The last words of many of the Mexican martyrs--- Blessed Miguel Pro, Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez del Rios--- were an acclamation of their faith:  “Viva Cristo Rey!” and “Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!”----  in English:  “Long live Christ the King!” and “Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!”

Listen to the message of Blessed Miguel Pro:  “We ought to speak, shout out against injustices, with confidence and without fear. We proclaim the principles of the Church, the reign of love, without forgetting that it is also a reign of justice.”

Blessed Pope John Paul II , at the beatification of Blessed Miguel Pro on September 25, 1988 honored this great hero of God with these words of praise:  “Neither suffering nor serious illness, neither the exhausting ministerial activity, frequently carried out in difficult 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.”

These noble men of God prioritized the salvation of their immortal souls over the comfort and security of their temporal goods, comfort, and safety of their body. As Jesus said, “What would it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul? What can one exchange for the salvation of his soul?”

In a world where comfort, ease, pleasure, money, power, vanity, prestige have become practically “gods”, the martyrs in all times, places, and cultures teach us the true meaning of our lives: to know God, love God, obey God, be faithful to God (even to the point of the shedding of blood) so as to win the award of eternal happiness in heaven.

Once the great Jesuit saint and scholar St Peter Canisius was counseled by a friend to slow down and rest a little bit.  Without hesitation this loyal disciple of St Ignatius of Loyola responded:  “In heaven I will have all eternity to rest!  Now is the time to work!”    St. Paul captured this movement of the heart with these words:  “The charity of Christ compels us!”

Jesus Himself expressed this urgency, with words of passion in a world that has sunk into  lukewarmness and tepidity and mediocrity,  “I have come to cast fire on earth and I am in anguish until that fire be enkindled.”  Jesus longs for fiery-passionate Apostles willing and ready to “cast fire on the earth.”

The fiery Dominican preacher, St. Vincent Ferrer O.P. , poignantly asserted:  “From a heart that is cold and icy, fiery darts cannot shoot out of the mouth.” Nobody can give what he does not have.   Jesus Himself reiterates this truth stating, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks!”

In this Year of Faith in which the Holy Father, in union with the Bishops throughout the world, there is a real urgency to imitate the saints, to follow in the footsteps of the martyrs, to give totally of oneself to Christ the King. How can this be done?

The response can be found in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.  Authentic followers of Christ called to be prophets, evangelizers, and missionaries must relive the 1st and most powerful novena that took place in the upper room, the Cenacle.   In other words there must be a renewed Pentecost experience within the church, starting with every individual person in a personal and unique way.   As Pope Benedict XVI insists in his Apostolic letter, “Porta fidei” the year of faith is time to have a personal experience with Jesus who is alive and active.

What happened that 1st Pentecost?   It lasted 9 days--- a 9 day spiritual retreat of great power! Present in the Upper Room were the Apostles united with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The elements of this experience were the following:

1.    SILENCE.    Time and time again the present Pope and the saints insist on  silence  as an indispensable means to attain union with God. God cannot be heard in the cacophony of strident protests and confusion!   The Apostles experienced silence so that God could speak personally to their hearts.

2.    PRAYER.  The efficacy of apostolic success is in direct proportion to the depth of one’s prayer life. Prayer is communication and union with God.  Men of prayer communicate God to others.  The Apostles had a powerful experience with God in those 9 days.

3.     NOVENA/PROLONGED PRAYER.   Short, distracted, superficial prayer is not sufficient to form true apostles of Christ. It is necessary longer blocks of time to go deep in this encounter with Christ.

4.    PENANCE.   In addition to prayer the Apostles dedicated themselves to penance by means of fasting.   Jesus initiated His Public life by a 40 day retreat in which he prayed and fasted and conquered the devil.  Jesus stated clearly:  “Some devils can be expelled only by prayer and fasting.” One must empty himself of self and sensuality to allow for the Divine invasion.
5.    MARY.  Mary is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of the Apostles and the New Star of Evangelization.  Experience proves this fact in the 2000 years of the Church that the greatest apostles are those who have discovered Mary, have a filial devotion to Mary, invoke Mary constantly, offer their apostolic enterprises to Mary and live constantly under her loving gaze.  In the Cenacle the Apostles had Mary in the very heart of their prayer experience. How did they profit from Mary? First, they profited by Mary’s silence that spoke so eloquently about union with God. They profited from the prayers of Mary that indeed can move mountains. They profited by the example of Mary. Just contemplating her motivated them to pray with greater faith, devotion and fervor.


The room shook like that of an earthquake and tongues of fire descended on the Apostles. TRANSFORMATION!!!!   A few days earlier, paralyzed by fear of the Jews, possible torture resulting in martyrdom, these renewed and transformed apostles preached boldly, gave witness to their belief in Jesus in word and deed, suffered persecution and even imprisonment for the Lord.
Still more, all of the Apostles, with the exception of St. John the Beloved, suffered martyrdom for their firm belief and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. One was beheaded, another was crucified in the form of an X; another was crucified upside down; still another was flayed alive (Bartholomew) that means that he was skinned alive but did not die until he was beheaded.

All of this took place after the 1st Pentecost experience--- the powerful descent and coming of the Holy Spirit with the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Today more than ever do we need within the church a renewed Pentecost experience. The obstacles of materialism, sensuality, hedonism, agnosticism and atheism must be conquered by a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray!  “Come Holy Spirit, come though the Immaculate Heart of Mary!”