Saturday, January 31, 2009


"Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God, who is all-powerful and faithful to His promises, will in His mercy give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it." Hope is absolutely necessary for salvation; adults must have the virtue and make the act of hope; infants must have the virtue. For the infused virtue of hope, like the infused virtue of faith, is given to the infant when he receives sanctifying grace." (1)



26 martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki. Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent children, all united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his Church.

St. Paul Miki of Japan suffered a cruel martyrdom by crucifixion on the vigil of February 6, 1597. His encouragement to his companions and those gathered to watch the execution of the 26 Catholics evoked an amazing hope for their eternal happiness.

Three centuries later when missionaries were allowed to return to Japan after the persecution, they were amazed to discover an underground church of thousands of Catholics secretly practicing their faith. St. Paul Miki and his companions had sown the seed with their torment, derision, and death.

Brother Paul was a Jesuit born in 1562 to a wealthy family, the son of the military leader Miki Handayu. He felt a call to religious life from his youth. In 1580 he was educated at the Jesuit college at Azuchi and Takatsuki. He became a successful evangelist. When the political climate became hostile to Christianity, he decided to continue his ministry and was soon arrested.

On his way to martyrdom, he and the other imprisoned Christians were marched 600 miles so they could be abused by, and be a lesson to, their countrymen; they sang the Te Deum on the way. His last sermon was delivered from the cross. He was beatified on September 14, 1627 and canonized by Pope Pius IX on June 8, 1862. (2)


"The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ's example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain." (3)


God our Father, source of strength for all your saints, you led Paul Miki and his companions through the suffering of the cross to the joy of eternal life. May their prayers give us courage to be loyal until we die in professing our faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (4)


Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 71:5 For you, O Lord, are my hope,my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Colossians 1:3-5,27 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.


(1) Understanding the Catholic Faith, Rev. John A. O'Brien, 1955

(2) of the day


(4) Magnificat, February 2007-February 6

Thursday, January 01, 2009


First Vatican Council described Faith as an assent of the mind in co-operation with the will under the influence of grace and a free gift of God.

St. Robert Bellarmine of Italy embodies this virtue in his defense of revealed truths.He was born in Tuscany in 1542 around the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. He was known to be an excellent scholar and entered the Society of Jesus in 1560 and was ordained in 1570.

He taught Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae at the University of Louvain and then taught theology at the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1597 Robert was appointed theologian to Pope Clement VIII. In 1599 he was elected to the College of Cardinals.He played "a leading role in revising the Vulgate translation of the Bible and wrote an important catechism.

When King James I tried to defend his position as head of the English Church, Robert refuted him." (1) He distinguished himself by outstanding disputations in defense of the Catholic faith and the papacy. His best known work is Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei (Disputations) written to refute and convert Protestants.

He died in Rome in 1621 and was canonized in 1930.St. Robert Bellarmine's Feast Day is September 17. He is the Patron of Catechists, Canonists, and Catechumens.


God, our Father, you gave Robert Bellarmine wisdom and goodness to defend the faith of your Church. By his prayers may we always rejoice in the profession of our faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (2)


In a letter to Chinese Mandarins in 1616 rejoicing that they have allowed the introduction of the faith of Jesus Christ in the "immense Empire of China," St. Robert remarks that the teaching of the Gospel does not take away earthly kingdoms but bestows a heavenly one.

"But as faith in God the Father and His Divine Son does not by itself suffice for salvation, unless we also live soberly, justly, and piously in this world, I exhort you to run in the way of God's commandments without offence, abstaining from all injustice, impurity, lying, and deceit, abounding in every good work, making progress in holy virtues and especially in trustful love of God and real charity towards one another.

"If for the love of God you have to suffer any trouble or persecution, be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in Heaven. This is the will of God, our Father, that our faith, hope, and charity should be proved by patience as gold is tried in the furnace.

"It would not be difficult for Him to free us at once from all tribulation and sorrow, but instead He permits His friends to suffer much in this world that He may crown them all the more gloriously in Heaven, and make them more like His only-begotten Son, who never ceased to do good and to suffer injury while He was on earth that He might teach us patience by His example.

"Just as He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death, the death of the cross, and just as God the Father for that reason exalted Him to the throne of His glory, and gave Him a Name that is above all other names,, too, will the Son of God exalt us and make the body of our lowliness like the body of His glory, if we bear persecutions and adversities with steadfast patience of soul." (3)


1. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, "Teaching and Sharing" 6/322.

2. Magnificat, September 2004, pg. 2543.

3. Letters from the Saints, Hawthorne Books 1964, pg. 53