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Pray for Japan.....

by Father Jonah Mourtos

Source http://www.iersyn.gr/father_ionas_japan.php 





Dear Brethren in Christ,


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 preparing itself

for Winter...


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 radiation...


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 is ours:



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 against them!


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


Fr. Jonah





Please consider helping the relief effort for Japan.

Direct assistance for the Orthodox Church in Japan 
can be sent through http://stjuvenaly.org/japan



Article published in English on: 20-3-2011.

Last update: 20-3-2011.