How I wish I had the luxury of just one hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to reflect upon all I saw and heard yesterday. From visiting with Setsuko Thurlow, one of the Hibakusha from that August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, to touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and walking the grounds of the Peace Park, the devastation of that one bomb was hard to take in or comprehend. I will carry that day in my own body, as much as my memory, as listening to and reading the stories of the many lives that perished – so many of them children – had such a visceral impact upon me.
One thing that is forever now mine is a conviction that atomic and nuclear bombs must never again be used against the human family, nor even tested in any location, as there is no moral justification for such disregard for the dignity of human life nor the creation of the One God.
Mother Theresa of Calcutta summed up the result of her visit to the Peace Memorial Museum in these words:
Let us love one another as God loves each one of us – so that the terrible evil that had brought so much suffering to Hiroshima may never happen again.
Our remaining days will mostly participate in formal ceremonies here in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and are jam packed. I hope I will be able to continue to find time to post updates. For today, I will rely more on pictures to tell the story of why all of us need to work for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
But, before the pics, I want to extend a heartfelt word of gratitude to our host here in Hiroshima, Bishop Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama. His warmth and joy are contagious! He greeted us at the train station when we arrived and escorted us to the hotel. Later he welcomed us into his home for a brief visit, then joined us for Mass in his chapel. Later that evening he hosted us for a traditional Japanese meal, which would be impossible to describe all of its beauty, communion and taste!
Bishop Shirahama has been bishop of Hiroshima for almost seven years. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Nagasaki in 1990, is a Sulpician, and holds a degree in Liturgy. He still teaches part time in two seminaries here in Japan.
Also present for dinner was our new friend, Sr. Filo! It was a marvelous and memorable evening for us all.
Today holds interviews, Mass at the cathedral, presentations, and concludes with dinner with the Bishops of Japan. So, stay tuned.