On October 8th we will be having the Confirmation retreat for our students. Please keep them and the team in your prayers. Looking ahead to the 16th-17th of October is the Fall Ministry Days in La Crosse for all the clergy. Both of these events will be a source of grace for all involved. Often it is a matter of using that grace under God’s direction. As you are a part of events and activities, turn to God’s strength and His guidance so they may be fruitful.
The feast days of St. Denis (10/9) and St. John XXIII (10/11) reminds us that there are different ways of serving the Church. St. Denis was a martyr of the early church. More recently St. John served as priest, bishop, nuncio, patriarch and Pope until cancer took his life. How do we respond to God’s call to service? Especially in daily life?
An example I wish to share with you comes from Columbia Magazine July/August 2023. Blessed Peter Kibe lived from 1587-1639.
“In an age when Jesuits around the world fearlessly faced martyrdom, the Japanese samurai Peter Kibe stands among the most courageous and determined. Unable to make Kibe renounce his faith, Japan’s most infamous torturer dubbed him ‘the man who would not say, I give in.’
Kibe was born to a noble (samurai) family on the island of Kyshu in 1587, 38 years after the arrival of St. Francis Xavier. The son of Catholic converts, Kibe entered minor seminary at age 13. He yearned to join the Society of Jesus but was refused, so for eight years he patiently waited, collaborating with Jesuit missionaries as a catechist.
In 1614, when Christianity was banned by the shogun Hideyoshi, Kibe left with other missionaries for seminary in Macau. But the seminary closed before he could be ordained. Undaunted, Kibe sailed for India, and from there set off for Rome on foot, walking more than 3,000 miles across India, Persia, Arabia and the Holy Land, becoming the first Japanese pilgrim to Jerusalem.
Kibe presented himself at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome in May 1620. The impression he made gained him entrance to the diocesan seminary and later the Jesuit novitiate. He was ordained a priest in 1620, at age 33, and made his vows as a Jesuit two years later.
Father Kibe was eager to return to Japan, and in 1630, after years of perilous travel, he managed to re-enter the country, which had closed its borders. He ministered secretly to persecuted Christians for nine years before he was arrested, interrogated and tortured. Bound and hung upside-down in a pit, Father Kibe never wavered in his faith and exhorted his companions to persevere to the end. He died July 4, 1639, and was beatified with 187 fellow martyrs in 2008.”
What a powerful example he gives us today. We want everything right now. He waited 8 years and then had to leave the country to pursue his dream/call to the priesthood. We hope for a quick fix to our problems. He journeyed 3,000 miles on foot and was unsure of the result when he arrived in Rome. Then of course the arrest and torture that he faced. Let us look for ways of grace to enter our lives so that we can give examples of the faith; our love of God and neighbor that can be clearly seen in our words and actions that proclaim Christ to all.