Slaughtering the Healers

Item:  The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way.

 

(excerpt from the Platform of the Democratic Party, 2012)

 

Slaughtering the Healers

 

            “It is the little ones who heal us,” said Father Leonard, completely out of the blue.  I had been confessing some now-forgotten sin, and out came this treasure from the store-room of his heart.

 

            It came to me some days later that the face of God must have something in it of the face of a child.  This would explain why Jesus said, “In heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 18.10)  That is, the faces of the angels’ appointed little ones, untainted as yet by actual sin, are so many little faces of God, so much like the face of the Infant Jesus.

 

            When the Pharisees asked the adult Jesus why He hung around with the likes of us, He answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Lk 5:31)  Our spiritual forefathers understood the preciousness of each human life, and thus the infinite value of healing.  How appalled they would have been to breathe the putrid ambience of our brave new world where slithery phrases like ‘freedom of choice’ and ‘women’s reproductive rights’ mean the wholesale murdering of babies in their mothers’ wombs, and—horror unspeakable—the slaughtering of babies while they are being born, and even after having emerged alive into our world:  murdered by the very ‘physicians’ who should be delivering those newborn healers into their mothers’ loving arms.  How infuriated our forebears would have been by the hissing sound of those three slithery words—‘Freedom of Choice’—that deny both freedom and choice to the little boys and girls being butchered by so-called physicians.  And how it must wrench the guardian angels to see their own tiny, Godlike charges torn out of the womb with steel pincers piece by piece, limb by limb, tiny hands and feet and torso, and, most wrenching of all, the tiny bleeding head with its tortured face of God frozen in eternal agony.  How bitterly the guardians must weep to see us slaughter their helpless little ones, those tiny healers, as if infanticide really were the merest expression of ‘women’s reproductive rights’.

 

            If only we could hear the angels gasp, or feel the rain of tears they shower over every butchered child, but perhaps we are too far gone, too ‘experienced’, too hardened of heart:  perhaps our calluses are long since grown too thick for us to hear or feel such holy pain.  We are so desperately in need of love, of innocence, of healing.

 

 

              How very sick indeed our world will be when we have finally slaughtered all the little ones.

 

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Julian Nakaura: Samurai, Ambassador, and Martyr (Part One)

website:  Kirishtan.com

          The jumbled boulders of Nakaura lie brooding on the shore, defying the sea to do its worst.  Behind them squats a hill clothed in bamboo, its giant knees of rock protruding through the trees.  A continent of charcoal cloud looms over the coast, yet the sun blazes triumphantly in the distant west, riding high above the Gotoh Islands:  it burns one’s face, even in the tail-end of winter.

 

        Julian Nakaura was born here.  They honor him with a memorial that overlooks the village:  a pony-tailed boy in bronze pointing out at the sea, towards the Rome the real boy visited.  But I prefer the Julian in bronze who stands, weathered and flinty, at the entrance to the Shimabara Catholic Church, way down south: a gentle old man steeled by trial and perseverance, a Missal in hand and nothing but his own two sandaled feet to carry him.  Those old feet would carry him to a death unheard of even in a Europe where the burning of heretics and the disemboweling and mutilation of Roman Catholic priests was the order of the day.

 

        In 1582 Catholicism was flourishing in some parts of Japan—especially on the island of Kyushu.  The Jesuits had opened a school in Arima, southeast of Nagasaki, for training Catholic samurai youth to become future teachers, catechists and priests—a Seminario.  Father Alessandro Valignano, dispatched by Rome as Visitor to Japan, had set up the school in 1580, and two years later he came up with a brainstorm:  choose some fine young samurai from the student body and send them on an embassy to Rome as showpieces of the Japanese Church.  Their mission would be to impress upon the nobility of Catholic Europe the quality of this newest and farthest-flung Catholic seedbed; and to impress upon themselves the grandeur of Catholicism in Europe and report their impressions to their native brethren on their return.  Omura Sumitada, the first Japanese daimyo (domainal lord) to be baptized, loved the plan as soon as it hit his ears; he promised his full support.  Two other daimyo also joined in; the mission was prepared immediately

 (to be continued)

Julian Nakaura: Samurai, Ambassador, and Martyr (Part One)

          The jumbled boulders of Nakaura lie brooding on the shore, defying the sea to do its worst.  Behind them squats a hill clothed in bamboo, its giant knees of rock protruding through the trees.  A continent of charcoal cloud looms over the coast, yet the sun blazes triumphantly in the distant west, riding high above the Gotoh Islands:  it burns one’s face, even in the tail-end of winter.

        Julian Nakaura was born here.  They honor him with a memorial that overlooks the village:  a pony-tailed boy in bronze pointing out at the sea, towards the Rome the real boy visited.  But I prefer the Julian in bronze who stands, weathered and flinty, at the entrance to the Shimabara Catholic Church, way down south: a gentle old man steeled by trial and perseverance, a Missal in hand and nothing but his own two sandaled feet to carry him.  Those old feet would carry him to a death unheard of even in a Europe where the burning of heretics and the disemboweling and mutilation of Roman Catholic priests was the order of the day.

        In 1582 Catholicism was flourishing in some parts of Japan—especially on the island of Kyushu.  The Jesuits had opened a school in Arima, southeast of Nagasaki, for training Catholic samurai youth to become future teachers, catechists and priests—a Seminario.  Father Alessandro Valignano, dispatched by Rome as Visitor to Japan, had set up the school in 1580, and two years later he came up with a brainstorm:  choose some fine young samurai from the student body and send them on an embassy to Rome as showpieces of the Japanese Church.  Their mission would be to impress upon the nobility of Catholic Europe the quality of this newest and farthest-flung Catholic seedbed; and to impress upon themselves the grandeur of Catholicism in Europe and report their impressions to their native brethren on their return.  Omura Sumitada, the first Japanese daimyo (domainal lord) to be baptized, loved the plan as soon as it hit his ears; he promised his full support.  Two other daimyo also joined in; the mission was prepared immediately.

                                 (to be continued)

                                    Read the whole story at:

http://kirishtan.com/samurai-martyrs-father-julian-nakaura

Adam Arakawa: Samurai, Servant, and Martyr

Adam Arakawa under torture at Shiki. By Nicolas Trigault, 1623

         “Martyr” is a word much abused in our day; here’s one excellent definition:  “True Christian martyrs forgive others,” says Joseph Takami, the Archbishop of Nagasaki.  “Even while being killed by others, they forgive them.  They teach us the meaning of a death like Jesus’ death.”

           Take Adam Arakawa, for example, one of the 187 Companions of Peter Kibe, beatified en masse by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2008:  “He was a man of prayer,” Jesuit historian and pastor Father Diego Yuuki told me. “When the last missionary in Amakusa was expelled, he took the responsibility of the church, and for that reason he was killed.”

          Adam was a samurai, brought up in that proud martial tradition, but a samurai who had the humility to become a servant to his fellow-Christians after having been dismissed by his feudal lord.  He served the church at Shiki, in the Amakusa Islands.

          The Shōgun had banned the Faith in 1614, expelling all Christian missionaries, and Kawamura Jirōemon, the castellan of Tomioka Castle, which overlooked Shiki from a nearby mountaintop, was ordered by his lord to exterminate Christendom in the Amakusa Islands.  Humble old Adam, in his seventies, was the obvious primary target:  if he renounced the Faith, the other local Christians would follow his example–or so thought Kawamura.

           Renounce?  Not Adam, steely old Catholic samurai:  when heheard that they were looking for him, he fell to his knees, thanking God, and asked Him to grant him martyrdom.  Friends warned Adam to abandon Christ, lest he be killed.  His answer is recorded in history: “’Disobey God,’ you’re telling me?  You’re telling me to shame my God?  Kawamura-sama’s orders or the law of the Shōgun of all Japan notwithstanding, please understand:  I am a Christian.  A true Christian puts Christ’s teaching above his own life.  No matter how they torture me, I cannot disobey Christ, true God.”

           Kawamura, the castellan, had Adam brought to his castle for interrogation and bound to a pillar outside; to break the old man’s spirit he kept him out there all night.  Come morning, though, Adam’s spirit was unbroken.  When Kawamura told him it was not just his own nor just his feudal lord’s command, but the very Shōgun’s orders that he apostatize, Adam replied, “A man’s soul is more important to him than his body.  I obey the true God, Deus, savior of souls.”  In old Japan, they called God by his Latin name, Deus, to avoid confusing Him with the “gods” of superstition.

             On March 21, 1614, the Friday before Palm Sunday, Kawamura ordered Adam stripped naked and paraded through town, and then hung by his elbows from a cross-bar (or lintel) supported by two pillars; they tied his legs to these, with his tiptoes barely touching the ground.  Adam was in constant agony, straining against gravity, besides being exposed to the elements and public ridicule.  It was March—cold and windy—and Kawamura had had the pillars set up at land’s edge to expose him to the cold sea wind, but to keep from killing him, they untied him at night and took him indoors.  This torture lasted nine days.  Unable to join his hands while praying, Adam did his best to raise them toward Heaven.  Rather than show his pain, he encouraged the local Christians in their faith, speaking only of things of the soul.  He was finally untied on Holy Saturday, his faith untouched, and put in the hands of a local Christian, under house arrest—an internment that would last for sixty days.

            Kawamura eventually sent a message to Adam:  “We’ll cut your fingers off unless you renounce your faith.  Not all at once, but slowly, one by one, prolonging your agony.”  Adam’s response:  “I’m determined to bear any sort of torture.  God will surely strengthen me and give me perseverance to the end.  Even if I die after long suffering, having undergone repeated tortures, I’ll be happy to get it, for penance’ sake and for love of God.”  On hearing that, Kawamura, the castellan, ordered his fingers cut off; but his men, afraid of Heaven’s recompense should they mutilate such a good old man, held off.

          Finally, Kawamura sent to Terazawa Hirotaka, his feudal lord up in Karatsu, in northern Kyushu, for orders, reporting Adam’s unshakable determination to hold onto his faith.  A courier came back at breakneck speed with new orders:  kill him.  Meanwhile, in his imprisonment, Adam had seen a vision of the Mother of God:  she was holding a cross in her hands, and Adam understood that he was to become a holy Martyr.

           Kawamura had Adam brought to his castle.  Along the way a crier kept blowing a conch shell and announcing that Adam would be executed in two or three days.  This was a lie:  they just wanted to put the local Christians off the track, lest they come in droves to his execution, seeking relics.  The next morning, at first cock’s crow, they took Adam out of the castle in the pre-dawn darkness and led him up a steep mountain path with a rope around his neck.  Anxious for martyrdom, Adam “climbed like a leaping deer,”[1]pulling the soldier with the rope in his grip right off his feet.  At the chosen place, Adam knelt and prayed.  He then advised his executioners to make their children study the Christian Faith, and told them they had better become Christians too, and fast.

           The swordsman must have been unsteady on his feet on the steep slope, for his first slash went awry, into Adam’s shoulder:  Adam didn’t flinch; he was too busy praying to Jesus.  The second slash then took off his head.

            They put Adam’s bloody remains in a net, weighted down with two large stones, took them out in a boat and sunk them into the sea, afraid, perhaps, of that eternal truth:  The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Faith.  The local Christians, though, scooped up the earth on that hillside that had drunk Adam’s sacred blood and saved it as a relic.

            Seed of the Faith indeed:  repentant Catholics all over the Amakusa Islands publicly declared their faith, emboldened by Adam’s example after having been cowed into silence by the Shōgun’s ban on Christ.  In one village alone, more than 150 emboldened souls declared their faith in the Truth that has overcome the world.

            One almighty Truth indeed, and terror to the Enemy of all men’s souls.

 

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Notes:

            Blessed Adam Arakawa, beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2008, is one of the 187 Companions of Blessed Peter Kibe Kasui. He was beheaded on or about Tuesday, June 5, 1614.  (The date is unclear; that his martyrdom was fulfilled on a Tuesday, before dawn, is established.)

            Father Diego Yuuki, consummate historian of Japanese Christendom, passed away on November 17, 2008 in Nagasaki, city of Martyrs.  As of today, June 10, 2013, Joseph Takami continues in the office of Archbishop of Nagasaki.

[1]Kataoka Yakichi, Nihon Kirishitan Junkyō-shi  (Tokyo: Jiji Tsushinsha, 1979) p. 252.

-End-

 

Copyright 2007/2013 by Luke O’Hara

author’s website:  Kirishtan.com