The Imperial Death March

by Fr. Jeff

When the bell rang to signal the beginning of Mass this evening, I was greeted by the usual silence. After all, we don’t typically have music at our weekday liturgies.

Today, my imagination decided otherwise.

As I took my first few steps down the aisle, a song began to play in my head: the Imperial Death March. I had to stop myself from chuckling out loud.

I know it was caused by two things:

1. The Volkswagen Superbowl commercial featuring Darth Vader

2. Today’s feast of St. Paul Miki and his companions.

As I vested in red in the sacristy, my imagination returned to that day in Japan so many years ago. It must have been frightening for them all. I found my imagination creating a scene of the Christians waiting for their verdict. In a moment that probably would have warranted the same score, I tried to picture the moment when the Christians received word of their pending doom in the name of the emperor.

Nearing the sanctuary, I suddenly realized that the imaginary music signified a deeper reality: I was about to recall that moment in prayer. Standing at the foot of the alter, I was wearing red, the color of the martyr’s blood. The Collect expressed it clearly:

Receive, holy Father, the offerings we bring
in commemoration of the holy Martyrs,
and grant that we, your servants,
may be found steadfast in confessing your name.

How much glory redounds to Your name from the martyrs. A few bold witnesses brought the Faith to Japan. Their suffering planted the seeds of new life. And it all began with the

Imperial Death March.