Thursday, February 6, 2014

Q&A time - Japanese Martyrs edition

One of the most riveting readings in the entire Office of Readings has to be today's account of St. Paul Miki and companions. Here it is for those who might have missed it:


The crosses were set in place. Father Pasio and Father Rodriguez took turns encouraging the victims. Their steadfast behavior was wonderful to see. The Father Bursar stood motionless, his eyes turned heavenward. Brother Martin gave thanks to God’s goodness by singing psalms. Again and again he repeated: “Into your hands, Lord, I entrust my life.” Brother Francis Branco also thanked God in a loud voice. Brother Gonsalvo in a very loud voice kept saying the Our Father and Hail Mary. 

Our brother, Paul Miki, saw himself standing now in the noblest pulpit he had ever filled. To his “congregation” he began by proclaiming himself a Japanese and a Jesuit. He was dying for the Gospel he preached. He gave thanks to God for this wonderful blessing and he ended his “sermon” with these words: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”

Then he looked at his comrades and began to encourage them in their final struggle. Joy glowed in all their faces, and in Louis’ most of all. When a Christian in the crowd cried out to him that he would soon be in heaven, his hands, his whole body strained upward with such joy that every eye was fixed on him.Anthony, hanging at Louis’ side, looked toward heaven and called upon the holy names—“Jesus, Mary!” He began to sing a psalm: “Praise the Lord, you children!” (He learned it in catechism class in Nagasaki. They take care there to teach the children some psalms to help them learn their catechism.)

Others kept repeating “Jesus, Mary!” Their faces were serene. Some of them even took to urging the people standing by to live worthy Christian lives. In these and other ways they showed their readiness to die.

Then, according to Japanese custom, the four executioners began to unsheathe their spears. At this dreadful sight, all the Christians cried out, “Jesus, Mary!” And the storm of anguished weeping then rose to batter the very skies. The executioners killed them one by one. One thrust of the spear, then a second blow. It was over in a very short time.


It's weekly Q&A time. Any and all confusion about the Liturgy of the Hours can be cleared up here. Just hit comment and tell me your difficulty.

Welcome new blog follower, Carmel.



4 comments:

  1. These stories make me proud to be a Catholic in Japan!

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    1. Russ, I'd love to meet some Japanese Catholics. Their history is so impressive. Just the other day I learned about the saintly doctor in Nagasaki who cared for the atomic bomb victims and died from radiation. He encouraged the Catholic community there to offer their sufferings as reparation for the atrocities Japan committed in China when it invaded several years earlier. I plan to order his biography soon.

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  2. Using Christian Prayer, I have found that for Memorials, the Common often directs me back to the psalms for Sunday of Week 1 (for example, for the Common of Virgins used on the Memorial of St. Scholastica) but the psalms used on divineoffice.org are from the psalter for that particular day (Monday of Week I for St. Scholastica). How do I know -- without having the computer to cheat! -- which readings to use?

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    1. Susan, I get this question a lot. If you check the "Format of Offices" page in your Christian Prayer book--I think it's page 37--you'll find the explanation under "Memorials". We're only supposed to use Sunday week I psalms for feasts&solemnities. For memorials we use the current weekday and then may use the common for other elements, and even then this is optional. The only things that are really required for a memorial is what is printed in the proper of saints, which is usually just the concluding prayer but occasionally the antiphon for the canticle as well.

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