Newsletter of the District of Asia

 November - December 2000

Bishop Williamson's impressions on Japan

September 7, 1989

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

Three weeks ago, I was just back from another journey around the world. This time, after a five-day stop to give a retreat in California, the journey was, at the Superior General's request, to the Far East. Asia is not the most Catholic part of the world, but it has much to rejoice and edify a Catholic heart.

The first stop was Japan. In the two biggest cities, Tokyo and Osaka, a devout and brave widow, Mrs Shuko Nakama, small in stature but great in heart and Faith, has gathered together two small groups of Catholics with a devotion to the Tridentine Mass. These eagerly await the next occasional visit of a Society priest, and during his brief stay, they know what it is that they want of him ‑ the sacraments! Four of the seven sacraments in one day for instance, and then sacramentals also, to be blessed by the bushel!

The Japanese are an extraordinary people. Amongst all the Far Eastern peoples St Francis Xavier met, he is said to have liked the Japanese best. They are not a Christian people and never have been, except for a minority, but their natural virtues of discipline, work and order are such that they are presently an economic super-power, beating the West at its own game. What a shame that visitors from the West show themselves in their dress and behavior so lacking dignity and discipline! What self-respecting people would ever wish to adopt the culture or beliefs of such unmanned men and unwomanly women as many of these Western tourists give every appearance of being? Oh, Liberalism!

St Francis Xavier was in the same upset over the poor example of Christianity given then in the Far East by the supposed Christians. Yet the Oriental peoples could of course be won for Christ. It is an extraordinary experience to be sitting, on the floor, Japanese style, in a Japanese restaurant, amidst complete strangers of an alien culture, and hear, coming through the interpreter of their strange language, pertinent and serious questions concerning the Faith in today's world. Back one sends an answer into their wholly unknown tongue, and then the attentive faces light up with wholly known and familiar reactions we are all children of the same Father!


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