►The Manila Archdiocese spread out the welcome red carpet — for Japan’s lone Cardinal, appointed by Pope Francis to represent him at this milestone event.
►During the Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and 60th Anniversary of the postwar Manila Cathedral, His Eminence Thomas Aquinas Manyo Cardinal Maeda, Archbishop of Osaka, Envoy of His Holiness Pope Francis, delivered his homily in Japanese – which was rendered into English by Fr. Eric de Guzman, a Nihongo-fluent Filipino priest from the Osaka Archdiocese.
►“I would like to greet first His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle — and all the clergy and all the faithful here in Manila Cathedral. Congratulations and Happy Feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And congratulations for the 60th Anniversary of the reconstruction and consecration of the post-war Manila Cathedral.
I have the great honor of being invited as the Special Envoy of His Holiness Pope Francis to celebrate with all of you this momentous and very solemn event, and I know that it was made possible through the recommendation of His Eminence Cardinal Tagle and once more I am very thankful for that.”
Both Manila and Osaka Cathedrals Are Dedicated to Immaculate Conception
►“And I see that there is a very special connection between Manila Cathedral and our Cathedral in Osaka — the one in Tamatsukuri, Osaka — because both Cathedrals are dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
And to cherish this very special connection between the two Cathedrals, I created a haiku and it reads as follows:
‘Conceived without sin,
Manila, and Osaka,
Oh Mother Mary.’”
►“And I see that the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Virgin Mary is not only a relationship in between two Cathedrals but in actuality, it is a necessary condition for Mary to become the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary to become the tabernacle of our Lord Jesus Christ must be preserved from all sin.
And it is as we see in the First Reading, our first parents Adam and Eve committed the first sin, and after that, Man committed all other forms of sin and became a very sinful race. However, God did not forsake us for this miserable condition, indeed God protected us and He made sure that where there is sin, there will be more and more outpouring of graces.
And we have our Blessed Virgin Mary — the very first person to have a foretaste of the salvation that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is offering all of us mankind.”
►“And this abundance of grace from God where sin has been committed can be also seen through the very long history the over 400 year history of the Archdiocese of Manila and the long history of the Manila Cathedral — having many times razed to rubble by different disasters and war, but no matter what travails Manila Cathedral had undergone, the faithful had always been very ready to rebuild it from the rubble. And as many times as the Manila Cathedral has been rebuilt from the rubble, the more beautiful that it has become. This is another proof that God indeed showers us with many blessings even though we are sinful.”
►“And Japan also has shared in a little dark history when unfortunately, it was on the same day — Dec. 8, 1940 — that Japan started participating in the Second World War. However, we believe that it is through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that although the Japanese people did something wrong in participating in the war, it is also the same Blessed Virgin Mary’s Solemnity — on Aug. 15, 1945 — when World War II ended, reminding everyone of us Japanese about the evils of war, and it made us decide to never again participate in a world war like what we did before.”
The Takayama Connection
►“And then there is another connection between Osaka and Manila that I remember: through the Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon. It was in 2015 when we celebrated the 400 years of the death of the Blessed Takayama Ukon [1552-1615] that His Eminence Cardinal Tagle attended our Mass in Kobe and after two years we were fortunate to have the beatification of Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon as a martyr — held in Osaka.
So, as a matter of fact, the memorial of the Blessed Justo Takayama Ukon is celebrated every third of February. In Japan we also celebrate a festival on the third of February that signifies the end of winter and during that time, we always say, ‘Out with the bad spirits, and In with the blessing.’”
►“So I created another haiku and it reads as follows:
[Ukon ki ya
‘Passing of Ukon
The Philippines and Japan
Bound by good fortune.’
As the third of February is the memorial of Justo Takayama Ukon and in Japan, it is also our festival signifying the end of winter — we invoke Takayama Ukon as a symbol of evangelization — which promotes forgiveness, reconciliation with God and peace among all mankind.”
►“And I find it also a very big grace and blessing from God that we have many connections, we have many relations between Osaka and Manila and also between Japan and Philippines – which have been strengthened by the blood or our martyrs, shed both in Japan and in the Philippines.
For example, Takayama Ukon was born and raised in Osaka but he ended his life here in Manila. On the other hand we also have San Lorenzo Ruiz [c1600-1639] who was born and raised in Manila but was martyred in Nagasaki in Japan — and also I would not like to forget to mention the six Franciscan Friars that first started their evangelization here in the Philippines and then they also went further to Japan to do their evangelization works there. However, they were caught and martyred in Nagasaki and they were also part of ‘The 26 Martyrs of Japan.’
I would like to express that the martyrs are praying for us and they are giving us an example of what is most important — the most important thing is the gospel of the Lord. The gospel of the Lord gives us forgiveness and reconciliation with one another, and from now on I would like to see stronger and more ties between Japan and the Philippines through the guidance of His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and yours truly — and I hope and I pray for each and every one, for all the faithful of Japan and the Philippines to further strengthen our ties and further strengthen our faith in our Lord.” (RCAM-AOC)#
Posted by Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro