A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Monday, February 06, 2006

The most powerful pulpit

His father was rich and powerful, so Paul had a nice life growing up.

The family was very close to the Jesuits and even as a young boy Paul wanted to become a Jesuit himself. So it was no surprise that he entered the order as soon as he was old enough.

Paul proved to be an excellent student and a powerful speaker.

But then, the government, which had been friendly toward the Christian faith, turned against it with extreme violence.

Paul and many others were rounded up and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

The date was February 5, 1597 and the place was Nagasaki, Japan.

For young Paul Miki, it was more than an opportunity to die in the same way as Christ. As he looked at the crowd that had gathered to watch, he realized that this cross was the most powerful pulpit of his life.

And so, using his strong voice for the very last time, he spoke to the crowd.

"All of you who are here, please, listen to me.

"...I am Japanese by birth, and a brother of the Society of Jesus.

"I have committed no crime, and the only reason why I am put to death is that I have been teaching the doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

"I am very happy to die for such a cause, and see my death as a great blessing from the Lord.

"As I come to this supreme moment of my life, 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."

Thirty years later, in 1627, Paul Miki and his fellow martyrs were beatified by Pope Urban VIII. They were canonized in 1862 by Blessed Pope Pius IX.

Their memory is celebrated on this day.