"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."
(Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, when government officials asked, "If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?)
Today, September 28 we celebrate the feast day of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), Dominican missionary, the first saint of the Philippines, and the first Filipino martyred for the faith. Saint Lorenzo experienced difficulty in his early life, and may have fallen victim to sin. However, he turned to the Lord, realizing it is never too late for forgiveness. He embraced his faith, approached his role as missionary with zeal, and gave his life for the encouragement of others. Pope John Paul II described him as the "most improbable of saints" during his canonization ceremony.
Lorenzo was born in Binondo (Manila), Philippines, the son of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother. As both his parents were Christians, he was raised in the faith, learning both Chinese and Tagalog from his parents, and Spanish from the Dominican friars with whom he served Mass as an altar boy. As he grew, Lorenzo demonstrated constancy and piety, and turned his steady demeanor into profession, transcribing documents in calligraphy.
Saint Lorenzo’s peaceful life was shattered when he was accused of murder. Little is known about this event, but it is clear that he suffered from his implication in a crime that resulted in the death of a fellow man. It is said in the Dominican record that Lorenzo was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him."
Despite having the opportunity to contemplate the difficulties that lie ahead, and to even continue sailing past Japan, Lorenzo disembarked the ship with his companions. It was not long before they were discovered as missionaries, arrested, and tried. Together, the brave martyrs underwent the most horrific of tortures—initially, they were forced to consume large quantities of water, and then through the application of solid boards to their stomachs, their torturers forced the water from their noses and ears, causing incredible pain as well as the sensation of drowning.
Lorenzo, for example, implored of his interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, and as time continued, Lorenzo found himself filled with the Holy Spirit, no longer afraid, and became bold in his proclamations of the Christian faith. Existing documents attest that the Japanese promised him a safe trip back home where he could be reunited with his loved ones, but Ruiz staunchly chose to remain faithful to his religion.
Eventually, the remaining men were martyred, hung upside down in earthen pits. One hung, boards were fitted around their waist, with stones place atop them to increase pressure. They were tightly bound to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. Lorenzo died after a period of three days. Those left alive were beheaded. Saint Lorenzo’s body was cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea. He and fifteen companions, martyred in the same persecution, were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and elevated to sainthood in1987 in Rome.
"The Lord gives us saints at the right time and God waited 350 years to give us this saint," Pope John Paul II said of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. "It is the heroism which he demonstrated as a lay witness to the faith... which is very important in today's world. The witness of San Lorenzo is the testimony we need of courage without measure to show us that it is possible. Faith and life for Lorenzo was synonymous and inseparable. Life without faith would have been without value...he proved that sanctity and heroism are there for anybody and the final victory is made to size for each one of us."
O MOST MERCIFUL and almighty God,
You bestowed as gift to
The strength to withstand
The overpowering forces of death
For the sake of his faith in You.
Through his prayers,
Help us to follow his example
By overcoming all life's trials
And eventually, increase
Our hope and love in You.
O St. Lorenzo Ruiz,
You brought honor to your country,
Having been a level-headed
And prudent father of the family,
A witness of Christ in your life
Until your death.
We present all our petitions
To God through your help
So that by our actions,
We may know more and love more
Jesus our Lord and Savior.
We humbly implore
Your intercession O dear
For the infinite glory of God
And in honor of your triumph
As a martyr of Christ
And defender of Christianity.
Year 2: Day 271 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Forgiveness; Courage to move past our sins and serve the Lord
Requested Intentions: Business success, peace, health (E); Conversion and deliverance of those who suffer, increase in vocations (M); Financial security and safe housing (M); For a daughter (K); Conversion of a family, deliverance of the souls in Purgatory (S); Successful marriage (A); Health, safety, grace, success of a building project (A); Successful treatment and recovery from cancer (D); Clear speech for a child (C); Conversion of a family (A); Successful employment (S); For the healing of impaired vision (F); For a couple experiencing difficulties (L); Successful employment after finishing college (M); Mother’s health (A); Financial security, freedom from anxiety (S); For a son and cousins (L); Peace and civility (B); Successful examination results (D); Safety of family, strength, courage, wisdom (C); For the souls of a departed father and brother, finding of a suitable marriage partner (R); Successful pilgrimage, deepening of prayer life (R); Restoration of health (J); Restoration of health (S); Freedom from pride (A); For children and marriage (M); For the birth of a healthy baby (Y); For personal family intentions, for the sick, poor, hungry, and homeless (G); Financial security and peace (J); Grace, peace, and obedience to the will of God in a marriage (H); Successful and blessed marriage for sin, freedom from anxiety for husband, spiritual contentedness for family (N); Employment and health for a husband (B); Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."