Wednesday, September 28, 2016

If it sounds Spanish but isn't

Today's saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, has a name that sounds Spanish. In reality his father was Chinese and his mother was Filipino. Like many Filipinos his name sounds Spanish due to three centuries of Spanish rule. But Saint Lorenzo would never have been thought of as Spanish. To the Spaniards the Filipinos were simply Indios (Indians) like the native peoples of Latin America.

It would be wonderful think that St. Lorenzo went on the mission trip to Japan out of zeal for the faith. In fact, he was on the run from the authorities, having been accused of killing a Spaniard. One can imagine the justice system for an Indio accused of killing a Spaniard.

As God so often does, he took this bad experience in Lorenzo's life and transformed it. He was already a Christian of great faith, but now he would have a chance to witness to that faith. He along with the rest of his companions ( 3 Dominican priests, a Japanese priest and a leper) were arrested in Japan and tortured to try and get them to renounce their faith. Lorenzo refused to renounced his faith and in 1637 died while being tortured.

He became the first Filipino martyr.

Today even here in the US our Filipino-American community remains a great witness to their Catholic faith. In the Diocese of Richmond we have been able to avoid the parish closures that many other dioceses have experienced due in part to the willingness of Filipino priests to come and serve our people. As we're remember St. Lorenzo Ruiz and companions let us pray for the people of the Philippines, and the Filipino communities here in our country, may their faith and ours continue to grow.