Dear Brethren in
I cannot find
words to express my grief, my pain and my agony
for all that is happening in Japan, the
most beautiful land on earth - to me - which is
now in danger of becoming a place of living dead
because of the radioactivity threat.
It may be
tragically symbolic that it happened now, in the
season of cherry tree blossoms, the symbol of
Japan. People gather together at night,
they sit under the cherry trees which are
everywhere around them - especially in parks -
and just watch those exquisite blossoms drift
down, bathed in the moonlight...
To the Japanese, this is the profoundest image
of the beauty of life, and of death - yes,
of death, the ephemeral element of life, which
disappears the way that cherry blossoms do.
There are so many wonderful "haiku" - poems with
3 lines - which are essentially spiritual
contemplations. Read one here:
It is snowing blossoms.
Spring must be
Unfortunately, it looks like it will be a
nuclear winter. And now... death is
approaching, slowly and steadily.
The beauty that masks death, that makes it
invisible - which is the characteristic of the
Japanese civilization - is no longer able to do
so. Its cherry blossoms are tainted by the
Characteristic is the tranquility and
disciplined confrontation that the Japanese
people have been showing.
Here in Taiwan,
awe and fear. People are afraid to go out
into the street; they are afraid of being
exposed to the radioactive cloud. We are
re-living the time of Chernobyl. There are
many who believe that the end of the world is
upon us (they subconsciously hope it is) and
television is incessantly showing nightmarish
images of the tsunami and the smoke billowing up
from the exploded nuclear reactors.
However it is
extremely important that everywhere, on
practically every television channel, in
newspapers and the Internet, a message appears
so frequently: PRAY FOR JAPAN.
On Facebook, there are special messages that you
can copy onto the photo that you have on your
banner, calling visitors to pray. This one
In churches and temples of every kind, Buddhist,
with idols etc., everyone is praying. You
may have seen that we too prayed on Sunday,
during the Divine Liturgy.
What amazes me
most, is that nobody has complained about TV
calling on people to pray. Everyone,
including atheists, has shown respect during
these horrendous moments for faith and the
human need for faith.
Of course there is the huge question "WHY?", but
the Asians put that aside and focus more on the
"now" - on what we need to do and how to help.
There is serious
concern in Taiwan, because we also have 3 atomic
energy stations and the terrain is just as
seismic as Japan's. There are rumors that
a similar earthquake can strike here at any
given moment; after all, in the (Pacific Ring of
Fire) area about a month ago it struck in New
Zealand, then Japan, then... who knows where else?
Many newspapers are writing that despite the
unprecedented destruction, not a single case of
looting or act of violence and lawlessness was
noted (as was the case in Haiti, the USA, Egypt,
etc.), nor did panic prevail. On the
contrary, the Japanese people wait with patience
and courtesy and collaborate with the
authorities, thus giving a unique example to the
world. And this, because they have been
taught to put themselves in second place: after
the common good, after others.
I am not saying that there aren't any thieves in
Japan. Of course there are. However, there
is also a very high level of dignity. A
characteristic example are the politicians of
the land. There are politicians who have
misappropriated public money and have committed
suicide out of guilt! And others who have
resigned and have borne the responsibility upon
themselves, only because there was a suspicion
I cannot find the words here that can console
the people - for the loved ones and the
possessions that they have lost - and above all,
for the grim nuclear future that may be coming
(logically, aftershocks of 7,6 on the Richter
scale are probably to be expected)...
I cannot find words that can reply to the
immeasurable "WHY?" that a little child asked
me. I can only comprehend the significance
of faith - that is, the trust in God, and our
clinging to Him... Instead of just
"raising our hopes", we should let Him be our hope, the
only assurance that we can trust...
It is not just Japan that is suffering; it is
Christ Himself that is suffering in Japan...
suffering from the blows of the tsunami, from
the radioactivity, from death. That is
what I said in Sunday's sermon: He is the One
Who assumed our weaknesses and has borne our
sicknesses (Matthew 8:17)
My brethren, Japan may not be in need of your
material assistance. It is a wealthy country,
because it has inhabitants that are wealthy in
virtues. It was turned to ashes during the
Second World War and yet was reborn through
patience and perseverance, eventually becoming a
universal economic power.
(...) Japan needs our prayer, which must
be an extremely fervent one so that the Grace of
God will assist, for the destruction to cease,
for the harm to pass, and mostly for our
Japanese brethren to become acquainted with
Christ. They are so close to Him with
their character, their virtues and their
diligence - all that is needed is prayer, so
that they may find Him.
With the love of Christ
Please consider helping the relief
effort for Japan.
Direct assistance for the Orthodox
Church in Japan