In one month, a million pilgrims will converge on one of the greatest Catholic pilgrimage sites in the whole world, but one that is not nearly so well known as Lourdes or Fatima. On June 6, the Feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, pilgrims from all over Africa, some of whom have already begun to walk as pilgrims to the shrine from points as far away as Mombassa, on the east coast of Kenya, will commemorate the martyrs at Namugongo, the shrine of the Ugandan Martyrs.
The French missionaries who arrived in the Kingdom of Baganda in the early 1880's found themselves plunged into the midst of the same powerful crosscurrents of conflicting religions and ideologies that contend for the allegiance of men throughout the modern world: Islam, protestant Christianity, paganism, and evolution-based secular humanism.
The original religion of the Baganda was monotheistic with a high standard of morality that prized monogamy and frowned on immodesty. As has happened all over the world, this original monotheism degenerated into polytheism, which, in turn, devolved into a cult of human sacrifice. When Muslim traders from Zanzibar arrived in the kingdom, some of the local people recognized the monotheism of Islam as superior to the polytheism of their own people with its cult of human sacrifice. But when the protestant missionaries appeared on the scene, many of these same people recognized the superiority of the Gospel to Islam.
In their appeals to the Kabaka, or King, of the Baganda, the protestant missionaries emphasized the material prosperity that Christianity had brought to their homeland, with the result that the Kabaka looked to the protestant missionaries to provide him with material advantages, especially modern weapons. On the other hand, the Catholic missionaries who came after them did not present the Catholic Faith as a means to achieve material prosperity but as the way to worship the one, true God in Spirit and Truth in this life, so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven.
When one reads the testimonies of St. Charles Lwanga and the martyrs, it is obvious that they did not view the Catholic Faith as a passport to wealth and advancement, much less as a way to escape from their environment. St. Charles served as an official of the court of the king with responsibility for training and oversight of the young men who served the king and his retinue. Unnatural vice had been introduced into the court by Muslim traders and the Kabaka had become enslaved to it. In the culture of Baganda, the will of the Kabaka was the supreme law, so it was an unpardonable offense to refuse him anything.
Under these conditions, none of the martyrs saw acceptance of the Catholic Faith as a way to escape difficult conditions in his own country or to obtain material benefits or a superior academic education abroad. On the contrary, they saw that to embrace the Catholic Faith was to embrace the Way of the Cross--the same Cross of rejection, torture and death that their Divine Master had carried before them. To embrace the Faith meant to lose opportunities for material and social advancement. In the case of the martyrs, it meant to sacrifice family, prosperity, and their very lives rather than offend God by a sinful obedience to their king.
Fr. Lourdel and the other French missionaries who brought the Catholic Faith to the Baganda inspired a whole-hearted response to the Gospel in their spiritual sons and daughters because they themselves set an example of whole-hearted service to their Divine Master. The believed and experienced that Holy Baptism made their spiritual sons and daughters sharers in the Divine Nature and that the Sacraments they administered strengthened this divine life in their spiritual children, empowering them to live one life with Christ on earth, and preparing them to live one life with Him in the glory of Heaven. They believed that the Word of God as understood in the Church was true, and that the authoritative teaching of the Church in faith and morals was infallible. They had no doubt that the God who had spoken the heavens and the earth into existence by His Word would raise their bodies to new life in the Resurrection of the Just on the Last Day.
They could not have imagined that in a few short decades the missionary congregations of the Church would be devastated by evolution-based naturalism and modernism. They could not have dreamt that faith in the reality of the supernatural life of grace, in the divine power of the Sacraments, in the infallibility of the authoritative teaching of the Church, and in the inerrancy of Holy Scripture would be almost totally extinguished in the missionary congregations of the Church in less than a century. They could not have believed that the evolutionary account of origins that inspired the first genocide of the twentieth century in Germany's African colonies would, in its Teilhardian "theistic" form, become the preferred account of origins among the missionary congregations and be taught in their seminaries.
Not surprisingly, missionaries who no longer believe in the faith of our Fathers can no longer inspire the faith of St. Charles Lwanga in those they evangelize. The same evolution-based modernism that has destroyed the faith of millions in Europe and North America now drives the Bishops of Germany and the United States to spend millions to entice African priests to leave their homelands to occupy the empty (and often palatial) rectories of Europe and North America to minister to the dwindling, greying congregations, devastated not only by evolution-based modernism but by its rotten fruits: heretical preaching and teaching, an epidemic of liturgical abuses, annulment-on-demand, and all but universal contraception.
It is our hope that by exposing the bankruptcy of molecules-to-man evolution in its theistic and atheistic forms and by proclaiming again the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Faith on the foundation of the true Catholic doctrine of creation, we can join forces with the spiritual descendants of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, and help to restore the Faith of our Fathers, in Europe, in Africa, and throughout the world. It is to that end that we are delighted to welcome three priests, three lay women, and two members of parliament from Uganda to our regional leaders retreat this year.
Through the prayers of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions, may the Holy Ghost unite us to Jesus in every moment and hasten the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Reign of Christ our King!
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata,
P.S. To pay tribute to the Ugandan martyrs, our Kolbe team joined forces with local actors and directors to perform the play Pure Offering during our visit to Namugongo, Uganda, in the fall of 2016. If any of you would like to see a video of the play, let me know and I will be happy to send you a link to the video.