Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ

It's snowing here in Southern Louisiana! A beautiful blanket of white covering everything. Since I just started this blog a couple of days ago and passed the November 23rd Feast Day, I am a little out of order chronologically speaking in discussing Blessed Miguel Pro. However since tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at least culturally in I am line. Blessed Miguel Pro was a remarkable human being. With the election of General Plutarco Elias Calles to president, thus began the systematic persecution and attempt to eradicate the Catholic Church in Mexico during 1920's. Churches were burned down priests were hunted down and hung, religious were either jailed or murdered. Every attempt was made to shut the down the Catholic Church. Father Miguel Pro was born in Guadalupe, the son of a miner. He joined the Society of Jesus, and was forced out of Mexico to California. He was eventually sent to Belgium where the Jesuits were there having also been tossed out of France. He was ordained in Belgium in August 1925. He returned to Mexico in 1926 but things there were worse not better. Blessed Miguel Pro was not deterred either spiritually nor in service to his people. He would often disguise himself in order to celebrate Mass and was always cheerful in his disposition. This, during the most horrible of times when you could find priests strung up hanging from power lines. He was arrested on phony trumped up charges that he attempted to assassinate the ex president. In November of 1927 he was ordered to be executed despite no evidence or even a conviction. The Mexican government was going to use his execution as a propaganda to show that the Catholics were cowards. On November 23, 1927,as Fr. Pro walked from his cell to the courtyard and the firing squad, he blessed the soldiers, knelt and briefly prayed quietly. Declining a blindfold, he faced his executioners with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other and held his arms out in imitation of the crucified Christ and shouted out, "May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!" Before the firing squad were ordered to shoot, Pro raised his arms in imitation of Christ and shouted the defiant cry of the Cristeros, "Viva Cristo Rey!" -"Long live Christ the King! Bullets were fired but Blessed Miguel Pro would not go down. When the initial shots of the firing squad failed to kill him, a soldier shot him point blank. At his beatification on September 25, 1988 Pope John Paul II honored Fr. Pro with these words:

Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult and dangerous circumstances, could stifle the radiating and contagious joy which he brought to his life for Christ and which nothing could take away. Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death

When I hear the excuses that people give about missing Mass and how this or that is so difficult, I remind them of the many martyrs who throughout the ages paid with their lives so the Faith would continue. Men will die but the Church will never die as Christ promised. We are to live our faith with joy and courage. If you look at the Catholic Church and truly understand its history and its message of hope and love you will recognize that our faith is a faith worth living and worth dying for. Viva Cristo Rey!.

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