by Murat Halstead
The Vision of Friar Rodriguez
This was an old man of medium height, dark complected and thin, whose white beard was a contrast to his glittering vivacious eyes, which gave his face extreme animation. Over his shoulder he wore a long cape; a mitre on his head and a crosier in his hand gave him the aspect of a Bishop.
At sight of him, Friar Rodriguez yawning, murmured:
The vision did not permit him to finish the exclamation, but gave him a whack between the shoulders.
Eh! This is no joke!" exclaimed Friar Rodriguez, stroking with one hand the afflicted part while with the other he rubbed his eyes.
"I see ! It is no dream ! But partner!"
Incensed at such familiarity, the strange personage began poking Friar Rodriguez severely with his crosier on the stomach. The latter, atisfied by this time that the thrashing was in earnest, exclaimed:
"Here! Here! Friar Pedro (Peter) - Is that the way you cancel indulgencies? That was not the agreement."
The strange Bishop, aroused to a high pitch of anger, stopped his poking and started to knock Friar Rodriguez on the head, believing it to be a more sensitive part: Unfortunately, Friar Rodriguez's head was too hard for anything, and the crosier fell, broken in two pieces. At last! said the poor friar, who, pale and deadly frightened, had fallen on his knees and was trying to creep away on all fours.
At sight of his pitiful condition, the stranger seemed satisfied, and, placing on table the broken crosier, said with contempt:
"Homo sine homine membra sine spiritu! Et iste appellatur filius meus !"
At the sound of that potent voice and language, unknowwn to him, Friar Rodriguez appeared confounded. The stranger could not be Friar Pedro (Peter) nor any brother in disguise! Impossible!
"Et tamen (the stranger continued), tanta est vanita vestra, ut ante me Patrem vestrum - sed video, loguor et non audis!"
And shaking in disgust his head, the vision continued speaking in Castillian, but with a foreign accent.
"And are you they who call themselves my sons? Has your haughtiness reached such a degree that you not only pretend to be feared and worshiped. by governors and governed, but neither recognize nor respect me, whose name you dishonor, and whose condignity you abuse? How do I find you ? Insolent with the unfortunate and cowardly towards those who do not fear you! Surge et audi!"
His voice was so imperative and his command so expressive, that Friar Rodriguez, although shaking with tremor, made every effort to stand against a corner of the room.
Moved by this proof of obedience, so rarely found amongst those who make a vow of humility, the stranger, full of contempt, repressed a sigh and proceeded in a more familiar manner, but without losing dignity.
"For you and for your nonsense I have been obliged to leave that region, and come here! And what trouble I had to distinguish and find you amongst the others! With but little difference, you are all alike. 'Empty heads and replete stomachs!' UP THERE, they did not cease to tease me about you all and most especially on your account. It was useless to appear unconcerned. It was not only Lopez de Recalde (Ignatius of Loyole) who with his eternal smile and humble looks made fun of me; nor Domingo (Dominic) with his aristocratic pretensions and little stars of false jewelry on his forehead, who laughed at me; but even the great simpleton of Francisco (Francis), do you understand? tried to poke fun at me; at me, who has thought, argued and written more than all of them together!
"Your order is great and powerful," said Ignatius, bending his head. "It resembles one of the Egyptian pyramids; great at the base (you are the base), but the higher it goes the smaller it becomes-what a difference between the base and the apex!" he murmured, while walking away. "Doctor," said Dominic, "why did you not do with your science as I did with the nobility I left as inheritance to my sons? We would all be better off!"
"Mon ami, came and said Francis. If God should order me again to earth, to preach as before amongst brutes and animals, I would preach in your convents." And after saying this he roared in such a manner that although small and thin, it seemed as though he would burst.
"In vain I answered them that their sons were no better than you are, and that were we to look for skeletons in the closets, we had better wall every crevice. But of no use. How could I argue against three, moreover, having you to defend! Three, did I say ? Why ! Even Peter, the old fisherman, attracted by the laughter, left his porter's lodge and came to upbraid me for the trick you have played on his priests, taking away from them all their parishes, regardless of the fact that they had been in these islands long before you, and that they were the first to baptise in Cebu and in Luzon.
"Of course," he said, "as my sons are lazy and in dissension among themselves, and yours lie and shout louder, they make themselves believed by the ignorant. But I shall be glad when my descendants are extinct."
"And so shall I! And I! I wish it was all over with mine!" shouted at once several voices.
. "But old Peter's revenge did not stop at that. Yesterday he played a hard joke on me. He not only confiscated a package that a Tagalo brought with him, but instead of directing him to the imbecile's department, he took him where we all were. The poor Tagalo carried with him a large collection of little books written by you, which were given him by his Priest, who told him they represented so much indulgency for his next life. As soon as the Indian had arrived everyone UP THERE knew he had brought books written by an Augustinian monk, and they were snatched away. I tried to hide myself, but I could not. What laughter and what jokes the little angels came in a body; the Celestial Father's Orchestra lost its time; the Virgins, instead of watching their music sheets read the books and sang most discordantly, and even old Anthony's little pig began grunting and twisting his tail.
"I felt ashamed; I could see every one point their finger at me and laugh. But, in spite of all this Zarathustra, the grave and serious Zarathustra, did not laugh. With a humiliating pride he asked me:
"'Is that your son, he who pretends that my religion is paganish, and that I am a pagan? Have your sons degenerated to such a degree as to confound my pure religion, root of the most perfect creeds, with Polytheism and Idolatry? Do they know that paganism is derived from pagani, which means inhabitant of the fields, who always were faithful to the Greek and Roman Polytheism? You may answer that they do not know Latin! If so, make then speak more modestly. Tell them that paganus comes from pagus, from which the words pages, payes, paien, paese, pais (country), are derived. Tell those unfortanate that the Zend-Avesta religion was never professed by the rural inhabitants of the Roman country. Tell them that my religion is monotheist, even more so than the Roman Catholic religion, which not only accepted the dualism of my creed, but has deified several creatures. Tell them that Paganism in its widest and most corrupted sense, duly meant Polytheism; that neither my religion nor that of Moses nor Mohammed were ever Pagan religions. Tell them to read your own works, where in every page you refer to the Pagans. Repeat to them that which you said in speaking of the religion of the Manechees (a corruption of my doctrine by you professed) which influenced your works and prevails yet in your religion, and which at one time caused the Roman Catholic Church to vacillate. Yes; I linked the principle of Good and Evil together - Ahuura-Mazda; God! But this is not to admit of two Gods, as you, yourself said. To speak of health and sickness is not to admit two healths. And what? Have they not copied my principle of evil in Satan, prince of darkness? Tell them that if they do not know Latin to at least study the religions, since they fail to recognize the true one!'
"Thus spoke Zarathustra, or Zoroaster. Then, Voltaire-Voltaire, who had heard what you were saying about his death, accosted me, and grasping me by the hand, effusively thanked me.
"'Why so?' I asked him.
"'Your sons, mon cher Docteur de l'Eglise,' he answered, 'have proved and continue proving by facts, that which I maintained. And what was it that you maintained? That besides being ignorant, they were liars.
"To this I could not reply, for he was right. You should know that he died when 84 years of age, possessed of all his faculties, and with so lucid a mind that when nearing his end and being importuned to make confession, he said: 'Let me die in peace' - and died. But the worst of it all is, that Voltaire has been pleading with God to take you to Heaven alive and clothed, and when asked why so, he answered 'So that we may have some fun.'
"On learning of all the indulgences that the Archbishop had allowed on your books, to allure buyers, old Peter, thumping his bald head, exclaimed:
"'Why did I not think of granting indulgencies with the fish I sold, when a fisherman? We would have been rich, and Judas, instead of selling the Zaster, would have sold sardines and tinapa!  I would not have been obliged to cowardly apostatize, and would not have suffered martyrdom. Verily, I say, that my friend down BELOW leaves me behind in the matter of knowing how to make money; and yet I am a Jew.'
"'Of course, don't you know that your friend BELOW is a Gallego?' Said a little old man who had been UP THERE but a few years. His name was Tasio, and, addressing himself to me, he continued:
"'You are a great Doctor, and although you have contradicted yourself many times, I hold you as a privileged character of vast erudition, for, having written your books, Retractationum, and Confesiones; and since you are so different from your sons who try, when defending themselves, to make black appear white, and white green, I will state my complaints, so that you, as their Father, may put a stop to it all.
"'There exists on earth an unfortunate, who, amongst many foolish acts, has committed the following:
"'1st. He holds solidary of all that I have said during my earthly life, an Indian called Rizal, only because said Indian has quoted my words in a book that he wrote. As you can see, should we follow such a system of reasoning, Rizal would also agree wwith the views expressed by friars, policemen, etc., and you, yourself, Holy Doctor, wouuld also be solidary of all that you ascribe to heretics, Pagans, and above all, to Manichees.
"'2nd. He wants me to think as he himself does, since he quotes me as saying 'The Bible and the Holy Gospel.' It may be well that he, as all fanatics, should believe that these are one and the same thing. But I, having studied the original Hebraic Bible, know, that it does not contain the Gospel. That the Jewish Bible, being a history of creation, treasure and patrimony of Jewish people, the Jews, who do not accept the Gospel, should be authority. That as the Latin translation is incorrect, the Catholics could not lay dovwn the Law, notwithstanding their habit of appropriating everything to themselves, and of misconstruing to their advantage, the translation of the original text. Besides, the Gospels, with the exception of that written by Saint Mathew, were written in Greek later than the Bible, and conflict in every respect with the Law of Moses, as proved by the enemity between Jews and Christians. How, then, could I, knowing all this, express myself as a fanatic, or as an ignorant monk? I do not exact from any monk the speech of a free-thinker and therefore, they should not exact that I express myself as a munk would. Why do they want me to consolidate under one name two distinct things, which, to a certain extent contradict each other? Let the Christians do so but I must not, and cannot. If I call them separately, it is in accordance with the thought inspiring two works, two legislations, two religions, on which they want to found the Catholic Religion. Your son, moreover, reasons finely, when he says: 'I did not know that the Gospels were different from the Bible; and not a principal part of it.' Tell him, Holy Father, that in every country a part, no matter how principal may it be, is always different from the whole, for instance: The principal thing in Friar Rodriguez is his habit; but his habit is different from Friar Rodriguez, as otherwise there would be one dirty Friar Rodriguez, another shining; another creased, another wide, short, long, greasy, etc. On the other hand, the habit is different from the monk, because a piece of cloth, no matter how dirty, could never be presumptuous, despotic, ignorant or obscurautistic.
"'3d. To prove the existence of a Purgatory, he quotes: 'Saint Mathew says in Chapter twelfth, thirty-sixth verse- '. But he quotes wrongly, as from that verse cannot be derived the existence of a Purgatory, nor anything of its kind. The Hebrew text says: 'Wa 'ebif 'omar lakam kij 'al kal abar reg ashar idabbru 'abaschim yittbu heschboun biom hammischphat'; the Greek text, 'Lego de hynun hote pan rema argon, ho ean lalesosin hoi anthropoi, apodosousi peri auton logon en hemera kriseos.' All these translated into Latin say: 'Dicto autem vobis, quoniam omne verbum otiosum quod locuti fuerint homines, reddent rationem de eo in die judicii,' which, translated into English means, 'AND I SAY TO YOU, THAT ON THE DAY OF JUDGMENT, MEN SHALL HAVE TO ACCOUNT-FOR EVERY IDLE WORD.' From all these texts, you can see, Holy Doctor, that the only thing to be derived is that on the Day of Judgment, Friar Rodriguez will have to give such an account of himself, that very likely it will take him two days to account for all the nonsense he has said.
"'I imagine that your son, instead of the thirty-sixth verse, meant to quote the thirty-second, which says: "And all who shall say word against the son of man will be forgiven; but he who says word against the Holy Ghost, shall not be pardoned; neither in this life nor in the next." From this they have tried to derive the existence of a Purgatory. What a fertile imagination!
"'4th. Because Saint Ireneus, St. Clement of Alexandria, and Origenes, three in all, although not being the first Christian, had some remote idea of Purgatory, it does not follow that the Christians of the first century did believe in it, unless it could be previously established that three persons represent a totality, even if amongst such a totality existed, contradictory ideas. But, as a proof that was it not so, you, yourself, Holy Doctor, being their father, having flourished in the fourth and fifth century, and supposed to be the greatest amongst the Fathers of the Church denied most emphatically, in various instances, the existence of a Purgatory. In your CCXCV cermon, beginning by: 'Frecuenter charitatem vestra,' etc., you said very decidedly: 'Nemo se slecipiat fratres; DUO enim LOCA sunt et TERIUS non est ullus. Qui cum Christo reguare non meruerit, cum diabolo ABSQUE DUBITATIONE ULLA perebit.' This translated means, 'Do not deceive yourselves, brethren; there are but two places for the soul and there is no third place. He who should not deserve to live with Christ, UNDOUBTEDLY will perish.'
"Further on, in de Consolatione mortuorum, you say: 'Sed recedus anima quoe carnalibus oculis non videtur, ab angelis susciptur et collocatur, aut in sinu, Abrahae si fidelis est, aut in carcerio inferni custodia si peccatrix est.' This means, 'But at the departure of that soul which the eyes of the flesh cannot see, the angels will receive and carry it to the Bosom of Abraham, if it has been faithful; or to Hell, if sinful.' On the other hand, I could quote a large number of your own texts showing that for you, Purgatory was not an impossibility. Add to all this what Saint Fulgentius, who flourished after you during the fifth and sixth century, says in Chapter XIV., of his 'de incarnatione et gratia,' etc.: 'Quicumque regnum Dei non ingreditur, poenis oeternis cruciatur.' That is to say, 'He who could not enter the Kingdom of God, will suffer eternal punishment.'
"'5th. Your son either cannot read, or else acts in bad faith; otherwise, how could he, from my estatement, 'The Protestants DO NOT BELIEVE in it; neither do the Greek Fathers, because they miss,' etc., try to make 'The Greek Fathers DID NOT believe in a Purgatory?'
"'How could he deduct from a present, a past tense and twist the sentences to make from it 'The Holy Greek Fathers?'
"'I used 'BELIEVE, "the present tense, although in my time the HOLY GREEK FATHERS did not exist, but simply the fathers belonging to the Greek Church. Moreover, as I was following an historical order, how could I refer to the Protestants, first, and to the HOLY GREEK FATHERS afterwards, who believed what they wished, and who at the time of my earthly life were a past to me?
"'And enwrapped in such bad faith, he dares to qualify as a slanderer, imposter and ignoramus, the man who only quoted me!
"'But such proceeding is worthy of Friar Rodriguez, who, following his system of confusing a part with the whole, tries to condemn another's book, and mistakes the rays of the sun for the sun itself, all with the purpose of slandering the author and calling him Freemason.
"'Tell me, Holy Doctor, after what I have told you, who is the real ignoramus, impestor and slanderer?
"'6th. Instead of accusing others of ignorance, and presuming to know every thing, he should be careful, because he has not even read your books, notwithstanding you are his father, and that it is his duty to know what you have said. Should he have done so, he would neither have written so much nonsense nor would he have shown the shallowness of his knowledge, which, by the way, he derives from some little books, which, to propagate and maintain obscurantism, were published in Cataluna,  by Sarda y Salvany.'
"Thus was old Tasio expressing himself, when the voice of the Almighty was heard summoning me to His presence.
"Trembling, I approached, and prostrated myself at His feet'.
"'Go to Earth,' said the voice, 'and tell those who call themselves your sons that I, having created millions of suns, around which, thousands of worlds, inhabited by millions of millions of beings, created by my infinite Mercy, gyrate, cannot be an instrument to the fulfilment of a few ungrateful creatures' passions, simply handfuls of dust caried away by a gust of wind; insignificant particles of the inhabitants of one of my smallest worlds!
"'Tell them that my Name must not be used to extend the misery or ignorance of their brothers, nor shall they restrain in my Name, intelligence and thought, which I created free. That they must not commit abuses in my Name, cause a tear, nor a single drop of blood to be shed. That they must not represent me as being cruel, revengeful, subject to their whims and executor of their will. Not to represent me, The Fountain of Goodness, as a tyrant, or an unkind Father, pretending that they are the only possessors of Light and Eternal Life. How? I, who have given to each being air, light, life and love, that he may be happy, could I deny to one of the most transcendental, true happiness, for the sake of others? Impious! Absurd! Tell them that I, who am All, and apart from whom nothing exists, nor could exist, I have not and cannot have enemies. Nothing equals me, and no one can oppose my will!
"'Tell them that their enemies are not my enemies; that I have never identified Myself with them, and that their maxims are vain, insensible, blasphemous! Tell them that I pardon error, but punish iniquity; that I will forgive a sin against me, but will prosecute those who should torture an unfortunate. That being infinitely Powerful, all the sins of all the inhabitants of all the worlds, thousands of times centuplicated, can never dim an atom of my glory. But the least injury to the poor and oppressed I will punish, for I have not created man to make him unhappy nor the victim of his brothers. I am the Father of all existent; I know the destiny of every atom; let me love all men, whose miseries and needs I know. Let each one perform his duty, that I, The God of Mercy, know my own will.'
"Thus spoke the Almighty; and I came here to fulfill his command. Now, I say to you:
"That the miseries of the unhappy Indian whom you have impoverished and stupefied, have reached the Throne of the Highest. THERE have arrived so many intelligences obscured and impaired by you! The cry of so many exiles, tortured, and killed at your instigation! The tears of so many mothers and the miseries of so many orphans, combined with the noise of your orgies! Know that there is a God, (perhaps you doubt His existence, and only use His name to advance your ends) who will some day call you to account for all your iniquities. Know that He needs not the money of the poor, nor is it necessary to worship Him by burning candles and incense, saying masses or believing blindly what others say, contrary to common sense.
"No! His luminary is greater than your own sun; His flowers more fragrant than those on earth. He suffices to Himself. He created intelligence for no subservient purpose; but that with its use, man could be happy in raising himself to Him. He needs no one. He created man, not for His sake, but for man's own. He is happy for all eternity!
"You obstinately uphold the existence of a Purgatory, using even the most ignoble weapons and means to defend your belief. Why, instead of wasting your time in affirming the existence of that which you never saw, do you not preach and practice love and charity amongst yourselves? Why not preach words of comfort and hope, to somewhat soothe the miseries of life, instead of frightening your brothers by tales of future punishment? Why? Because Christ's True Doctrine would bring you no earthly wealth, and all that you look for is gold, and gold! And to satisfy your end and bleed the timid souls, of money, you have invented a Purgatory! Why affict orphans and widows with dreadful tales of the next life, only to extort from them a few cents? Have you forgotten what the Apostle said?
'Nolo vos ignorare, fratres, de dormientibus, ut non contristenuni, sicut qui spem non habent,' which means, 'I do not wish you to ignore, brethren, that which concerns those who sleep, that you may not be saddened" like those who have lost all hope: 'Also, that I, myself, have said? 'Hoec enim est Christianoe fidei summa: vitam veram expectare post mortem,' that is 'Here is then the summary of the Christian faith: to hope for a true life after death.' But you, lacking in charity, and for a vile, greedy interest, live in opposition to Christ, and pretend to be able to mould Divine Judgment. All the strength of your philosophy seems to be derived from your own theory, which denies the existence of souls sufficiently sinners to be condemned, or pure enough to enter the Kingdom of God! By whose authority do you pretend to oppose the judgment of Him who weighs and considers the smallest thought? Who knows it is impossible to expect perfection from beings made of clay, subject to the miseries and oppressions of earthly life? Who told you that He will judge as you, with your narrow, limited intelligence, do? That the miseries of this life are not expiations of sins?
"Cease in your avaricious hoarding of wealth! You have now enough. Do not wrench from the poor his last mouthful of bread.
"Remember what Saint Fulgentius said: 'Et si mithetur in stagnum ignis et sulphuris qui nudum vestimento non tegit, quid passures est qui vestimento crudelis expoliat? Et si rerum snarem avarus possessor requiem non habebit, quomodo aliaenarum rerum insatiabilis raptor?' Meaning, 'And if he who never clothed the naked is sent to the pond of fire and sulphur, where will he, who cruelly stripped them, go? And if the greedy possessor of his own wealth may never rest, how shall it be with the thief, insatiable in his greed for the wealth of others?'
"Preach then, the religion of Hope and Promises, as you, above all, are in need of pardon and forgiveness. Do not speak of rigor, nor condemn others, lest God should hear and judge you according to the laws by you formulated. Bear always in mind Christ's words, 'Vae vobis scribae et Pharisae hypocrite qui clauditis regnum coelorum ante homines; vos non intratis, nec introeunts sinitis intrare!' This means 'Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, who close to men the Kingdom of God, and neither enter nor allow others to enter!'
"Now, to you personally, I will say: You are an unfortunate fool, who speak numberless absurdities, although I could not expect aught else from you, and would not punish you for them. But you have had the audacity of not only insulting others, by which you forgot truth and charity; but praised yourself and called attention to your own praise.
"Referring to yourself, you said. This Father, whom I well know (liar, you do not even know yourself), although he may appear a little hard headed (a little hardheaded? Ask my crosier if your head is not harder than stone), never speaks in vain (this is true; every word you say causes as much laughter on earth as in Heaven), nor uses words without first thinking (if such is true, your intelligence is very limited).
"For such foolish vanity I ought to punish you severely, so that you would stop forever your senseless writings, saving me the trouble of coming to reprimand you at every instance.
'Were I to judge yon according to your own theory, you should at least go
to your Purgatory. But, after all, yon are not so bad, as many learned
persons are made to laugh at your writings.
"Shall I make you lame and dumb? No! Your brothers would claim it was a trial of your forbearance, to which God had submitted you. No; you won't catch me on that!
"What shall I do with you?"
The old Bishop meditated for a few moments, and then, he exclaimed:
"I condemn you to continue saying and writing nonsense for the rest of your life, so that the world may laugh at you, and also, that on the Day of Judgment you may be judged according to your deserts!"
"Amen!" replied Friar Rodriguez.
The vision then disappeared; the light of the lamp regained its yellowish flame, and the soft perfume dispersed.
On the following day Friar Rodriguez started writing greater nonense, with renewed energy.
Note: The foregoing admirable translations from the writings of Dr. Rizal were made by Mr. F. M. de Rivas, of Chicago.
 Tagalo. - Name of one of the tribes of Indians inhabiting the Philippine Islands. - Trans. Note.
 Tinapa - Small white-bait fish, which, mixed with rice, constitutes the dailly diet of the lower class of natives in the Philippine Islands. -Trans. Note.
 Gallego. - Native of Galicia, northwestern Province in Spain. On account of their healthy and robust constitution, the lower class of Gallego are found employed in the hardest work throughout the country, where physical strength is necessary, although they are considered slow and lazy. Their predominant characteristic seems to be an insatiable greed of hoarding money. - Trans. Note.
 Cataluna - Province of Spain, which capital is Barcelona.- Trans. Note.
updated: March 28, 1998
APSIS Editor Johann Stockinger