We cannot allow present and future generations to lose the memory of what happened here. It is a memory that ensures and encourages the building of a more fair and fraternal future.
-Pope Francis, 2020 World Day of Peace Message
The US bishops have called for Catholics, and all those of goodwill, to come together in solidarity in our personal prayers and Masses on the solemn anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
Pax Christi Northern California offered a liturgy of memory and repentance for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and 75 years of the nuclear age. Fr. Jack Lau, OMI, of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, celebrated the vigil Mass again this year. After the Eucharist, a moment of universal silence and bell ringing was observed at 7:02 p.m., which corresponds to the exact time in Japan when the bomb was dropped in Nagasaki.
The liturgy concluded with the testimony of one atomic bomb survivor, Takashi Tanemori, author of Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness, and a time for interfaith/ecumenical prayers and reflection.
· Buddhism – Bill Waterman, Soka Gakkai International
· Judaism – Rabbi Jonathan Seidel, Aquarian Minyan
· Independent Faith Tradition – Rev. Joanne Tolosa, Konko Church
Music for the liturgy: ChaCha & Sonny Dagdogan
Filming of the liturgy: Mark Coplan
“Memory is central to the Mass,” explains Roger Dawson, SJ. “We are confronted with not just the memory of Jesus with his disciples at the last supper, but the ‘dangerous memory’ of his suffering and experience of injustice at the hands of humans.”
Pax Christi Northern California’s first liturgy of memory and repentance was held on November 23, 2019 to allow people of goodwill to be in solidarity with Pope Francis during his visit to Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. At that time, the Holy Father condemned “the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another” and called for the urgent and complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
Pope Francis also commended the hibakusha, whose “testimony awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction.” Besides the victims of unspeakable suffering, we choose to remember the prophets who have gone before us in condemning nuclear arms, including Tom Webb, who breathed life and determination into this now annual liturgy.
Repentance for the Nuclear Age
The U.S. government has never apologized for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nor for continued nuclear testing. Many people of goodwill in the U.S. are implicated in the possession of nuclear weapons, which the Catholic Church now regards as immoral. “I am scared, sometimes, to own anything, even a name, let alone coin, or shares in the oil, the munitions, the airplane factories,” Thomas Merton wrote in the 1960s. “I am scared to take a proprietary interest in anything, for fear that my love of what I own may be killing somebody somewhere.”
In Northern California, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a site of excessive spending on the modernization of nuclear arsenals. Nuclear weapons were stored and transferred at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Our region also hosts defense contractors (e.g. Lockheed Martin), financial institutions (e.g. Wells Fargo) and academic institutions (e.g. University of California, Stanford University) that profit from the military-industrial complex.
Yet, throughout the nuclear age, faith-filled peacemakers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Zabelka, Archbishop Hunthausen, Daniel Berrigan and the Plowshares movement have sought to bring about the public’s conversion and repentance for the sins of the nuclear age. The liturgy of memory and repentance for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the nuclear age is a continuation of their prophetic witness.
The big circle symbolizes the “bowl” we each have in our hearts. This “bowl” should be a place filled with love where people listen to each other and embrace the grief each person has to deal with in their lives. It also represents the flag of Japan. Since love is the foundation of justice, if we had a nuclear war, we would lose our chance to grow in justice and create a world with justice for all.
The people who worked on the ribbon are:
Peace Ribbon sewing by Dennise Burgess, underpainting and group support by Setsuko Amann,
design and painting by Kim Vanderheiden.