Thought for the Day – 23 November – The Memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro – Priest and Martyr of the Cristero War (1891-1927)
“You have not only my forgiveness but my thanks.”
Often Our Lord gives His saints a premonition that the curtain is soon to close on their earthly pilgrimage.
Back in September, when he was beginning his Mass for a community of nuns, he asked the angelic flock to pray that God would accept his life as a victim for priests and for the welfare of the Mexican Church. One of the nuns present, noted, that during the Mass he was totally transported and bathed in tears the whole time they were chanting. At the end of the Holy Sacrifice, he mentioned to someone in the community, “I know not whether it is mere imagination or has actually occurred but I feel clearly,. that Our Lord has evidently accepted my offering.”
One could almost see his mother smiling down upon him from Heaven and repeating those words she had answered him when he was a little boy, “May God hear you, child. But that is too great a happiness for me.”
One of the officers who had captured Father Pro led him out of jail to be executed. He begged Father to forgive him. Miguel put his arm around him and said, “You have not only my forgiveness but my thanks.”He also softly told the firing squad, “May God forgive you all.”Then with arms spread as if on a cross, Father Pro shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey – Long live Christ the King!” before a bullet silenced him.
Although the real criminal and one of Miguel’s brothers were also shot, the other brother was pardoned at the last moment. Despite the government’s ban on a public funeral, thousands came to Father Pro’s wake, for the ‘Blood of the Martyrs, is the seedbed of Faith!’
When Fr Miguel Pro was executed in 1927, no one could have predicted that 52 years later the bishop of Rome would visit Mexico, be welcomed by its president and celebrate open-air Masses before thousands of people. St Pope John Paul II made additional trips to Mexico in 1990, 1993, 1999, and 2002. Those who outlawed the Catholic Church in Mexico did not count on the deeply rooted faith of its people and the willingness of many of them, like Miguel Pro, to die as martyrs.
Quote/s of the Day – 23 November – The Memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro – Priest and Martyr of the Cristero War (1891-1927)
“We ought to speak, shout out against injustices, with confidence and without fear. We proclaim the principles of the Church, the reign of love, without forgetting that it is also a reign of JUSTICE!”
“Does our life become from day-to-day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with sufferings? Blessed be He a thousand times, who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger and only this love, grounded in suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”
After he had taken his vows in the Society, he recorded the following meditations in his spiritual notebook. The booklet was entitled My Treasure. The words speak for themselves:
“Deceitful are the ephemeral pleasures and joys of this world. Our supreme comfort in this life, is to die to the world that we may live with Jesus crucified. Let others seek gold and other earthly treasures. I already possess the immortal treasure of holy poverty on the Cross of Jesus crucified. The angelic virtue, growing like a pure, fragrant lily in the hidden beauteous garden of the cloister, adorns the forehead with heavenly tints, for it has roots in the Cross of Jesus crucified. A third crown completes my oblation, it is the seal of glory, whereby the obedient, spotless Lamb gained victory. Obedience is the secure science of living with Jesus crucified. With this triple treasure, I can hope to pass beyond the fleeting confines of mortal man, by living poor on this earth and rich in heaven, united with Jesus crucified.”
One Minute Reflection – 23 November – Saturday of the Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 20:27–40 and the Memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro – Martyr (1891-1927)
“He is not God of the dead but of the living…” … Luke 20:38
REFLECTION – “It is in the face of death that the riddle a human existence grows most acute. Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his body but even more so, by a dread of perpetual extinction. He rightly follows the intuition of his heart when he abhors and repudiates the utter ruin and total disappearance of his own person. He rebels against death because he bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter. All the endeavours of technology, though useful in the extreme, cannot calm his anxiety; for prolongation of biological life is unable to satisfy that desire for higher life, which is inescapably lodged in his breast.
Although the mystery of death, utterly beggars the imagination, the Church has been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches, that man has been created by God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. In addition, that bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned, will be vanquished, according to the Christian faith, when man, who was ruined by his own doing, is restored to wholeness, by an almighty and merciful Saviour. For God has called man and still calls him, so that with his entire being, he might be joined to Him, in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption. Christ won this victory when He rose to life, for by His death, He freed man from death. Hence to every thoughtful man, a solidly established faith, provides the answer to his anxiety about what the future holds for him. At the same time, faith gives him the power to be united in Christ with his loved ones who have already been snatched away by death, faith arouses the hope, that they have found true life with God.” … Vatican Council II – Constitution on the Church in the modern world “ Gaudium et spes ” # 18
PRAYER – O God, source and origin of all fatherhood, who kept the Martyr, Blessed Miguel Pro, faithful to the Cross of Your Son, even to the shedding of his blood, grant, through his intercession, that, spreading Your love among our brothers and sisters, we may be Your children both in name and in truth and thus come to our resurrection with Jesus Christ, Your Son. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 23 November – The Memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro – Martyr (1891-1927)
Heart Of Jesus By Blessed Miguel Pro – Martyr (1891-1927)
I believe, O Lord
but strengthen my faith,
Heart of Jesus, I love Thee
but increase my love.
Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee,
but give greater vigour
to my confidence.
Heart of Jesus,
I give my heart to Thee,
but so enclose it in Thee
that it may never
be separated from Thee.
Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine,
but take care of my promise
so that I may be able
to put it into practice even unto
the complete sacrifice of my life.
Saint of the Day – 23 November – Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro SJ (1891 – 1927) Priest and Martyr of the Cristero War, Jesuit – known as “Cocol” – born José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez on 13 January 1891 in Guadalupe, Zacatecas, Mexico and died by being shot by firing squad on 23 November 1927 in Mexico City, Mexico. He was 36 years old.
Don Miguel and his wife were the happy parents of eleven children. Miguel Jr, was the third born. Four died in infancy. The two eldest, Maria de la Concepcion and Maria de la Luz, became Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Two of the boys, Miguel and his younger brother Humberto, were martyred. The rest of the children, Ana Maria, Edmundo Jose, and Roberto married. Since a young age, he was called “Cocol” as a nickname.
One of his companions, Pulido, said that he “had never seen such an exquisite wit, never coarse, always sparkling.” He was noted for his charity and ability to speak about spiritual subjects without boring his audience. Pulido remarked, that there were two Pros – the playful Pro and the prayerful Pro. He was known for the long periods he spent in the chapel.
Long-time President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz was ousted in 1911 after staging a rigged re-election and a struggle for power – the Mexican Revolution – began.
He entered the Jesuit novitiate at El Llano on 15 August 1911 and studied in Mexico until 1914 when a massive wave of governmental anti-Catholicism forced the novitiate to dissolve and the Jesuits to flee to Los Gatos, California, in the United States. He then went to study in Granada, Spain (1915–19) and from 1919 to 1922 taught in Nicaragua.
For his theological studies Pro was sent to Enghien, Belgium, where the French Jesuits (also in exile) had their faculty of Theology. His health continued to deteriorate. There he was ordained a priest on 31 August 1925. He wrote on that occasion: “How can I explain to you the sweet grace of the Holy Spirit, which invades my poor miner’s soul with such heavenly joys? I could not hold back the tears on the day of my ordination, above all at the moment when I pronounced, together with the bishop, the words of the consecration. After the ceremony the new priests gave their first blessing to their parents. I went to my room, laid out all the photographs of my family on the table and then blessed them from the bottom of my heart.”
His first assignment as a priest was to work with the miners of Charleroi, Belgium. Despite the socialist, communist and anarchist tendencies of the workers, he was able to win them over and preach the Gospel to them.
Three months after ordination, he was forced to undergo several operations for ulcers. He remained cheerful and courageous, explaining that the source of his strength was his prayer.
In summer 1926 – his studies in Europe completed – Pro returned to Mexico. On the way he visited Lourdes where he celebrated Mass and visited the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
He arrived at Veracruz on 8 July 1926. Plutarco Elías Calles was now president of Mexico. Unlike his predecessors, Calles vigorously enforced the anti-Catholic provisions of the 1917 constitution, implementing the so-called Calles Law, which provided specific penalties for priests who criticised the government (five years’ imprisonment) or wore clerical garb in certain situations outside their churches (500 pesos). This law went into effect on 31 July 1926.
By this time, some states, such as Tabasco under the notorious anti-Catholic Tomás Garrido Canabal, had closed all the churches and cleared the entire state of serving priests, killing many of them, forcing a few to marry and the remaining few serving covertly at risk of their lives. On his return, Fr Miguel served a Church which was forced to go “underground.” He celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics. Details of Pro’s ministry in the underground church come from his many letters, signed with the nickname Cocol. In October 1926, a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was arrested and released from prison the next day but kept under surveillance.
A failed attempt to assassinate Álvaro Obregón, which only wounded him, in November 1927, provided the state with a pretext for arresting Pro again, this time with his brothers Humberto and Roberto. A young engineer who confessed his part in the assassination testified that the Pro brothers were not involved. Miguel and his brothers were taken to the Detective Inspector’s Office in Mexico City.
President Calles gave orders to have Pro executed for the assassination attempt. Pro and his brothers were visited by Generals Roberto Cruz and Palomera Lopez around 11 p.m. on 22 November 1927. The next day, as 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 was 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!”.
When the initial shots of the firing squad failed to kill him, a soldier shot him at point-blank range.
Calles had the execution meticulously photographed and the newspapers throughout the country carried photos on the front page the following day. Presumably, Calles thought that the sight of the pictures would frighten the Cristero rebels who were fighting against his troops, particularly in the state of Jalisco. However, they had the opposite effect.
Calles is reported to have looked down upon a throng of 40,000 who lined Pro’s funeral procession. Another 20,000 waited at the cemetery where he was buried without a priest present, his father saying the final words. The Cristeros became more animated and fought with renewed enthusiasm, many of them carrying the newspaper photo of Pro before the firing squad.
At Pro’s Beatification in Saint Peter’s Square on 25 September 1988, St Pope John Paul II said:
“Neither suffering nor serious illness, nor 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.”
Bl Miguel Agustin Pro SJ (1891 – 1927) Priest and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
St Adalbert of Casauria
St Alexander Nevski
St Amphilochius of Iconium
St Augusta of Alexandria
St Cecilia Yu Sosa
St Clement of Metz
Bl Detlev of Ratzeburg
Bl Enrichetta Alfieri
St Falitrus of Chabris
St Faustina of Alexandria
Bl Felícitas Cendoya Araquistain
St Felicity of Rome
St Gregory of Girgenti
Bl Guy of Casauria
St Jaume Nàjera Gherna
St Loëvan of Brittany
St Lucretia of Mérida
Bl Margaret of Savoy
St Mustiola of Chiusi
St Paternian of Fano
St Paulinus of Whitland
St Rachildis of Saint-Gall
St Severin of Paris
St Sisinius of Cyzicus
St Trudo of Hesbaye
St Wilfetrudis of Nivelless