PMGenesis: Chapter 23


Peter Milward's Autobiography: Genesis of an Octogenarian (2008)

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Who is Peter Milward?
0. About PM Genesis of an Octogenarian
1. Attempt at an Autobiography
2. 
Pre-conscious World
3. 
Local Patriotism
4. 
Wimbledon in Wartime 
5. 
Pastoral Peace
6. 
Pastoral Philosophy
7. Life at Oxford
8. 
Between England and Japan 
9. A New Language and Culture
10. Rural Japan
11. 
Pastoral Theology
12. Teaching Shakespeare in Japan
13. A Missionary in Japan
 
14. 
Student Revolt  
15. 
A Floating University  
16. Literary Pilgrimages  
17. 
A Scholar's Paradise  
18. 
To and Fro in Japan  
19. 
Words, Words, Words  
20. 
Annus Mirabilis  
21. Renaissance  
22. 
Lost Years  
23. 
Two Papal Pilgrimages  
24. 
Two Peninsular Pilgrimages

25. 
More American Adventures
26. In the Footsteps of Hopkins and Newman  
27. 
Two International Conferences  
28. 
Junshin  
29. 
Catholic Shakespeare  
30. 
Last Words  
31. 
Bibliographical Afterword  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 St. Peter's, Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Peter's Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINKS

Blog Brittonia

All About Francis Xavier

BriFra

Who are the Jesuits?

Joining the Jesuits in Japan

About

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINKS

Blog Brittonia

All About Francis Xavier

BriFra

Who are the Jesuits?

Joining the Jesuits in Japan

About

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  A Lifetime with Hopkins  by Peter Milward

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

   

     Jacobean Shakespeare
by Peter Milward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare the Papist by Peter Milward 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 Mystical Journey, the autobiography of William Johnston, S.J., author of Mystical Theology and many other works on mysticism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Arise My Love by William Johnston, S.J.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All About Francis Xavier (Articles on Japanese Catholic History and Jesuits) 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

23. Two Papal Pilgrimages

 

   In stark contrast to my vague memory of those “lost years”, when I seemed to be so busy about one thing and another that there appeared to be no landmark in it all, there stand two memories associated with his Holiness Pope John Paul II.  One was his visit to Japan, in the February of 1981, and the other was my visit with a group of Japanese to the Vatican, in the March of 1994, leading up to a memorable double audience with his aged holiness.  In this chapter I make bold to put them together, partly because each occasion, I may add, provided me with material for a book apiece, not in English – at least, not for the time being – but in Japanese translation.

 

   As for the Papal pilgrimage to Japan in 1981, from the time of the Pope’s arrival on Monday February 23 till his departure the following Thursday, it seemed as if the whole of Japan – thanks to the generous coverage of his visit in the news media, both the daily press and the television – had turned Catholic to greet him.  It was astounding!  I was present at St. Mary’s cathedral in Sekiguchi to greet him on his first appearance in public, straight from the airport in the pouring rain, for the clergy and religious of the Tokyo archdiocese.  I remained with the rest of the clergy inside the cathedral, while the Pope, instead of entering the cathedral at once, gave a stirring speech in Japanese outside the entrance.  It was so impressive for the Japanese!  Other state visitors had limited their public remarks in Japanese to a few formal phrases.  So England’s Prince Charles had addressed the members of the Japanese Diet with a preliminary “Konnichi wa” (for “Good day!”), for which he received a warm ovation, followed by an apologetic, “I’m sorry, but that’s the only Japanese I know,” for which he received another ovation.  It caused everyone to remark on his fine English sense of humour!  On the other hand, Pope John Paul from that moment onwards gave speech after speech in Japanese, for which he had long been coached by a Japanese priest in his pronunciation.  He really did wonderfully!  At last, he came inside the cathedral and greeted us, before moving on to the altar where he sat upon the Papal throne, while the Archbishop of Tokyo gave a formal address of welcome.  Then we could see that he was after all a tired old man.  From time to time he buried his face in his hands and gave out occasional yawns.  Yet that made him seem all the more human, especially when one of his larger yawns was caught by a professional photographer and displayed on the front page of the Yomiuri Shimbun, the largest daily newspaper in Japan.

 

   The following day I was one of the many priests who gathered in the vast baseball stadium of Korakuen – now transformed into the indoor Tokyo Dome but then still open to what Shakespeare calls “the persecution of the skies” – for the solemn Papal Mass.  For once it was altogether crowded with Catholics from all over Tokyo and beyond, and when the time came the Pope entered in his special vehicle called “Pope-mobile”.  I felt a kind of electricity in the crowd, affected by the presence of the Pope, who must surely have been the most charismatic individual of the twentieth century.  It was the same electricity I went on to feel in the large audience hall of Pope Paul VI when we assembled there for the later occasion in 1994.  This feeling continued all through the Mass, in spite of the louring elements of wind and rain, and it was particularly evident at the singing of certain popular hymns composed by a Japanese Franciscan friar, collectively entitled Heiwa wo Inoro – “Let’s Pray for Peace!” – notably one beginning with the acclamation, “Amen! Alleluia!”  That evening, too, we could watch on TV a meeting of the Pope with young people in the large Budokan in Tokyo, under the direction of the charming Catholic singer from Hong Kong, Agnes Chan.  In the course of the proceedings cute little girls from the local Catholic kindergarten – the same who came to grace my Renaissance Centre – entered singing and dancing Polish songs for the Polish Pope.  Then Agnes Chan came forward and persuaded the Pope to come and stand in the middle while the little girls danced merrily round him.  It was the highlight of the day!

 

   The following morning his holiness deviated from his tight schedule to visit us at Sophia University.  To welcome him, we had gathered beforehand on the 14th floor of our tower building.  Then it was a world to see all the Jesuits of SJ House wearing our clerical clothes for once in a while, in deference to the known preference of the Holy Father.  When he entered the long hall at the top of the building, he shook hands with all those whose hands he could reach.  My hand was fortunately one of those he could reach, and so I couldn’t bring myself to wash my hands for the rest of the day!  He gave us a speech in English, emphasizing the significance of the name of Sophia, standing as it does for divine Wisdom.  Then he had to leave for the next stage of his pilgrimage, which was Hiroshima, with its memories of the first atomic bomb and its ideal of world peace.  Tokyo in the rain was followed by Hiroshima in the sleet, followed by Nagasaki in the snow, and a blizzard at that, making the snow fall not vertically but horizontally.  The Pope had certainly brought bad weather with him!  Or was it that the evil spirits were doing their best to hinder him in his pilgrimage?  Anyhow, the climax came in the holy city of Nagasaki with its shrine of the 26 martyrs.  In the evening there was an ordination ceremony inside the cathedral.  A former student of mine was among those to be ordained, and I had been invited to attend.  Unfortunately, however, it was the day of our entrance exams at Sophia, and my presence was required at the university.  So I couldn’t go to Nagasaki for the great occasion.  Even more impressive was the outdoor Mass in the stadium the following morning, when the snow turned into a real blizzard.  Many poor people had been waiting several hours before the event, and some of them collapsed and had to be taken off in stretchers to the nearby ambulances.  When the Pope himself arrived, the ceremony proceeded according to schedule, though the blizzard made it difficult, especially when it came to administering first baptism and then holy communion.  It was just as well, I reflected as I watched the Mass on television, I hadn’t been able to go.  At the end of the Mass, the Pope congratulated the Catholic congregation, commenting that they were still the stuff of which martyrs are made!  So he left Japan, after a brief but full time-table, of which I have only mentioned the few incidents in which I was somehow personally involved.  The book I published after the event, with photos provided by the Vatican nuncio and a foreword by the Archbishop of Tokyo, came out in Japanese translation within barely three months, by July 20 of that year.

 

   Now I have to follow Shakespeare’s example in The Winter’s Tale by jumping over some thirteen years to the time when I led a pilgrimage of forty-five Japanese tea-ceremony teachers in the opposite direction, from Tokyo to Rome, to meet Pope John Paul II in the Vatican, in the large audience hall on March 9 1994.  Again, we were all in our places long before the Pope’s arrival.  And again, his arrival was heralded by a stir and a murmur that suddenly swept through the waiting crowd like a breeze through a forest.  We were as yet unable to see the figure of the Pope, but we could sense that he was among us.  When he eventually reached our group of tea-ceremony teachers, including some thirty women wearing colourful kimono, he paused as if enraptured at the sight.  It no doubt reminded him of his visit to Japan.  Then, as we were positioned by the aisle up which he was coming, he proceeded to shake hands with us all.  One lady in particular I noticed shaking the Pope’s hand with such a beatific expression on her face, and then bowing in such deep reverence, as if she had just seen and shaken hands with God himself!  Later on, when we went to Fatima, she went with a Catholic friend of hers to the basilica and, while praying in the silence of the church, they were both overwhelmed with an abundance of tears.  When they told me about it and asked me why it had happened, I could only explain it as a long-delayed reaction from their audience with the Holy Father.  Eventually, the Pope climbed up to the stage, where he received the addresses of different groups of pilgrims in different parts of the auditorium, and he in turn addressed them in different languages according to the national groups represented.  It all took such a long time, and the Pope must have felt so tired!

 

   There still remained a further part of the audience, as the Pope moved from the general audience hall to smaller rooms at the back of the hall.  There out of the larger group of forty-five teachers, the grand tea-master with his wife and children, a few of his closest followers and myself, were waiting for a private audience, at which I was to act as English interpreter.  I was first introduced to the Pope by a Japanese priest who was looking after us, and I then proceeded to introduce the Holy Father to the Japanese members of our group one by one.  The Holy Father had two questions to ask me about the Japanese tea-ceremony.  First, was it a kind of religion?  “Well, not exactly,” I replied.  Next, was it a kind of family meal, like afternoon tea in England?  “Well, not exactly,” I replied again.  That was all I could conveniently say.  There was no time for further explanation, and we had in any case already submitted a full explanation in our application for the audience.  Still, we had a few gifts for the Holy Father, some from the tea-ceremony group, known in Japan as Musha-Koji Senke, and two of the monographs (on the proceedings of our two international conferences) from the Renaissance Institute.  All the time, of course, the Vatican photographers were busy taking photo after photo without intermission.  We were shown them already the following day, so that we could make our choice of them almost at once, and receive our copies before leaving Rome.  Them, too, I was enabled to put to good use as illustrations for my book, whose title in English was A Tea Pilgrimage, and which came out in Japanese translation in early 1997.

 

   Now it may not unnaturally be asked, how did I come to have an interest in the Japanese tea-ceremony, and a connection with this group of tea-ceremony teachers?  For many years I had only attended this ritual form of drinking Japanese tea on one occasion, soon after my arrival in Japan.  Then it was presented to some of us from the language school at Taura by Japanese Jesuit scholastics in Tokyo.  We were all squatting in a circle on cushions, or zabuton, in a Japanese-style room, while in the middle one of the scholastics made the tea in a notably ritualistic manner.  When the tea was ready, two other scholastics brought cups of the thick green liquid, a special kind of tea called matcha, and presented them to each of us in turn, after having laid bean cakes on the floor in front of us.  It seemed so formal, we were afraid to say a word that might break the silence.  When we had all been served, eaten the cakes and drunk from the cups, the tea-master purified the implements and neatly laid them on one side. Then the ceremony was over.  It all seemed to be so traditionally Japanese, so precisely artistic and – from a Western point of view – so pointless.  Why, we wondered, all this ceremony over a cup of tea?  Couldn’t the Japanese just enjoy afternoon tea as a meal, like the sensible English, instead of making a ritualistic fuss over the many details of preparation and deportment?  Then it occurred to me that this was more or less what Catholics do in the ceremony of the Mass.  We take a simple meal, as Jesus did with his disciples at the last supper, and transform it, or in the theological term transubstantiate it, into an elaborate ritual.  I wondered whether this mightn’t be what the Japanese have been doing for so many ages with the tea-ceremony.  The rite as it is practised today goes back to the late sixteenth century, when the tea-master of the terrible Hideyoshi was Sen Rikyu.  Then he is said, according to an interesting theory, to have devised the rite of his tea-ceremony on attending the Catholic Mass as celebrated by the Jesuit missionaries of that time.  It is even suggested that he was himself a hidden Christian, and it may have been for this reason that he incurred the wrath of Hideyoshi, which led to the sentence of harakiri against him.

 

   The ceremony as I attended it for the first time must have been in 1956.  It was some 35 years later that I happened to meet one of our older graduates from Sophia University.  One of his friends was a descendant of Sen Rikyu, bearing the same family name as Sen So-shu, the head or iemoto of one of the main schools for the ceremony known as Musha-Koji Senke.  He told me that his friend was deeply convinced of the importance of the tea-ceremony as a means of bringing about world peace, even as it had originally been used for the peaceful purpose of bringing Japanese war-lords together inside a simple tea-house, after leaving their weapons outside.  With this idea in mind, the grand tea-master had already presented his tea-ceremony before some representatives of the United Nations in New York.  Now it was his ambition to do the same for the Pope in the Vatican.  This was why he now approached me for my assistance and intercession.  I don’t know why he thought of me, being a person of no consequence in the hierarchy whether of Sophia University or of the Catholic Church in Japan.  Only, I already knew him and his brother, an official at the United Nations, and I promised to do what I could, at least with the Vatican nuncio, a friend of mine sharing a common interest in Shakespeare.  Anyhow, we went ahead, and after many discussions and preparations the “pilgrimage” was arranged for the spring of 1994.  Incidentally, it was during these discussions that I learnt about the interest Sen So-shu himself had in the connection between the tea-ceremony and the Mass.  He had been educated at a Catholic high-school in Kyoto and had attended Mass there on many occasions.

 

   That was how in March 1994 I found myself as leader of this group of forty-five Japanese tea-ceremony teachers on a pilgrimage to Rome.  It was unique among all the many pilgrimages I had led in the past for my students and colleagues, and it was more numerous.  I also found that tea-ceremony teachers are much easier to deal with as a group than university students and teachers.  At Rome, however, we had been told that the Pope would be too busy to attend a performance of the tea-ceremony during a private audience, and in fact we could see for ourselves how tired he was at the time of our audience.  Still, it was arranged for us to present our tea-ceremony beforehand to one of the cardinals at the Papal court, Cardinal Arinze, who was Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.  On the day of our audience, therefore, we made our way to the offices of the Council near St Peter’s and were ushered into a large room that had been the studio of Raphael himself while he was working at the Vatican.  There we held our tea-ceremony.  Then, while we were crossing the Piazza of St Peter’s, I had the bright idea of getting everyone to stop right in the middle before the Egyptian obelisk.  There we were able to take just the right photo to commemorate our Roman pilgrimage before going on to have our audience with the Holy Father.  It turned out to be a perfect photo indeed.

 

   Nor, after we had met the Pope in these successive audiences, public and private, was that the end of our pilgrimage.  Now we went on to Assisi, where we were able to present another tea-ceremony for the Franciscan fathers in the great dining-hall of the Convent of Saint Francis, which till recent years had been out of bounds for all women except heads of state.  I had chosen the Franciscans at Assisi rather than my fellow Jesuits – though in Japan it had been the Jesuits rather than the Franciscans who would have befriended Sen Rikyu – considering that Assisi was such a scenic place to visit on our pilgrimage, and the Franciscans had also been working in Japan in the time of Sen Rikyu.  I also considered that there was a probable connection between the Franciscan ideals of poverty and return to the simplicity of nature and Sen Rikyu’s insistence on natural simplicity, or what the Japanese call wabi and sabi, in his tea-houses and the gardens round them.  That, too, was a memorable occasion – when even the Bishop of Assisi was present – in memorable spring weather.  From Assisi we went on to Portugal, first to the former Jesuit university of Coimbra, from which so many young Jesuits had made their way to Japan in the old Kirishitan period.  We also visited the modern shrine of Our Lady in Fatima, as mentioned above, and finally the capital city of Lisbon.  There we held our third tea-ceremony for members of the Portuguese government in the hall of the venerable Geographical Society of Portugal, which was a centre for the current celebration of the famous discoveries of Portuguese seamen culminating in Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India in 1497-98.  Needless to say, not the whole government but only a few representatives attended, just as before not the whole membership of the United Nations had come but only a few representatives.  With such representation, as also in the case of Cardinal Arinze and the members of his Pontifical Council, it was enough for the symbolism.  Thus we fulfilled the purpose of our pilgrimage, in such fine weather that I couldn’t help recognizing the hand – as is my wont – of divine providence.

 

   As for the published outcome of our pilgrimage, it took the form not only of the above-mentioned Tea Pilgrimage.  When I offered the manuscript to the first publisher I had in mind, the PHP Institute (for Peace, Happiness, Prosperity), their response was that such a manuscript, being a kind of travelogue, was too limited in its interest, so they would prefer another manuscript of a more general nature.  This is what inspired me with another theory, hitherto unknown in the world of Tea, linking the Japanese tea-ceremony not only with the Catholic Mass but also with the English custom of afternoon tea – or what the English usually and simply call “tea”.  As a matter of fact, in the early stages of our preparation for the pilgrimage to Rome, I had considered the possibility of a visit to London, with an invitation for tea with the queen herself at Buckingham Palace, or at Kensington Palace with Princess Diana, but sadly both suggestions were ruled out by the British ambassador when I approached him on the subject.  The Queen, it seemed, wasn’t as easy of access as the Pope.  Anyhow, according to my theory, just as the tea-ceremony had been developed by Sen Rikyu owing to the inspiration he had derived from the ceremony of the Mass, so the custom of afternoon tea had been developed, I considered, out of the suppression of the Mass at the time of the Reformation.  Then it had even been a criminal offence, punishable by death, for a priest to be caught saying Mass, however secretly, in a Catholic house.  That was the theory I now proceeded to expound at length in my book for PHP.  It was not only accepted by the publisher and duly translated into Japanese, but it was also published as early as April 1995, only a year after our pilgrimage and another year before my other book was published by Kawade Shobo.  Such is what Shakespeare calls “the whirligig of time” which, as the Fool ironically remarks at the end of Twelfth Night, “brings in his revenges.”

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