Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
One year after, prayer brings Japan together
Services to remember victims of deadly quakeMass at Motoderakoji Cathedral in Sendai yesterday
- ucanews.com special correspondent, Tokyo
- March 12, 2012
In Tokyo, the National Christian CouncilÂ in Japan and the Catholic Bishopsâ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) held a joint service at Kojimachi Catholic Church. About 1,000 people attended.
Archbishop Takeo Okada of Tokyo, vice-president of the CBCJ, was the main celebrant and gave the homily. NCCJ Moderator, Reverend Isamu Koshiishi of the Anglican Communion member Church in Japan, Nippon Sei Ko Kai, concelebrated.
At 2:46pm (0546 GMT), the moment the earthquake struck a year earlier, the church bells rang out and the whole assembly fell silent for a moment of prayer.
âI suspect the disaster was a great trial of faith even for us Christians,â Archbishop Okada said during his homily.
He also called everyoneâs attention to a CBCJ message in November calling for an end to the use of nuclear power.
During the service, two people spoke about activities that have been carried out in response to the disasters over the past year.
One was Sister Keiko Takagi, director of the Institute of Grief Care at Jesuit-run Sophia University in Tokyo, who reflected on her own experience in the stricken region.
Sr Takagi, a member of the Society of Helpers who also lived through the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, offered the story of a 35-year-old mother who lost her six-year-old daughter while fleeing the tsunami.
At their first meeting last May, the woman thrust both her hands out to Sr Takagi and said, âI couldnât save my daughter. I wish someone would cut these hands off!â
As private individuals and as people of faith, as citizens, âall we can do is pray,â said the nun after telling the story.
Meanwhile, in Sendai diocese, where much of the devastation caused by the disasters was concentrated, there was a Mass of memorial at Sendai Cityâs Motoderkoji Cathedral.
Bishop Tetsuo Hiraga presided over the Mass, which was dedicated to âprayers in memory of those slain in the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster and petitions for recovery.â More than 500 people attended.
At the beginning, the congregation contemplated the plight of the victims as a slideshow showed some of the relief efforts made by Sendai diocese over the past year. Then, as in Tokyo, at 2:46 a bell tolled, and all fell silent in prayer.
During his homily, Bishop Hiraga reflected on the catastrophic damage before offering his thanks for the outpouring of both material support and manpower that came to the aid of the region from other parts of Japan and throughout the world.
âDespite the year that has passed, we still sometimes feel powerless in our work as we recall the delays in the arrival of aid; the mountains of rubble; the troubles caused by the accident at the nuclear reactor, to which there is no resolution in sight. It shows that we must come profoundly to terms with those words of Jesus: âTake heed! Keep alert! â Let us all indeed take heed, lest our hearts grow dull.â
Finally, Bishop Hiraga concluded with a prayer: âthat in His providence Â God, our loving Father, will grant eternal rest to the victims who lost their lives and, to those who survived, the strength and courage to go on living.â