“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
From the Gospel of Saint John 1:5 ~ (Revised Standard Version)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Tomorrow, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, is also The World Day for Cloistered Life: Pro Orantibus Day. Would you like to learn and discover more about cloistered life? Visit: cloisteredlife.com
We are so blessed to have a community of cloistered Sisters in our Diocese! Now, there is one more PCPA Sister in their community! May more join them!
Let us pray for our cloistered “Desert Nuns”, The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, at Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Tonopah, AZ. We welcome a new member to their community: Sr. Faustina Marie Bernemann, PCPA!
Our Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration share this good news with us:
“On September 9th, our community was blessed to add Sr. Faustina Marie of the Father’s Merciful Love to our number! Sister is in the process of transferring to our community from Monastere de Notre Dame des Anges in Troyes France. Sister is a native Iowan and joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in 1994 in Birmingham, AL. Sr. Faustina Marie was in initial formation with Mother Marie Andre, Sr. Marie St. Paul, and Sr. Mary Fidelis. In 2005 she went to Troyes to help reopen our Protomonastery. We rejoice to welcome her into our community here in the heart of the desert. Kindly keep her in your prayers during this time of transition.”
On October 3, they prayed The Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi, leading up to his Feast Day, October 4. This photo was taken at their Monastery:
Blessed Feast of Christ the King this Sunday! Bl. Miguel Pro, pray for us.
This Monday, November 23, we celebrate the life and heroic witness of Padre Miguel Agustín Pro, a Jesuit Priest and Martyr of Mexico (d. 1927).
“¡Viva Cristo Rey!”, these were the words of Bl. Miguel Pro as he was being executed. November 23 his Feast Day is celebrated throughout the Church. I would like to share with you his witness as a martyr of the Cristiada War. The photo of his execution above was published in all the news papers by the corrupt, violent President of Mexico, Calles, to deter people from countering his terrible, oppress regime. It had the opposite effect. Many Mexicans fought for their religious freedom, courageously losing their lives.
In July of 2018, I went on pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, accompanied by 3 of my Sisters. On the last day of our pilgrimage, we visited the Church of the Holy Family where Bl. Miguel Pro was the pastor, and there we visited his shrine, his remains and the museum of his life. It was quite an unforgettable visit for me. One of my Sisters, Sister Mary Mía, is named after Bl. Miguel Pro, and she organized this pilgrimage to Mexico City. As part of the itinerary, we went to this Parish and Shrine of Bl. Miguel Pro to pray to him at his tomb, and to learn about his heroic life. Praying before his remains was such a profound experience for all of us.
I was impressed by the photographs of his martyrdom by fire squad, particularly by the one capturing the moment when he asked to pray.
This great Saint’s story made a great impression on me. At the time of Bl. Miguel Pro’s death, Mexico was ruled by a fiercely anti-clerical and anti-Catholic President Plutarco Elías Calles who had begun a cruel persecution of the Church. He was born in a mining family on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Zacatecas. He was the third of eleven children, four of whom had died as infants or young children. Two of his sisters joined the convent. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at El Llano on August 15, 1911.
With the nickname, “Cocol,” Bl. Miguel Pro was a man with a great sense of humor, a charitable heart and the ability to speak about spiritual subjects without boring his audience. He was known to be a master of disguise. One of his companions, 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.
In 1911, the long-time President of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, was ousted in 1911 after staging a rigged reelection, and a struggle for power – the Mexican Revolution- began. Fr. Pro 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, CA, in the United States. He then went to study in Granada, Spain (1915-19), and from 1919-1922 taught in Nicaragua.
A new constitution for Mexico had been signed in 1917. Five articles of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico were particularly aimed at suppression of the Catholic Church. Article 3 mandated secular education in the schools, prohibiting the Church from participating in primary and secondary education. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders. Article 24 forbade public worship outside of church buildings, while Article 27 restricted religious organizations’ rights to own property. Finally, Article 130 revoked basic civil rights of clergy members: priests and religious workers were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were forbidden from commenting on public affairs to the press. Most of the anti-clerical provisions of the constitutions were removed in 1998.
For his theological studies, Bl. Miguel 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 August 31, 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. In the summer of 1926, his studies in Europe completed, Bl. Miguel Pro returned to Mexico. On the way he visited Lourdes where he celebrated Mass and visited the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. He also made a trip to Cuba on July 4 for 3 days. Bl. Miguel Pro arrived at Veracruz on July 8, 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 criticized the government (five years’ imprisonment) or wore clerical garb in certain situations outside their churches (500 pesos). This law went into effect on July 31, 1926.
By this time, some states had closed all the churches and cleared the entire state of openly 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 Bl. Miguel Pro served a Church which was forced to go “underground.” He celebrated the Eucharist in secret and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics. 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 Bl. Miguel 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.
On November 23, 1927, he was executed without trial. President Calles gave orders to have Pro executed for the assassination attempt. Calles had the execution meticulously photographed, and the newspapers through 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.
Blessed Miguel Pro and his brothers were visited by Generals Roberto Cruz and Palomera Lopez around 11 p.m. on November 22, 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 is reported to have looked down upon a throng of 40,000 which 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 Bl. Miguel Pro’s beatification in Saint Peter’s Square on September 25, 1988, Saint 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.”
With gratitude for his heroic witness of faith and total love for Jesus Christ, let us pray to Blessed Miguel Pro for the courage to be true disciples of Jesus Christ the King. Let us be urged on to speak the truth out of love for Christ!
I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! You are in my daily prayers, and I am grateful to God for each of you as you live for Christ, the light of the world. Christ the King has won the victory over sin and death by his total sacrifice of himself and Resurrection. Let us praise the Lord and give Him thanks!
Your Sister in Christ,
Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, Director of the Office of Consecrated Life