Thursday, August 28, 2014

Our Lady and the Fat Man

August 15th 1945. The Feast of the Assumption. The bloodthirst of the notorious Japanese military was finally quenched by most demonic act of a demonic century. A proud and barbaric combative force finally surrendered, though not without coercion. Less than a week previously, the historic and holy city of Nagasaki had witnessed the dropping of the second Atomic Bomb. Tens of thousands perished in the most inhumane of circumstances: incinerated, suffocated and obliterated.

The Atomic Bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th 1945 was nicknamed 'The Fat Man'. Nagasaki, with all of her old wooden buildings already dilapidated from poverty and previous American bombings, stood little chance of offering her people protection from man's most brutal of scientific charades. That morning, so the official story goes, weather and fuel considerations led the pilots to reconsider their original routes and trek instead to their eventual target. Perhaps this narrative is true, however it is difficult not to feel suspicion at the sinister involvement of Masons such as Harry Truman and Henry L Stimson, who insisted repeatedly , against military advice to the contrary, that Nagasaki should be considered a place worthy of such a grand act of aggression. Certainly, the glorious history of Nagasaki's Catholicism would not have endeared itself to the Skull and Bones members who made that fateful decision.But of course, it is just as feasible that this is a coincidence or even semi-coincidence.

Harry Truman

As the pilots scoured their way towards their wretched destinies, the scenes on the ground were the antithesis of everything that they encompassed. The Urakami Cathedral was busy with parishioners, praying in preparation for the Feast of the Assumption the following week. There were about thirty gathered in the Church to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the company of the two priests. How poignant those confessions seem in light of what occurred mere minutes later. The impact of the bomb burned all of those individuals alive.

The ruins of Urakami Cathedral

These were not the first religious to die in Nagasaki. In order to understand the mystical way Our Lord works, we should remember the words of Our Lady of Fatima. In 1917, she warned the world that a failure to mend its ways would result in a great war. 'When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.'  The world had ignored Our Lady's warnings. It had ignored them out of cruel spite and at its own peril. But not all the world was so hedonistic and haughty as to forget God. There was a reason why Nagasaki was the sole guardian of the faith in an otherwise pagan country, it was the same reason that the faith persevered in Ireland. That simple reason is that the faith thrives under persecution. It brings forth the logical end of atheism and of pagan disdain for the sacred towards the mercy of God. After St. Francis Xavier had brought forth the faith to the island of Japan in the mid sixteenth century, the Emperor chose to renege on his promise to allow for conversion, preferring instead to pursue a period of persecution of those who professed to be Catholic. 

Like all persecutions, the hatred that fuelled them only expanded with each piece of passive resistance. Infuriating it must be, to make hating a group of people your raison d'etre , only for them to respond by loving you. 

The Martyrs of Nagasaki
After a period of mass martyrdom, the Church went underground and emerged centuries later as the strong and vibrant centre of Japanese Catholicism. And so it still was devoutly Catholic on that August morning when the United States, convinced as it was of Japan's stoic refusal to surrender, decimated it with an instantaneous brutality never before seen. Those who had gathered in Urakami Cathedral to say confession in preparation for the Feast of the Assumption were all killed, along with their priests. There seemed little consolation to be sought from such an act for those who place their thoughts within the context of worldliness. But for those of us who have the faith, we may see any number of redemptive pieces in this war crime. Ultimately, a Catholic city which had suffered much in the past were made to suffer more, with an end to a war as the reward for their most heavy of crosses to bear. Harry Truman will have stood before God to his actions, as would have the Emperors of Japan's pagan past. In our own times, the barbarian hordes of ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda will have to do likewise. 

For those who perished in the loving arms of Christ at Nagasaki, just like those in Mosul today, lies surely some reward for their shouldering of the most mysterious of graces, our pain. May we never forget the messages of Our Lady of Fatima until her wishes are fulfilled.

Ukrami Cathedral post atomic bomb

No comments:

Post a Comment