What The Missionaries Taught First
by Fr. Robert D Smith
The secular media are by no means as secular, as neutral about religion as they claim to be.
They teach a form of religion, and they teach us how to think about specific religions. They continually
present the idea that religion is concerned with ritual observances, that Catholicism, for example, is a
matter of learning the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Apostle's Creed, and
that advanced learning in Catholicism includes being able to list the cardinal sins, the gifts of the Holy
Spirit, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; but what did the missionaries teach? Was it a
matter, first of all, of teaching the pagans how to make the Sign of the Cross, to pray the Our Father
and the Hail Mary" No...as important as these and other things are, they all come second, after something else.
St.Francis Xavier (1506-1552) was one of the first Europeans ever to visit Japan and had great
trouble learning the language. But he wanted to preach on the street corners (the only places available
since there were no churches). He wrote out his message in his own language and one of his companions transliterated it into Japanese. He memorized this version, which used the European alphabet
and as best as he could preached it, using Japanese intonations so that it could, by the sound of it, be
understood by his hearers.
What was he telling them in these brief messages on street corners? Was he teaching them
how to make the Sign of the Cross? To say the Our Father and Hail Mary? No...not first of all anyway.
What he taught in these street-corner messages is revealed in his letters home to Europe. He wrote
"We decided to hold forth in the streets twice a day, reading from the book we had brought with us and
then giving a sermon on the subject....Crowds gathered to listen to us, some of whom seem pleased to
hear the law of God, while others derided it, and a certain number pondered over it."
"On our way through the streets, children and elders harassed us a great deal, making a mock
of us and shouting, 'These fellows say that we have to adore Deus to be saved and none can save us
but the Creator of all things.' Others cried, 'These men teach that nobody can have more than one
wife.' And there were some who said, 'Look at the one who tells us that sodomy is a sin,' for it is a
very common vice among them. In a similar way they named other Commandments in order to make us
a laughing stock....We continued thus to preach in the streets and houses of the city for many days...
and we made a few Christians."
All these words are authenticated as the written words of St.Francis himself. What a picture!
It is all very clear.How audacious he was, how true a follower of Christ. The Japanese were all complete
strangers to him and to the teachings of Christ. And here he was, telling them that even before they had
heard of him or of Christ, they had been bound to God's law, to worship of the One God, to monogamy,
to avoiding sodomy. Polytheism, polygamy and sodomy had in no sense been all right for them. St.
Francis was teaching God's moral law first.
From a modernistic point of view , the wonder is that he converted anybody! The modernists, if
they were to give St.Francis advice, would tell him "Teach the easy things first, and save the difficult
for later....much later. Saint Francis taught the most necessary things first, saving the rest for later.
True, these moral teachings are difficult, but they are the most crucial of human reasons for coming
to the True Faith. If the modernists had gone in St.Francis' place, they would have indeed met with no
resistance....but neither would they have won any converts. Fifty years after the death of St.Francis,
Japan was well on the way to becoming Catholic. Thousands of converts had been made by missionaires following St.Francis' methods, and great momentum in conversions had been built up, when
Spain decided to conquer Japan, invaded it, and was defeated. In the aftermath, all the Catholic
converts were massacred!
Contrary to what the secular media teach, prayer is not the first thing logically in religion.
Morality is. We come to true ideas of religion and true ideas of prayer only after recognizing and
accepting from within ourselves true ideas of right and wrong.
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'The Other Side of Christ' copyright © Fr. Robert D Smith. All rights reserved.