Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29 - Lorenzo Ruiz, Martyr, Falsely Accused

Lorenzo had a fairly unremarkable childhood. He was the son of a Chinese father and Filipino mother. From his father he learned Chinese and from his mother he learned Tagalog. In Manila, he was raised in a family that found roots and comfort in the Christian Faith. He attended worship with his parents and saw what they were willing to do and say (or not do and not say) on account of the Faith they professed and held. This had an impact that should not be underestimated and cannot easily be overstated. Even as a young man he was already serving in his local congregation as an altar boy and assistant to the priests of his parish. He even received his limited education through the Church in their attempts to provide for him and prepare him more fully for service to the Church and the World. Apparently, his handwriting and penmanship were excellent and so he served as a type of scribe to the ministers and priests that passed through the parish and area.

As he grew older, he found a wife and settled down with her and had three children (one daughter and two sons). He began to carry on the mission started in the family of his birth by sharing his Faith--the Faith of his parents and countless others--with the children entrusted to him. This replicating task was the mission work that Lorenzo devoted himself to until he stood falsely accused by foreign powers. While serving in the local church, he was falsely accused of a crime by the Spanish courts. He was accused of murdering a Spanish man and vengeance was expected. His heart breaking, he fled from Manila having found sanctuary among some priests on a ship leaving for Japan. He left his family behind because he knew that the sword of vengeance would not likely stop at his own neck and would probably end the lives of those close to him, as well.

They did not learn of the boat's destination--Japanese territory undergoing intense Christian persecution--until they were at sea. Having fled false charges in Manila, they landed in Okinawa and Lorenzo was assaulted by an entirely different--and yet ultimately identical--evil. They were accused of being Christians--a charge Lorenzo would not deny--and arrested for their Faith. They were given an opportunity to deny their faith but Lorenzo refused. He was taken to Nagasaki to be brought before a judge. As he traveled in bondage, his mind must have been on his family back in Manila. Surely he thought of his parents. But this reflection would be ended by a judge who questioned him and concluded by asking, "If we let you live will you renounce your faith?" Lorenzo responded, "That I shall never do! I am a Christian and I shall die for God. For Him I would give thousands of lives if I had them to give. So, do whatever you please."

The judge did what he pleased--including jamming splints under his fingernails, having Lorenzo beaten severely, holding him under water until he was nearly drowned and, then, bringing him out and beating him so hard that the water came out of his nose and eyes. Finally, he was hung by his feet in a pit full of trash and sewage. Weights were slowly added to him until he died from suffocation. They took his body, burned it, and cast his ashes to the wind. Though they could torture and kill him they could not destroy the faith that had bore him, formed him, and inspired him. He continued bearing the faith and stories of his brothers and sisters even to the point of death.

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