Wednesday, December 3
The Only Thing We Now Lack are Vatican Ninjas
Not only now are there saintly Christian knights but also a holy samurai as well. This is an incredible, moving story, and will also, okay, let's face it, lead to some real kick-butt iconography at some point down the road. (I take commissions! I love Japanese woodblock prints! Do the math!)
The samurai Zaisho Shichiemon was baptized on July 22, 1608. He took the name of Leo, that of the great pope who had halted the barbarian invasions. But his story much more closely resembles the life of Saint Justin, the second century philosopher who, after discovering the Truth in Christ, would not renounce him, and died as a martyr. Hangou Mitsuhisa, the feudal lord under whom Zaisho served, had prohibited his men from becoming Christians. The priest whom Zaisho asked to baptize him reminded him of this, telling him that he could be punished or even killed. "I know," he replied, "but I have understood that salvation lies in the teaching of Jesus, and no one can separate me from Him."
As in the case of many martyrs, this was not only a mental conviction, but a mystical relationship. One day, Zaisho told a friend, "I don't know how this happened, but I now find myself thinking about God constantly." He was arrested and ordered to renounce his faith. He answered, "I would obey in any other matter, but I cannot accept any order that is opposed to my eternal salvation." On the morning of November 17, 1608, four months after his baptism, he was executed in the street in front of his house. [...]
The power of Christ was shown forth in the Japanese martyrs of the seventeenth century as clearly as it was in the Christians of the first centuries. There is the same clear eyed awareness of their choice, the same unflinching conviction in the face of demands to renounce their faith, the same unbowed and even joyful spirit in the face of cruel suffering, the same more than human strength that witnessed to Another who suffered in them. Torments and death could not overcome them; they were killed and they conquered. (Source).
More on the incredible witness of Bl. Leo Zaisho and the other martyred companions (including Bl. Peter Kibe, whose name is mentioned first in the liturgical title of the group, and who I really should be writing but am instead wasting your lunch-break with an impending Saturday Night Live reference) which now accompany him in the calendar can be found here.
On a lighter note, The Holy Whapping Ill-Timed and Tactlessly Scheduled Players Proudly (?) Present: