A Universal Moment and Practical Application of Pentecost

I’ve lapsed in my blogging, and I apologize. It was not without reason. With that said, I’ll attempt at providing updates.

This was back in April.

A cherry blossom glimpse of Nagoya Castle

I traveled to Japan for work. Hence, my lack of my usual online presence, including blogging. I ended up staying in Japan for three weeks even though the original intention was to stay only for two weeks. Life is hard, I know.

It actually really sucked initially because my trip out to Japan happened on Easter weekend. I wasn’t able to make it to Easter Mass because I left too early on Saturday morning and would arrive too late in Japan to make it to an Easter Mass in Japan. I did speak to my pastor about this, and I was given dispensation (to miss Mass) and a blessing for safe travels.

I haven’t missed a Sunday Mass in a very long while and to miss only one of the biggest Masses in the liturgical year was such a bummer for me. I guess because of my missing out, and my personal goal to visit Catholic churches wherever I go when traveling, I definitely used the Google to find out if there were any Catholic churches near my hotel in Japan.

I learned in my initial research on Japan that it is currently only 1% Christian. From my Catholic nerdiness, I learned that St. Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan only ~400 years ago, which is pretty young in the Church’s history. So in my Google-ing of Catholic churches near where I would be staying in Japan, I wasn’t too hopeful of finding something nearby.

Fortunately, there was! The cathedral, in fact! The seat of the diocese! And it was only about two miles away from my hotel!

Too happy to find Nunoike Catholic Church

My first free weekend in Japan, I sought it out. I remember entering that church and feeling a sense of home. Actually, even a sense of yearning because I had missed (Easter) Mass the weekend before. The Mass was in Japanese. Luckily, they passed out pamphlets with English translations of the day’s readings. The homily was long, and because I didn’t really understand what the priest was saying, I did some light Lectio Divina on the Gospel. I also appreciated the traditional Catholic feel and look of the Mass. The hymns sounded like hymns, and the choir sang beautifully.  If only I could share the sights and sounds! (Maybe they had signs everywhere saying not to take pics and vids…)

It was really nice because despite the Mass being said in Japanese, I was very familiar with everything going on in the Mass. I could still fully participate and not feel lost. The brilliance of the Catholic Mass, undoubtedly.

Mikokoro Catholic Center

Later that week, I wanted to go to Confession. That resulted in me spending more time using the Google to see what other Catholic churches were nearby that also offered Confession. That led me to find a Catholic center run by Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. I was drawn to that one because it’s actually a little closer to my hotel and Confession was offered anytime! I just had to ask the priest. Psh. Why the heaven not?!

I actually went to that Catholic center one night during the week hoping to see if I could catch the priest for Confession but was not successful. I didn’t find him! So I went back the next night and planned on being there after daily Mass to talk to a priest. Success!

After that, I decided to go to Mass there the next Sunday, and I did!

If you remember, back in 2013, I went to Rio De Janeiro with millions of other people for World Youth Day. I was just blown away by all the people I encountered from all corners of the globe who went to Rio to share and grow in the Catholic faith during World Youth Day festivities. But here, in this humble Catholic church in the middle of Japan, I was reminded again, albeit on a much, much smaller scale the universality of the Catholic faith.

You see, it was actually kind of crazy! The priest who celebrated Mass is Australian. The congregation? Mostly Filipino (represent!) with a sprinkling of Americans and Japanese. Mass was in English. And where were we? In the middle of Japan.  These observances gave me pause because of the combination of different cultures coming together to celebrate the Eucharist in the Mass.

I remembered in my studies of the Catechism with the youth group on these words of St. Iranaeus of Lyons:

Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples. . . guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth.

For though languages differ throughout the world, the content of the Tradition is one and the same. the Churches established in Germany have no other faith or Tradition, nor do those of the Iberians, nor those of the Celts, nor those of the East, of Egypt, of Libya, nor those established at the centre of the world. . .” The Church’s message “is true and solid, in which one and the same way of salvation appears throughout the whole world.

In other words, the Christian faith given to us from Christ through the apostles is communicated to us as one, despite differences in language. I’ve been to Mass in English, Spanish, Tagalog (Filipino), Latin, Portuguese, Korean, and now Japanese. But Mass is Mass, no matter what tongue. The faith is passed on through the Church with one unanimous voice with her one mouth.
Speaking of tongues (pun totally intended), today has special significance on the liturgical calendar. Pentecost! When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in the upper room and they began to speak in different tongues, but people understood their preaching in their own native language!
Combined with Christ’s commissioning of the apostles to make disciples of all nations, and the gift of the Holy Spirit that enabled them to speak about the faith to everyone, ~2000 years later I begin to appreciate the response of those milestone moments in Scripture. Being in Japan. Mass in English, Japanese, and also offered in Tagalog at the cathedral and the Catholic center. The congregations comprised of people from totally different cultures. This is what a practical application of Pentecost looks like! In 1% Christian Japan!
Anyway, bottom line…long story short…I think it’s really cool to be 6000 miles away from home and still experience home in the Mass despite it being in different languages. It’s the same Mass in Japan as it is here at home. One faith. One voice. One universal moment to remind me of it all.
Happy Pentecost!
Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
Pentecost by Restout // Wikipedia