December 8th: Birth, death, Eternity


               December 8, 1941: a day that has lived in infamy for 71 years.  Americans remember Pearl Harbor on the 7thof December, but it was December 8th Japan Time when the Japanese Imperial Navy’s dive bombers hit Pearl Harbor.  December 8th also marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin in the Roman Catholic Church.
                Mere coincidence, one might imagine, but here’s another “coincidence”:  the Emperor’s surrender proclamation was broadcast to his astonished nation on August 15, 1945.  The 15th of August marks the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, which pegs the end of the earthly life of the Lord’s mother, who was soon to return to earth time and again to dazzle the upturn’d eyes of mortals in the form of countless apparitions warning mankind to believe in her Son’s reality and the direness of man’s addiction to sin, lest countless souls needlessly consign themselves to eternal fire—the pool of fire that is the second death. (See Revelation 20:14-15)
               So the front and back covers of that Book of Death that mankind knows as the Pacific War coincide with the conception of the Blessed Virgin (for conception is the start of full-fledged human life) and her departure from earthly life—which, for those who cling to Christ, is only the beginning of eternal bliss.  But all this must be merest coincidence.
               Just like the coincidence of Saint Francis Xavier’s arrival in Japan by dint of an irresistible wind that drove his ship straight to Kagoshima, the home town of his Japanese interpreter, an escapee from Japan who was now a convert to the Faith.  The ship’s captain had been determined to avoid Japan, but that almighty wind had had its way, and now there was nothing to do but land his passengers.
               And the date?  By the merest coincidence, the 15thof August 1549, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin:  the birth of Christendom in Japan.
               Birth, death, Eternity.

Luke O’Hara,

The Yatsushiro Martyrs

December 8th and 9th, 1603:  Two Catholic samurai of Yatsushiro were beheaded for refusing to renounce Christ, and the following day all the remaining members of their immediate families were crucified for clinging to their convictions too.  The youngest of the crucified martyrs was seven-year-old Ludovico (his baptismal name).  On his mother’s instructions, he kept repeating the holy names of the Lord and the Blessed Virgin–Iézusu! Maria!–as he awaited the spear-thrust that would pierce his heart, gouging into him through his right kidney and out through his left shoulder.  His mother was hanging on the cross next to his own.
The little boy rode to Heaven on eagle’s wings; lifted, that is, by the Almighty Name.  Imagine that family reunion, once all had arrived at their eternal Home.