Monday, June 30, 2014

Use Well the Time We Have

"Repeatedly and in many different contexts, we have warned that courts must not presume to determine … the plausibility of a religious claim" (Supreme Court Majority Opinion, Burwell vs. Conestoga Wood Specialties / vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, et. al.).

We thank God for this exercise of restraint by the Supreme Court, given that the courts and the society as a whole regard us as eccentrics, at best. No one understands why we cannot simply join the twenty first century's march toward the triumph of Science, Reason, and Progress (see previous post).

But we cannot. We cannot abandon the dignity of the human person, created by God, created in the image and likeness of God. New kinds of power are being gathered today by those who want to engineer the future of humanity. The catastrophe that awaits us all beyond the horizon of this hubris remains as yet unknown. Those who are not already numb, however, can feel the chill of its monstrous shadow.

Still, we thank God. Today's decision means that (at least for now) government power cannot coerce Christians who own businesses to violate their consciences. It cannot coerce them into facilitating or provisioning activities which they know to be destructive to human love, human persons and relationships, human life.

We have, still, a little space and a little time.

Let us use this time well, to witness to God's love for every person, to continue to build up and bring healing and strengthen what is good, wherever we are free, for as long as we remain free.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Strange and Tragic News of June 28, 1914

June 28, 1914. One hundred years ago on this day, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Habsburg imperial heir and political reformer, was assassinated by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo.

This was news even for Americans. And, as the New York Herald says, "consternation was created throughout the Courts of Europe" by an attack on one of their own; there was sorrow and disturbance everywhere that a member of one of Europe's ancient ruling families had been murdered in what was apparently a terrorist plot.

It seemed like a dark moment in the early years of the twentieth century, a disturbing thing that had inserted itself into what many hoped would be the century of the triumph of Science, Reason, and Progress.

No one yet knew that this was the spark that would rapidly set fire to Europe and begin a war like nothing the world had ever seen. No one could have imagined how the science, reason, and progress of the twentieth century would bring forth not only spectacular benefits for humanity but also unprecedented horrors on a monstrous scale.

The Centennial of the First World War has begun.

And a hundred years from now? What will the blogger of the future (or whatever it is they'll be doing by then) look back on in the year 2114? They will know decisions that will have been made and consequences we cannot imagine. Perhaps they will look back upon miracles for which we can only hope. Hope and pray.... When we recall the past, and even more when we look to the present, let us remember to pray.

Friday, June 27, 2014

We Want This Man to be in Charge

Happy feast day in honor of JESUS in His infinitely loving, totally poured out and given away HEART in which He really, truly carries each one of us. This feast reminds me of the important gesture we made most recently in January of 2012, when we participated in a parish group sponsored consecration of our home and family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We publicly declare that Jesus, in His heart full of infinite mercy and compassion, is the "King" of our family. This is not for us some kind of antiquated decoration, but the expression of our desire, our prayer, that this man be in charge of our home and our family. We want this man with a human heart, who is God, the eternal Son of the Father, to rule our home. We are confident that this is in no way a compromise of our inherent dignity as human persons; quite the contrary, it is a gesture that affirms our freedom, because He is the Way for our freedom to attain its destiny.

So we turn to Him and entrust ourselves to His love and mercy. It wouldn't make much sense as "the symbolism of a human belief-system." It has meaning only as a response to a real man in history who really died on the cross, who conquered sin and death, and who has given Himself with an inexhaustible love to every human being.

We want Jesus to be our King. We want to share through His heart in the life of the God who is Love. We want to love: no matter how often we forget, or fall short, or even betray this love, we want to return and be renewed by the love of God. Insofar as we have anything like a "throne" in this house, He occupies it (with Mary and her heart, never touched by sin and therefore beautiful, and full of room for Him and for us).

They don't look like this all day long!
As the second photo on the right reveals, His throne is on the wall in the midst of everything and everybody, every day. (This photo also gives a hint of where the television might be.) In Jesus, God dwells among us. So it is not incongruous that His picture is in the living room in the midst of books, couches, gadgets, and TV; the place where we do stuff.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we entrust everything to You through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And You know what "everything" really means. It even means watching TV, because in whatever we do, we human beings are seeking the love which You give to us. Give us the grace to find You, to remember You, to live every moment shaped by Your promise which is our hope.

Dear readers, whoever you may be, God bless you all! Trust in Him. Give Him all the burdens and all the fears and all the sorrow. He stays with you. Why not just let this Great Heart love you? He really loves you. He loves all of us even when we're not paying attention (which is most of the time). He is carrying us home.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scenes From a Wedding Anniversary

Here are a couple of the pink roses that my wife found when she awoke on June 22

The blog has been a little short on words recently. The stats indicate that it's been short on readers too, haha, although it's difficult to assess how many "hits" on a post actually constitute thoughtful reading of its contents. I still have my faithful "core readership" (Hi Dad, hi Mom! ... and others too) and I don't think they will object too much if I post more pictures and less dramatic thoughts.

Eileen and I celebrated our eighteenth anniversary on June 22. Lots of folks on social media already saw this picture from outside the church, after the wedding on that hot day in 1996. I need to make a better digital reproduction, but meanwhile this captures the happy feeling of that day in a better way than any of the professional photographs:

We were young and cheerful, running on adrenaline and a hundred concerns about the reception that had not even started yet, which was good because underneath it all we were both completely exhausted. Eileen had been up almost all night finishing the veil for the wedding dress (she made the whole dress herself -- well, actually with some help from her mother -- and it hangs waiting for our daughters if and when they should have need of it).

Pink flowers, but red wine
My wife has amazing energy now. Eighteen years ago she was a phenomenon (i.e. she's actually slowed down over the years, a little). Then and now, she does everything out of a simple and very rich contemplative soul. She is not a scattered person. My wife has always devoted her energy to things that take time, things that require patience and tenacity. Whether it's getting an education, making a wedding dress, raising a bunch of kids, nurturing friendships, caring for (and suffering with) a sick husband, cooking a Christmas dinner, or preparing the environment of a Montessori classroom: Eileen just does it, and sticks with it until it's done as well as it can be.

It was God's will that she should marry me. He knew that she needed a challenge for a husband. I'm joking, of course. Well... not entirely. I'm a challenge. But I have a pretty good mind (when it's working) and a big heart, and I am grateful to fill it by cherishing her, supporting her, and working with her in living a mysterious common life: a common mission to form and educate our children, and to extend this educating vocation into the wider community. We collaborate as teachers, with our children every day, and then in our works, even though we are usually in different environments using different pedagogical instruments.

I think if Eileen and I were shipwrecked with a group of people on a deserted island, we would probably start some sort of school.

I love her, and I just can't say it enough. In eighteen years we've been through so much hard stuff. When we got married we were "older" than many couples: I was 33 and she was 29. We had lived and traveled and worked and seen a thing or two about life (though not nearly as much as we -- or at least I -- thought at the time). I was a professor, a publisher, and an editor. She was an experienced teacher and had been the headmistress of a private school. We really liked each other and just enjoyed being together (we still do, very much). It was a good solid foundation from which to start.

But we have needed much more than anything we could have imagined back then. Above all we have needed the grace of Jesus in the sacrament of marriage in order to persevere together through the arduous and painful circumstances that life has presented to us. We walk together with a calmer but stronger confidence, because we have experienced the faithfulness of Christ's love. It strengthens our fidelity to have seen that He really is faithful. And yet we will be stretched and tested more in the future, and we will find Him again in new ways as long as we still have need to grow.

With all this we have also found much joy, peace, and trust, and with God's help we will continue to do so for many years to come.

I love you, dear Eileen.

We went to a quiet Italian restaurant at the end of the day: this was a joy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Grain of Wheat

The Grain of Wheat

Jesus, Living Bread,
hidden love, secret gift.
Jesus, You.
The only You:
reaching, gazing, drawing near,
touching, entering the deepest place
through lips and mouth
as holy food.

The bread we break,
the grains of wheat,
fruit of the earth and work of our hands:
by Your word, Bread of Life;
Jesus, You.
The only You.
Your Risen Body, everlasting—
transfigured Love lifted up
to longing eye and yearning heart
under humble signs, veils
of the Glory in which Love humbles Himself.
Jesus, You.
The only You.
The bread, the food,
the grain of wheat fallen
into our little earth...
into our little sorrow, joy, work, hope;
into our little frustrations, bitterness, vanity, suffering;
into this curving, confining space—
buried with us, Your chosen dwelling place!

Into our breathless earth,
down deep into fallow souls,
shriveled soil, grown barren
from the dense, heavy weight
of so much unoffered love.
Jesus, You—only You!
O Lord Jesus Come!
Burst the ground of my heart
with a harvest of abundant fruit.

  (From my book, Never Give Up: My Life and God's Mercy published by
   Servant/Franciscan Media. To read reviews and/or purchase, click HERE.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Phonics and Father's Day Gifts

My Father's Day Promissory Note
One of the presents I got for Father's Day was a certificate from one of my children (guess which one) offering to make me breakfast. I'm sure that anyone who has a child in the six year old range learning phonics will have no trouble reading those words in the picture on the left.

Sometimes I feel like kids using phonics come up with more intelligent spellings for English words than the "official" spellings. Unfortunately, we do have to mess with their minds until all the correct (and counter-intuitive) written arrangements of the letters of the English alphabet become habitual for them.

In their natural innocence, however (i.e. while they're still learning), little kids make plenty of "smart mistakes." So it is that my certificate states:


Let's pass over the fact that we still need to work on when to use uppercase and lowercase letters. That sentence clearly says: "I'll make you breakfast if I can."


Well, let me tell you: this is our fifth child going through phonics and it works. Josefina is still catching up with her age level, but she is moving quickly. And a reasoning process is evident in these mistakes, such as "brekfist" which makes perfect intuitive sense. (Who would guess that the word break and the word fast, when combined, would spell breakfast [but be pronounced "brek-fist"]?)

Enough about phonics for now. On to the "brekfist," which turned out to be more like a snack or a light lunch when I redeemed my gift certificate the other day. Teresa and Josefina collaborated on the food preparation. I was even presented with a menu, from which I selected my favorite "Josefina specialty," cream cheese bread rolls, along with fried apples with cinnamon (by Teresa).

They laid it all out on the table in a lovely way. There were more food and drink options, and I probably should have made them work harder, but I'm just not a very big eater these days. Oh, and I already had my own cup of coffee.

My light repast, complete with folded napkin. A lot of cream cheese in those bread rolls too.

Disarmingly simple, but prepared with much love. And I must say, really yummy too! I also enjoyed the company of the two pretty young ladies at the table. Here they are:

I am truly blessed to be their father. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Set of Ideas? A Morality? Or a Person Who Changes Life...

It often seems that we can talk and talk and talk about the Catholic faith, but never even mention the name of Jesus Christ. If we do mention Him, it's often within the context of the "things" we are supposed to believe because we're Catholic. Or perhaps we'll acknowledge Christ as having a central place in Catholic doctrine.

This is not sufficient. This will not do!

To be Catholic is to belong to JESUS in His Church. Life is relationship with Jesus Christ. Without Him we can neither do nor suffer anything. As Catholics we must not presuppose this relationship; we must not take it for granted. We must not assume, "Of course Christ is at the center, yes, yes, yes..." because this center is a Person. Without a living relationship with this Person even "Catholicism" is reduced in our minds and hearts to an ideology, or a party we belong to, or a vehicle for our own ambitions.

Please, let Jesus be at the center of your "being Catholic," because we don't live for abstract ideas or for the project of becoming virtuous by our own power; we live for Him. He gives us the power -- the grace -- to live according to His will (which is His wisdom and love for each of us). He also forgives us, again and again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

He is Already With Us

God searches deep into the heart of every human person, of every one of us, because he wants to find us and to save us. At this very moment He is already with us in our wretchedness. He is already mysteriously at work. Cry out to Him! Never give up!

Click the link for St. Faustina's prayer: All Humankind Calls Out from the Abyss of its Misery to Your Mercy

Monday, June 16, 2014

People All Around Me

Home office. Sort of... Not a man cave but a camping spot.
It's summertime. I plop myself in the living room, in the middle of everything -- which is where I like it best -- and allow the surroundings to blend with my own work. When I open the Internet I open a window on the whole world, right here in the living room in the midst of my family. But in a profound sense the same thing happens when I open a book. A world of understanding is contained in those pages, and something much richer than digital imagery is required to visualize it: the human imagination.

I can easily get lost in these worlds of interactive media, articles, and old fashioned books with pages. But I don't like being thus "lost" -- I don't think the unconscious loneliness of it is good for me. Sometimes I have to be alone, but more often the hubhub that surrounds me is a good and congenial thing. I love being surrounded by people when I think. I also like being interrupted, which is a good thing because it happens plenty.

Don't just leave the pieces here!
The heat is keeping most of us inside right now. John Paul is playing the guitar in his own room (and learning too). Jojo is singing some tune of her own and making a puzzle on the floor. Some of the scattered pieces are under my feet. Drawers open and close in the kitchen, water runs, glasses clink. Actually, it's pretty quiet at the moment.

I write. I pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten me about words, and about life. How do I listen to His inspirations? I feel so dry, sometimes. Where is God? He is inside the needs and tasks of this day, in the children and their concerns, in the time Eileen and I have together, in the rhythm of my work and prayer. When I pray, "come, Holy Spirit," I am asking Him to manifest Himself; to enrich my awareness of His presence. He calls out and gives Himself through the invitation to love contained in the most ordinary circumstance.

His invitations say, "Love all the way. Do not stop at your own satisfaction. Seek the Source of what attracts you, and -- in affirming the goodness of whatever is given in the circumstances -- allow yourself to be embraced by the Source."

Of course, things don't always seem especially good. How often our situation appears to be dull, repetitive, and fruitless. Here especially we must call out to the Holy Spirit, and listen to the silence in which He whispers the secrets of Divine Love.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

His Innermost Secret

"By sending His only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed His innermost secret: God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange."

from Catechism of the Catholic Church #221

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Offering Our Day to God: What Does That Mean?

O Heart of Jesus, we offer You all our thoughts, words, and actions, our joys, sorrows, and sufferings of this day. We offer You everything.

What is it that we do (or at least desire to do, however forgetful we may be afterward) when we "offer" our day to God? "Offering" involves a fundamental recognition; it entails the affirmation of the reality of things according to that inner secret that constitutes their being and goodness: the fact that they belong-to-Another.

And so we cannot possess things by dominating them and reducing them to our own measure. Our life becomes "offering" when we use and possess and love things in a way that takes them completely seriously, because things are a hymn of rejoicing to the One who makes them be, and the only way to truly love them is to join in that hymn.

The ecstasy of the beauty of things is their giving-back-of-themselves to the One who sustains them and calls them to their own fruition. We offer our day when we join in with the "giving" of things, when we allow their song of rejoicing to enter into our awareness, when our engagement of reality becomes a prayer, a "blessing of the Lord" that gives voice to the hymn of creation: Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord. Praise and exalt Him above all forever!

How does this "offering" extend to love for another person? The greatest gift, the greatest beauty in all of creation is the other person. There is much to be said about this. For now, I can only reflect that in loving other persons I am loving others who, like me, are called to the joys of eternal life. This is where the true identity of every person is found. Every person is created in the image of God and called to share in the likeness of God and the life of God. This unique, sacred, personal vocation to belong to God is at the heart of who each person really is.

When I engage in a relationship with another person, I "offer" that relationship through the recognition that this someone is not primarily a source of satisfaction or utility for me, but someone who has a destiny, who is "for Another." To love a person as offering is to love them for who they truly are, that is, to love them for the sake of that Other and their relationship with that Other. It is to love their destiny.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Asking for the Joy that Endures Forever

The sloping valley, the ancient hills, the blue sky streaked with clouds all speak to me of joy.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit" (Psalm 51:12).

Joy is the fruit of that secure relationship of love with something or someone good. But as St. Augustine pointed out so many centuries ago, every good in this world whispers, "I did not make myself. I was made by Someone Else...." It is only in that Someone Else that lasting joy can be found, the joy that encompasses and fulfills the promise contained in created things.

O Lord, give me the joy of your salvation! What am I asking of God? I am asking for the joy that endures because it is the fruit of a relationship with the One who is worthy of all my love because He is Eternal Love. He is the only One who can exhaust and engage fully and finally the love that has been awakened in my heart by the mystery of life itself.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost 2014

Come Holy Spirit:

"In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe"

(from Pentecost Sequence).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One+One=Three? Something Happened!

Life is a mysterious and wonderful thing. On June 1, 1997, a baby was born. A baby boy. A child. A human person. We named him. John Paul Augustine Janaro.

John Paul Janaro, obviously not a newborn here, but still pretty new.
Everyone is always talking about relationships and feelings and compatibility and men and women and marriage and who should get married and who has rights to what, and on and on. We want to know how we can maximize the mutual satisfaction of this unique physical, emotional, interpersonal bond between two people who love each other so profoundly.

Marriage. We go into it crazy, thinking that nothing could be deeper than our love, and all we want to do is hold onto the deepness and make it even deeper. "Me and you. You and me...." So what happens?

Oh, you mean "children"? People think, "Oh yes, we'll have children too. Of course." But here's the thing: we didn't "have a child" on June 1, 1997.

Saying that is just not enough. Life is mysterious. It wasn't just "a child." It was John Paul. It was him -- this person, unprecedented, unrepeatable, unimaginable, his own self, John Paul Janaro.

Nine months before that day, a universe was created. The Word spoke, and this person -- this "someone," unique, unfathomable, lovable, destined to know and love and exist even after all the stars and galaxies have burned themselves out, to live forever -- this person was created. One day there was me and Eileen and our love for each other, and the next day there was this person.

And then, on June 1, after making himself known in many ways as he grew under the heart of his mother, he was born. He came forth into the light and breathed the air and screamed his head off.

It's a moment when you realize that this "love" thing is a total revolution. My gosh. You make choices. You get swept up in emotions. You love each other and you open your hearts, but you don't "make" anything. Something happens: you don't deserve it, you can't earn it, and when this someone is given to you, it becomes clear that you have been given to him.

Yes, it's "cute"! It's also a friggin' MIRACLE!
Birth is a milestone. It's not the beginning, and it's not the end, but it's a milestone in which a human person says, "Here I am!" Soon it becomes virtually impossible to imagine a universe in which this person did not exist.

Love seems to overthrow mathematics. Mathematics says 1+1=2. Love says 1+1=3. (I'm probably plagiarizing G. K. Chesterton here. Surely he said this somewhere, but I've seen the truth of it for myself. And he would agree that my words, therefore, are not a quotation but a happy coincidence. It 's not about his or my silly writings, but about the fact that life is amazing.)

Love says 1+1=3. Eileen+John=Eileen, John, & John Paul. And Agnese, Lucia, Teresa, Josefina, and the love that continues to shine in the world through them. Are numbers really good enough for what we're talking about here? Sure, you can count children, but real love keeps going on. It keeps being a surprise and a gift that we can't measure.

We don't deserve any "number" of children; each one of them is a gift to us, and we in turn become gift to each one of them. When John Paul became my son, I also changed: I became his father. And this happens again, in a unique way, with each child. We grow in the giving of love, we become gifts of love when we receive the gift of a person.

Not everyone has children. But the miracle of children and families is a sign that the nature of love is the gift. We become ourselves by giving ourselves. This call to love is vivid in the family, because there is this other person who calls me "Daddy" -- I didn't make him, he is a mystery, but he claims me as his father and I want to belong to him in this way; I want to be this gift to him. So it is with each and every child. A family is persons given to one another in this very particular way, through the self-giving love of a man and a woman who commit to each other so radically that they open up a space where new human persons might be created (not on demand, not "made to order," but as the free gift of the One who has fashioned and designed marital love with wisdom and goodness). This mysterious Freedom does not always give children to spouses, but the Gift is always being poured out in ways that are beyond them, their own ideas, and their plans. Spouses who love each other truly open a place, and we must believe that in each gift of spousal love "something happens" that is more that their love, and that makes their love grow.

Families are the sign that this Love is being poured out, everywhere. They are called to manifest in a particular way that we are all gifts to one another. The family is a place where I learn that every human person can say to me, "You are my brother." We are all given to one another in circumstances that we do not control -- circumstances that call upon us to give ourselves in specific ways, with works of love that always have mysterious fruit.

Not everyone has children. But children are a sign for all of us that if we open up our love it will be shaped into an unfathomable gift that is always beyond our calculation. Whatever our circumstances may be, if we truly give ourselves in love, even the most simple gesture is carried in the hands of the One who can do all things, and who always does what is good, who always brings forth beauty, who brings everything to fulfillment.

This life we live is a mysterious and wonderful and strange thing. Sometimes we don't understand it at all. Sometimes it seems unbearable, and we suffer. On the other side of suffering, however, we see (or we will see) that through it all we have been loved.

Our son John Paul has grown in ways we can see and measure. My gosh, he has grown! But the deeper things are beyond our measure. What we see is something that prompts us to entrust ourselves to the mystery that we are all loved, and to move forward in the desire to see the face of the One who loves us.

Wishing you many more Happy Birthdays, John Paul. Thank God for you!

So what grade should I give this paper?

Baseball at age seven.
And then age 12.
And today, at 17 and growing UP.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Remembering the Uganda Martyrs

Icon of the martyrs at the Shrine
In graduate school I first became friends with students and priests from Uganda who greatly enriched my appreciation for the Uganda Martyrs. 22 Catholic martyrs of the late 19th century were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964. They are commemorated on June 3, the anniversary of the burning-to-death in 1886 of St. Charles Lwanga and eleven fellow Christian servants of the Ugandan Kabaka (King). There are ten other Catholic martyrs during this period who are also grouped into today's feast. Each one has an awesome story that was carefully recorded from eyewitness testimony for the beatification proceedings in the early twentieth century.

It is unfortunate that the stories and even the names of their Anglican companions in this dramatic ecumenical gesture of common witness have been lost, as the Anglicans didn't have the kind of rigorous investigative process for beatification or the emphasis on individual saints that is so prominent in the Catholic tradition. The Catholic martyrs, after the collection of the testimony of numerous still-living witnesses, were beatified in 1920. October 18 will mark the 50th anniversary of their canonization, and the Catholic Church in Uganda is dedicating the whole year to a renewal of faith for millions of people who stand today as the heritage of the martyrs.

St. Joseph Mukasa
Among the martyrs who were not in St. Charles Lwanga's group are several outstanding adults, including St. Mattias Mulumba and St. Andrew Kaggwa, both catechists and married men with families. Another of the martyrs who particularly inspires me is St. Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, who was the personal attendant of King Muteesa and his son King Mwanga II, and head of the royal household. He was able to obtain religious freedom for Christians (for a limited time prior to 1885), and his teaching and example led to a large number of conversions and strengthened the faith of many of the new Christians. But he also fearlessly rebuked King Mwanga for his superstitious and immoral life and in particular for the execution of a Protestant missionary bishop. The King saw this as a challenge to his absolute royal authority, and he turned against Christianity. Joseph Mukasa was brutally tortured and executed for teaching the Christian faith and for his defense of Christians on November 15, 1885. He is a patron saint of politicians.

This led to further executions of prominent Christians, and finally to the young men and boys who served the King. In addition to being pathologically obsessed with his own power, Mwanga was also a serial sex predator and pedophile. The Christians, led by Charles Lwanga, resisted the King's abuse and protected others from it. King Mwanga demanded that they renounce this faith that opposed his desire to turn his servants into a caged harem of boys subjected to his every lustful whim and brutal fantasy. Of course, they refused and were subjected instead to death for the glory of their newly found Lord, Jesus.

Bishops and pilgrims 2014 (from The Observer,
Online news and opinion journal from Uganda)
Today all these martyrs are the heroes of the Catholic people of East Africa. You can read each of their stories here on the website of the Uganda Martyrs Shrine, which is located at Namugongo, the sight of the torture and death of St. Charles Lwanga, 11 Catholic servants of the King (nearly all of them under 20 years of age), and a number of Anglicans as well. The Shrine is a place of pilgrimage all year round but especially on June 3, which is an official holiday in Uganda and is known as "Martyrs Day." This year a million pilgrims gathered at the Shrine from the region and the whole world to celebrate Martyrs Day.

The Shrine of the Uganda Martyrs
The story of the Catholic martyrs of Namugongo, including their final "death march," was preserved in great detail by Denis Kamyuka, one of the Catholic royal pages who was condemned to death with the others and taken all the way to the place where they were burned, only to be pardoned at the last moment because of the pleas of relatives who were associated with the King's family. It is because of his detailed testimony at the beatification process over thirty years later that we have a vivid narrative of their heroic sufferings and deaths.

Denis Kamyuka was present at the beatification of his companions and friends in 1920, and it is said that he wept for not being among them. But he was spared so that the whole world might know the story of the witness that was given on that day. You can read the story here. There is a litany of the Uganda Martyrs that is published by the Shrine; a profound and powerful prayer for the multitude of pilgrims who come from all over East Africa (and the world) to honor and seek help from these saints who are their forebearers in the faith. Click here for the litany and the invocations.