Antithesis: A Short Story based on the Martyrdom of Blessed Miguel Pro

Fiction By Gary // 7/20/2006

"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." - A Prayer of Fr. Miguel Pro

Miguel pressed his hands together. His heart emptied as he quietly prayed for the last time. He had prayed and longed for this. It was now the time for his prayer to be consummated. His life’s culmination, his swan song, and he would make the most of it. He finished his prayers, kissed his crucifix and rose to his feet. His eyes were bold and strong. He raised his arms high to his sides in the form of the cross, and looked at the firing squad. It was time. His heart raced. His time had come. He was being called home. He opened his lips. He had known for a long time what his last words would be.

Juan looked from behind the cold barrel of his gun. This man is courageous in spite of death. He is not arrogant like a rebel. He is not frightened however. Who is he? How? Then grace hit him like lightning. He remembered his grandmother talking to him about Jesus - His courage in spite of death, His humility, His lack of fear. Here He was, living in Padre Miguel. Juan’s faith had been a causality of the persecution, he had forgotten Christ.

He remembered walking to Sunday Mass with his family. He remembered kneeling in the clay building and hearing the joyful songs of the people. He remembered staring at the crucifix above the altar, minutes would pass just looking at Jesus’ sorrowful face. How could anyone do that to Him? Jesus was perfect! He never did anything wrong! How could those evil soldiers do that to Him?

Juan knew the answer to that now. They were weak. They were afraid. Juan was one of those soldiers now, as he stood behind the barrel of that rifle. He was going to kill Jesus again. He was going to kill Jesus in Miguel.

Padre Miguel had rejected the blindfold, he wasn’t frightened. How could he be? He was dying as Jesus had… He was dying for love. He breathed deeply. Thousands of thoughts raced through his head. He had been a silly youth. He remembered stealing his papa’s cigarettes, and how his papa found out after they fell out of his pocket. He remembered his little sweetheart. He remembered playing music with his siblings. He remembered how he had grown, and been ordained a Priest. He remembered the pain of his people in Mexico. Their suffering was his as well. He dearly loved his country, and prayed for the day when she would accept Christ as King again. Miguel closed his eyes and prayed fervently.

Time was quickening. Juan shuddered as each second passed. He couldn’t bear it. He held the gun tightly, and his teeth ground together. Already, swelling waves of guilt burned into his chest. He knew he was weak. He knew Miguel was strong. Murderers were weak and these Martyrs were strong. What had they done? Prayed? Worshipped God? Death for praying? The government feared God, because He held the people’s hearts. Juan feared Miguel, because he was about to die but was strong in the face of it.

Miguel opened his eyes, and they connected with Juan’s. The killer’s eyes with that of the prey. Only the killer was shaking with fear, and the prey stood strong with faith. Miguel looked forgivingly at Juan. Suddenly, his lips burst open and he shouted his last words, "Viva Cristo Rey!" - Long live Christ the King!

Juan pulled the trigger with his eyes shut tight. He knew he was sinning. He knew. But he was too weak not to pull that trigger. He knew there was strength in the blood of those killed for Christ. He knew that Christ would return to blood-drenched Mexico. The blood of the martyrs would buy Mexico back for Jesus.

Bullets slammed into Miguel. He crumbled under the force of the darts. His body fell from how he had been standing - mimicking Christ on the cross. He fell to the ground, his rosary clenched in his hands. He looked up at the sky. A soldier came to his side and pointed the muzzle of a weapon at his head. The bullet entered his skull and he died.

Juan crumbled inside, and struggled to stand tall. He was so sorry. Dead inside, his eyes were blank. He felt he would never be whole again. However, Padre Miguel’s forgiving eyes lingered on his heart. Perhaps, someday he would be forgiven, and could stand tall in life as Miguel had stood in death.

Now Miguel was warm. He felt comforted. He watched his life, every day of it. His sins, his fallings, his imperfections, his joys, his love…Everything. He knew where He was. He prayed for his killers with a loving heart. A warm, deep, strong, courageous voice spoke to him, “Miguel…My, Miguel… Well done, My good and faithful servant! Enter the Kingdom of My Father.” A pierced hand clasped Miguel’s and led him into Paradise.

Note – Though Juan is a fictitious character, and obviously the Heavenly account of Miguel stems from my imagination, I attempted to make Fr. Miguel’s death, as well as the accounts of his life accurate to the truth.

Fr. Pro was one of the thousands of Catholics attacked during the Mexican persecution of Catholics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. "Viva Cristo Rey!" was the battle cry of the brave Christians. Torture, murder, exile, and harassment were inflicted on the Bride of Christ, the Church, in Mexico with vehemence and hate. Fr. Miguel was a lively man, who loved Jesus with a vibrant heart. He is commonly known for his humorous disguises and tactics of evading the persecution so he could secretly minister to God’s children. He is held as Blessed in the Catholic faith, and is on the road to Canonization. He was shot on Nov. 23 1927. His brother Humberto was executed the same day. Thousands flocked to see the martyr’s body, and the funeral procession had more than five-hundred cars even though President Calles had forbidden any public demonstration.

To learn more about Fr. Miguel’s roots, his undercover evangelism, and courageous Martyrdom, I highly recommend Ann Ball’s book “Blessed Miguel Pro: 20th-Century Mexican Martyr” from TAN.


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