Aug 25, 2011

Assumption of Mary at Niigata Cathedral

On 15 August, Monday at 10 am, a feast day of Assumption of Mary was celebrated with Holy Eucharist in Niigata Cathedral which was followed by a BBQ party under very hot sun.  People has to celebrate shinning sun of hot summer in this area where they have to endure long and cold winter.  As I have mentioned below, 15 August is also the final day for the 10 days for Peace as the memorial day of the Pacific War (WWII) in Japan.  The Mass and the BBQ party were joined by our English Mass community in Niigata also (Photo above with some of the members of English Mass community.  I am wearing a T shirt from Kenya since it was much hotter than Nairobi)  Following is an excerpt of my homily during the Mass.

"Let us be aware that love and sharing are not faraway ideals but the road to enduring peace; the peace of God"  (From the Peace message of JPII in Hiroshima, 1981)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Catholic Church in Japan has designated 10 days between Hiroshima memorial day to the last day of the WWII through the memorial day of Nagasaki as 10 days of prayer for Peace.  This practice had started after the visitation of the late Pope John Paul II to Japan in 1981.  Holy Father visited Japan as a pilgrim of peace and left with powerful message for world peace in Hiroshima.  In the message Holy Father repeated several times that "To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future."  Inspired by his message, Bishops of Japan decided to start the 10 days of prayer for peace every summer to "remember the past" and commit ourselves again and again "to the future".

I am mentioning this because this year, 2011, supposed to be the 30th anniversary of the visit by Holy Father and also of the Hiroshima Peace Message.  At the beginning of this year, the Social Concern Committee of the Japanese Bishops Conference was planning to organize the 10 days of prayer for peace this year as one to commemorate the Hiroshima Peace Message and awaken ideals for world peace among people in Japan.

There came the 11 March.  Massive earthquake hit Tohoku area and Tsunami took so many people's lives at once.  Since then, entire Japanese society was overtaken by the aftermath of the disaster and talking about world peace does not make any impact over people's mind any more.  So we shelved the plan to organize the special activities to commemorate the 30th anniversary.

By the time when we started this year's 10 days, I went through the message of Holy Father again and found this passage.

"Your young hearts have an extraordinary capacity for goodness and love; put them at the service of your fellow human beings."

This is it, I thought.  Since the day one of the disaster, so many people from all over Japan and outside Japan have been rushing to Tohoku area as volunteers to help victims.  Catholic Church, too, opened a Sendai Support Center to organise and send volunteers to coastal parishes to help local victims.

What we are witnessing every day is exactly the realization of this word of Holy Father;
"Your young hearts have an extraordinary capacity for goodness and love; put them at the service of your fellow human beings."

In the same message Holy Father said that "let us be aware that love and sharing are not faraway ideals but the road to enduring peace, the peace of God."
This disaster is giving us chance to reconsider the real meaning of Peace, peace of God.  Peace is not just that there are no war or no conflict.  But the real peace situation is the realization of the world as God desires it should be.  The world have to be in the order of God.

The perfect world is also described in the Magnificat.  We have to be humble in front of power of God.  We have to support each other.  We should overcome any kind of discrimination.  Love and sharing are the road to enduring peace, the peace of God.

Aug 7, 2011

Hiroshima and Nagasaki; The 10 days for Peace

Inspired by the peace message delivered by Blessed John Paul II in Hiroshima in 1981, Catholic Church in Japan has designated 10 days between Hiroshima memorial day which is 6 August to the memorial day of the end of WWII which is 15 August as special period of prayer for peace.  This period also includes the memorial day of Nagasaki which is 9 August.  The day when an atomic bomb blasted over 350 thousand people in Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945, it was a very hot and shiny day.  More than 140 thousand people lost their lives by single bomb blast.  Every year on 6 August, public memorial service has been held in the peace memorial in front of the remaining building which is now called the atomic bomb dome (photo).  Catholic diocese of Hiroshima also organises its own peace memorial service during this period.  Nagasaki archdiocese is also preparing their own peace memorial service on and around 9 August.

The president of Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan, Archbishop Jun Ikenaga, SJ, Archbishop of Osaka, has issued his message for this year's 10 days for Peace.  You may read his message in English.  Click and follow the link.

In Niigata diocese, the Justice and Peace commission headed by Fr. Tsutomu Sato has already organised a study session on human rights on 31 July in Niigata Cathedral for this year's Peace Memorial activity in Niigata.  I will also preside over the Mass on 15 August in the Cathedral and will pray for the World Peace.  Mass will begin at 10 am on 15 August in Niigata Cathedral and followed by BBQ party.  You are welcome to join us.

Today, 7 August, I have been  to Takada parish for confirmation.  14 people received the sacrament.  Among them 11 were young boys and girls in junior high schools.  The parish priest, Fr. Mario Canducci, OFM, has been on sick leave for sometime and been staying in Tokyo OFM house in Seta.  However, he was given permission by his doctor to return to his parish for a month before he leaves for his home leave and, therefore, celebrated the confirmation Mass with us today. (Photo: Fr. Mario is my right side)  It was good to see his smiling face.  Because of his absence, parish council president asked the congregation to take responsibility to guide those 14 members preparing for the sacrament.  Then one lady volunteered to teach catechism to them.  Wonderful collaboration by the congregation.

I am leaving for Bangkok this evening for 2 days for a meeting of Caritas Asia.  I will return on Wednesday.