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Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, [1937], at

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The calendar festivals of this people that have been described above, show us what and how many they were, and wherefor and how they were celebrated. But because their festivals were only to secure the goodwill or favor of their gods, or else holding them angry, they made neither more nor bloodier ones. They believed them angry whenever they were molested by pestilences, dissensions, or droughts or the like ills, and then they did not undertake to appease the demons by sacrificing animals, nor making offerings only of their food and drink, or their own blood and self-afflictions of vigils, fasts and continence; instead, forgetful of all natural piety and all law of reason they made sacrifices of human beings as easily as they did of birds, and as often as their accursed priests or the chilánes said it was necessary, or as it was the whim or will of their chiefs. And since there is not here the great population there is in Mexico, nor were they after the fall of Mayapán ruled by one head but by many, there were no such mass killings of men; nevertheless they still died miserably, since each town had the authority to sacrifice whomever the priests, or the chilán, or the chief saw fit; and to do this they had in their temples their public places as if it were the one thing of most importance in the world for the preservation of the state. In addition to this slaughter in their towns, they had those accursed sanctuaries of Chichén Itzá and Cozumel whither they sent an infinite number of poor creatures for sacrifice, one thrown from a height, another to have his heart torn out. From all such miseries may the merciful Lord see fit to free us forever, He who saw fit to sacrifice himself to the Father, on the cross for all men.


O Lord my God, light, being and life of my soul, holy guide and safe road for my customs, consolation of my griefs, inner joy of my sadnesses, refreshment and rest of my toils: Why, O Lord, dost thou command me tasks that I cannot perform, rather than rest? What dost thou lay on me that I cannot carry through? Lord, dost thou not know the measure of my cup and the extent of my members and the quality of my forces? Dost thou perchance fail me, Lord, in my labors? Art thou not the loving Father of whom the holy prophet spoke in the psalm, I will be with him in tribulation and labors, and I will liberate him and glorify him? Lord, if thou art, and thou art He of whom the prophet spoke when full of thy holy spirit, that makest of thy command a burden, and thus it is, Lord, that those who have not enjoyed the sweetness of thy service and the performance of thy precepts, find a burden in them; but Lord, it is a pretended burden, a burden feared, a burden to

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the pusillanimous, and they fear it who never put the hand to the plow to finish; but those who give themselves to thy services find them sweet, they seek after the odor of their unctions, * their sweetness refreshes them at every step; many more pleasures do they find daily that the others cannot know, as in the other kingdom of Saba.

Thus do I implore thee, Lord, that thou give me grace in thy example to leave the house of my sensuality and the kingdom of my vices and sins, making of all the occasion to serve thee and keep thy commandments, in order that in those things the experience of thy service can most instruct me, so that reading only those and working with them I may find the good of thy grace for my soul; and thus as I believe thy yoke to be pleasant and light, I may render thee thanks that I find myself under thy protection, and free from that wherein thou seest that so many multitudes of people walk and have walked, traveling toward hell. So grave is the suffering that I know none whose heart it would not break, seeing the mortal weight and intolerable burden wherewith the demon has always led, and leads the idolaters to hell. And if this on the demon's part, which he procures and does, is a great cruelty, it is justly permitted, on God's part, in order that, since men will not let themselves be ruled by the light of the reason he has given them, they may commence to be tormented in this life and to endure part of the hell they deserve for the toilsome services they continuously render to the demon, with long fasts, and vigils, and abstinences, with unbelievable offerings and presents of their effects and property, constant pourings out of their own blood, severe pains and wounds in their bodies, and what is worse and graver, with the lives of their neighbors and brothers. Yet with all this the demon is never filled or satisfied by their torments and toils, nor with carrying them off to hell where he torments them eternally. Certain it is that God is more appeased and with less of torments and deaths; for did he not cry unto the great patriarch Abraham and bid him to stay his hand from taking the life of his son, because his Majesty was determined to send his own into the world and let him lose his life in fact upon the cross, that men might see that for the Ion of the eternal God the command of the Father is heavy, and yet very sweet is it to him, and for men only a pretended burden.

Wherefore may men cease the lukewarmness of their hearts, and the fear of a burden in this blessed law of God; for the burden is unreal, and turns soon into sweetness in soul and body; beyond all which it is worthy that God be well served, and this we owe to him as a just debt and payment; it is all for our benefit, not only eternal but temporal also. Therefore let all us Christians and especially the priests behold what shame and confusion there

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is in this world, and yet more in that to come, to see the demon find those who serve him with unbelievable labors to be paid for by going to hell, and that God can hardly find one who by keeping his so sweet commandments serves him faithfully that he may go to eternal glory.

Wherefore do you, priest of God, tell me if you have taken note of the office of these unhappy priests of the demon, and of all those who, as we read in the divine writings, there have been in times past, how much more burdensome were their fasts than yours, and how long and many; how much longer were their vigils and their miserable prayers than you give, how much more serious and careful they were of the affairs of their office than you are of yours; with how much more zeal than you they understood how to teach their pestiferous doctrines. If thereby you find yourself in any fault, correct it, and see that you are a priest of the Lord above, who solely by your office obliges you to seek to live in cleanness and prudently, the cleanness of an angel rather than of a man.


92:* Such as the tortures at Maní and the burned towns in the east.

Next: XLIV. The Soil and its Products