Twilight of the Idols, Part I: A Riddle

“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.” Mat. 24:24

The purpose of this piece is to expose the prejudice that some Catholics exhibit when considering the life and the work of a specific Protestant author. Here, the prejudice is in the Protestant author’s favor. I intend to point out why this prejudice is incorrect. Let’s start:

Catholic missionaries evangelized the region around Nagasaki, Japan, in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Then the Japanese government turned against the Catholics, martyred the priests, and forced the Church underground. After Japan began to open up to the Western world in the 1800s, a Catholic priest arrived. A group of wary local women approached him and asked three questions (I paraphrase):

1.) Do you venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary?
2.) Do you obey the Pope of Rome?
3.) Do you have a wife?

The priest answered Yes to first two questions and No to the last one. The women then went away. Sometime later, the men of their village returned to the priest, revealing that they were “Kakure Kirishitan,” the secret Christians of Japan.* Continue reading

St. John at the Latin Gate

Prior to 1960, today (May 6) used to be celebrated as the Feast of St. John at the Latin Gate. This feast commemorates the journey that St. John the Evangelist made to Rome during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, about the time St. John wrote the Apocalypse. Domitian had sentenced St. John to death. John’s captors attempted to execute him at Rome’s Latin Gate (the gate facing Latium) by dipping him in a vat of boiling oil. However, God miraculously saved him.

Some people think the story is apocryphal. I prefer to believe it because I like to think that St. John visited Rome. The Latin Gate is near the Lateran, so St. John would have met his near-martyrdom near what is now the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran. That’s the cathedral church of Rome and mother church of the entire world, and it’s dedicated to Our Savior, to St. John the Baptist, and to (wait for it) St. John the Evangelist. Also, St. John would been able to see the See of St. Peter. I hope that he was able to venerate St. Peter’s relics and meet the reigning Pope at the time (St. Clement I). St. John would also be unique among the Apostles for witnessing both 1.) the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem and 2.) the first days of Papal Rome, Jerusalem’s replacement as the earthly seat of God’s Kingdom. Evocative, anyway.

For more information about this feast, go to the New Liturgical Movement. You can also read this account by Fr. Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B. Below, I’ve added two photos that I took in Rome during the summer of 2007. First, here’s the oratory built on the site of St. John’s would-be martyrdom just inside the Latin Gate. It’s called St. John in oleo (“in oil”).

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