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THE VISION OF FRIAR RODRIGUEZ

By Jose Rizal

The friar's pitiful plight seemed to have placated the stranger. He stopped beating him. Placing the broken crosier on a table, he exclaimed with contempt: "Homo sine homine, membra sine spiritu! Et iste appellatur filius meus! Man without manhood, body without a soul! And you call yourself my son!" On hearing so potent a voice and the language which he could not understand, Friar Rodriguez looked more confused. No, the stranger could not be Friar Pedro nor any brother in disguise. Impossible! "Et tamen," continued the stranger, "tanta est vanitas vestra, ut ante me, Patrem vestrum . . . sed video, loquor et non audis! And yet, such is your vanity that even before me, your father, you do not listen although I see you and speak to you." Shaking his head in disgust, the vision, after a few seconds, spoke in Spanish. His accent was foreign. "And are you the ones," he said, "who call yourselves my sons? Has your haughtiness come to such a pitch that not only do you pretend that you are feared and loved by governors and governed alike, but that you neither recognize nor respect me, whose name you dishonor and whose merits you cheapen? How do I find you? Arrogant to the poor and fawning to those who are not afraid of you! Surge et audi! Get up and listen." So imperious was the voice and so expressive the gesture that Friar Rodriguez readily understood him. He stood up trembling, tried to pull himself together, and moving backward, sought a place in a corner. Touched by this proof of obedience, now seldom found among those who make a vow of humility, the stranger allowed his contempt to give way to compassion. He repressed a sigh and without losing his dignity proceeded in a more familiar manner. "For you and your asininities I had to leave the heavenly region and come here! And what efforts it cost me to find you and distinguish you from the others! You all look alike! There is hardly any difference-empty heads and bloated stomachs! No wonder up there, they always tease me because of you all, particularly of you. It was useless to feign that I could not hear them. It was not only Lopez de Recalde, later called Ignatius of Loyola (=Saint Ignatius), who, with his eternal smile and air of humility, sneered at me. Nor was it Dominic alone with his aristocratic pretensions and his starlets of false stones on his forehead, who laughed at me. Even the great simpleton, Francis of Assisi (=Saint Francis)do

One night, seated in a comfortable armchair and pleased with himself and his supper, Friar Jose Rodriguez 1 was dreaming of the money he was drawing from Filipino pockets from the sale of his little books, when suddenly, as if by enchantment, the yellow light became extremely bright, the air was filled with soft perfume, and without his knowing how or from where, a man appeared. The man was old, of medium height, brown, and thin. His white beard contrasted with his lively, sparkling eyes which imparted to his face unusual vivacity. Over his shoulders he wore a cape. The mitre on his head and the crosier in his hand gave him the appearance of a bishop. On seeing him, Friar Rodriguez murmured, yawning: "Fantasies of my fertile imagi . . ." The vision did not let him finish. Forthwith, it struck him on the back of his neck. Friar Rodriguez was startled. "Eh! This is no joke!" he protested. With one hand he stroked the hurt part and with the other he rubbed his eyes. "I see! It is no dream! But, partner . . . !" Incensed at such familiarity, the strange personage poked Friar Rodriguez severely in the stomach with his crosier. Noticing that the man was in earnest, Friar Rodriguez jumped from his chair, remonstrating: "Look here, Friar Pedro! Is that the way you procure indulgences? That was not the agreement. Ouch! Ouch! Forgive me!" Feeling more irritated, the strange bishop had stopped poking Friar Rodriguez in the stomach and started hitting him on the head in the belief that it was a more sensitive part. Unfortunately, Friar Rodriguez' head was too hard, and the crosier broke in two. At length, Friar Rodriguez realized what was happening. Paler than his white robe and scared out of his wits, he had fallen on his knees and was crawling on all fours as his feet could no longer carry him.

you hear?poked fun at me, who thought, discoursed, and wrote more than all of them put together!" 'Your order is great and powerful,' Ignatius told me, with bowed head. 'It is like an Egyptian pyramid: broad at the base- you are the basebut the higher it rises the smaller it becomes!' And as he walked away, he humbly murmured, 'What a difference between the base and the apex!' 'Doctor,' said Dominic, 'why did you not do with your science what I did with the nobility I bequeathed to my sons? We all would have won!' 'Mon ami!' exclaimed remorsefully Francis of Assisi whose real name was Giovanni Bernadone. 'If God should order me to return to earth and preach as before among the birds and beasts, I would preach instead in your convents!' After saying that, he roared with such laughter that although he was thin, he seemed to burst. "In vain did I answer them that their sons were no better than you, and that were we to search the closets for skeletons, we all would have to stuff our noses. It was no use. Who can argue against three, especially when one has to defend you? Three, did I say? Why, even Peter (=Saint Peter), the old fisherman, attracted by the peals of laughter, left the gate to upbraid me for the tricks you had played on his priests, grabbing from them all their parishes in spite of their having been in these islands at least two decades ahead of you, and were the first to christen in Cebu and here in Luzon. 'Of course,' Peter added, 'my sons are lazy and disunited. Yours on the other hand are mendacious and boisterous and show more spirit than mine and so they succeed in deluding the ignorant into believing them. Thus they triumph. Nevertheless, I am glad. Would that my descendants disappeared altogether!' Would mine,too!'" '"And mine!" "'May the same happen to mine!'" chorused several voices. "But old Peter did not stop until he got his revenge. Yesterday, he played a dirty joke on me. Not only did he confiscate a suspicious package brought in by an Indio, but instead of directing the man to the imbeciles' section, he took him over to our place. The poor fellow carried with him as provisions a bundle of your little books. He said they were given him by his priest who promised him indulgence for the next life. Upon the Indio's arrival and on hearing that he was carrying books written by Augustinians, everybody snatched the booklets away.

I wanted to hide myself, but I could not. What guffaws and what jokes! The little angels came en masse; the celestial Father's orchestra lost its beat; the virgins failed to pay attention to their music sheets, reading instead the little book, and sang most discordantly. Even old Anthony's pig grunted and wagged its tail. "I was very much embarrassed. I could see everyone point his finger at me and laugh. In spite of all this, however, Zarathustra (=Zoroaster), the grave and serious Zarathustra, remained serene. With an air of haughtiness which left me humiliated, he reproached me thus: 'Is the author of that booklet your son? Is he the one who pretends that my religion is pagan, and that I am a pagan? Have your sons degenerated to that extent? Have they confounded my pure religion, the source of the most perfect creeds, with idolatry and polytheism? Do they not know that paganism is derived from pagani, inhabitants of the fields, who remained most faithful to the polytheism of the Greeks and the Romans? 'You may say that they do not understand Latin! If that is so, then they should speak more modestly. Tell them that paganus comes from pagus, from which the words pages, payes, paien, paese, pais, etc., are derived. Tell those miserable fellows that the religion of Zend-Avesta was never professed by the rural inhabitants of the Romans. Tell them that my religion is monotheistic, even more so than the Roman Catholic, which has not only accepted my dualism, but has deified several creatures. Tell them that paganism in its widest and most corrupted sense, only meant polytheism; that neither my religion nor that of Moses nor that of Moses nor that of Mohammed was ever a pagan religion. 'Tell them to read your own works where you speak of pagani in every page. Repeat to them what you said in speaking of the Manichean religion, a corruption of my doctrine, which you professed and which influenced your works and still influences your religion, and at one time caused the Roman Catholic to waver. Yes, I set the principle of good against the principle of evil Ahura Mazda, the Supreme God. This, however, does not mean that there are two gods, as you yourself so well said. To speak of health and disease, you explained, is not to admit that there are two healths. And, after all,what? Have they not copied my principle of evil with their Satan, the prince of darkness? Tell them that if they do not know Latin, they should at least study the religions, since they cannot recognize the true one!' "So spoke Zarathustra or Zoroaster. But what about Voltaire? Voltaire heard what you had been saying about his death. So he accosted me, and with a polite smile held my hand and thanked me. 'What for?,' I asked.

'Your sons, my dear Doctor of the Church,' he answered, 'have proved and continue to prove with deeds what I maintained with words.' 'And what did you maintain? 'That besides being ignorant, they are liars.' I had to keep quiet, for he was right. You ought to know that though he died at the age of 84 years, yet he retained such lucidity of mind that when they came to importune him for a last confession, he said, 'Let me die in peace'and he died. But I do not chide you for that; you merely lied by repeating what you had heard. The worst of it all is that Voltaire has been pleading with God to have you brought to Heaven alive and robed. When asked why he made such a request, he answered, 'So that we shall have fun.' Seeing all the indulgences that the Archbishop had allowed for your little books in order to fool buyers, Peter, thumping his bald head, exclaimed: 'Why did I not think of getting rich by granting indulgences with the fish I sold when I was a fisherman? We would have become rich, and Judas, instead of selling the Master, would have sold sardines and tinapa2! And I would not have had to apostatize cowardly nor suffer martyrdom afterward. In truth, I must say that my namesake is much shrewder than I in this money-making business although I am a Jew!' 'Of course! Didn't you know that your namesake is a Gallego?'2 piped a little old man who arrived a few years ago. He was called Tasio. Addressing himself to me, he continued: 'You are a great doctor. Although you have contradicted yourself many a time, still I hold you a man of privileged talent and vast erudition, having written your Retractionum and Confesiones. Since you do not resemble in the least your sons who, when defending themselves, make black appear white and white green, I will tell you my grievances so that, as their Father, you may correct them. 'There is an unfortunate man on earth, a member of your order, who, among many foolish acts, has committed the following: First: He wants to agree with an Indio, called Rizal, on what I had said when I was still leading my earthly life, only because Rizal had quoted me in a book that he wrote. As you can readily see, if we followed such reasoning, Rizal would also agree with and be a party to the views expressed by friars, civil guards, town

mayors, etc., and you, Holy Doctor, would likewise be held responsible for all that you put into the mouths of heretics, pagans, and above all, Manichees. Second: He wants me to think and speak in the same way that he does. He criticizes me for saying, "The Bible and the Holy Gospel." It is all right for him to believe like all fanatics, that both are one and the same thing. But I who studied the original Hebrew Bible, know that the book does not contain the Gospel. The Jewish Bible being a Jewish history of creation, as well as treasure and patrimony of the Jewish people, it is nothing but just that the Jews should be regarded as the final authority on it. The Jews do not accept the Gospel. As the Latin translation is inaccurate in certain parts, the Catholics can not well lay down the law in spite of their habit of appropriating for themselves what does not belong to them. Nor can they construe the translation in their own way and to their own advantage, going to the extent of changing the spirit of the original text. Besides, the Gospel, with the exception of what Saint Matthew wrote, was written in Greek later than the Bible. As a matter of fact, at bottom it demolishes the Laws of Moses. In proof of this is the enmity between the Jews and the Christians. Knowing all this, how can I talk like a fanatic or an ignorant friar? I do not require any friar to speak like a free-thinker, so they should not ask me either to talk like a friar. Why do they want me to make it appear that two distinct things are one and the same when in a way they even contradict each other? Let the generality of Christians do so if they wish, but I can not and will not do it. Besides, the two should be mentioned separately because two works, two legislators, two religions on which they wish the Catholic religion to rest, inspire different thoughts. Your son reasoned wisely when he said, "I did not know that the Gospel was different from the Bible, and was not a principal part of it." Tell him. Holy Doctor, that in every country, a part, however important, is always distinct and different from the whole. For instance, the principal or most important thing in Friar Rodriguez is his habit; but his habit is different from Friar Rodriguez, otherwise there would be one dirty, one shining, one crumpled, one wide, one short, one long, one grimy, one ironed, and one new as if it were perfectly blank Friar Rodriguez. The habit should also be distinguished from the friar; for a piece cloth, however dirty, can never be presumptuous, despotic, ignorant, or obscurantist. Third: To prove the existence of Purgatory, he cites Saint Matthew, Chapter XII, thirty-sixth verse. But he cites wrongly. From that verse one cannot deduce or infer the existence of Purgatory or anything like it. Reads the Hebrew text:

Wa'ebij 'omar lakam kij' al kal dbar req nschar idabbru' abaschim yittbu heschboun biom hammischphat. The Greek text says, Lego de nymin hoti pan rema argon, ho ean lalesosin hoi anthropoi apodosousi peri autou logon en hemera kriseos. The Latin translation reads, Dico autem vobis quoniam omne verbum otiosum quod locuti fuerint homines, reddent rationem de eo in die judicii. The Spanish version says, Y digoos que toda palabra ociosa que dijeren los hombres, daran cuenta de ella en el dia del juicio (I tell you, on the Day of Judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.). As you can see, Holy Doctor, from those texts the only thing that can be deduced is that on the Day of Judgment, Friar Rodriguez will have to give such a long account of himself that very likely it will take him perhaps two days within which to account for all the silly and stupid things he has said. I see that in his ignorance, your son cited the thirty-sixth verse instead of the thirty second, which reads: "And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." From this they have tried to infer the existence of Purgatory. What an inference! Fourth: Just because Saint Ireneus, Saint Clement of Alexandria, and Origines, though not the first Christians, entertained some vague idea of Purgatory, it does not follow that the Christians of the first centuries lived in it, unless it can be established that three persons represent a totality even if among them entirely contradictory ideas exist. To prove, however, that it was so, you yourself, Holy Doctor, who are their father, having flourished in the fourth and fifth century, and being the greatest fallof the Church, most emphatically denied various occasions the existence of Purgatory. In your CCXCV sermon beginning with "Frecuenter charitatem vestram," you said very decisively: "Nemo se decipiat, fratres DUO enim LOCA sunt et TERTIUS non es ullus. Qui cum Christo regnare non meruerit cum diabolo ABSQUE DUBITATIONE ULLA perebit." Do not deceive yourselves brethren. There are only two places for the soul there is no third place. Whoever does not deserve to live with Christ will no doubt perish with the devil." Further on, in the Consolatione Mortuorum, you said, "Sed recedens anima quae carnalibus oculis non videtur ab angelis suscipitur et collocatur, aut in sinu Abrahae, si fidelis est, aut in carceris inferni custodie si peccatrix est. At its departure, the soul, which the eyes of the flesh cannot see, the angels will receive and carry either to the fold of Abraham, if faithful,or to hell, if sinful." On the other hand, I could cite a large number of your writings to show that for you

Purgatory was not an impossibility, although you had flatly denied its existence with your tertius non est ullus. Add to all this what Saint Fulgentius, who flourished after you during the fifth and sixth century, said in chapter XIV of his De Incarnatione et Gratia: "Quicumque reguum Dei non ingreditur, poenis eternis cruciatur. Whoever will not enter the Kingdom of God will suffer eternal damnation." Fifth: Your son either cannot read or acts in bad faith. How else can he have drawn from my statement, "The Protestants do not believe in it, neither do the Greek fathers, because they miss ..."that "the holy Greek fathers did not believe in Purgatory?" Why did he make a present tense past just to twist the phrase and deduce from it "the holy Greek fathers?" I used believe in the present tense. During my time there were no longer any holy Greek fathers, but only fathers who belonged to the Greek Church. Moreover, as I was following a historical order. I could not refer to the Protestants first and afterward to the holy Greek fathers who believed what they could and who, when was living on earth, were to me of the past. With better education they now believe what we all believe. But what bad faith he displayed when he later called the man who merely quoted me a "defamer, impostor, and ignoramus!" Such behavior, of course, is wholly worthy of Father Rodriguez. Following his technique of confusing a part with the whole, he mistook in another book the rays of the sun for the sun itself, just because he wanted to malign the author and call him a freemason. After what I have said, tell me, Holy Doctor, who is the real ignoramus, impostor, and defamer? Sixth:Instead of accusing others of ignorance and instead of pretending to be well-read, he should be more careful, because in truth he has not even read you although you are his father and he is duty-bound to know what you have said. Had he read your works, he would not have uttered or written so many silly things nor would he have convicted himself of shallowness. I know where he acquired his knowledge; from some little books of Sarda y Salvany published in Catalonia to uphold obscurantism. Old Tasio could not finish his denunciation because the voice of the Almighty summoned me before His throne. Trembling, I approached and prostrated myself before him. 'Go to earth,' the omnipotent voice commanded, 'and tell those who call themselves your sons that I, who created millions of suns around which revolve thousands of worlds, each

inhabited by millions and millions of beings created by Me in My infinite mercy, will not be an instrument to the petty passions of a few creatures who are not even perfect, a handful of dust carried away by the wind, insignificant parts of the inhabitants of one of my smallest worlds. Tell them that they must not exploit in my name the misery and ignorance of their brothers, nor must they in My name try to control the intelligence and thought which I willed to be free. Neither must they commit abuses in My name nor cause a tear or a single drop of blood to be shed. They must not represent Me as a cruel and vindictive master, subject to their whims and their will. Nor must they present Me as a tyrant or a bad Father. They must not pretend that they are the only possessors of light and life eternal. How could I, who have given to each being air, light, life, love, and food, so that each may be happy, deny to others the most essential and transcendental, which is true happiness, for the sake of a few who are not even the best? That is absurd, impious! Tell them that I, who am All, and apart from whom nothing exists nor can exist, have no enemies and cannot have any. None can be My equal and none can go against My will!' Tell them that their enemies are not mine; that I have never identified Myself with them; that their behavior is vain, insensible, and blasphemous. Tell them that I forgive error, but will punish iniquity; that I forgive an offense against Me, but will persecute those who oppress the unfortunate. That being infinitely powerful, all, the wrongs of all the inhabitants of all the worlds, a thousand times centuplicated, cannot dim an iota of My glory. But the least injury to the poor and the oppressed I will punish, for I have not created or given life to anybody in order to make him unhappy or let him be the plaything of his brothers. I am the Father of all that exist. I know the destiny of every atom; let Me love My creatures whose miseries and needs I know. Let each one do his duty. I, the God of Mercy, know what to do.' Thus spoke the Almighty; and I came here to do his bidding. Now, I say to you: Reports on the miseries of the unhappy Indio whom you have impoverished and brutified have reached the throne of the Highest. So many minds have been obscured and mutilated by you, so many virgins deflowered. The cry of so many exiles, tortured, and killed at your instigation, has reached Heaven! The tears so many mothers and the misery of so many orphans, all mingled with the clatter of your orgies! Know that there is one God (perhaps you doubt His existence, and only use His name to promote your ends) who will some day call you to account for all your iniquities. Know that He does not need the money of the poor, and that to worship Him, it is not necessary to light candles and burn incense, to say masses

or believe blindly what others say, especially when what they say runs counter to reason. He has luminaries greater than your sun, flowers more fragrant than those on earth, and music in the concert of the spheres sweeter than any man has heard. He is self-sufficient. He created intelligence not to enslave it, but to give it freedom so that on its wings, man may be happy and learn to raise himself to Him. God needs no one. He created man, not for Him but for man himself. He is happy for all eternity! You obstinately uphold the existence of Purgatory, using every weapon, even the most ignoble, to defend your belief. Why, instead of wasting your time in affirming the existence of something you have never seen, don't you preach love and charity among yourselves? Why don't you preach hope and comfort so as to sweeten somewhat the evils of life, instead of expatiating on future punishments? Why? Because Christ's true doctrine will bring you no material wealth; and what you want is gold, gold, and gold! And for that purpose, you have invented Purgatory with which to wrest money from fearful souls. Why frighten orphans and widows with dreadful tales of the next life just to extort from them a few cents? Have you forgotten what the Apostle said? 'Nolo vos ignorare, fratres, de dormientibus, ut non contristemini, sicut qui spem non habent! But I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope!' Also, what I said, 'Haec enim est christianae fidei summa; vitam veram expectare post mortem? Here is the summary of Christian faith: to hope for a true life after death!' But lacking in charity, you work against Christ, and for vile interests you meddle with the divine judgment. All the force of your arguments rests on your theory that there are souls not sufficiently guilty to be condemned nor sufficiently pure to enter the Kingdom of God. Who has authorized you to oppose the judgment of Him who weighs and considers the slightest thought, and knows that it is impossible to demand divine perfection of beings made of clay, subject on earth to miseries, wants, and oppression? Who has told you that He will judge like you whose intelligence is so limited? Who has told you that here we do not atone for our faults with the miseries to which we are subjected? If once I could admit a shadow of that possibility, now, more convinced of divine goodness and of the misery of man. I have absolute confidence in Him, and am certain that His conduct and judgment are infinitely juster and better than mine. Give up then your avaricious hoarding of wealth! You already have enough. Do not snatch from the poor their last bit of food. Leave them in the hands of their Creator and do not interpose your accusations just to squeeze from them the little money you have left them. Remember what Saint Fulgentius said: 'Et si mittetur in stagnum ignis et sulphuris qui nudum vestimento non tegit, quid passurus est

qui vestimento crudelis expoliat? Et si rerum suarum avarus posessor requiem non habebit, quomodo aliaenarum rerum insatiabilis raptor? And if he who never gave clothes to the naked is sent to the pond of fire and sulphur, where will he, who cruelly stripped them of their clothes, go? And if the greedy possessor of his own wealth will not rest, what will happen to the thief whose greed for the wealth of others is insatiable? Remember that on the Day of Judgment, Satan can tell Christ about you: "Tui autem christiani, pro quibus ideo crucifixus et mortuus es, ut morti ipsi non timerent, sed essent de resurrectione securi, non solum lugent mortuos voce et habitu, sed etiam ad ecclesiam procedere confunduntur; aliquanti etiam ipsi clerici tui et pastores ministerium suum intermittunt, vacantes luctui, quasi insultantes tuae voluntati. Nevertheless, your Christians for whom you were crucified and killed so that when they die they will not be afraid but will be sure of resurrection, not only weep and cry over their dead but even trample upon one another in order to enter the church and weep until some of your clerics and pastors interpose their ministry, ready to mourn as if to insult your will.' Preach then the religion of hope and of promise, since more than anybody else, you need forgiveness. Do not speak of chastisements nor condemn anybody lest God should hear you and judge you according to the laws you have framed. Always bear in mind what Christ said, 'Vae vobis Scribae et Pharissae hypocritae qui clauditis regnum caelorum ante homines: vos non intratis, nee introeuntes sinitis intrare. Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, who close to men the Kingdom of God, and neither enter nor allow others to enter.' Less covetousness and more charity! Now, to you personally, I will say this: That you are a wretched fool, who say a lot of silly things. This, however, is not your fault, because I could not expect aught else from you, and I would not like to punish you for them. But you had the audacity of not only insulting others, by which you forgot truth and charity, but of praising yourself and writing your praise in italics so as to call the attention of all. Speaking of yourself, you said, This Father, I know him well. Either you lied or your D. Pepe who, it turned out, did not know you, did. As far as you are concerned, you do not know yourself, I assure you, although you seem to be a little hard-headed. A little? Don't you see how my crosier broke on your head as if your head were made of stone? However, it was not necessary for you to say so because the whole world knows that hard-headedness characterizes rude and uneducated people. However, you seldom speak in vain. This, to a certain extent, is true: every word you utter provokes laughter on earth as well as in heaven. Do not accustom yourself to saying things without having pondered on them first. Maybe, your intelligence is quite limited.

For your stupid vanity, you deserve to be punished once and for all so that I shall not be coming down on earth to reprimand you every time you say something asinine. I certainly am not going to waste my life correcting your asininities. The bishop became pensive."Were I to judge you according to your own way of thinking, he resumed, "you would have to go to Hell or at least to your Purgatory. But, after all, God is not going to be misled by you. Besides, indirectly, you do some good by making many learned persons laugh at your expense. To do this requires a certain amount of self-abnegation. Should I allow the Indios not to take off their hats or kiss your hand when they meet you? That would be well to humble your pride, but the poor Indios would later be exiled or at least imprisoned, and it is not just to increase the wrong you have them. Should you suffer what you attribute to Voltaire, making it appear as a punishment ? It would be most deserving because you seem to applaud that evil; but some credulous persons may have believed you, and if they see you suffer the same trouble, they may say that you have something in common with that man of talent. No, that will not do. Shall I leave you a mute and handless? That would be the best punishment, but your brothers would interpret it as a test to which God subjects you. You will not catch me doing that. What then shall I do with you? "Ah," the bishop exclaimed after a moment's reflection, "your own sin shall be your punishment! I condemn you to continue saying and writing asininities for the rest of your life, so that the world will laugh at you. Since what you say is only good for laughter. And on the Day of Judgment you shall be judged according to your desserts. "Amen," responded Friar Jose Rodriguez. This said, the vision disappeared, the light of the lamp regained its yellow flame, the subtle perfume faded away. The next day Friar Jose Rodriguez started writing greater asininities with redoubled energy. Amen!