In a time when organized religion and freedom of conscience seem to be dwindling on a daily basis, we as Catholics must make every effort to remain undeterred. We know that during times of great difficulty, the Church has always responded with great men and women, who rose to the occasion. Blessed Miguel Pro is one such individual. He was a Jesuit priest who was martyred for his zeal and witness to the Catholic Church. In order to study for the priesthood, he had to leave his native land of Mexico and travel to Spain. This was due the Mexican government’s persecution of the Catholic Church. He was eventually ordained a priest in Belgium in 1925.
Upon his return to Mexico, he had to disguise himself in order to offer up Mass and confer the sacraments. At times, he would dress as a cab driver so he could travel undetected through the streets of Mexico, practicing the faith and strengthening the people. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to death even though he was innocent of the crimes for which he was charged. Upon his execution, before a firing squad, he stretched out his arms and exclaimed “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”). His death was meant to serve as a warning, but it’s only result was that of inspiration.
Be a Witness
To be a martyr means to be a ‘witness’. We may never be asked to shed blood for our faith, but we are expected to serve as ambassadors for Christ and His Church. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an explanation for the hope that is within. Our world is in desperate need of hope. It has been blinded to the Truth and the results are startling. Today’s society promotes a culture of hedonism, minimalism, atheism that resembles the culture of death St. John Paul II too often warned us about. This unfortunate reality has led to a deterioration of the human spirit. We have to realize that we were made by God, and for God, and must remain under His guidance if we are to ever be truly happy and fulfilled. St. Augustine revealed this to us in the fourth century (“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”) His words are just as poignant today as they were when he first wrote them.
St. Paul expressed to the Romans (12:22): “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” We live for the Incarnation, and we follow a Way that is above all others. Yes, there may be consequences to pay for this approach to life, but we cannot go along to get along. We must see sin and evil for what it is and not conform to it for the sake of good order. Sins of omission can be more dangerous to our souls than those of commission. Just as Eli was found responsible for the sins of his sons, Hophni and Phineas, by not speaking out against them, we, too, run a similar risk by not stepping out of our comfort zones to become great witnesses for Truth. However, it is important to note that this should always be done with charity.
Charity denotes love for our neighbor and our Catholic faith obligates us to serve in the manner, which Christ did. When you serve with love, you only provide what is best for your beloved. For Catholics, that means getting them to Heaven and what could be better than helping another attain Heaven?
Be Not Afraid
As many of you go into the world living the Gospel message of Christ, it is essential that you remain strong in your Catholic identity. Do not fear being immersed in a secular culture, whether in high school, college or in the workplace. These can pose real challenges to your faith and create moments of doubt. Just remember St. John Paul II’s words, “Be not afraid!” Remain close to the Church through Scripture, the Catechism, prayer, the Liturgy, and of course, the Sacraments. Find ways to stay involved in the Church, whether through a youth ministry group, Newman Center, or young adult group. Establish good relationships with others who share your passion for Truth. Support and ‘sharpen’ one another (Proverbs 27:17). Lastly, do not be afraid to defend the Catholic Church’s teachings. The Holy Spirit will inspire you and guide you during these moments (Matthew 10:19).
Blessed Miguel Pro served as a model of faith, courage, and service in the face of huge opposition. He fastened himself to Christ, and His teachings, and this provided him with all that was necessary to accomplish the mission; a mission in accordance with God’s eternal plan for our salvation. May he remain a constant source of inspiration for you and for all of us, as we continue to live out the message of TRUTH in our lives. God bless!
For additional information on Bl. Miguel Pro, please click here.