Today, I'm teaching parents whose children are receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. I'm giving the parents the history of the sacrament.
This morning, I opened my prayer book to find out that today is the feast of Paul Miki and Companions. I can use this feast in explaining the history of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In early Christianity, the sacrament was public because Christianity was just beginning to develop. Christianity was outlawed. When it was discovered that you were Christian you were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed in various horrendous ways. Many denied that they were Christians. That's apostasy.
Afterwards, these traitors tried to go to church. What nerve, huh? Of course, their brothers and sisters could see that they needed to be accepted back, so the deniers of Christ had to apologize to the community. This is how the first confessions were done--publically. The community decided on the penance. Once the penance was fulfilled, the bishop came to give absolution.
I am afraid that I'd be a coward and deny Jesus. I'd need the grace of God to not be afraid and be strong enough to declare that I am a child of Christ.
Then this morning, I read about Paul Miki and twenty-five companions who were martyred in Japan. Not only were they not afraid, they were happy about it. They rejoiced. They sang Te Deum!
May God bless them! They rejoiced because they were dying for God. They were hung on crosses, much like Jesus. They died with God's praises on their lips.
I think God for such brave Christians. Their story is so moving that for the next couple of centuries Japanese Christians kept the faith underground. The blood of martyrs watered the faith of Christ.
Let us pray for Christians who are persecuted throughout the world.