Saturday, 21 July 2012

Our Lady of Japan

Icon, Our Lady of Japan, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Without any particular pattern to follow, I have created my own version of Our Lady of Japan.  The only theme that came to me during the preparation for writing this icon was that of the Holy Rosary.  You will see in the information given below how important Our Lady and her Rosary have been in the survival of Catholicism in Japan.  Even the recent apparitions of Our Lady at Akita in 1973 emphasized the Rosary.
Now, I invite you to take a look below at a few of the events in the amazing survival story of the Catholic Church in Japan.

  • In August, 1549, St. Francis Xavier arrived with little opposition.
  • But by 1582, Catholics were sought and martyred throughout Japan. 
  • On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Catholics, including the religious Franciscans and Jesuits, were crucified at the City of Nagasaki.
  • In 1607, the Dominicans landed in Japan and founded Holy Rosary confraternities all over the country -- once again with little opposition.
Unfortunately Dutch Calvinists and English Protestants managed to negatively influence the Emperor and raised his suspicions towards the Dominicans. The charge was that the Rosary confraternities were a ploy set by the Catholic Spanish to take over the country.
  • In 1614, an Imperial edict was passed banning Catholicism from Japan. The Rosary martyrs met death with the Holy Rosary beads around their necks.
  • In 1637, in Azima, 37,000 Catholics were martyred for the Faith.
  • In 1858, Japan signed a treaty with France, ending its hostility to the West and Christianity.
  • On March 17, 1865, a Catholic mission was inaugurated in Nagasaki.  The following story illustrates the importance of the Rosary to the survival of the Catholic Church in Japan.  Remember the events described below took place after 200 years with no active Catholic presence in Japan:
Fifteen Japanese Catholics entered the mission; the priests were dubious that these were truly Catholics for they believed that the Faith was wiped out from Japan during the years of persecution. The Japanese though explained that they kept the Rosary confraternities in secret and upheld the two sacraments lay people can administer; baptism and marriage. Amazed at the knowledge that thousands (50,000) of Japanese Catholics had survived for so long, the priests were shown the ancient Rosary translations and two hundred year old Rosaries. These ‘Hidden Catholics’ explained how two years previously, a Protestant mission was set up in Nagasaki, but on discovering that the reverend was not devoted to Our Lady and the Rosary, was not celibate and was not faithful to the Roman Pontiff, they believed he was a Christian impostor.
  • In 1867, persecutions began again and roughly 40,000 Catholics from the vicinity of Nagasaki, were exiled and forced into camps, many died.
  • Finally, religious liberty in Japan was reinstated in 1873.
  • In 1945, due to the Japanese military shipbuilding factories of ‘Mitsubishi,’ the United States chose Nagasaki as one of the Japanese targets for dropping the atom bomb.  Apart from the military factories, the region also had the highest population of Roman Catholics. The Catholic Cathedral of Nagasaki, was at ground zero. The Cathedral, the people inside and another 70,000 people were instantly vaporized. August 9, would witness the death of the most Catholics ever in Japan.
Since the Second World War, there has been religious liberty in Japan and Catholicism is well established once again although they remain a small percentage of the total population. 
[Most of the above data was taken from The Catholic Southern Front Dispatch at ] 

Of course, violence and killing seem to be an ongoing problem when it comes to humankind -- whether on a grand scale like the persecutions of Christians in Japan, dropping atomic bombs on places like Nagasaki or just the routine killing sprees that we see too frequently throughout the world. 

Obviously, I am thinking of the 25 shot and 2 killed here in Toronto on Monday at a neighbourhood barbeque and especially of those shot and killed in the theatre in Colorado just after midnight Thursday.  Both crowds were out with friends to enjoy themselves, feeling safe in their own city and neighbourhood.

Let us ask Our Lady, whichever title we use for her at this moment, to please pray for us, asking her Son to fill our hearts with love and not hate.  If only we could take to heart the advice that Our Lady gives us in St. John's account of the wedding at Cana:  "Do whatever He tells you", all hatred would stop.



You may recall my previous icon of St. Cecilia and how I said, at that time, that I did not feel that this was the image I was being called to define regarding St. Cecilia.  Recently I came across another pattern which really spoke to me and I felt moved to write this new icon. 

Icon, St. Cecilia, by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012



"Why are you bothering me?
Can't you see I am trying to sleep?
I was thinking the other day about what a difficult life these pampered, indoor cats have -- they are required to ask for food when they are hungry (which normally miraculously appears and if it doesn't they have techniques for making sure the food appears sooner rather than later!); then there are all the hours of sleep they must get in each day (they normally have more than one favourite bed available -- a friend was telling me that one of her adult children who has a cat has at least 6 different cat beds in strategic locations around the house!); then they have to use their litter box which can actually be a problem if they don't have their person trained well enough to keep it clean (I have a friend whose teenage daughter is in charge of cleaning the cat box -- when she fails to keep the box appropriately clean, the cat just goes on the floor -- this way everyone in the house finds out that the daughter is not doing her job properly!)  This list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

Suki has me extremely well trained.  There are times when she asks for food and doesn't get any canned food (her preference), but there is always dry food out to keep her from getting too hungry.  Usually, however, when she asks for food, she gets the kind she wants (I am very weak.).  Then she does have a number of favourite sleeping places including the very expensive one I purchased for her last Christmas (right now she is in her box in the back of the bedroom closet).  As for the litter box, she really did not have to train me as I have always had a thing about keeping the box extremely clean, and since I am home most of the time now, the box usually gets cleaned within minutes of being used! (I like being told by friends who visit often that they have never noticed the smell of a cat box in my place -- I'm not sure what that says about me, but at least Suki always has a clean box).

Anyway, as you may have gathered by now from my lack of news, this has been a very quiet week with Suki being relatively well behaved and Sallie feeling relatively well.  In fact, I am just about to get ready to go to the gym for my daily workout.  The exercise continues to make me feel just a bit better for some hours after completion.  I wish the lessening of pain and discomfort would last longer, but at least I am able to go back to the gym and get those endorphins working for me again.

The biggest upcoming event in my life is the planned meeting with Baby Bradon a week from today!  I am already excited so I don't know what I will be like by the 28th.  I will keep you informed and, hopefully, there will be pictures of the big event.

By the way, thank you for all the prayers that were prayed for my friends, Brenda and G.  Brenda had to have another stent in another artery, but she is back home now and already feeling much, much better.  As for G., she is still struggling to get her strength back, so any additional prayers would be greatly appreciated.  Another friend has reported having some health improvements after asking St. John of God to pray for his physical well being.  The list just keeps growing so don't leave St. John of God out when you are seriously praying for someone, especially for matters related to the heart.

Well, now it is off to the gym for me.  Suki continues to sleep -- if I reached into the closet and scratched her head, I am sure I would get a look like the one in the photo at the beginning of this section -- so I will just leave her be.

May our wonderful Lord please keep us all close to His Sacred Heart and may God grant us the grace to be loving, grateful and kind.  Amen.

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