Happy Feast of Blessed Miguel Pro
November 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
I spent one of my favorite feast days very enjoyably today, beginning with Mass, followed by breakfast with a lovely gal in Baltimore and Thanksgiving prep at home, and some shopping with my sister still to come this evening. I couldn’t have asked for more.
A little about my heavenly friend, Blessed Miguel. Miguel was born in Zacatecas, Mexico on January 13, 1891. The talented boy struggled with his studies in Mexico and later in Europe, and was ordained a priest in Belgium in 1925. After returning to Mexico – where many Anti-Catholic laws, particularly targeting priests and other religious – he worked underground and often in disguise to minister to the Mexican Catholics. Eventually, after being in Mexico for a little over a year, Blessed Miguel was discovered to be a priest and under trumped-up charges of being involved in a plot to assassinate the President was sentenced to death. Facing the firing squad on November 23, 1927, he shouted “Viva Cristo Rey” (Long Live Christ the King) as he died. (We celebrate his feast on the day of his death, as in all other Catholic feast days, because the day of death is considered the day we are born into our true Eternal lives.)
I “met” Miguel through a friend when I was twelve. My best pal Dustin, with whom I have unfortunately lost touch, read and lent me a little biography of the saint. He was so enthusiastic I could not resist. I read the book, and the “Merry Mexican Martyr” captured my heart: his joy through suffering, his contagious laughter that contemporaries mentioned, his love for fun and games, and his passion for Christ and for his own vocation to the priesthood. An awkward teenager, I finished the book and prayed for two things – that Miguel would be my heavenly friend, and that he would teach me the virtue of holy joy.
Twelve years later, I am still learning to practice holy joy but I trace any resilience back to his intercession with Christ and tutelage. We are great friends — Miguel always manages to pop up when I most need it and least expect it. For example, several years ago I was beginning an internship at the White House and was absolutely terrified. Knowing the only place that I could calm my nerves, I headed for the nearest Catholic church to sit awhile. Since it was a church I’d never visited, I poked around the scaffolding (the paintings were being restored) and, to my surprise, behind the scaffolding was a life-sized painting of Blessed Miguel. I was overwhelmed.
This holy man is a constant companion, intercessor, and confidante. I hope very much that every one of you will take the opportunity today to invite him to teach you holy joy as well and become your friend.