Friday, November 23, 2012
Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Miguel Augustin Pro, priest and martyr.
Miguel Agustin Pro was born January 13, 1891, in Mexico. From his childhood, he was known for his high spirits and happy personality. The son of an affluent mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes.
At 20, he became a Jesuit novice and shortly afterwards was exiled due to the Mexican revolution. He traveled to the United States, Spain, Nicaragua and Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925. Father Pro suffered greatly from a severe stomach disorder. When his health did not improve after several surgeries, his superiors permitted him to return to Mexico in 1926.
At this time, the revolutionary government in Mexico had banned all religious practice. The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. The government was particularly focused on finding and persecuting priests. Father Pro became a great master of disguise and spent the remainder of his life in a secret ministry to the Mexican Catholics who helped hide him from the authorities. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, Fr. Pro also assisted the poor of Mexico City with their temporal needs. In all that he did, he remained filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.
Falsely accused in a bombing attempt on the President-elect, Pro became a wanted man. On November 18, 1927, he was arrested and sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.On November 23, the day of his death, Father Pro prayed, forgave his executioners, bravely refused a blindfold, and faced the firing squad with his arms extended in the form of a cross, proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long Live Christ the King!)
A Prayer Composed by Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J.
According to one of Fr. Pro’s biographers, Rec. M.D. Forrest, M.S.C., the following was composed shortly before his death:
"Does our life become from day to day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish... 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 vigor 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 in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life."