Fr. Robert Hogan, S.J. receives the Archbishop Thibault Award for the Daily Bread feeding program in Ateneo de Davao University

DAVAO CITY, March 28, 2009—

Fr. Robert Hogan S.J., an Irish-American missionary to the Philippines for over fifty years was chosen as an Archbishop Thibault Awardee for his commendable works in organizing the Daily Bread feeding program.

Full text at CBCP News

Hogan was born of Irish parentage on 16 February 1933 in New York City. He was educated at Catholic schools for grade school and high school. At the age of 18, he joined the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson novitiate in August 1951. After his two-year novitiate and two-year juniorate studies, he was sent in 1955 as a missionary to the Philippines and did his philosophy studies at Berchmans College, Cebu City (AB, 1957 and MA Philosophy, 1958).

As a Jesuit regent he taught religion, English and physics at the Ateneo de Manila (1958-61). He was ordained to the priesthood in June 1964 after theological studies at Woodstock College, Woodstock, MD, and pursued studies in chemistry and physics at Fordham University, Seton Hall College and St. Louis University.

After tertianship at Auriesville, NY, he returned to the Philippines in 1967.

He was then assigned to teach theology, philosophy and physics and do campus ministry at Ateneo de Naga for fifteen years.

At Naga he was appointed as Ecclesiastical Assistant for the Christian Life Communities (CLC), formerly the Sodality of Our Lady.

The CLC is a worldwide association of people who commit themselves to the values and principles of Ignatian spirituality.

Hogan’s work at CLC continued in Davao where the CLC assisted the poor at the City dump at Smokey Mountain and at Tibungco after their relocation from Smokey Mountain.

When he was moved to Ateneo de Davao in 1982 to teach theology and do campus ministry.

Hogan was also the chairman of the Theology Division from 1999 to 2006. He also taught graduate Theology at the Ignatian Institute of Religious Education.

In 2008, for health reasons, Fr. Bob was assigned to retreat work at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Quezon City.

He has subsequently been moved to the Fr. Jesus Lucas Infirmary at Loyola House of Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University campus.

In close to sixty years of religious life, of which almost fifty have been spent as a Jesuit missionary in the Philippines, Hogan has been a teacher and religious formator, priest and spiritual director, friend and counselor, fund-raiser, beggar and provider for those in need.

Hogan is part of the Ateneo de Davao Jesuit community for twenty-six years. (Mark S. Ventura w/ PR)

Advertisements

Book Review: “The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics” by Raphael Brown with Foreword by Rev. Edward A. Ryan, S.J.

Raphael Brown, The Life of Mary as Seen by the Mystics: Compiled from Revelations of St. Elizabeth of Schoenau, St. Bridget of Sweden, Ven. Mother Mary of Agreda, Sister Anna Catherine Emmerich, with Foreword by Rev. Edward A. Ryan, S.J., Dr. En Sc. Hist. Professor of Church History, Woodstock College  (Bruce, Milwaukee, 1951). 292 pages.

Book Review

A friend gave me this book last week. I started reading it last 16 March and finished it last 19 March on the Feast of St. Joseph. This 292-page pocketbook is difficult to put down.

It is hard to imagine what daily life in a holy family is like, with Mary as Mother, Jesus as Son, and Joseph as Father.  But the book describes these things in detail.

For Mary and Joseph, whenever Joseph pass by Mary, he would genuflect and he would not allow her to serve him, until he was told by his guardian angel to allow Mary to serve him, and interiorly treat her with highest reverence.  Joseph and Mary worked not for gain but for charity or to supply a need: they left the payment to their employers and accepted it as a freely given alms rather than an earned reward.  They divide their earnings into three parts: one part for the temple, one part for the poor, and one part for themselves.

For Jesus and Joseph, when Jesus was born, Joseph prostrated himself before Jesus.  Then upon Mary’s bidding, Joseph “kissed the Babe’s feet, and held little Jesus in his arms, pressing Him to his heart, while tears of happiness moistened his cheeks.”  In Jesus’s hidden life, he helped Joseph in his carpentry work.  When Joseph says to Jesus “‘Do this” or “Do that”, Jesus did it at once out of obedience.

For Jesus and Mary, the relationship is more intimate, so close that Mary becomes a reflection of her Son.  After Jesus’s birth, Jesus can already speak, but he speaks only at first to Mary and many years later to Joseph.   Jesus continuously instructs Mary on His mission on earth and how Mary becomes part of that mission.  Even during Jesus’s public ministry, Mary follows Jesus physically or through a vision.  Jesus always introduce his new apostles and disciples to Mary, so that she also becomes their spiritual mother.  What Christ suffered from his Agony in the Garden to his Crucifixion, Mary also suffered vicariously, even while only following the Stations of the Cross years after Jesus’s death.  Mary gathered the apostles during Pentecost.  When the Gospels were being written Mary requested the evangelists to write only as few as possible about her, so that the first Christians will not worship her as God.

CONTENTS

Foreword

Introduction

  1. Private Revelations
  2. St. Elzabeth of Schoenau
  3. St. Bridget of Sweden
  4. Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus of Agreda
  5. Sister Anna Catherine Emmerich
  6. Summary
  7. This Compilation

Chapters

  1. St. Ann and St. Joachim
  2. The Nativity of Mary
  3. Infancy
  4. Presentation
  5. In the Temple
  6. The Espousals
  7. Preparation for the Annunciation
  8. The Annunciation
  9. The Visitation
  10. Trials
  11. Mary and Joseph in Nazareth
  12. The Journey to Bethlehem
  13. The Nativity
  14. The Adoration of the Shepherds
  15. The Circumcision
  16. The Adoration of the Magi
  17. The Purification
  18. The Flight to Egypt
  19. The Holy Family in Egypt
  20. The Return to Nazareth
  21. The Boy Jesus in the Temple
  22. The Hidden Life in Nazareth
  23. The Death of St. Joseph
  24. Preparation for the Public Life
  25. The Wedding at Cana
  26. Mary During the Public Ministry
  27. Judas
  28. Prelude to the Passion
  29. Holy Thursday
  30. The Passion
  31. The Crucifixion
  32. The Resurrection
  33. The Ascension
  34. Pentecost and the Early Church
  35. Mary’s Last Years
  36. The Dormition
  37. The Assumption and Crowning

Bibliography

Fr. Joseph A. Mulry, S.J.: Principles for Philippine Agrarian Reform

In the view of Fr. Joseph A. Mulry (1889-1945), “the most pressing social problem in the Philippines at that time was the agrarian situation in central Luzon and in the province of Negros.  In both regions, the ownership of land was limited to a comparatively few landowners, while the vast majority of the population were landless tenants or migrant workers. ”

Fr. Mulry’s principles for agrarian reform:

  1. The person who tills the land should own the land he tills.  But to achieve that goal, a gradual process of education is required, which is the dissemination and the inculcation of ideas.  Land ownership requires maturity and skill, and both must be acquired gradually.
  2. Transfer of ownership of land should be effected not only gradually but also voluntarily.  There should be no violence or coercion.
  3. Government must not intervene, for this would only bring in politics and corruption.  The land problem must be solved by the private sector acting voluntarily.

Reference:

Miguel A. Bernad, S.J. “Joseph A Mulry: Founder of Social Justice Movement” in Unusual and Ordinary: Biographical Sketches of Some Philippine Jesuits (Jesuit Communications Foundation, Quezon City, 2006), pp. 105-115.  See p. 110.

    Jesuit Communications Foundation
    Sonolux Building, Ateneo de Manila University
    U.P.P.O. Box 245, 1101 Diliman
    Quezon City, Philippines
    Tel. No. (02) 426-5971
    Fax No. (02) 426-5970
    Email: jef@admu.edu.ph
    Website: www.jescom.ph

19th Century Apparitions in France: Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes

Bro. Francis Mary Kalvelage F. F. I., ed., You Will Make This Known to All My People: 19th Century Apparitions in France–Rue du Bac, La Salette, and Lourdes (Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Our Lady’s Chapel, New Bedford, MA USA, 1998), 182 pages.  Imprimatur by Most Rev. Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., Bishop of Fall River, Mass., USA, 8 Dec 1998, Feast of Immaculate Conception.  Preface by Fr. John Hardon S.J.

[Note: There is a new edition by Ignatius Press with an additional shrine of Pontmain (Our Lady of Hope).  The new edition is entitled, Marian Shrines of France.  This is available in the F.F.I. Immaculate Mediatrix Online bookstore. Price: $12.50.  (PROD ID: SMS-MSF007, 198 pp, perfect bound, illustrated.)]

This book is a a collection of essays on the three 19th century apparitions in France: Rue du Bac, La Sallete, Lourdes.  But why France?

In modern times, it seems, France has been more a prodigal daughter of the Church than her “Eldest Daughter.”  The history of Catholicism in France has been a glorious and turbulent one: at times France has been a great defender of the Church and at other times, her greatest adversary.

Christianity arrived there in the middle of the Second Century in the area around what is now the city of Lyons, at that time a part of the Roman province of Gaul.  Its first bishop, Hilary, was martyred but by the middle of the Third Century, there were over 30 bishoprics.  Much of this expansion was due no doubt to the first Saint to be canonized other than a martyr, namely the popular St. Martin of Tours.  When the Vandals and Franks overran the country, the brought with them the Arian heresy, which caused much confusion and falling away from the Faith.  Following the conversion and baptism of King Clovis in 496, the Franks were converted.  But it wasn’t until two centuries later that the Christianization of France was completed.  From that time on virtually every development and important event revolved around the Catholic Church–through the periods of the Carolingians, feudalism, the Middle Ages and monarchies right up to the Eighteenth Century and the French revolution.

It was that revolution and the bloody persecution of the Church that caused a devastating break between church and state and the introduction of the strictly secular state.  This break with the past Christian roots of France was symbolized and made visible in her national flag.  For centuries the French flag had the fleurs-de-lis on a blue field.  They every symbolized the Christian virtue of purity and the Immaculate Virgin in particular, thus uniting Mary and the Church with French patriotism.  The present tricolor was introduced at the time of the French revolution when religion was being exiled from public life.  But love and loyalty to the Church could never by taken away from the hearts of Frenchmen.  Our Lady saw to that.  (pp. 1-2 by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate)

The book does not only tell the story of the apparitions, but also provides character sketches of seers, the meaning of the message, the subsequent developments, and the testimonials on the miracles.  Like a diamond cut in a multitude of facets, this book is a gem.

PREFACE

by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.

Saints and Marian Shrines are gaining in popularity.  Thus, the series of Marian Saints and Shrines, of which this book is the third, is well-timed.  The present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has been criticized for the numerous men and women, clerical and lay, whom he has beatified and canonized in the last two decades, much more than any previous pontiff.  Recently, he announced that there will be many more beatifications and canonizations in celebrating the second millennium of Christianity.  All of this points to the fact that we are living in extraordinary times.  As the saying goes “where evil abounds, good abounds that much more.”  St. Louis de Montfort predicted in his great spiritual classic, True Devotion to Mary, “God will raise up great saints towards the end of time,” and these saints will be noted for their true devotion (total consecration) to the Blessed Mother.

In recent decades there has been a diminution of the cult of the saints.  One has to but look at the number of lives of the saints, books that have been written in the last thirty years, compared to the previous thirty years.  But one can say today that the trend is gradually changing.  The series of books on Marian Saints and Shrines published by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, is one indication to that fact.  Ignatius Press, possibly the largest Catholic book distributor in the country, has carried in their catalogues the first two books in this series.  The Guadalupe Handbook and St. Therese, Doctor of the Church.  They have found that there is a growing market for books of this type.

. . .

Thus again, the vital importance of showing Mary’s presence in our times, in particular through her apparitions and her admonitions at Lourdes, La Salette and other Church-approved apparitions.  It is a well-known fact, besides the physical cures at these shrines, there are countless spiritual lepers, or sinners, who have been cleansed and reconciled to God.  So I welcome this latest and third in the series of Marian Saints and Shrines.  May it increase the number of those who are sincerely striving to become Saints.  As Mother Theresa used to say to priests, even at this time of shortage of vocations, “We do not need more priests but holy priests.”  That can apply to all of us.  For the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ is built up by “little people,” the saints, and will triumph ultimately united to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

CONTENTS

Part I.  From a Historical Perspective

  1. The Eldest Daughter of the Church is Marian
  2. Mary, Mother of the Church
  3. The Ballad and the Message

Part II.  Rue du Bac, Paris 1830–Mary’s First Message to the Modern World

  1. Revelation of the Medal called Miraculous
  2. The Triple Mission
  3. Rich Symbolism of the Miraculous
  4. The Conquest of a Rabid Anti-Catholic
  5. The “Bullets” Hit the Mark
  6. The Saint of Silence

Part III.  La Sallete, 1846, The Madonna in Tears Appears as the Reconciler of Sinners

  1. A Mother Weeps for Her Children
  2. How She Touched the Most Hardened Sinners
  3. He Skied Into Mary’s Arms
  4. “. . . The Seventh I Kept for Myself”
  5. A Cautious “Mother” Investigates
  6. Why Believe in Private Revelations
  7. Faithful to Their Mission
  8. What about the Secret?
  9. The Lady Gives a Lesson in Theology
  10. The Ars Incident

Part IV.   Lourdes, 1858, The Immaculate Virgin of the Grotto and Her Sainted Seer

  1. The Lady of the Grotto
  2. The Brave Little Heroine
  3. Lady Poverty Finds a Home
  4. School of Evangelical Penance
  5. The Penetrating Sweetness of that Smile
  6. Pope Pius XII Remembers Lourdes
  7. A Most Astounding Miracle
  8. “I Met a Miracle”
  9. Where the Miraculous Confronts the Science-Skeptics
  10. Interview of Doctor from the International Medical Committee
  11. Human Interest Side of Medical Bureau
  12. Two Novelists Went to Lourdes
  13. The Real Bernadette
  14. He Wrote About Lourdes and the Immaculate Conception
  15. The Two Things Go Together
  16. Guardian and Teacher of the Faith
  17. She Pushed Back the Germans
  18. Bernadette Speaks from the Heart

Ordering Information:

The following information is from the book’s last page (This was still in 1998; the website address is still valid):

Special bulk rates are available with 10% to 60% discount depending on the number of books, plus postage.  For ordering books and further information:

Academy of the Immaculate, POB 667, Valatie NY 12184, phone/FAX (518) 758-1584.  E-mail Mimike@pipeline.com.

Quotations on bulk rates shipped directly by the box from the printery, contact:

Friars of the Immaculate, P.O. Box 3003, New Bedford, MA 02740, (508) 984-1856, FAX (508) 996-8296, E-mail ffi@ici.net, http://www.marymediatrix.com.

The FFI website is Immaculate Mediatrix Online (same address as above).  The book may be purchased in their bookstore here.

Here is a tabular list of bookstores for the book “Marian Shrines of France”:

Company Price Type In Stock Delivery
Immaculate Mediatrix Online
$12.50 softcover Yes
The Catholic Company $12.50 softcover Yes 1-2 business days
Family Publications
£ 9.95 (UK) paperback Yes
All Catholic Books
$12.50($9.70) softcover(paperback) Yes
EWTN Religious Catalogue
$13.00 softcover Yes
Freedom Publishing
AUD 25.95 paperback Yes 1-2 business days
Amazon
£ 24.23 to £ 86.20 Used and new books Yes
Leaflet Missal
$13.95 Softcover Yes
The Abbey Shop
£ 9.95 paperback Yes

Updated: 10 Feb 2009

Fr. Jose Calvo, S.J.: Land Reform Proposal in Spanish Colonial Philippines

Just before the mid-eighteenth century, several proposals were made for Philippine trade expansion and diversification and economic development. . . .

The next proposal came in 1753 from the Jesuit procurator Fr. Jose Calvo.  He envisioned the formation of a company in Spain in order to exploit the agricultural and mineral possibilities of the Philippines and trade directly with the peninsula.  He attributed the country’s underdeveloped state to the existing commercial system, illustrated by the fact that in the 188 years since its conquest not a single hereditary estate had been founded.  A start would be made with gold and cinnamon, with additional items to be added by forcing tribute-paying natives to devote a part of their holdings to pepper, cloves, cocoa, and mulberry trees (for silkworm culture).  Nutmeg was also mentioned.  Silk and cotton weaving would be developed under master craftsmen brought over from China and the Malabar Coast.  Aside from the trade and development aspects, the fiscal impact would reduce the need for the situado (subsidy) from Mexico.  the route to be taken to Spain would be via Cape Horn.  Again, nothing came of this proposal.

Reference:

Benito J. Legarda, Jr., After the Galleons (Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City, 1999), p. 53.

Book Review: “The Rizal-Pastells Correspondence” by Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J.

The Hitherto Unpublished Letters of Jose Rizal and Portions of Fr. Pablo Pastell’s Fourth Letter and Translation of the Correspondence, together with a Historical Background and Theological Critique (Ateneo de Manila University Press, Bellarmine Hall, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, P.O. Box 154, 1099 Manila, Philippines)

This book tells the story of two brilliant men.

The first is the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.  He was the distinguished poet in the Spanish tongue, the master of Philippine dialects and European languages, the humble devotee of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who later became a leader of the Propaganda Movement, the writer of the subversive novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and a member of Freemasonry in London.  In short, Jose Rizal was the Spanish poet who became anti-Spain,  the Catholic who became anti-Catholic, the student of the Jesuits who made a “shipwreck of Faith.”  In 1896 in Bagumbayan in Manila, Jose Rizal was executed for treason against Spain by firing squad.  He was thirty-five.

The second is Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J.  He was  the student in the Jesuit-run Seminario Conciliar in Barcelona, a refugee in France after the fourth suppression of Jesuits in Spain in 1868, a man in lay clothes running from anticlerical elements after the defeat of Napoleon in the Franco-Prussian war, the priest who organized circulos or worker groups in Europe to the anger of Anarchists.  Pastells arrived in the Philippines in 1875.  In the middle of the following year he was sent to Ateneo de Manila and became the director of the Sodality of Our Lady.  In this capacity and as a prefect of the boarders, he came to know the fourteen year old Rizal.  He travelled as a missionary in the Visayan and Mindanao Islands to study the language of the natives.  He was  appointed Superior of the of the Philippine Mission in 1888, and it was at the end of his term of office that his correspondence with Rizal began.  Pastells was sent back again to Spain in 1893 to write about the Spanish Jesuit’s overseas work, resulting to a three-volume history book (1916-1917), and another nine-volume work on the History of the Philippines (1925-1934).  In 1932, he died at the age of eighty-six.

* * *

The book is divided into two parts.  The first part is an Introduction by Fr. Raul J. Bonoan, S.J., which consists of a historical background and a theological critique.

The historical background is well written and researched, with long footnotes.  When Rizal was exiled in Dapitan in Mindanao, Rizal told Fr. Sanchez who tried to bring him back to the Catholic Faith:

It is useless, Father, you do not convince me.  I do not believe in the Eucharist or in the rites of the Catholic religion.

But to his mother Rizal wrote (which Fr. Sanchez confirmed):

We heard mass at midnight, for you ought to know that here I hear Mass every Sunday.  (Underlining by Rizal.)

I expected these things.  But for a physicist, here is a surprising trivia: From Rizal’s friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, Fr. Federico Faura, S.J., the founder of the Manila Observatory, learned of Blumentritt’s fear that Rizal became a Mason.  And Fr. Bonoan continues:

When Fr. Ramon, the rector, and Faura in conversation with their guest raised the question of his religious beliefs, Rizal made protestations of loyalty to Spain but said it was useless to discuss religious matters inasmuch as he had long lost the faith.  Whereupon, Faura sternly warned him never again to step into the corridors of the Ateneo if he should persist in his erroneous beliefs, for the Jesuit fathers were breaking all contact with him, and advised him to leave the Philippines for good lest he end up on the scaffold.  Rizal remained unmoved.

Fr. Faura correctly predicted the last storm: Rizal was executed, and his death ushered the Philippine Revolution.

Fr. Bonoan’s theological critique of Rizal and Fr. Pastells is also well-written.  But reading through his critique, Fr. Bonoan showed more sympathy for Rizal than for Pastells:  He upheld Rizal’s primacy of conscience and contrasted Pastell’s Vatican I mindset with the teachings of Vatican II.  If you want to know the details, read the book.

But my sympathies are for Pastells.  And to him we can quote Fr. Horacio de la Costa’s words:

But look at it another way.   Look at it through the eyes of a Spanish friar who found himself a prisoner of the Army of the Revolution.  He was the last of a long line of missionaries, stretching back to that great defender of Rights, Fray Domingo de Salazar.  They had brought this whole people from primitive tribalism to civilization.  They had raised from stones children of Abraham.  And in the end, the children had turned on their fathers.

It was not only tragic; it was the very essence of tragedy

–Fr. Horacio de la Costa, “The Priest in the Philippine Life and Society: An Historical View,” in Church and Sacraments, ed. by Ma. Victoria B. Parco (Office of Research and Publications, Ateneo de Manila University, 1990), pp. 192-200.

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments
References to the Correspondence
Abbreviations

Part 1. Introduction

Preliminary Notes

Two Separate Paths: Historical Background

  1. The Young Rizal and the Jesuits
  2. The European Experiment
  3. The Shipwreck of Faith
  4. Pastells and the Spanish Jesuits
  5. Arrest and Exile

The Clash of Cultures: Theological Critique

  1. The Enlightenment and the Catholic Response
  2. Private Judgment
  3. The Problem of God
  4. Revelation
  5. Conclusion

Part 2.  The Spanish Text of Rizal’s Letters and the Missing Portions of Pastell’s Fourth Letter

The First Letter of Rizal
The Second Letter of Rizal
The Third Letter of Rizal
The Fourth Letter of Rizal
The Fifth Letter of Rizal
Portions of the Pastell’s Fourth Letter Missing in the Epislorio Rizalino

Part 3.  Translations of the Correspondence

The First Letter of Rizal
The First Letter of Pastells
The Second Letter of Rizal
The Second Letter of Pastells
The Third Letter of Rizal
The Third Letter of Pastells
The Fourth Letter of Rizal
The Fourth Letter of Pastells
The Fifth Letter of Rizal

References
Index

Samurai X: Shogo Amakusa the Anti-Christ

In 1542, the first Christian missionaries arrived from Portugal in Japan.  The only religious orders that were allowed were the Jesuits, primarily because of the esteem by the Japanese barons (daimyos)  for St. Francis Xavier, who reached Japan in 1549.  When the Franciscans came, 26 of them were executed in 1597 (Japan Guide).  From 1603 to 1867, the Edo Era under the Tokugawa dynasty, the Christians were persecuted.  One of these is our first Filipino saint, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who died in 1637 by hanging in the pit (after his water-filled belly was rolled by a barrel and his fingernails were replaced with needles).  His last words were: “Even if I have a thousand lives, I will give them all to God.”  Because of failing economy due to protectionism, the Edo Era ended.  In the succeeding Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), a constitutional government was made with the emperor as the head.  One of the reforms in this restoration is the freedom of religion.  At last, Christianity can once again be practiced without fear of persecution.

The Samurai X anime series is situated at the end of the Tokugawa Era and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration.  Kenshin Himura, the Battousai or the Slasher, was once an assassin for hire.  He mastered the sword style called Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu (Flying Heaven Honorable Sword Style) taught by his teacher,  Seijuro.  This technique is only handed down from one teacher to one student only, and the final test is for the student to defeat the master using the technique called Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki.  One student who failed in this test is Hyoue.   He nearly died.  But he lived and taught it to a child prodigy named Shogo Amakusa.

Shogo is a Christian and he saw how his parents died in Shimabara during the Tokugawa persecution.  And as he sailed away to escape, looking at the rows of crucified men along the cliff, he vowed to return and defend Christianity.  On his return to Shimabara at the age of 24, he styled  himself as the “Son of God”, and coincided his coming with the eclipse of the sun.  As his boat passed through the waters to Shimabara, the waters burst into flames, forming not the sign of the cross † but the sign of a C and its reflection connected by a horizontal bar: ⊃-⊂.

Shogo and his followers have ceased to be Christians, but their practices have vestiges of Christianity.  In the cave they prayed something similar to the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who love God; He will lead them to God’s country.”  This is similar to “Blessed are the meek; they shall inherit the earth.”  They have a Mary figure, Shogo’s sister, the Lady Magdalia, the ever-virgin.  They also have a church—probably underground—with a single circular stained glass window.  The altar is attached to the wall with six candlesticks burning—perfect setting for the traditional latin mass.  But they have no priests.  This is the law of entropy and devolution: “Leave a village without a priest for fifty years and the people shall worship rocks and trees” (said by the Cure d’Ars, if I am not mistaken).  This is what happenned to the Israelites when Moses went to Mt. Sinai to get the Ten Commandments: they made a golden calf and worshiped it as their god and savior.  And this is what happened to villagers of Shimabara:  they worshiped Shogo as god.  (See the trailer here.  Note the Christian elements.)

Shogo is an Anti-Christ.  Shogo aims to establish a kingdom on earth; Jesus told Pilate that his kingdom does not belong in this world.  Shogo blinds a man using his Rai-Ryu Sen;  Jesus cures a man born blind.  Shogo displays his divinity by his unbelievable swordsmanship; Jesus told Peter to put his sword back.  And as a twist of fate, it was the Pagan Kenshin Himura who acted more Christ-like: he read Shogo’s heart and he refused to use his ultimate sword technique of Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki to defend himself against Shogo, in order that by this deed Shogo will realize that “a sword is not for killing but for protecting people”—Kenshin’s motto (c.f. “to protect what is valuable” as Yeon Soha said in the Shadowless Sword).  In his dismay and anger, Shogo punished Kenshin with “a punishment much worse than death: eternal darkness!”  And the blinded Kenshin fell from the cliff into the sea.  (See the battle between Kenshin and Shogo in here.)