“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's in a Name?

I have always been fascinated on the words that come out of someone’s mouth who know they are facing death. Their words are not controlled by filters or pretense, they’re not concerned about backlash from what they say or being politically correct, absolutely nothing left to hide or protect. They are speaking what they believe as truth from their hearts through their last moments of their mortal existence.

Moreover, and more notably, there can be found a lifetime of wisdom in these statements when they come from Saints. Those who lived not of this world; but now are leaving it.

It was reported that Pope John Paul II said during his last moments, “ I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you.” I remember thinking that this comment was beautifully directed to the huge crowds outside his Vatican apartment who kept steadfast vigil. This failing Pontiff, who once tirelessly searched for anyone and everyone who would listen to his message in every corner of the globe, now acknowledged the outpouring of love that his flock returned.

A few years later, my biased understanding of this was shattered when I read a deathbed comment from St. John Vianney. Known as “The Cure of Ars”, Vianney was a French mystic priest, an incorruptible and one of my favorite saints.

Vianney said, “And how kind the good God is! When I cannot go to him any longer, he comes to me! But my body now is not much to present to Our Lord.”

These phrases were too similar to be different. It was a realization moment for me that both these ‘saint’s’ comments were directed solely to God.

Two 20th century priests who, I believe, will follow the same trail to sainthood are Blessed Miguel Pro, a Jesuit priest from Mexico, and Cardinal Ignatius Kung, a Chinese priest who suffered through 30 years in a communist jail because he would not deny the Papacy.

In 1927, after being railroaded through a fixed trial, Fr. Pro faced the firing squad without a blindfold at his request. He outstretched his arms as if being crucified in unison with Christ, forgave his executioners, then emptied his heart by screaming the creed that was most dear to him.

In 1955, then Bishop Ignatius Kung, was brought in handcuffs and pajamas by the Chinese Government in front of a microphone at an outdoor stadium to renounce his Faith before tens of thousands of Chinese. Understanding that this was in all probability his last moment of life if he would not appease the Communists and deny his Faith, Cardinal Kung released from his heart the same exact words as Miguel Pro said decades earlier.

"Vive Chistus Rex!/Long Live Christ the King!” I can think of no better name for a blog.

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