Christmas 2021

I have had a love/hate relationship with Facebook over the past few years. And lately it has most definitely become just a ‘hate’ relationship.

So forgive me for using my blog platform, Simple Homeschooler, to also share a little more family photos and to give updates about what is going on in our lives.

Searching for the right tree

This year Christmas felt strange. Although lockdowns and restrictions didn’t affect our traditions tremendously, it still felt, well… off. Different. Still very nice, and beautiful, and holy. But different.

We visited our yearly favorite place to get our tree, Moody Tree Farm. In the past it felt so Christmas-y. Sleds for the kids to take out to the field. Hot cocoa and cookies scrumptiously waiting near the warm wood stove in the gift shop. Candy canes and laughter.

Then some leisurely time browsing for gifts and new objects to decorate our home, while Dad and the boys tie our new tree to the top of the car.

This year it was still nice. But there was no hot cocoa, cookies, or candy canes. There were certain doors that we were required to enter through, and one door which was reserved for the exit.

There were no sleds to take to the field. And, because of the obvious lack of fellow visitors, the atmosphere had a lonely aura.

And finally, of course, we were tortured with having to breathe through a mask while trying to enjoy our shopping. I didn’t get to see any smiles on my children’s faces… because their mouths were covered by a piece of cloth! My breathing became difficult, which caused an irregular heartbeat. All in all, instead of enjoying my time shopping, choosing gifts, and imbibing the pine atmosphere, I just wanted to get out and BREATHE!

Thankfully, I did get to see some smiles outdoors. Sophia still was able to pet the horses, and we found just the right tree thanks to Thomas’s keen eye.

Stay tuned for our tree decorating story. May God bless you and your loved ones.

Bl. Miguel Agustin Pro S.J.

*** Flashback: This blog post appeared on our family blog back in 2013. Blessed Fr. Pro is one of our family’s patron saints. His feast day was on the 23rd.***

Born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez. Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in his mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes.

As a child, he had a daring precociousness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, “I want some cocol!” (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). “Cocol” became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during this clandestine ministry.

Miguel was particularly close to his older sister and after she entered a cloistered convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular with the senoritas and had prospects of a lucrative career managing his father’s thriving business concerns, Miguel renounced everything for Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan in 1911.

While studying in Mexico a tidal wave of anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico in 1914, forcing the novitiate to disband and flee to the United States, where Miguel and his brother seminarians trekked through Texas and New Mexico before arriving at the Jesuit house in Los Gatos, California.

In 1915, Miguel was sent to a seminary in Spain, where he remained until 1924, when he went to Belgium for his ordination to the priesthood in 1925. During this time, Miguel suffered from a severe stomach problem and after three operations, when his health did not improve, his superiors, in 1926, allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the grave religious persecution in that country.

Back in his homeland, the churches were closed, and priests went into hiding. Miguel spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to the sturdy Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor in Mexico City with their temporal needs.

Father Pro in one of his many disguises.

He adopted many interesting disguises in carrying out his secret ministry. He would come in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar to baptize infants, bless marriages and celebrate Mass. He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Holy Viaticum to condemned Catholics. When going to fashionable neighborhoods to procure for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable businessman with a fresh flower on his lapel. His many exploits could rival those of the most daring spies. In all that he did, however, Fr. Pro remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president, Miguel became a wanted man. Betrayed to the police, he was sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.On the day of his execution, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold. He died proclaiming, “Viva Cristo Rey!”, “Long live Christ the King!” 

Blessed Miguel Pro before he is shot to death.