Monday, February 06, 2006

St. Paul Miki and Companions (+1597)

St. Paul Miki was born in 1564 and entered the Jesuits in 1586. Before he was ordained, Paul, another Jesuit seminarian, and a Jesuit brother were arrested along with 23 other religious and lay people. They were sentenced to die by crucifixion. When they arrived at a hill near Nagasaki and saw the crosses that had been erected for them, they burst into song. From his cross St. Paul encouraged the onlookers to become Christian, said that he was joyfully giving his life for Christ, and forgave his executioners. Then the soldiers standing by the crosses thrust a lance into each martyr’s chest.

Inspired by the commitment and courage of these martyrs, let us pray for Pope Benedict’s Mission Intention. May the example and intercession of these martyrs raise up many faithful lay people in mission lands. May they have the courage to live their faith in daily decisions, and especially in the political choices they make.

For our reflection we will use Pope John Paul’s Mission Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio #71. It is clear that from the very origins of Christianity, the laity—as individuals, families, and entire communities—shared in spreading the faith.

In modern times, this active participation of lay men and women missionaries has not been lacking. How can we forget the important role played by women: their work in the family, in school, in political, social and cultural life, and especially their teaching of Christian doctrine? Indeed, it is necessary to recognize—and it is a title of honor—that some Churches owe their origins to the activity of lay men and women missionaries.

The Second Vatican Council confirmed this tradition in its description of the missionary character of the entire People of God and of the apostolate of the laity in particular (Lumen Gentium #17, 33f.)

Furthermore, because of their secular character, they especially are called “to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering these in accordance with the will of God” (Lumen Gentium #31).

Apostleship of Prayer.


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