St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions
Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him."
At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.
In 1987, Saint John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.
We ordinary Christians of today—how would we stand up in the circumstances these martyrs faced? We sympathize with the two who temporarily denied the faith. We understand Lorenzo's terrible moment of temptation. But we see also the courage—unexplainable in human terms—which surged from their store of faith. Martyrdom, like ordinary life, is a miracle of grace.
When government officials asked, "If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?," Lorenzo responded: "That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please."
Daily Prayer - 2015-09-22
At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit Lord,
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it.
The Word of God
Reading 1 EzR 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20
King Darius issued an order to the officials
Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5
R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Alleluia Lk 11:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 8:19-21
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
25th Week in Ordinary Time
The children of Israel ... celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. (Ezra 6:16)
This wasn't a typical housewarming party, mainly because it wasn't a typical home! After decades in exile, a dramatic return to their homeland, and years of hard work, the Israelites finished rebuilding the house of God—the Temple in Jerusalem. Finally, they had a place to worship the Lord again!
To celebrate this accomplishment, the people gathered to honor and welcome the Homeowner into his new residence. With joyful hearts, they dedicated the Temple to him with songs and worship and sacrifices the likes of which they had not seen in years.
What about you? Whether you live in a spacious residence, a tiny apartment, a monastic cell, or even a prison cell, your home can be a place where God can dwell. If you welcome him as Lord of your home, he can fill it with a spirit of joy, freedom, and dignity that befits a true temple of the Lord. So have you dedicated your home to the Lord recently?
One way to do this dedication is by inviting a priest to come and bless your home. Ask him to pray with you and to sprinkle holy water on your home, consecrating it to the Lord. Of course, it's a good idea to get in the habit of, every day, saying a prayer of blessing and dedication for your home and those who live within it. In the Lord's authority, you can cleanse your environment of evil spiritual influences and welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Going a little further, another idea is to consecrate your home to God with a celebration. Get creative; involve other people. You could have a special meal prepared, Scripture readings, or a little ceremony where you walk through the perimeter of your home, praying as you go. Everyone in your home could even have a role in dedicating a favorite room or area to the Lord.
Of course, the specifics of how you do this are up to you. What really matters is that you dedicate your home to the Lord and invite him to come dwell with you.
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
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They sacrificed about 700 animals to dedicate the temple to the Lord and they did it for a reason, and even for those that didn't come and would come "The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion,
sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves." Their brethren, that is to say, their brothers and sisters, for all those in exile, for the priests, and for themselves. Notice how important it is, what they did, how, and why. Only then will we begin to understand the Eucharist, with priests, ourselves, and our brethren. Notice too, they were purified for the occasion, and we too are called to be purified for the occasion. Reverance was important. Was? Is it not important anymore? In the Mass, we reverance the altar for many reasons, and we go down on to our knees when the body of our Lord is in the Presence. The hundreds of animals sacrificed for the saving blood now has become one saving blood through Jesus. Just like He became one of us, a creature of the earth, to be sharers in His creative and divine image, and that image is what is important...holiness. Sadly, the image is tarnished today. The reverance is diminuating. Sure we bow to the altar and genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament, but is that all you do, if even that?
The Psalms pray on "Let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord". Who goes rejoicing to the House of the Lord? Don't we go all forced and mad or sad or just out of obigation? Who goes rejoicing? Who leaves rejoicing? Don't we (and admit to it), haven't we left the same? Mad, or sad, no difference in your life? If there is no difference, then why even bother, right? Wrong. It should bother you eventually, LOL, because the dripping water makes for beautiful stalagmites and stalagtites in dark caverns, and is only admired with the light shining through. The drip of a water can cause great destruction to the rock with time. Do you think the Lord grows impatient with you? Why do we grow impatient with the Lord who has no beginning and no end and has ever been? Can you fathom the thought?
Our Lord speaks to us today when they said His brothers and mother were waiting outside for Him. He explains exactly who His mother and brothers are ""My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it." For years now, I have been sitting with some co-workers, and I am baffled. 1 out of 4 had the Lord speak to his heart and is going to Church and trying to get active. The rest, well, 1 of them is sparatically going to Mass on Sundays. The other half? Not so much except keep going to weekly study. They say things in bible study that would make you think they are pretty good Christians. From the teeth forward they sound pretty good. My confusion is since they say these things, why don't they do these things, like obeying the commandments? And I'm talking about the 3rd Commandment of keeping Holy the Sabbath. But a thought keeps hitting me, "they haven't experienced the firs Commandment". Can you do the first commandment that Jesus taught us? Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, strength, and your soul? Jesus says today "my mother and brothers are those who hear the Word and ACT on it". In Spanish it says "those who hear the Word and put it into practice". And another said put it into works. What good is it to say you have faith if you do nothing else but say it? Many saints have been crushed by those accusations and begin the works of God. In spanish the words keep repeating in my soul "amaras a Dios sobre todas las cosas" (you shall love God above all things).
The Holy Spirit prompts me to say these things so that you might listen. As I tell my kids "Listen to me!". But I'm afraid they don't know what "listen" really means. It means do as I say. It means let the words sink into your head, and then into your heart. Let the head stop being a plugged filter! Empty your thoughts and let God talk! If Jesus said His brothers are those who listen, then the brothers and sisters and mother are among us. Do you think we are abandoned? Not for a second. It is us that choose to abandon. Let this message speak and sink to your heart. The Word of God is speaking.