One day I was having lunch with my colleagues and we were talking about our weekend activities. The conversation went something like this:
I hope you liked my previous post about this year's St Henry’s Way Pilgrimage (to read it click here). In this post rI would like to share with you some reflections that I had during the pilgrimage (iplease note that these are only my personal opinion, so feel free to discuss them with me). I had the most intriguing question during the pilgrimage.
Who is the bad guy?
Firstly, I invite you to read the folk version of the Saint’s story:
The death-lay's version of the bishop's death was different from the vita. The bishop's killer was called Lalli. Lalli's wife Kerttu falsely claimed to him that upon leaving the manor, their ungrateful guest Henry, travelling around on his own in the middle of winter, had without permission or recompense, through violence, taken food, cake from the oven and beer from the cellar, for himself and hay for his horse, and left nothing but ashes. This is supposed to have enraged Lalli so that he immediately grabbed his skis and went in pursuit of the thief, finally chasing Henry down on the ice of Lake Köyliönjärvi. There he killed him on the spot with an axe. Lalli then proceeded to steal the late holy man’s hat, called a mitre, and place it on his own head. When Lalli’s mother questioned him about where he found the hat, he attempted to take it off, but with it came his scalp. Lalli then died a painful death.
However, on the way, we heard another version of the story, that Lalli was the good guy. And one tradition that certainly disturbed me was the locals has the tradition of choosing their “Lalli” and “Kerttu” of the year.
Note: I apologize if you feel offended about some comments that I regarding the local traditions.
Then, here come my reflections based on the question mentioned.
1. Do we really need to know who the bad guy is?
So far, maybe it is not so important for us to know the bad guy in the story. Before all, I remembered that we should not judge. Therefore, there is no need find out who was wrong or correct. Since our justice is always relative, who is Just, is exclusively Our Heavenly Father.
2. How do we know someone is right or bad (morally correct or incorrect)?
What are the parameters for good and bad? The answer is easy, to follow Jesus. However, God is Just and also Merciful. When we do wrong things, we turn up to the Sacrament of Confession, and He will always forgive us. We cannot decide someone is right or not based on only their acts, we can only say that the act is correct or incorrect.
Can we really say that Lalli was a bad guy because he killed Bishop Henry? Maybe not, he might be a good father for his family. Our justice is always relative, which if similar science, we compare with some “standards”. I think one way to avoid judgment, maybe set a good example for ourselves. Who are the best examples? The Saints! Then we don't really need to know who the bad people are and hiw bad they've been.
"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7)
3. If both sides (Bishop Henry and Lalli) were wrong, would there be a “better” one?
People love Lalli, especially the locals and those who chose him as the 14th greatest Finn. I don't understand the reason behind this. But I hope it is not that he killed someone.
Now this question, whic I reflected on by the end of my pilgrimage. Can we really say any of them is the “better” one if both of them were wrong?
Is there any intermediate word between good and bad? Not really right? I don't think one can step in the bad side one foot and another foot on the good side. Therefore, bad acts are always bad. Consequently, we can’t find a better one among bad things, there is no smaller intended sins and bigger intended sins.
To sum up, whether the legend was actually historical was not the center of my attention. The story of St. Henry, is a good example to see, that we did not change too much through years. We still commit sins due to material priorities, such as Lalli, who killed the Bishop for not paying according to his wife. We may do the same. Many times, we look for Heavenly Peace among objects and forget that we are aiming for an eternal life, where we don't need all these material things. We should always keep the Good as our direction, so we will not miss what we should do for the mission of the sanctification.
This pilgrimage taught me how to forgive; No matter how wrong we are, if we admi it, God will always forgive us. And who are we not to forgive those who have offended us, if God will forgive them?
Note: Thanks for Fr. Anders and all people who participated this pilgrimage, especially, the organizers. May God bless you all and see you next year! :)
This is a blog about being young and Catholic in Finland.
Yiran, or Maria Micaela. Born in China but baptised in Spain (2015), student in Turku. Participant of the Youth Weekends at Stella Maris. Cooking, running and photography are my hobbies.