ENGLISH PASTORAL MINISTRY

Thinking of the Refugees on Christmas

December has always been equated to Christmas, particularly in countries with strong and long history of Christian tradition.  As early as Advent, the lights and glitters of the Yuletide season that come with other Christmas ornaments dominate the main streets as night falls, particularly in business districts.  They are there to attract costumers.  Thanks to the usual promotion made by many businesses and industries on the Christmas season whose main interest is merely to rake greater profits year after year.  This Christian tradition has become so popular and is now celebrated even in non-Christian countries for the same reason of selling more and advancing  their business interests.  While the industry might have tremendously helped promote Christmas, the message unfortunately it communicates has been different from the true values to which Jesus Christ as Savior was born to the world.  Obviously, the industry succeeds continuously rather in creating the values of consumerism and materialist attitude.

The consumerist attitude generated during the holiday season is a great challenge for Christians to alter their attitude and rediscover the real significance of the Christmas celebration.  The Holy Season in fact is not about buying and consuming more material things.  Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.  He is born to redeem humanity from all forms of sufferings, miseries and sinfulness that the world is continuously experiencing.  He gave up his life so others may live.  It was the greatest act of sacrifice that Christians have learned in their catechism.  While giving and sharing is the usual spirit shared by Christians, it is not actually exclusive to them alone, because the adherents of other world religions do the same.  Christians need to progress more in witnessing by way of expressing selfless giving based on the very Christmas story that they learned from the Bible.  How then could this be realized?

Looking around the world and not just within the confines of the country where one comfortably lives like in Japan, many people are indeed suffering.  This is the time to reflect on what transpired immediately after the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.  Prompted by the message he received from the angel, Joseph hurriedly brought Jesus and his mother out to Egypt to escape persecution and death.  The image of the Holy Family seeking refuge in Egypt can become a real Christmas icon for most families who had become refugees coming from Myanmar in Asia; Syria in the Middle East; Venezuela in South America; Honduras, Ecuador and Guatemala in Central America or South Sudan in Africa.  They are just some of the 68.5 million reported last year as forcibly displaced people worldwide according to the United Nation High Commissioner in Refugees, risking life just to getaway from their country due to varied reasons such as persecution, war and natural calamities.

Christians could not just celebrate the real significance of the holy season without thinking of the misery of these people and do something in any way, besides prayer.  May the Holy Season lead Catholics to be even more real witnesses to the needs of the poor among migrants, refugees and displaced people of the world.

Word for the Month:

 

Advent
待降節
たいこうせつ
(Taikousetsu)

Pope`s Intention for the Month

December 2018:

In the Service of the Transmission of Faith

That people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.

Pope Francis` Apostolic Exhortation

Announcement:

CTIC`s Sunday Consultation Service Schedule 2018:

January 21

February 4, 18

March 4, 18

April 15

May 6, 20

June 3, 17

July 1, 15

August 5, 19

September 2, 16

October 7, 21

November 4, 18

December 2, 16

Simbang Gabi at Akabane, Meguro and Chibadera

Filipinos in Tokyo archdiocese have something to be delighted about every December.  Though away from home, they could enjoy the nine-day novena of masses called "Simbang Gabi" in the Philippines in three different areas in Tokyo, namely Akabane, Chibadera, and Meguro.  With the help of the missionaries working in CTIC, priests were found to assist in the celebration of the nightly masses beginning Saturday, 15th of Sunday, 23rd of December.  Priests from different religious congregations, including one diocesan priest, Fr. Kenji Takagi, who also serves as director of CTIC will take turns in celebrating the masses in three aforementioned locations.

The schedule of masses is fixed at seven o`clock in the evening at the parish church of St. Anselm`s in Meguro and in Our Lady of the Assumption in Akabane while at Chibadera, the mass will be celebrated at 7:30 in the evening.  Fellowship normally follows after every mass.  Everyone is cordially invited to attend and fulfill one`s personal devotion to the Simbang Gabi.

Tokyo International Catholic Youth Gathering 2018 held

by Christian Uduije

The Catholic Youth of Tokyo Archdiocese last November 18, 2018, under the auspices of the Catholic Tokyo International Center (CTIC) had come together at St. Mary`s Cathedral in Mejiro for the 2nd Tokyo International Catholic Youth Gathering.  The event was a follow up to the maiden edition held last year in November at the Nicola Barre Convent in Yotsuya.

This year`s event has carried the theme of the Holy Father`s message "Christ in Action:  See the Light, Be the Light."  It was but anything short of youthful zest and fun-filled holy action.  With 123 registered participants and a couple of more attendees, the whole-day assembly had commenced at 9:30 in the morning with praise, worship, and dancing.  It concluded with a celebration of the Holy sacrifice of the mass presided by the Most Reverend Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD, the archbishop of Tokyo.  The Eucharist was celebrated using various languages making it very international.

With attendees from over 15 countries, arriving from various churches of Tokyo, the TICYG 2018 was pure razzmatazz for Christ.  Having started with prayers, there was a continuous serenade of worship from the music and technical teams, followed by a talk and plenary session after everyone had been split into groups.  The mission as the Catholic youth in Japan is how to put and accomplish such mission in their everyday lives starting rom the simplest things and seeing Jesus as the light and solution to the problems that challenge them.  To accomplish that mission participants in their discussion and sharing were encouraged to see in Christ as the one who gives meaning and purpose to their lives, which becomes the center of their mission.  The group discussion and sharing was transmitted through a comprehensive presentation of their ideas using music, drama, and props.

The second part of the whole day event was a synthesized game session on being a soldier of Christ using the armors as elaborated in the Epistle of St. Paul quoting Ephesians 6:10-18.  Participants had fought for their salvation using the armors at their disposal when facing various obstacles in life.  These armors were the bible quotations.  They were also challenged to identify the biblical characters out of signs and gestures created by their peers.  There was even a contest that required the mastery of the Ten Commandments.  To some, the exercise was physically grueling.  Participants had also appreciated the presentation of the beautiful cultural dances from a couple of communities.

Once more the recent TICYG 2018 was an amazing opportunity for the youth of various communities who had gathered together in the love of  Christ for the love of His church.  It could not have been possible without the efforts of many volunteers.  By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the youths manifested their hunger to share what was burning in their hearts just like how the disciples had encountered Christ in Luke 24:32.  For those who did not make it at this year`s gathering, another one will be held next year. The organizers had promised for an even bigger and better Tokyo international youth gathering. They look forward to seeing more youth joining next year.

Narita Community Nagasaki Pilgrimage

by Renee Ortega

"Journey" literally speaking is to travel from one place to another especially in vehicles and is usually associated with great distance.  On the other hand, journey with the purpose to devote ourselves, to ask for forgiveness of sins we committed and to honor "God" is a "Pilgrimage".

As eleven of us from Naria community came from Nagasaki Pilgrimage, our souls  experienced great travel reflecting o our lowest points in lives up to the things that opened our eyes to the hard realities of people we have met in the past.  As we visited churches, parks and museums, we were very affected to what had happened during the World War II.  Nagasaki bombing may had been considered as one of the single greatest acts of terrorism in human history.  The devastation caused by the atomic bomb was very traumatic.  There were innocent people who died, victims who had severe "damages" in their bodies, family members had died, children who were still alive but had fought to survive were too much to take as we try to put ourselves in that era.  It must had been an unspeakable horror.

The place where we all really felt the war had happened was at the Peace Park Hypocenter.  It was where exactly the bomb exploded.  As we linger around the place our tears began to run down as we imagine and felt the struggle of the people who had died and people who had survived, the people who had lost their loved ones, the people who had cried every day struggling to fight death and those who had wished that they were dead.

A fountain was built at the Peace Park that would remind the world to say NO to the usage of nuclear bomb at all based on the experiences of the survivors whose throats for instance were excessively dried up, mothers who had to breastfeed their infants to withstand hunger and the many diseases that had developed due to the effects of radiation.

As we try to reflect in our own lives, this experience during WWII is incomparable to the daily problems we currently face, the things we complain about and things we do not appreciate.  Through the Nagasaki Pilgrimage, we have learned to value what we have right now.  The food we eat, the home where we can sleep peacefully, the water we drink, the physical body we use for working, the country that has always declared "No to war" and instead pursuing usually for diplomacy.  Everything is so convenient and easy in Japan.  As for me, I felt so blessed that I had the chance to join this journey.  It was life-changing experience.  Our Great God has forgiven our sins and gave us more than what we deserve.

World Day of the Poor was celebrated at St. Anselm`s

On the second year of the World Day of the Poor, the international community of the parish of St. Anselm`s Catholic Church had responded more generously to the appeal of the Holy Father, Pope Francis last year when he first declared one Sunday every year to think how Catholics could assist to the material needs of the poor.  The parish has reported the amount of 129,670 Japanese yen as second collection made at the English Mass celebrated last November 18, 2018.  On its initial celebration last year, the second collection had amounted to 88, 198yen.  Indeed, in a country like Japan, material poverty may not be daily reality for most of its citizens, there were however still many who lives in Japan to be poor in various circumstances.  Among them are the migrants and refugees.

The local media has repeatedly reported on how many trainees and technical interns from overseas are abused by their employers to the extent that they are forced to abandon their jobs.  Other foreigners moreover who had entered Japan as tourist and eventually had applied for a refugee status needed to wait for so long yet uncertain of their future.  Aware of the suspicious motivation for coming to Japan, one needs to pass a very stringent bureaucratic procedure before possibly approve as a potential refugee.  For many years, only a few got accepted as refugees in Japan.  Those who had continued to stay in Japan and who still hoped to be approved as refugees are just some of the poor people living in the country.  The Holy Father knocks on the heart of every Catholic to offer help, not only through prayers but to fund the program that would alleviate the material poverty of many people in the world who are forced to live beyond imagination of destituteness.

The second collection made at the celebration of the World Day of the Poor will be forwarded to Caritas Internationalis.