Thursday 18 April 2024

Blessed Miguel Pro - Ann Ball - TAN Books

Blessed Miguel Pro
Ann Ball
ISBN 9780895555427
eISBN 9781618901538

I read this as part of Father Mark Goring’s Saint Mark’s School of Reading. I picked up the eBook to follow along, as a part time student. It was wonderful reading this with Father Mark’s weekly videos. The description of this book states:

“This is the inspiring story of the famous Father Miguel Pro who was executed in Mexico in 1927 for the crime of being a Catholic priest. This young Jesuit spent most of his short life in the priesthood dodging the Mexican police as he ministered to the underground Church during the Mexican Revolution. Fr Pro's quick wit and keen sense of humor were put to good use as he pedaled around Mexico City on his bicycle in various disguises, en route to administering the Sacraments, giving spiritual talks or begging food and money for the poor. But behind the disguises beat the heart of a Saint - as the Mexican people testified by turning out in throngs to pay their last respects after his martyrdom. Fr Pro offered his life for the Catholic Faith and his last words on this earth were: "Viva Cristo Rey" - Long live Christ the King! Blessed Miguel Pro makes history come alive and highlights the dramatic conflict between the Church and her enemies that continues even to this day. Every member of the family will be delighted by this fast-paced true story of a modern Catholic hero who proclaimed both in life and death the reign of Christ the King.”

This volume however was not my introduction to Blessed Miguel, I had previously read Padre Pro Mexican Hero by Fanchon Royer from the Portraits in Faith and Freedom Series. It was wonderful to return to this amazing story in this version of his life and deeds. The chapters in this volume are:

Author’s Preface
 1: A Lively Childhood
 2: Formative Years
 3: Young Manhood
 4: Mounting Political Tensions
 5: Three Vocations
 6: Flight from Mexico
 7: A Priest at Last
 8: Crosses of Body and Soul
 9: Return to Mexico: The Church Goes Underground
 10: The First Arrest
 11: Works of Mercy
 12: The Danger Increases
 13: Capture!
 14: Martyrdom
 15: Favors From Heaven
Appendix 1: Writings of Bl. Miguel Pro
Appendix 2: Prayers
Appendix 3: A Celebration in Honor of Bl. Miguel Pro
Selected Bibliography

Father Mark covered this volume doing three chapters a week, spreading the teachings out over 5 weeks. I tried to read the chapters ahead, and then reread them after watching Father Mark’s teaching video. I highlighted a few sections while reading this volume, some of them are:

“My interest in the life of Bl. Miguel Pro, S.J., began over 25 years ago when I had barely begun to gather information for a book on modern saints. In my initial research on his life and martyrdom, I was captivated by his happy nature and spirit of joy combined with a deep seriousness of thought, his consuming zeal for souls, his passion for justice, his dedication to obedience and his strong devotion, as well as his sublime heroism.”

“A new medal was struck, and the chaplets were produced. I wrote an article about Fr. Pro, which was published in Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic paper. In the article, I gave the address of ProVision for those who wanted more information. The paper immediately received a flood of letters from all across the United States from people who seemed hungry to know more about this happy martyr.”

“Before his death Bl. Miguel told some of his friends that he believed that the offering of his life would be accepted and that martyrdom would be his key to Heaven. He then remarked jokingly that if he were allowed this favor, his friends should get their petitions ready, because from Heaven he would deal out favors as if they were a deck of cards.”

“It is my sincere prayer that this brief retelling of the story of the Mexican “Joker” will help him in some small way to continue his “game” of uniting hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of gaining souls for “mi Padre Dios”—“ God my Father”—which was Bl. Miguel’s favorite name for Divine Providence.”

“This is not a book on politics. Study as much as you like, the political situation of Mexico was, and is, complicated. In this brief work there is not space to include a definitive rendering of all the political motivations and actions in Mexico between 1890 and 1940.”

“There is more adventure, excitement and danger in the life of the Mexican priest Fr. Miguel Pro than in many modern spy thrillers.”

“Miguel was ordained in Belgium on August 31, 1925. His only sadness was that none of his family members could be there with him. He told one of his newly ordained classmates, “At last we are priests, and that is enough.” After the ceremony, the new priests went to the parlor to give the first blessing to their parents. Fr. Pro went to his room, laid out the photographs of his family on the table and blessed them from the bottom of his heart.”

“After this second operation the pain seemed even worse, and any food provoked an agony that felt like a blazing fire. Miguel bore this with serenity and cheerfulness; the nursing sisters who attended him testified later that they had never seen anything to compare with his patience. When his friends stopped in to cheer him up, they stayed to be cheered up by him instead. He joked about his health and told amusing stories. A remark to one of his co-religious gives a hint as to the source of his courage: “I pray almost all day and during most of the night. After this I find myself refreshed.””

“When he was able to resume some of his duties, Fr. Pro insisted on saying the first Mass in order to let the other priests sleep a bit later, saying it was no hardship to get up early, as he could not sleep anyway. Afterwards, he assisted the other priests with their Masses. When the sister complained that he was doing too much, Fr. Pro told her, “I only wish I were able to serve all the Masses that are celebrated.””

“Within 23 days of his arrival, an order suppressing all public worship was issued. Calles, determined to enforce vigorously the anti-religious provisions of the “Constitution of Queretaro,” promulgated a new law in July of 1926 which laicized education—removing it from ecclesiastical control—dissolved religious Orders, forbade priests to criticize the government or the laws of the country, and put all public worship under the supervision of the secular powers. By this decree the government restricted public worship to the interior of churches and declared all churches monasteries, convents and other religious buildings to be property of the state. The infamous 33 Articles of this law sufficed to suppress the freedom of every exercise of Catholic life in Mexico.”

“Because he was unknown as a priest, Fr. Pro was able to minister secretly and successfully to the Catholics of several parishes. He wrote to a friend: “I have what I call ‘Eucharistic stations’ where, fooling the vigilance of the police, I go each day to give Communion, some days to one place, others to another, with an average of 300 Communions daily.” On First Fridays the number would increase; once there were over 1,000 communicants.”

“The Holy See granted the clergy of Mexico unusual privileges during the persecution. Only the essential parts of the Mass had to be said and no vestments had to be worn during the Mass. (Fr. Pro carried with him a small stole which was cut up after his death and given as relics to the faithful.) Any type of bread could be used for the host, and even a common glass could serve as a chalice, provided that the priest broke it after the Holy Sacrifice so that, in respect for the Precious Blood, it would never again be used for ordinary purposes. These exceptions were allowed so that the faithful would not be denied the graces of the Mass and to make it easier to avert suspicion in case of a police raid.”

“Although the Pros may well have known some things about the Cristero organization and activities, there is no shred of evidence connecting any of the Pro brothers with the violent acts of the Cristeros or with the violent sector of the Religious Defense League. Humberto admitted his dedication to the propaganda work of the Religious Defense League but denied having ever participated in any acts or plans of armed resistance.”

“Prayer for the Canonization Of Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J. OGOD our Father, Who granted to Your son Miguel Agustín, in his life and in his martyrdom, to seek with enthusiasm Your utmost glory and his own salvation, allow us to follow his example in Your service and to honor You by carrying out our daily duties with fidelity and joy in helping our fellow man. We ask that, if it be Your Will, we may soon honor Blessed Miguel as a new saint of the Church. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.”

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this excellent little volume. This is one of those little gems you could return to time and time again, for inspiration and encouragement. It is an amazing story of a man who lived his faith in a most dangerous time. And he is an example we need today.  

While researching this volume I discovered the author has over 100 titles available, and most look to be on the faith. After reading this I will be digging into her works further. I can easily recommend it to all Catholics. It was another great selection for the Father Mark Goring for his Saint Mark’s School of Reading It was wonderful to work through this book and follow along with the weekly videos. I can easily recommend this book. It is an excellent read!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2024 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Ann Ball:
A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals
A Litany of Mary
A Litany of Saints
A Saint for Your Name: Saints for Boys
A Saint for Your Name: Saints for Girls
Catholic Book of the Dead
Catholic Traditions in Cooking
Catholic Traditions in Crafts
Catholic Traditions in the Garden
Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotion and Practices
Faces of Holiness: Modern Saints in Photos and Words vol. 1
Faces of Holiness: Modern Saints in Photos and Words vol. 2
Holy Names of Jesus
Modern Saints: Their Lives and Faces Vol. 2
Modern Saints: Their Lives and Faces. Vol. 1
OSV's Catholic Encyclopedia for Children
Prayers for Prisoners. 
The Persecuted Church
The Saints Guide to Joy and Laughter
Young Faces of Holiness

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