Monday, March 14, 2011

Pray for Japan

Our Lady of Akita
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink."
 – Matthew 25:35
As the human impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan slowly sinks in, and the images shift from the impersonal to the personal, we are reminded of what is important in life. It is not houses or cars, it is people.

As Christians we are called to value human life above all other things on earth. We are called to love our neighbor as ourself.

Houses can be rebuilt, but each individual is a unique creation of God and can never be replaced. Christians don't refer to human life in some abstract sense, but in a very personal sense. We understand that each individual is a child of God.

Jesus tells us that God knows each of us personally. And He tells us not to fear the physical death of the body.
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:28-31
We pray for the souls of all the victims of the earthquake in Japan. It does not matter if they are Christians or non-Christians. We know that God is merciful and we trust in His judgement.

In a time of great sorrow and grieving, we pray for those who have suffered and lost loved ones. We pray that they will find comfort in the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We pray for those who are assigned duties in the rescue efforts. We pray for miracles of survival against all odds.

We pray for faith, hope and love. Faith in God. Hope in the future. And love of our neighbor.
"If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing....

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends....

Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

 – Excerpts from 1 Corinthians 13

3 comments:

  1. Cathy Lynn Grossman is USA Today's "religion" correspondent. I put "religion" in quotes because the purpose of her column is to attack religion rather than simply report on it. Grossman does not disclose her own religious persuasion, but the evidence points to her being a secular humanist.

    It is inexcusable that even at a time of great human tragedy like the one that Japan is now going through, she persists in trivializing and ridiculing religious faith. Usually her target is Christianity, but today's column shifted to the Buddhist faith of most people in Japan.

    Rather than consulting with a Buddhist leader she turns to a "cultural anthropologist" for her source of information. As if religion were some sort of primitive belief system which post-modern man has overcome.

    On the surface the article is sincere, but the tone is one of mocking and ridiculing. This is how the propaganda war against religion is conducted. First ridiculing and then later, openly attacking.

    She concludes her article with a series of questions aimed at creating skepticism in the reader. She asks, "Do you believe your prayers can help people who have died?"

    If USA Today wants to hire an atheist to write daily columns about religious matters, then that is certainly their prerogative. But to disguise those columns as anything other than attacks on religion is unpardonable.

    And now is certainly not the time to be engaging in these sort of irreverent attacks on believers. Especially when the nuclear crisis that Japan is undergoing is a product of the secular humanist belief that man is above God. It is the "faith" and "belief" in the infallibility of man that results in an over confidence in the ability of man-made technology to overcome nature. If this is true in the case of nuclear technology, it is even more true in the case of biotechnology. One component of biotechnology which has had a devastating effect on society already is artificial contraception. But the secular humanists, because of their "blind faith" in technology, refuse to acknowledge this.

    BTW, USA Today is not alone. A similar role is played at the New York Times by Laurie Goodstein.

    Here is a link to the article by Cathy Lynn Grossman:
    Japan faces disaster 'praying for compassion, for miracles'

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  2. Prayers for Japan are coming from an unlikely source. Lady Gaga is selling "We pray for Japan" wristbands as a fundraiser. Maybe Stefani Germanotta, her real name, temporarily forgot to keep her act up. She was raised in a Italian Catholic family and the idea of praying for Japan at this time of tragedy may come from her Catholic roots. This would seem like a blunder in maintaining her public image. It must be very hard trying to pretend your someone your not for 24 hours a day. Marilyn Monroe comes to mind.

    Still it's hard to believe that Stefani could make any move without the consent of her corporate team. Maybe this one just snuck by before they had a chance to think it through.

    In the US when we think of prayer we immediately associate that with Christianity. But there's nothing Christian about Stefani's musical act, in fact it is decidedly anti-Christian. And at times it has also been specifically anti-Catholic.

    I'm sure there is intended to be an element of cognitive dissonance in this, but in this case the Gaga team may have miscalculated. It seems to me that the message that this gives is that God is important in our lives. And not just any god, but the God of Jesus Christ.

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  3. On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI asked for prayers for the people of Japan. He also directed $100,000 be sent immediately to assist in relief efforts.

    Pope Benedict prays for victims of disaster in Japan, sends aid
    (excerpt from Catholic News Service)

    "I want to renew my spiritual closeness to that country's dear people, who with dignity and courage are dealing with the consequences of the calamity. I pray for the victims and their families and for all who are suffering because of these terrible events. I encourage all those who, with laudable speed, are working to bring help. Let us remain united in prayer."

    The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican's charity promotion and coordinating office, announced March 14 that the pope donated $100,000 to the relief efforts of the Japanese bishops' conference.
    [...]
    Bishop Marcellino Daiji Tani of Saitama, one of the dioceses hit hardest by the disaster, told the Catholic missionary news agency Fides that the catastrophe is a reminder that "life is in the hands of God and that life is a gift from God," and he described the tragedy as a challenge for Christians during Lent "to practice and witness to the commandment of love and brotherly love."

    However, he also told Fides, "Of particular concern to us is the situation of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. But we must take courage, with the help of the Holy Spirit."

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