Newsletter of the District
- September 2007
A Memorable Japanese Pilgrimage
3 to 10, 2007
A.M. + D.G. Thursday, May 3, 2007
this day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, pilgrims from
various countries are making their way to the northern tip
of the island of Honshu, the central island of Japan. Fr.
Onoda and a Korean Professor are flying from Seoul, many Japanese
are coming by train, Fr. Couture (from Singapore) with Fr.
Wailliez (from Australia) and Rose Hu (from USA), having met
in Osaka the previous day, are journeying by the famous Shinkansen,
Japan’s fast train.
first and main goal of our pilgrimage is the shrine of Akita,
where the Blessed Mother manifested herself between 1973 and
1981. Not everyone of us is very knowledgeable about Akita,
but we all want to pray for the SSPX in Japan and we have
been told that there was many very positive points about it,
even some very close to the SSPX’s actual role in the Church.
afternoon, we all gathered in a small hotel, about 2 miles
from the convent of the Handmaids of the Eucharist where the
events took place.
Couture offered the Holy Mass in the evening for the 12 pilgrims
who had arrived.
pilgrims in front of the statue
Lady of Akita
First Friday. Early Low Mass, by Fr. Wailliez, followed by
a Sung Mass of Our Lady of Sorrows, with a bilingual sermon
by Fr. Onoda on the reasons of our pilgrimage. After breakfast,
as we were about to leave for the convent, more pilgrims arrived,
who had traveled all night. One of them was fairly sick and
had to rest all day. Fr. Couture stayed back to say Mass for
the latecomers who were fit enough made their way to the convent
to regroup with the first ones. We said a fervent Rosary and
Fr. Wailliez gave, in the lovely Japanese Garden of the convent,
a conference on the message of Akita itself, which was quite
enlightening and much appreciated by all the pilgrims. In
brief, here are the main facts of the short but powerful message
of Our Lady of Akita:
- The Facts
1973, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa,
of the Handmaids of the Eucharists, in Akita, Japan three
messages through a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her
Guardian Angel also appeared and taught her to pray. Later,
between 1975 and 1981, the wooden statue from which the voice
came wept 101 times. It also perspired abundantly and the
perspiration sent out a sweet perfume. Its right palm bled
from a wound having the form of a cross. Hundreds of people
witnessed many of these events. Scientific analysis of blood
and tears from the statue provided by Professor Sagisaka of
the faculty of Legal Medicine of the University of Akita confirmed
that the blood, tears, and perspiration are real human tears,
sweat, and blood. They come from three blood groups: O, B,
and AB. Sister Agnes also has the stigmata on the right palm.
A Korean woman with terminal brain cancer received immediate
healing while praying before the statute in 1981. The miracle
was confirmed by Dr. Tong-Woo-Kim of St. Paul Hospital in
Seoul and Fr. Theisen, President of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal
of the Archdiocese of Seoul. The second miracle was the complete
cure of total deafness of Sister Agnes.
1984 - Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan,
after years of extensive investigation, declared the events
of Akita, Japan, to be of supernatural origin, and authorized
throughout the entire diocese the veneration of the Holy Mother
of Akita. He said: “The message of Akita is the message of
1988 - Vatican City - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect,
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave a definitive
judgment on the Akita events and messages as reliable and
worthy of belief.
Wailliez giving his conference in the Convent Gardens
message, July 6, 1973
daughter, my novice, you have obeyed Me well in abandoning
all to follow Me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your
deafness will be healed, be sure. Be patient. It is the last
trial. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? Pray
in reparation for the sins of men. Each person in this community
is my irreplaceable daughter.
you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist?
Then, let us pray it together:
Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist,
I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your
Heart being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars
of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for
the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering
of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father
and the salvation of souls. Most Holy Mother of God. Never
let me be separated from your Divine Son. Please defend and
protect me as Your special child. Amen.’
very much for the Pope, Bishops, and Priests. Since your Baptism
you have always prayed faithfully for them. Continue to pray
very much...very much. Tell your superior all that happened
today and obey him in everything that he will tell you. He
has asked that you pray with fervor.”
Message on August 3, 1973
daughter, my novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the
Lord listen to what I have to say to you. It is very important.
You will convey it to your superior.
men in this world afflict the Lord. I seek souls to console
Him. In order to appease the anger of the Heavenly Father,
I am looking, with my Son, for souls who will repair by their
suffering and their poverty for the sinners and ungrateful.
In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly
Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all
mankind. With my Son, I have intervened so many times to appease
the wrath of the Heavenly Father. I have prevented the coming
of the chastisement by offering Him the sufferings of His
Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and the compassionate
souls who console Him, and form a cohort of victim souls.
penance, honest poverty, and courageous sacrifices can soften
the Heavenly Father’s anger. I desire this also from your
community: please value greatly poverty, deepen repentance,
and pray amidst your poverty in reparation for the ingratitude
and outrages of so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids
of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning: put it into
practice: offer your life to God in reparation for sins. Let
each one endeavor, according to her capacity and position,
to offer herself entirely to the Lord.
in a secular institute prayer is necessary. Already souls
who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered in this
community. Without attaching too much attention to the form,
be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.
what you think in your heart true? Are you truly prepared
to become the rejected stone? My novice, you who wish to belong
without reserve to the Lord, to become the pure bride of the
Lord, make your vows knowing that you must be fastened to
the Cross with three nails. These three nails are poverty,
chastity, and obedience. Of the three, obedience is the foundation.
In total obedience, let yourself be led by your superior.
He will know how to understand you and to direct you.”
and the Last message on October 13, 1973:
dear daughter, listen well to what I have to say to you. You
will inform your superior.
I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the
Heavenly Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all
humanity. It will definitely be a punishment greater than
the deluge, such as one has never been seen before. Fire will
fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity,
the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful.
The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will
envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will
be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son (Holy Eucharist).
Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary,
pray for the bishops and priests.
work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in
such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals…
and bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will
be scorned and opposed by their confreres; churches and altars
will be sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept
compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated
souls to leave the service of the Lord.
demon is trying hard to influence souls consecrated to God.
The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my
sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will
no longer be pardon for them.
courage, convey these messages to your superior. He will know
how to encourage each one of you to pray steadfastly and to
accomplish acts of reparation for sins. Pray very much the
prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from
the calamites which approach. Those who place their total
confidence in me will be given necessary help.”
Fr. Wailliez’s conference, we went back to the hotel for a
late lunch and rest. In the afternoon, we made the outdoor
Stations of the Cross at the convent. The evening dinner turned
out, both days, to be a wonderful experience with a very elaborate
Saturday. Two early Masses followed by a sung Mass of the
Immaculate Heart of Mary, again by Fr. Onoda, with a sermon
on the reasons why Our Lady is truly our Mother.
breakfast, we returned to the convent for another rosary and
more personal prayers, and, as the weather was threatening,
it was decided that Fr. Couture’s talk would be given back
at the hotel. The talk was on the doctrine of Our Lady Mediatrix
of all graces, as she manifested herself in Akita, and the
common points between Akita and the SSPX.
lunch, we had to part already, as Akita is more than 1000
km from Tokyo, and the next day was a Sunday.
have the privilege of having three priests on a Sunday morning
in the Tokyo Japanese Martyrs’ Mass Center is an extremely
rare circumstance! Fr. Onoda and Fr. Wailliez offered their
masses privately before the 10.30 am Sung Mass by Fr. Couture.
There was about 25 people in attendance, which is a bit low
as it was not a regular Sunday.
Rose Hu's moving testimony on her imprisonment in China and
on her love of the SSPX
is always an interesting moment when you go to Mass in Tokyo.
It gives the occasion to meet the people, quite varied in
their profession: journalists, doctors, bank officers, etc.
And with the good will of all, even language cease to be a
barrier for communication.
the afternoon, we returned to the Mass Center to hear the
fascinating story of Mrs. Rose Hu. Fr. Couture was interviewing
her, and Fr. Onoda translating it all. The conference can
be heard on the Asian website at: http://www.sspxasia.com/sermons/
Vespers followed, attended by close to twenty people.
start with three masses at the Mass Center, before taking
off for Nagasaki by air.
The word is full of history, history of the A-Bomb, yes, but
for Catholics, history of Catholicism, history of the passage
of St Francis Xavier, of so many Martyrs… We couldn’t wait
to venerate these sacred places.
landed after a two hour flight. Our tour guide – most useful
when visiting such a place – brought us first to Dr. Takashi
Nagai’s and his lovely wife Midori’s tombs. Dr. Nagai, radiologist,
survivor of the Nagasaki bombing of August 9, 1945 (but not
his wife who perished therein), is famous not only for that
but especially for his heroic Catholic view of the event.
His discourse on the following November to the people of Nagasaki
(see p.33) was shockingly Catholic. A true man of God, filled
with the spirit of the Beatitudes. The case of his canonization
has been opened.
we went to his little hut ‘Nyoko’ and visited the little Museum
in his honor. And what a joy to be able to meet also his grand-son!
the afternoon, we went to the Cathedral of Urakami. Its present
location isn’t what it was in 1945, for the simple reason
that the bomb practically fell over it then, and it was completely
destroyed. Nevertheless, it is barely 500m from the epicenter
of the explosion. Our guide having been a classmate of the
Rector, the latter very kindly gave our priests permission
to offer their masses the following morning in the Cathedral
we retired, exhausted…
Onoda celebrating the Holy
Urakami Cathedral Sacrifice
only remains of the statue of the
of Urakami Cathedral
am Our three priests celebrated their masses, one after the
other, in this historical building, on a side chapel, in front
of an awesome relic of the 1945 bombing: the partly burnt
head of the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption, the only
remnant of the statue. As Dr. Nagai pointed out in his writings,
the mystery of the Assumption is deeply rooted in the history
of Japan: St Francis Xavier arrived in Kagoshima on August
15, 1549; the first church built in Kyoto, in 1576, was named
after that title; the bomb in Nagasaki fell above the Cathedral
of the Assumption, on August 9th, 1945;
and, six days later, without knowing which Catholic Feast
day it was, the Emperor announced the surrender of Japan.
about 10 am our guide and another friend (as we needed two
cars) brought us to visit the places of the Hidden Christians
in Sotome, one hour west of Nagasaki. A few villages there
along the coast, kept the faith during the 220 years without
priests (1640 – 1860). However, unfortunately, many times,
pagan practices crept in the Catholic homes, and when the
missionaries discovered these Hidden Christians in 1865, not
all accepted the priests. Some remained in their hybrid religion,
a mixture of Catholicism and of Buddhism. There are still,
to this very day, some 50 families in the area who continue
these customs and are known as Crypto-Christians. There are
more on the island of Goto, some distance away.
was great also to see the work of the missionaries from 1865
onwards in these areas especially the work of Fr. Marc de
Roth MEP (+1914), who spent 35 years evangelizing the area.
of one of the Four Japanese Envoys - The statue points to
The last stop of the day was the birth place of one of the
Four Japanese Envoys, sent by Fr. Valignano, the Jesuit Provincial
in the 1580s, to Rome and some of the main European places.
Their journey last 11 years! A moving moment was when pope
Clement VIII received the Four Envoys. One of them, bedridden
with a high fever the morning of the audience, forced himself
to meet the Vicar of Christ, in spite of his condition.
26 Martyrs of Nagasaki
masses, in the priests’ hotel room this time, before heading
off for The Martyrs’ Hill of Nishizaka, a few hundred yards
only from the main Nagasaki train station. It is on this spot
that, not only the 26 Martyrs of 1597 died, but that more
than 600 other martyrs gave their blood to plant the True
Faith in these islands.
very friendly elderly Jesuit served as our guide in the tour
of the adjacent museum. Here is a very interesting detail
he gave as he was showing us the ‘fumié ’ — these bronze
images of Our Lady which the Hidden Christians were forced
to step on during the 220 years of persecution: when the missionaries
saw that they were heading for extermination, being hunted
like wild beast, arrested one after the other and exiled or
martyred, they taught their faithful the absolutely vital
value of the act of contrition. They left little catechetical
instructions on the act of contrition on 3-4 pages. The families
that managed to keep the leaflet and A ‘Fumie’ - Medal
upon which the especially the practice of the act of contrition
kept Christians were forced to trample the faith for
220 years, those who lost the practice, lost the faith. What
a lesson on the power of that simple prayer!
as a final pilgrimage for the day, we went to O-ura church,
built by Fr. Petitjean MEP, in 1864, and place of the discovery
of the Hidden Christians, on March 17, 1865.
we were pressed by time and had to leave. After a quick lunch,
we climbed in the Shinkansen for our return trip to Osaka….
left Rose with her relatives as she had to fly later in the
day, and we went to Kyoto, the former Imperial city. Again,
to make a real pilgrimage in such a place, a guide is necessary.
Thank God, Fr. Onoda found one, the father of our Br. Nishi,
Dominican, in France. He lead our steps, in the rain, to the
house where the 24 Nagasaki Martyrs’ had been arrested (two
others joined them on the way to Nagasaki).
we saw the famous silver plate hiding mysteriously the whole
scene of Calvary. It is mysterious because in order to see
the Cross and the two figures next to it, one must project
a strong beam of light on it! Ah, these clever Japanese!
A 'Fumie' - Medal upon which the
Christians were forced to trample
Nishi, a Japanese Dominican brother in Avrille, France,
with his mother on the far left.
Then, after an intense walk in a light rain, while reciting
the Rosary for Asian and especially Japanese vocations, we
arrived on the bank of the Kamo river which crosses Kyoto,
and were shown, inserted in the hedge on the side of the road,
a simple stone-monument, with some Japanese inscription on
it. This monument which was put up in spite of much opposition
only a few ten years ago, recalls the martyrdom of 55 Catholics,
on October 6, 1619. That day is called “The Great Kyoto Martyrdom”.
I came home I found the following details on that event:)
were more than 300,000 Catholics in Japan at that time. That
is why the Shogun (highest military commander), fearing his
authority was seriously in danger, decided, under the influence
of his Buddhists advisers, to eliminate the Christians.
The Christian century in Japan (1951), one can read
of an Englishman who was there, on that very day of October
6, 1619, and who describes how he saw ‘fifty-five persons
of all ages and both sexes burnt alive on the dry bed of the
Kamo River, and among them little children of five or six
years old in their mothers’ arms, crying out, ‘Jesus, receive
their souls!’ ” Here is the description of one of these executions:
ordeal was witnessed by 150,000, according to some writers,
or 30,000 according to other and in all probability more reliable
chroniclers. When the fagots were kindled, the martyrs said
sayonara (farewell) to the onlookers who then began
to entone the Magnificat, followed by the psalms Laudate
pueri Dominum and Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, while
the Japanese judges sat on one side ‘in affected majesty and
gravity, as in their favorite posture’. Since it had rained
heavily the night before, the faggots were wet and the wood
burnt slowly; but as long as the martyrdom lasted, the spectators
continued to sing hymns and canticles. When death put an end
to the victims’ suffering, the crowd intoned the Te Deum.”
(C.R. Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan, University
of California Press, 1951, pp.342,343, 349)
55 Martyrs are among the 188 Martyrs that were declared Venerable
last June 1, 2007, and should be beatified in the very near
future. And among them is this heroic family of John Hashimoto
Tahyôe, his wife Thecla and their five children, Catharina
13, Thomas 12, Franciscus 8, Petrus 6 and Ludovica 3. During
the execution, the fire actually freed Catharina who was tied
to a separate cross at a short distance from the cross where
her mother and the 3 youngest children were tied together.
She ran to her mother saying, ‘Mother, I can’t see!’ Her mother
replied, ‘pray to Jesus and Mary’. The last thing bystanders
saw of the mother was that she was drying tears from her 3
year old baby who was in her arms. After the flames and the
smoke abided, the mother was still seen holding her youngest,
tight in her arms, both dead.
image of them offering their lives along with those of their
children became a symbol of the martyrdom of the Japanese
Church. (cf. The Great Kyoto Martyrdom: October 6, 1619,
Yūki Ryōgo, 1987)
- the monument of the 55 Martyrs of October 6, 1619
we went to see Kyoto Castle where St Francis Xavier had tried
to see the Emperor, and where providentially he discovered
by talking to a castle guard that the Japanese were actually
following, in a certain way, the more powerful Chinese. This
gave St Francis the inspiration to conquer China!
our pilgrimage came to an end.
much to think about, to meditate on, after these few days.
The best news that came to us a few days later was that Fr.
Couture and Fr. Onoda plan to repeat the pilgrimage next year,
at least to Akita and Kyoto! Deo gratias! Let’s start saving!
It’s worth redoing it all over!
a truly blessed pilgrim