Visitation Sisters greeted us with warmth and hospitality, including this banner.

The weather since arrival has been unusually warm, and it was brutally hot yesterday . The forecast is for more of the same during the rest of our stay.

Yesterday’s travels took us to Kamakura which is a seaside community along the east coast of Japan, south of Yokohama and Tokyo. It was a political center of medieval Japan and is home to numerous Buddhist Zen temples. We visited two of the temples, pictured below.

Kotokuin Temple (Daibutsu)- Kamakura

Zen Monastery of Engage – ji

Less than 1% of Japan is Catholic, approximately .06%. The prevailing religious make-up of Japan is Shinto and Buddhist. Our day concluded with a visit to a community of women religious, Visitation Sisters, where we celebrated Mass and then experienced some tremendous hospitality. On such a hot day, it is amazing how being greeted with a cold towel was such a meaningful extension of hospitality! These sisters are so joyful and vibrant, which is a sure sign of the presence of God in their midst. Their members are primarily from Japan, with several younger sisters from East Timor, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Chapel of Visitation Sisters, Kamakura, Japan

As is becoming our custom, before Mass began, we recited our Novena prayer and the intention for the day. The sisters provided some beautiful song and music, which continued at the conclusion of our visit after Mass.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, working for peace can never be separated from the Gospel, which is the good news of peace, proclaimed by Jesus Christ to all people. At the heart of that gift of Christ’s peace, as we know, is the cross, where he gained this gift for all of humanity. There is great instruction here for our reflection, prayer, and action to obtain peace in our time.

Peace is the gift of the Risen Christ as he promised his disciples at the Last Supper:

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14: 26-27)

Peace is not only the greeting of the Risen Christ when he appears to his disciples and says, “Peace be with you”. Peace is the Gift of the Risen Christ, the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Each of us are to be peacemakers by cultivating this interior gift of peace, and for us as Catholics, as Christians, this is the result of our relationship with the Risen Christ. Thus, the most credible means for us to ‘announce the Gospel’ is to live a life that comes from Christ, to live a life that allows Christ to live fully in us. And we cannot forget that this gift of peace was ultimately achieved through the cross.

For example, how many of us hold on to old grudges in some relationships – or perhaps broken relationships because of those wounds. Being peacemakers begins with the hard work of reconciling those relationships. Being a peacemaker means allowing the Risen Christ to show us where we hold opinions of others that does not respect their dignity, and prevents us from healthy relationships, or even promotes division rather than unity. Doing the hard work of exploring these realities and how they exist within my own heart is the ‘connection’ between working for peace and announcing the Gospel.

In his parables on the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus teaches that it is like a treasure buried in field which a person finds, then covers it and goes and buys that field. He does so buy selling everything else he owns! Once we discover the richness of life that is ours in the Risen Christ, we are transformed, and made capable of letting everything else go, so as to obtain Christ above all else! So, as you see, even though the cross is involved, it is the end goal of obtaining Christ that results!

Mary, Queen of Peace, intercede for us. Draw us closer to your Son, Jesus Christ, that we may be healed of our divisions and wounds, to know his peace, and become children of God, peacemakers in his name.

We have an early start from Tokyo this morning as we make our way to the train station and continue on to Hiroshima where the more formal part of our pilgrimage of peace begins. 

Thank you for your prayers and spiritual accompaniment, and be assured of our gratitude and prayers in return.


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