Bishop Daisuke Narui presides over the Yonezawa Martyrs Memorial Mass at the Kitayamahara Martyrdom Site. Photo by Diocese of Niigata Bishop Daisuke Narui presides over the Yonezawa Martyrs Memorial Mass at the Kitayamahara Martyrdom Site. Photo by Diocese of Niigata 

Faith and community remembered at Yonezawa Martyrs Memorial Mass in Japan

About 80 people gathered at the Kitayamahara Martyrdom Site in Yonezawa City for the annual Yonezawa Martyrs Memorial Mass to honor Blessed Luis Amakasuemon and 52 other martyrs.

By LiCAS News

The event, held on the first Sunday of July, attracted participants from across Yamagata Prefecture and was visited by Mayor Kondo Yosuke.

In his homily, Bishop Daisuke Narui of Niigata focused on the profound impact of martyrdom, tracing back to the sacrifice of the 53 martyrs of Yonezawa. 

He emphasized the deep faith and communal spirit that characterized their lives and ultimate sacrifice. “Martyrdom is not merely about dying for one’s faith; it’s about living one’s life in such a way that God’s love is testified to all,” Bishop Narui said. 

He detailed the lives of the martyrs, who were mostly recent converts, including families and children, and had little contact with priests due to the scarcity during their time. 

“Their faith was nourished by rare moments with priests, yet they lived fully, serving and loving those around them,” the prelate said.

Bishop Narui drew parallels between the historical sacrifices and contemporary challenges. He described how modern society often prioritizes individualism and convenience, which stands in stark contrast to the martyr’s ethos of community support and selflessness. 

“Today, we see a culture that often overlooks the values of collective faith and sacrifice. This is visible in our retreat from communal activities and dwindling church attendance,” he said.

The bishop cited the story of a parish priest’s 60th anniversary of ordination to highlight the enduring power of faith and community. 

The priest, despite long-term illness and frailty, delivered a blessing that deeply moved the congregation. “It was a moment of profound grace, showing us that the spirit of faith and community is as needed today as it was hundreds of years ago,” Bishop Narui said.

In response to modern societal shifts, the bishop invoked Pope Francis’s call for a “culture of care,” urging a return to values that prioritize human and environmental well-being.

“As Pope Francis highlighted, fostering a culture of care can counteract the indifference that is prevalent today,” he urged.

Bishop Narui called on the community to embrace these lessons as they approach the 400th anniversary of the Yonezawa martyrdom. 

“We must cherish every Mass, every prayer, and every act of kindness. We are called to walk together, supporting one another and expanding our community of faith,” he said. 

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09 July 2024, 10:46