering of the candle burned away the fears and
hesitation within the commandante as he knelt at the altar with Padre
Felipe. Soon with tear filled eyes he gave thanks and rose. As he
opened the door of the sanctuary the warmth of the sun brought a
happiness and contentment that had been missing for years. Untying his
mount the commandante climbed atop his horse and headed in the
direction of the de la Vega hacienda. For the first time in many
months he finally knew what he must do.
A New Beginning