Monday, May 22, 2017

Sacrificing Everything for the Faith: Blessed Miguel Pro

by Ann Ball

This is one of the possible saint biographies named in the Mater Amabilis™ Level 4 lesson plans (8th grade). It coordinates with the 20th Century history plans. Our children are already familiar with the story of this mischievous priest from the Glory Story.

Blessed Miguel Pro is one of many priests, religious, and lay Catholics persecuted and executed by Mexican revolutionaries. Unlike many of them, there are plenty of photographs of his execution in 1927. Photographs of the execution, the moment of impact of the bullets, of a soldier standing over Father Miguel's body to shoot him in the head, and a photography of a bloody Father Miguel in death are included in this book, so be aware if you intend to share this book with younger children. Though disturbing, I don't think they are too graphic for my 13 1/2 year old son. He'll be reading this book first term next year.

This book is not a literary biography or historical fiction. The author draws on interviews and letters to present a basic history of Miguel Pro from this childhood through his disrupted studies for the priesthood (when the seminaries in Mexico were closed) and, finally, his return to his Mexico in the midst of the persecution of Catholics and the Church. Throughout the book, little stories and examples of his personality are woven into the more basic narrative.

It is appropriate for my 8th grade son to begin wrestling with martyrdom in the modern world. Living in the security of 2017 Kansas, it is easy to think the martyrdom of saints like St. Paul and St. Ignatius of Antioch are only found in the ancient world. Bl. Miguel Pro is, however, one of many Catholics and Christians killed because of their faith (explicitly or implicitly) in the past century and into the current year. Bl. Miguel gives us an example of how to live faithfully, joyfully, and devotedly in a modern world seeking our destruction. He did not take arms against an unjust government, instead serving the persecuted through the sacraments and gifts of food and clothing.

This book seems to be reasonably well-researched, though not as a scholarly work. There are quite a few resources in the bibliography, but they are not specifically referenced in the text. It also doesn't seem like there are original sources (like the letters), though it's likely those would be difficult to research by an American traveling in Mexico at the current time. There is no translator mentioned for either the letters or the prayers and poems included in the appendices, so I assume the author translated them herself. Despite these minor shortcomings, this is a good book for a late middle school or high school student on Bl. Miguel Pro.

I purchased this book directly from the publisher and received nothing in return for this review.

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