Posts Tagged ‘Atom Bomb’

Cathedral of the Assumption, Nagasaki

In 14 Book Corner on 2011/08/14 at 9:11 AM

Dr.Nagai’s Funeral Oration for the 8000 Catholic Victims in front of destroyed Nagasaki  Cathedral  Nagasaki

On August 15…the whole world welcomed a day of peace. This day was also the great feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is significant to reflect that Urakami Cathedral was dedicated to her. And we must ask if this convergence of events—the ending of the war and the celebration of her feast—was merely coincidental or if there was here some mysterious providence of God.

Is there not a profound relationship between the destruction of Nagasaki and the end of the war? Nagasaki, the only holy place in all Japan—was it not chosen as a victim, a pure lamb, to be slaughtered and burned on the altar of sacrifice to expiate the sins committed by humanity…

“… we have forgotten that we are children of God; we have believed in idols; we have disobeyed the law of love.  Joyfully we have hated one another; joyfully we have killed one another. And now at last we have brought this great and evil war to an end. But in order to restore peace to the world it was not sufficient to repent. We had to obtain Godʼs pardon through the offering of a great sacrifice….

Our church of Nagasaki kept the faith during four hundred years of persecution when religion was proscribed and the blood of martyrs flowed freely….Was it not, then, the one unblemished lamb that had to be offered on the altar of God? Thanks to the sacrifice of this lamb many millions who would otherwise have fallen victim to the ravages of war have been saved….. Eight thousand people, together with their priests, burning with pure smoke, entered into eternal life. All without exception were good people whom we deeply mourn…..

How happy are the pure lambs who rest in the bosom of God! Compared with them how miserable is the fate of us who have survived!  Japan is conquered. Urakami is totally destroyed. A waste of ash and rubble lies before our eyes. We have no houses, no food, no clothes. Our fields are devastated. Only a remnant has survived.

Why did we not die with them on that day, at that time, in this house of God? Why must we alone continue this miserable existence? It is because we are sinners. Ah! Now indeed we are forced to see the enormity of our sins! ….

“Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.” We must walk this way of expiation faithfully and sincerely. And as we walk in hunger and thirst, ridiculed, penalized,scourged, pouring with sweat and covered with blood, let us remember how Jesus Christ carried His cross to the hill of Calvary. He will give us courage “The Lord has given: the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!’  Let us give thanks that Nagasaki was chosen for the sacrifice….

(From The Bells of Nagasaki by Takashi Nagai, Kodansha International, 1984, pp.106-110)


Pascal sowed, Oznam watered, God gave the increase, and Nagai and Japan reaped.

In 14 Book Corner on 2011/06/09 at 8:40 AM

The thoughts of Blaise Pascal had a tremendous impact on the spiritual life of Takashi Nagai, the Japanese radiology pioneer,  nuclear scientist, convert and survivor of the atom bomb, who is venerated in Japan as a saint. Nagai was introduced to Pascal by a fellow academic, the Sorbonne Professor,  Frenchman Frederick Ozanam.

Nagai was impressed by Ozanam told him of his encounter with Andrè Ampère , the mathematician/physicist  discovered of electomagnetism.  praying on his knees in a church in the slums of Paris. Ozanam  had said to him: “Professor, I see you believe in prayer.”  Ampère replied: “Everyone has to pray.” Now Nagai understood Pascal’s words: “Don’t just study the Scriptures, pray them. . . . Only in Christ can the paradox of man’s wretchedness and his greatness be solved . . . living for the glory of God.”  Nagai came to see that it is prayer that gives vision, and that the mystery that is God, cannot be grasped like mathematics and science.  Takashi would become Japan’s Pascal.

From then on Nagai lived what he wrote with his brush: “The Son of God has graciously brought me to Nagasaki so that I can work for the Father’s glory.”  And, indeed, he did just that amidst the horrors of the atomic devastation in which he saw God’s Providence at work.

At the Requiem Mass for the eight thousand Catholics who died at Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, Nagai used hansai, the Japanese word for “holocaust”:  “The Christian flock of Nagaski was true to the Faith through  three centuries of persecution. . . . It prayed ceaselessly for a lasting peace.  Here was the one pure lamb that had to be sacrificed as hansai on His altar . . . so that many millions of lives might be saved. . . . Was not Nagasaki the chosen victim, the lamb without blemish, slain as a whole burnt offering on an altar of sacrifice, atoning for the sins of all the nations”  during the  war?  Nagai quoting Jobe said: “The Lord has given; the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord”, adding  Let us be thankful that Nagasaki was chosen for the whole burnt sacrifice!”

In a split second thousands had been killed, but even more had been injured and poisoned.  A victim of over-exposure to radiation through research, Nagai suffered from leukemkia.  However, this did not deter him from working and writing books that consoled  and healed his devastated people. He would say: “Our lives are of great worth if we accept with good grace the situation Providence places us in and go on living lovingly. . . . If all of us accept ourselves as we are, it is absolutely certain that a day will come when we can see how God’s plans have been accomplished, and precisely through our weakness. . . . If you make the vital decision to live humbly and lovingly, you will live fruitful lives and be happy.”

Takashi Nagai’s heroic and selfless sacrifices made him revered by his nation and his Emperor who came to visit him in his hut.  Famous people from the entire world came to visit the dying saint. His visit with Helen Keller confirmed his belief that suffering accepted gracefully purifies the human heart, and the experience of physical blindness sharpens spiritual vision.

If these culled thoughts and citations about Takashi Nagai have inspired you in light of Japan’s recent tragedy, please read A SONG FOR NAGASAKI by Paul Glynn, S.M. Ignatius Press.


(See also post by that title in Book Corner.)