From Superior’s Desk by Bradly Rozairo OMI:
As the month of August begins I am reminded of the “Ten Days for Peace” in Japan. The late Pope St. John Paul II announced the “Appeal for Peace” in February 1981 at the Peace Memorial Park of Hiroshima with these words, “War is the work of man. War is the destruction of human life. War is death.” His appeal was an invitation to everyone in the world to abolish nuclear weapons, denounce nuclear wars, and commit oneself to peace. Responding to this, the Catholic Church in Japan defined the days between August 6 and 15 as “Ten Days for Peace”, a special period to think of our responsibilities to peace, to learn about peace and to work for peace.
For a good number of years, I have been visiting Hiroshima during the “Ten Days for Peace”. According to what I have seen and experienced, this special period gives an opportunity not only to Christians but also to other faiths to reflect, pray and to initiate peace activities throughout Japan. People from all over Japan as well as from abroad brave the hot and humid weather in Hiroshima to sing, talk, dance and to pray for peace. Many also take time to listen to the war experiences of the survivors (hibakusha) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
For me just to be in the crowd and allow myself to be “bathed” in that atmosphere is in itself an experience. The smell of incense, the sound of the gong and the offering of flowers make you think of the unforgettable past, remembered here in the present while praying for a better future. This year since I am home on vacation and I will not be able to witness the peace activities in Hiroshima but will be united in spirit.
Dear Brothers, during this time of the year, together with the people you serve, let me invite you to reflect, pray and to sow the seeds of Peace in your respective communities, mission parishes, kindergartens, welfare centers, etc. Let me conclude with a prayer from the “Appeal for Peace at Hiroshima” by Pope St. John Paul II.
Hear my voice, for it is the voice of all children who suffer and will suffer when people put their faith in weapons and war;
Hear my voice when I beg you to instill into the hearts of all human beings the wisdom of peace, the strength of justice and the joy of fellowship;
Hear my voice, for I speak for the multitudes in every country and in every period of history who do not want war and are ready to walk the road of peace;
Hear my voice and grant insight and strength so that we may always respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to justice, to need with the sharing of self, to war with peace.
O God, hear my voice and grant unto the world your everlasting peace.
“Appeal for Peace at Hiroshima”, Pope John Paul II
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
February 25, 1981