Haunting … that’s the only word I can find to describe it …
Last week I welcomed the Archbishop of Nagasaki, the Most Reverend Joseph Mitsuaki. He pleaded at the United Nations for an end to all nuclear weapons. Lord knows he has immense credibility: he is now the pastor of the tiny Catholic flock of a Japanese city where 75,000 people were reduced to ash by a single atomic blast on August 9, 1945. On that day, Joseph was still a baby in his mother’s womb, and only survived because she was far enough away from ground-zero.
And something else survived: the head of the statue of Mary Immaculate in the parish church in Urakami, a village right aside Nagasaki. It was this skull of Mary that the archbishop brought with him to the U.N. and to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
And it is this head that is haunting: she is scarred, singed badly, and her crystal eyes were melted by the hellish blast. So, all that remains are two empty, blackened sockets.
I’ve knelt before many images of the Mother of Jesus before: our Mother of Perpetual Help, the Pieta, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, just to name a few.
But I’ve never experienced the dread and revulsion I did when the archbishop showed us the head of Our Lady of Nagasaki …
It’s May, the month we traditionally devote to her, our blessed Mother.
She absorbs our sorrows, our worries, our sickness, our fears, like any good mother would. She brings them — and us — to the only one who can do anything about them: Jesus.
At Nagasaki, she absorbed the radiation, incinerating heat, the suffering of her children.
“To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale’ of tears.”