Friday, September 27, 2013

Memorial of Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions

A recent survey revealed that a majority of Americans approve of torture under certain circumstances, and Catholics approve of it more than the general public! That’s ironic, since so many Catholics saints have been victims of torture. One such victim was St. Lawrence Ruiz, whose memorial we celebrate today.

Although he is the first native-born Filipino saint, Lawrence Ruiz was martyred in Japan during the persecution of Nagasaki Catholics in the early seventeenth century. Before he was martyred, St. Lawrence was subjected to unspeakably painful torture. He was forced to drink mass quantities of water, after which a board was placed on stomach. Soldiers then jumped on ends, forcing water from his ears, his nose, nose, and his mouth. Bamboo needles were forced under his fingertips. Then, after having been bound tightly to restrict breathing and circulation, he was hung upside down in a pit. Lawrence lasted three days like this, and was finally beheaded.

Such horrific cruelty should impress upon all Christians the unacceptability of any torture. True, not all people being tortured today are saints. But regardless of who is being tortured, it’s a crime against human dignity. Sometimes torture is promoted in the name of national security. When it comes to torture, however, the ends never justify the means. Sometimes torture is defended as a fair punishment for serious crimes. But two wrongs never make a right. As Pope Benedict has said, "I reiterate that the prohibition against torture cannot be contravened under any circumstances."

Our faith challenges us to work for the end of torture. So that what happened to St. Lawrence Ruiz- so that what happened to Jesus our Lord- won’t have to happen to anyone else.

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