Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Young Japanese on a pilgrimage to find the roots of the nation’s Catholicism"

26 April, 2006
Young Japanese on a pilgrimage to find the roots of the nation’s Catholicism

A group of young Tokyo Catholics spend time together searching for the roots of Christianity in Japan. Their first journey is to the birthplace of Catholicism and martyrdom.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/JCN) – A group of young Japanese Catholics had decided to find the roots of Christianity in Japan by organising meetings and pilgrimages across the country. The Shinsei Kaikan Youth Centre in Tokyo organised the first such event, a pilgrimage to places where its first representatives suffered martyrdom, to better understand the origins of Japanese Catholicism.

Shibata Yoko, 23, from Shizuoka parish, said she came with joy because since high school “no matter how much I thought about it [martyrdom], I could not understand it.”

It all began when she read Endo Shusaku's novel Silence, a story of the persecution of Christians in Japan. “I know that to die a martyr is splendid but I feel it is necessary to study the historical facts one by one.” Shibata and four friends along with two priests spent two weeks in March on a pilgrimage that took them to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shizuoka and Nagasaki to retrace the path taken by the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Nagasaki, whom John Paul II compared to the early martyrs of Christianity for their fortitude. They travelled to places where the first Kirishitan (Japanese converts to Christians) lived in the second half of the 16th century.

At the Historical Materials Museum in Yamaguchi, 21-year-old Mana Ide of the Saku Church in Nagano saw for the first time a letter written by a martyred missionary. She was surprised to find the missionary writing that he had no fear, describing martyrdom as something magnificent.

“I thought how different our way is of expressing our faith,” Ide said. “But I also thought that our love for God is not different.”

At the end of the experience, another pilgrim, Toshiro Ogaki, proposed to spend a while together thinking about the Church in Japan and how the martyrs accepted their fate.

Links on Japanese Christianity found on mousemagnet.

More stuff on Shusaku Endo:
"Kirishitan and Today," by Shusaku Endo, pdf
The Christology of Shusaku Endo"
"Shusaku Endo's enduring legacy"
Copy of an article from Christianity Today
"Suffering the Patient Victory of God: Shusaku Endo and the Lessons of a Japanese Catholic"
"Shusaku Endo's Jesus"
"Confessions of a True Believer"

Homepage for Peter Milward, S.J., Shakespeare expert and Jesuit living and teaching at Sophia University in Japan. Chronology for Fr. Milward
"Devotion to the Sacred Heart" Pt 1, Pt 2; "What is Education" by Fr. Milward and Kamran Mofid

Sophia University, English website (Jesuit university in Tokyo); the school song: mp3

The origin of the school badge and the school name
The eagle on the school badge is modeled after the eagle which flies toward the light of truth and flutters forcibly, and its figure expresses The essence and the ideal of Sophia University. The characters described in the center of the badge are the initials of the motto of Sophia," light of truth" Lux Veritatis. Jouchi Daigaku has been known overseas by the name of Sophia University from the beginnings. This word "Sophia" was taken from the Greek and it means the wisdom which is expressed in ethical activities that further the goals of human existence. This wisdom is the ultimate treasure, which Sophia would give to students and exactly fits the name of "Sophia."

Some Japanese Christians did not embrace the missionaries who came to Japan in the 19th century, adhering instead to their own beliefs and practices, which by then was often an amalgalm of Catholic Christianity, mixed with Buddhism and other indigenous elements. Articles on Japan's "hidden Christians":
"Kakure Kirishtan"
"Ikitsuki Journal; Once Banned, Christianity Withers in an Old Stronghold"
"Hidden Christians in Contemporary Nagasaki"
"Lack of Oppression Hurts Christianity in Japan"
"Japanese painting, used by ‘hidden Christians,’ restored"
"Japan's Hidden Christians dying out?"
Stephen Turnbull's introduction

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