To die a thousand deaths?-A A +A
Questions that Matter
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
“BLESSED are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Are we ready to die for our Catholic faith? If put to a test and asked to denounce our faith, shall we cling to it or shall we forgo it? Theoretically, I will get a negative answer. No one will say that he will denounce his Catholic Faith but practically, many are doing so. Many pious Catholics have transferred to other religions due to personal reasons, like, they do not want the priest in their parish or they do not like his homilies. There are those who give up because, they are forced by circumstances of employment or camaraderie. Today, no one is forced or persecuted to give up the faith.
There was a lowly Filipino in Japan who said that if he had a thousand lives, he would still give it to the Lord. In his words, he is ready to die a thousand deaths for God. He was known as Lorenzo and lived in a time when the Spaniards still occupied the country. Lorenzo was a mestizo and lived in Binondo in the early 17th Century. Because of tragedy, he was forced to leave the Philippines with the Dominican Friars who were commissioned to go to Japan for missionary works. There in Japan, he and the Friars were immediately caught by the authorities. They were asked to give up their faith and become free men of Japan or they be killed in the gallows. Lorenzo and his companions did not dream of becoming captives in a foreign land. He understood that he was there to assist the Friars on their missionary works. Now, he is being challenge to give up his faith. Like the Friars, Lorenzo was strong on his faith and told his tormentors that he would not give up his faith.
Torture of unthinkable magnitude followed their hardheadedness. C. Carunungan, in his manuscript on the life of San Lorenzo, described these tortures. Aside from the usual and conventional forms of torture, they were forced to drink water until their stomach became bloated, they were made to lie down and a plunk of wood was placed on top of their bellies and two Japanese would seesaw on the plunk of wood. Another was that nails were inserted to their fingers through the nails and were dipped on vinegar and each time they said that they would not deny their faith the nails were hammered deeper.
After many attempts to tempt Lorenzo and his companions to recant their faith, they were subjected to "Horca y Hoya". They were hanged upside down from the gallows, then from the waist to the head, their bodies were inside the damp. Again Carunungan describes the process…soldiers placed narrow boards around their waists to cover the damp and huge stones were placed on the boards to add more pressure downwards. The whole system including the lungs, the stomach, intestines and innards had pressed forward to the head.”
While in this condition, Lorenzo and the friars continue to sing praises to God and even prayed more the Holy Rosary as what they did in their chambers night after night. Three days and nights, Lorenzo and his companions hanged and on the third, Lorenzo expired with the words on his lips that “It is consumed.”
When I was in St. John’s Institute for my basic education years, we were the group to really had a great devotion to the Saint. Symposia and forums were held to really study the life of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila. I remembered the late Monsignors John Liu and Manuel Dormido and the late Bishop Boy Salgado, D.D. discussing the life of the saint in one of the symposia held at St. John’s. I was grade six then, and it hit me to really embrace the Catholic faith with all fervor and devotion. That after graduating from High School, I entered the seminary. But as faith would put it many are called but few are chosen. In my case, I knew I was called but I pursued another. For this reason, I told myself to be active in the propagation of the faith.
During my seminary life, I studied many lives of Saints. I was more on the side of the martyrs for the faith rather than those who were exemplars because of their intelligence. When the news of the canonization came out, I think it was in 1988. I was one of those who was hooked on television and stood proud that there is already a Filipino martyr. I was proud for the saint was not an exemplar of prayer or sanctity but was a simple layman who courageously fought his faith to the last drop.
So, do we still have people who will sacrifice for the faith?
Let us continue to pray for our Bishop and Priests that they persevere in their faith and they continue to bring God closer to man and men closer to God. Let us also pray for our seminarians that they be true to their vocation and let the world teach them to become stronger alter-christus.
San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, San Pedro Calungsod, St. Ezekiel Moreno, Blessed Pope John Paul II, Monsignorii John Liu and John Su and Sir Faraon Lopez, pray for us.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 01, 2013.