In 1862, Pope Pius IX canonized 26 martyrs who died for their faith on February 4, 1597, at Nagasaki, Japan. These martyrs were from all walks of life: rich and poor, young and old. Among them was 13-year-old Thomas Sasaki. Thomas was an ordinary young boy who came close to God in daily prayer. When the time of testing came, he willingly and courageously died for Christ.
During the canonization ceremony Pope Pius IX read the following letter, which Thomas had written from prison.
To my honoured and beloved mother, It is with the greatest love and respect that I send this letter to you. By this time you will have heard that father and I and the others are to be crucified at Nagasaki. The edict of our execution has been published throughout the kingdom. Farewell my dearest mother. I thank you for all the goodness you have shown me since God gave me to you. Father and I are going to heaven hand in hand and there we shall wait for you.
Your loving son, Thomas
The Holy Trinity, Source of All Life and All Holiness
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and Christian life. Christians, as Christ instructed His Apostles, are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we must develop a love and intimacy with
each of the Divine Persons, “…the whole Christian life is a communion with each of the Divine Persons without in any way separating them” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 259. From the moment of conception, our entire lives are in the loving embrace of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We worship the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. As we follow Christ, it is the Father who draws us and the Spirit who moves us. Our life as Christians is a journey toward the eternal community of the Trinity. Every aspect of our Christian life is related to the Holy Trinity. In creation God made us, in sanctification God gives us His grace, and in salvation we receive the reward of eternal life, which is blessed eternal unity with the Trinity.
Jesus Christ, True God and True Man
Jesus Christ, the Word, is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who became incarnate (took on human nature) to redeem the world from sin.
“Believing in the Incarnation, we profess with the Infallible Church that there are in Christ two really distinct natures, one human and the other divine; yet united in such a way that Christ is one individual not two, and unchanged in such a way that each nature remains truly and unqualifyingly itself.
The Holy Spirit, The Lord and Giver of Life
The Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, equal to the Father and the Son, having one and the same divine nature to be equally adored and glorified. “Like the Father and the Son, He is uncreated, without limit, eternal, omnipotent, God, Lord” Dominum et Vivificantem, John Paul II.
Mary, Mother of God, Our Spiritual Mother
“… the ultimate purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to glorify God and to lead Christians to commit themselves to a life that is in absolute conformity with His will.… Such devotion to the Blessed Virgin is firmly rooted in the revealed word and has solid dogmatic foundations. It is based on the singular dignity of Mary, ‘Mother of the Son of God, and therefore beloved daughter of the Father and temple of the Holy Spirit – Mary, who, because of this extraordinary grace, is far greater than any other creature on earth or in heaven.’ … He loved her and did great things for her Cf. Luke 1:49. He loved her for His own sake, and He loved her for our sake, too; He gave her to Himself and He gave her also to us.” Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, Pope PaulVI, 1974
St. Joseph, Foster Father of Jesus Christ
This holy, humble man was chosen by God to contribute to the work of human redemption by being the protector of His Divine Son and of Mary, the Immaculate Virgin.
“The whole human race has much undervalued the privilege and prerogatives conceded to my blessed husband, Saint Joseph. I assure you that he is one of the greatly favoured personages in the Divine Presence, and he has immense power to stay the arms of divine vengeance. That which my husband asks of the Lord in heaven is granted upon earth, and on his intercession depend many extraordinary favours for men.” The Blessed Virgin Mary to Venerable Mary of Agreda, The City of God
Angels, God Heavenly Hosts
Angels are pure spirits created by God before the creation of man. In their creation, God enriched them with sanctifying grace, raising them to the super-natural order. Tradition teaches they were bestowed with great intelligence, power and holiness. God wished them all to share in the happiness of heaven but did not admit them immediately to the Beatific Vision. He wished them to merit this privilege by their own free will and required of them a test of fidelity. The many angels who were faithful to God were immediately welcomed into the everlasting happiness of heaven. Their primary function, their joy supreme, is to adore and praise God forever.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 331 teaches that “Christ is the centre of the angelic world. They are His angels: They belong to Him, because they were created through and for Him.”
Saints, The Blessed in Heaven
God wants us all to be His blessed saints; it was the purpose of our creation. We were created by God and given at conception a soul that will never die. God in His goodness and love created us to know Him (this is not sufficient) and to love Him (and this is not sufficient); we must also serve Him in others to be happy with Him forever in heaven.
Through the holiness of the Church, in its teachings and in its sacraments, every soul can receive the grace of God needed to attain the sanctity for which each was created. In heaven, saints share in God’s life, glory and happiness. We can trust in our merciful God that the souls of many of our deceased relatives and friends are saints in heaven, united to God forever.
Among the countless saints in heaven are men, women and children who practised virtue to a heroic degree during their lives and who have been officially canonized by the Church.
Each of these saints while on earth had their difficulties and their own struggle in the battle against sin. Some of them before seeking God were the greatest of sinners. Their lives reveal that the way of perfection is by way of the Cross, made triumphant with the love, mercy and power of God.
A Reflection on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Mass gives more honour to God than any other form of prayer and worship. It is the most sublime and the most momentous event in the whole world. It is the prayer of Jesus offering Himself for us to the Father in a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, atonement and petition. Through the ministry of the priest, Jesus becomes fully present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity by the power of the words and actions of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is an august, holy and solemn mystery instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper and consummated on the Cross. Because Jesus is both victim (the one offered) and priest (the one who offers), it is the sacrifice of Calvary perpetuated – perpetual and ceaseless, as prophesied by Malachi 1:11 in the Old Testament.
Appendix – The Credo of the People of God
On June 30, 1968, His Holiness Pope Paul V1 promulgated The Credo of the People of God.
“We have wished our profession of faith to be to a high degree complete and explicit in order that it may respond in a fitting way to the need of light felt by so many faithful souls and by all those in the world, to whatever spiritual family they belong, who are in search of the truth.”