Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Great Mexican Jesuit Martyr: Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. "Viva Cristo Rey!"

One of my fave Jesuit martyrs is Blessed Miguel Pro, a priest of the Society of Jesus (S.J.).

Today, we remember him and how he laid down his life for Christ in Mexico.  Here's a black and white photo of him a few minutes before his execution before a firing squad.  His crime: He was falsely accused of a political assassination attempt.  His last words: Viva Cristo Rey!



Last week, Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao defeated his Mexican boxing rival.  But today, and more importantly for all eternity, we remember this great Mexican martyr who, like St. Paul who died for Jesus, fought as though he were not shadow boxing.

In the spiritual life, martyrdom shows the real character of a real fighter in the ring.  One does not shadow box.  One fights to win!  And to win for love of Jesus Christ who has already won the battle.

In this corner: Fr. Miguel Pro, weighing in with his faith in the Cross and love for the flock.  In that corner: the persecuting government of Mexico in the 1920s, weighing in with all their political power and force at their disposal.

Yes, it seems odd that a country that was overwhelmingly Catholic -- some 90%+ of the population -- was experiencing persecution.

Padre Miguel would go around in disguise, celebrating Mass, hearing Confessions, baptizing and comforting the persecuted flock.

Here's a picture of him in one of his many disguises.  Look out, Zartan!  Look out, Mission: Impossible team!


I love this one where he's disguised as a plumber.


I can just imagine Padre Pro asking one of the officers pursuing him to light his cigarette while in disguise.

I even heard one time he approached a posted security guard who was guarding a house in which some Catholics were expecting him to say Mass.

Imagine this:

Father Miguel walks up to a house that is expecting him, approaches the guard posted at the front door, and engages in conversation with the very people pursuing him.  Remember, he's a wanted man.

Fr. Pro: Senor, have you spotted that priest yet?

Guard: Not yet, Senor.

Fr. Pro: Well, let me know if you see him.

Guard: Si, Senor!

Fr. Pro walks in the house to celebrate Mass in secret.

After Mass, Fr. Pro walks out of the house and talks to the guard.

Fr. Pro: Any sight of that priest?

Guard: Not yet, Senor.

Fr. Pro: Well, be sure to keep an eye out for him.

Guard: Okay, Senor!

Fr. Pro then walks away.

I'm paraphrasing the story.

But you get the point.

Padre Miguel was bold!



Eventually, they caught him.


The government decided to take photos to scare the people.

Alas!

When will governments who try to destroy the Church ever learn?  The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.


This photo posted above is Father Miguel in prayer before his execution.   He forgives his executors.

It is really the first time someone's martyrdom is recorded in 20 centuries of the Church's history.

Viva Cristo Rey!
Holding a rosary in hand, he makes the shape of a Cross with his arms.  He yells out for the last time: Viva Cristo Rey!

Long live Christ the King!



They put a bullet in his head just to make sure he's dead.

But viva Pade Miguel!  He's alive in Christ!




Thank you, mil gracias, for your sacrifice, Padre Miguel!

I think of this passage today, and I dedicate it to this great Jesuit martyr.  It's from one of St. Paul's letter:

"Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.  
They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
Thus, I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train for it, for fear that, after having preached to others, 
I myself should be disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:25-27).

Run so as to win!  And win the imperishable crown he did.

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us.

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