Vassula in Japan
June 17 - July 21, 1997
In the early morning of June 17 Vassula arrived in Japan on a witnessing tour that should have included Australia and New Guinea. However, the last two trips were canceled, giving her the possibility to stay in Japan for over a month.
In Japan, though generally shallow, the interest for spiritual values and religion is widely spread. As a matter of fact, Japan is the only country where the sum of the members of each religion is superior to her total population. The explanation of this paradox lies in the fact that a good number of Japanese have two religions, as they want to receive the benefits deriving from more than one spiritual tradition.
The Catholic Church, a small minority of 450 thousand people scattered among a population of about 126 million, shares all the problems that sap her vitality elsewhere in the world, with one additional feature: lack of information. Basic Catholic literature is scarce. Just to give an example, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which appeared in most European languages in 1992, the most authoritative book given to the faithful to guide and sustain their faith, has not been translated into Japanese. From the hierarchy there is much talk about innovations and adaptation of the Church to the Japanese culture which confuses the faithful. Moreover, many priests are against traditional devotions (like the rosary) which have so far nourished the faith, or forbid the faithful to kneel in church, particularly during Mass, or arbitrarily pretend new things with which the faithful are ill at ease, and the faithful feel insecure and threatened, without knowing where to turn to get light for discerning the way to God. They need to know where the Church stands and what a Christian must believe in order to please God and attain salvation. They are particularly eager to know the tradition of the Church.
Against this backdrop, there appears Vassula with True Life in God, offering very clear messages coming from the Lord himself, indicating a simple and most evangelical way to find Him and to live with Him.
The Japanese recognized in the messages entrusted to Vassula the voice of their Shepherd and accepted it with joy, enthusiasm and gratitude.
Alas, Vassula arrived in Japan with a very bad cold. On top of it, for some days she lost her voice and had to make no little efforts to be heard. However, her voice would return to near normal when she had to talk in public about True Life in God.
The Lord led Vassula to approach the Japanese in a somewhat different way from usual. Many of her encounters with people had not been planned; however, each of them turned out to be providential and very important. For instance, on June 18, as she was stepping out of church after the evening mass, she met a leader of prayer groups who publishes a newsletter with a large readership. This gentleman met Vassula twice and was very satisfied of the straightforward answers he received to many of his problems.
June 20 was a thanksgiving day for the publication of True Life in God and My Angel Daniel in Japanese, and a day of prayer for the success of Vassula's mission in Japan. Around 10:30 the publisher Mr. Hayashi with his staff and supporters met with Vassula in the Chapel of the Salesian Provincial House, where they prayed the rosary, and Fr. Paolo Faroni, an outspoken supporter of Vassula, celebrated the Holy Mass. One remarkable feature was that, small as it was, the assembly represented all parts of the country. Mrs. Okazaki, one of the participants, would become instrumental in arranging a conference of Vassula in Kobe some days later.
During the agape that followed the Mass, Ms. Hitomi showed some pictures she had taken of a meeting held a few weeks before in preparation of the visit of Vassula. One of the pictures featured a column-like large beam of light, which nobody had been able to explain. Vassula said that such light, which she called shekina, was a manifestation of God's presence in the group. She explained that that light is a reminiscence of the column of fire that led the Hebrews out of Egypt. She added that this phenomenon only comes out on pictures of people who are talking about God. Vassula has started collecting this type of pictures.
In the evening the same group gathered again with Vassula to verify that everything was in order for the next day conference and for saying one more rosary. They closed the evening with a Japanese-style dinner of raw fish. Noticing the efforts she made to keep the chopsticks together, I couldn't help thinking she deserved some extra blessing for her determination to adapt herself to the Japanese way of life and please her hosts.
Typhoons are regular visitors to Japan, but not in June. Moreover, even after August, when it is "typhoon season", they seldom pass through Tokyo, and when they do they are generally week. Breaking the records, on the 20th of June a big typhoon was raging over Japan, heading for Tokyo. Radio and TV broadcasters warned Tokyoites against danger, advising them to stay home on the 21st, the day the typhoon would hit Tokyo, which was the date of Vassula's conference there. We foresaw few people would attend the conference and thought that even nature had set itself against Vassula to keep people away. Well, against all the forecasts of the traditionally accurate Japanese weathermen, and against our passive resignation vis a vis the forces of nature, the 21st turned out to be a bright sunny day, very rare at this time of the year, and with no wind. The intervention of God was evident.
If the weather put no impediments to the conference of Vassula, Rome did. The notification of the Congregation for the Faith of October 1995 in L'Osservatore Romano had been published in Katorikku Shinbun, the Catholic organ of information in Japan. For the average Japanese Catholic, a notification, a bull, a decree or a dogmatic constitution are more or less the same thing: a command from the Vatican which must be obeyed. Moreover, the bishops interpreted this notification in the most restrictive and negative sense. As a result, Catholic libraries returned True Life in God to the publisher and the priests discouraged the faithful from reading the book and approaching Vassula. A well-known priest who had previously been very close to Vassula disassociated himself from her to please his superior and did not even phone to greet her or to explain his position. Such things were a cause of grief for Vassula and affected the attendance to the meetings. We must, however, say that we know of one relevant exception, which we mention in order not to give the impression that in Japan the whole Church is blind to the manifestations of God. When Bishop Hamao of Yokohama was informed that Vassula had been invited to talk to a group of people in his diocese, he reportedly said: "If that helps them to pray better, let her come!"
The Shiba Seinen Kaikan Hall, with 251 seats, rented for the Tokyo meeting, was full. Most were Catholics, but some were Protestants; and there were non-Christians as well, including some Buddhist monks. To our surprise, there were also seven Roman Catholic priests! Christians and non-Christians alike had actively helped to prepare the hall. People waited for the start of the meeting listening to a guitarist who played music especially prepared for this occasion.
Vassula, as in other conferences in Japan, talked for about one hour and a half. People listened with great interest.
The interpreter of Vassula at the meeting, Ms. Takeko Mitsui, said that during the conference she saw the face of Vassula change three times into the face of Jesus. The morning after the conference a Protestant lady telephoned Mr. Hayashi to witness that she too had seen the face of Vassula change into the expression of Jesus. She further added that returning home she realized that she had been healed of physical and spiritual ailments.
After the conference Vassula said that the Lord wanted her to lay hands on people and invoke the Holy Spirit upon them. She said that the Lord would give graces to everybody, even if they were not aware of it, and that the Lord wanted to heal their spiritual wounds, but may also heal them from psychological wounds or disease. She then invited those who wanted to come forward and line up for the imposition of hands. Almost all attended this session, praying and singing hymns to the Holy Spirit. The ceremony lasted long because Vassula prayed on each person. Many fell in the repose of the Spirit. When everything was over some people were waiting to witness that they had been healed. More people telephoned the following day witnessing the graces they had received on the occasion of this meeting with Vassula. A lady from Kagoshima telephoned to say that she had been healed of a pain in a leg and that in thanksgiving, with two other friends, she would start a True Life in God prayer group in her city.
The Sapporo conference, held on the 23rd, was reported by Ms. Kuriki. Here I will only say that the priests in Sapporo were particularly aggressive against Vassula. The day before, Sunday, during the homilies of the mass, the priests forbade the faithful to attend the conference of Vassula, and some went as far as to menace to refuse the holy communion to those who would attend the meeting. However, those who, braving such threats, showed up at the conference, relaxed not to notice anybody at the entrance to check names and faces in order to report to the pastors. In some countries this attitude of the clergy would be condemned as sheer abuse of power, and could even produce the opposite effect; but not in Japan where people are extremely meek and consider submission to their superiors for the sake of peace a great virtue, and where the Catholics never dare to contradict the priests, God's representatives!
The Lord consoled his children of Sapporo giving them a most beautiful prayer for Japan. I will append it at the end of this report in order that many True Life in God brothers and sisters throughout the world may join the Japanese Christians to pray for the conversion of a country of 126 million people who cannot tell the right hand from the left and yet, or because of it, are so dear to the Lord.
Though the work of testimony of Vassula continued till the moment of her departure, the official program of her visit in Japan ended with the conference in Sapporo. The following day the publisher Mr. Hayashi, his assistants and some of the people who had helped preparing the meetings met for an evening of thanksgiving to the Lord for the graces bestowed to Japan through Vassula. She led the prayers following the guidelines she had received from Jesus. Here is the pattern she suggested to follow.
1. Dim the lights and light a candle.
The meeting was attended by Christians of different denominations. There was also a young Japanese convert who received baptism in the Copt Church in Egypt and is the only Japanese Copt in the world. He said a prayer in Aramaic and Vassula said the Our Father in the same language. Then the meeting proceeded in the order given above.
When the program was at n. 8, a Protestant asked Vassula if the rosary was necessary. The answer of Vassula was yes. She said she talks about the Rosary to the Protestants also. Once she was invited by a group of Lutheran Pastors. At the end of the meeting, to please her, they gave her a statue of the Blessed Lady. In Stockholm, the Lutheran pastor of one of the largest churches said: "It seems we have a lot of problems because we abandoned the Blessed Lady. Since this is the time of Mary, from now on we must remember her." She talked to a large assembly in that church and they offered her a statue of the Blessed Lady with the Child. Once, in Sweden, in Lunn, the Pastor of a church where she had given a talk took her to see a picture of the Mary with the Child and showed her that the Child had tears on his cheeks. The pastor considered those tears a grace.
Vassula narrated that once a Protestant asked her why one should ask the intercession of the Blessed Lady if we can pray Jesus directly. At that moment a woman went close to her and said: "Please pray for me!" Vassula asked the Protestant: "Did you hear what she said? She asked me to intercede for her." Then Vassula continued: "We are deep in sin. The Mother of Jesus who is in heaven has a greater force of intercession than us. When we pray, the Blessed Lady prays with us." Recently the Father in heaven said in a message that "the wedding in Cana is a sign for all the ages". Vassula explained that the Fiat of Mary was for all generations. She said that many miracles occurred in Lourdes, but the Blessed Lady always said they were the work of the Father in heaven."
Vassula spoke about intolerance among Greek Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants and shared an anecdote with the group: once St. Peter heard a knock at the door of heaven. He opened the door and saw three souls. "Who are you?" he asked. One of them said: "I am a Catholic." Another said: "I'm a Greek Orthodox." The third said: "I'm a Protestant." And St. Peter said: "I'm sorry. Only Christians here!" And closed the door.
On the 26th Vassula was invited by a small prayer group (eight people) to their meeting in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Its members gather every month one or two days after the 25th to hear the last message given by the Blessed Lady in Medjugorje, to say the rosary and to stimulate each other to a life of incessant prayer. Since Vassula was there, they brought many friends, at least 40. After the rosary, Vassula spoke about prayer. She did not use any notes, and everybody felt she was speaking from the abundance of her heart. She made everybody feel that God, the Holy One, is the One who really counts, the loving father, the faithful friend, the tender companion, the one we must incessantly pray.
She said that recently Jesus had asked that many True Life in God prayer groups be formed all over the world.
She suggested that sometimes at the end of prayer meetings the hands be laid on people, and
the Holy Spirit be invoked. She explained how to do it. She called two young ladies at her
side and did it with them. "Without touching the head", she suggested, "calling the Holy
Spirit to effuse His gifts, insisting saying "more power, Holy Spirit! More power, more,
more!" And the person upon whom she had extended the hands fell in the repose of the Spirit.
Then she said to one of the ladies: "Now you do it." No sooner had this lady raised her
hands over a person and said: "Come, Holy Spirit!" that that person fell on her back in the
repose of the Spirit. And so happened with the other lady. The two apprentices, who were not
charismatic, obtained almost the same effect as Vassula.
A lady who had never experienced the repose in the Spirit before, said that after waking from that condition all her doubts about faith had completely disappeared.
One case impressed me in a particular way. A lady of about fifty fell and took the position of Jesus on the cross. You could see she suffered extremely acute pains. Her chest heaved, the body trembled, but the wrists and the feet never changed position, not even slightly. It was as if they were nailed to the floor. Some persons, who compassionately tried to help her, said it was not possible because the body was as heavy as lead. They said it was also very cold. That person repeated the words Jesus had said on the cross, in the same sequence. The same with the movements of the head (judging from what I know from mystic literature). A short time after the words "it is fulfilled" she returned to normal.
I would have liked to talk to this lucky lady, but when I tried to find her, she had already gone, and nobody knew who she was. I was told, "You see, today many people came with friends. You do not know who they are." However, the next day somebody could tell about the lady. She was an ordinary person who had never received the imposition of the hands before, and who did not know anything about charisma.
On June 30 Vassula was invited to Kobe. The meeting was held in a private clinic in the outskirts of the city. Fr. Faroni said the Mass for the group. About 40 people attended, some coming from very far. It was a family-like meeting during which food and drinks were served. In the group was a lady who followed a false prophet. Her friends had tried several times to persuade her of the unsoundness of the teaching of this false prophet, but to no avail. She was, however, deeply moved by the talk of Vassula, and declared to her friends that she had understood her error and had abandoned her former convictions.
In January 1995 the city of Kobe was severely hit and vastly ruined by an earthquake. Vassula visited the site where before the quake stood the Catholic Church of Takatori, which was completely destroyed, except for a statue of the Sacred Heart, donated to the church by the Vietnamese refugees, which, after the quake, miraculously still stood on its stand without a scratch, in the middle of all the debris. This statue is widely known in Japan, because the day after the quake a large photo of it appeared in the front page of all the major Japanese newspapers (Asahi Shinbun, Mainichi Shinbun, Sankei Shinbun, etc), which reported that the flames had stopped in front of this statue. This visit for Vassula was like a pilgrimage. She prayed, took pictures of the statue and talked with the pastor.
Upon her return to Tokyo, Vassula was interviewed by two journalists of Mou, a magazine with
a large readership specialized in spiritual subjects. The topic of the interview was
"angels". The interviewers were very impressed by what Vassula said. They published the
interview integrally in a beautiful article of four pages, without changing or deleting one
On the first Friday of the month, late in the evening, the Filipinos of Tokyo hold a three-hour vigil of adoration in honor of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary at the Roppongi Franciscan Chapel Center. Vassula participated in the vigil of July 4. After the adoration she gave a twenty-minute talk, and was asked to lay hands and invoke the Holy Spirit.
People were filled with joy for the effusion of the Holy Spirit and for being healed. On this occasion, one woman experienced the pains of the crucifixion, as it had happened before in Shinanomachi.
In Japan the Catholic population recently has been rising on account of a substantial immigration of Filipinos and, in a particular manner, of nisei (second-generation) Japanese from Latin American countries. Consequently, some parishes have a relatively large percentage of faithful who are foreigners, or may even have more foreigners than Japanese. One such parish is Umeda Church in Tokyo, which reckons about 500 Filipinos against 200 Japanese parishioners.
A fervent young couple of Umeda Parish talked to their pastor about Vassula, and this zealous priest secured for himself a meeting with her and gave his parishioners the possibility to hear her. The majority of the parishioners being Filipinos, we thought that the conference should be for them, and since the El Shaddai charismatic movement is very strong in that Church, we asked their cooperation. They said they needed permission from their headquarters in Manila. However, we asked them to inform the Filipino Community that Vassula would talk, and trusted they would do it.
Vassula went to the late morning Mass in Umeda Church. The pastor invited her to talk after the reading of the Gospel, which was about Jesus being thrown out of his own town after teaching in the synagogue. She read messages from True Life in God. They were strong appeals to conversion. They sounded as if they had been given directly and exclusively for the parishioners of Umeda Church.
After the Mass somebody commented that the reasons for which Vassula is not accepted by many in the Church may be that, as for Jesus in his own town, she is too much like one of us. Moreover, she has had a good share in the vanities and ambitions of our times, and we are not humble enough to accept to be taught by a person so similar to everybody else.
The conference of Vassula took place in the afternoon. It was scheduled to be in English, for the Filipinos. The organizers were confident the meeting would go well because all arrangements had been properly made. They had also gotten in time, by special delivery mail, enough True Life in God books in English from the Philippines. They expected an audience between 150 and 300 Filipinos.
However, no Filipino showed up for the conference. We waited... but nobody came. They had simply not been informed. We understood Vassula had been sabotaged by the El Shaddai people. However, this is only part of the story. The amazing side of it is that the moment we had almost given up hope of having any people at all, people started coming. They were not Filipinos but Japanese, whom we did not think would come because nothing had been done to inform them. Well, they kept coming till the hall was full. And everything went as we had expected... except that Vassula, who had hoped she could finally do without the interpreter, had to request again Ms. Sachiko Hitomi, the Japanese translator of True Life in God, to be at her side for the interpretation.
It was an exceedingly sultry day and at the end of the conference Vassula was tired and could not lay hands. In spite of it, some people wanted to exchange some words with her, and she complied. A couple of Filipinos, who had seen her books on sale at the entrance of the Church compound and had heard that she was there, came to ask an autograph. Vassula was delighted to know they were El Shaddai people, and said: "The Lord loves the El Shaddai people. He wants to speak to them too." Meeting these El Shaddai people consoled her a great deal. She recovered her strengths, returned to the hall and laid hands on the people who were still there.
The next day a Filipino unrelated to the community of Umeda inquired if he could organize an encounter of Filipinos with Vassula, to make up for the one which went lost... And yes, the Filipinos had one evening with Vassula all for themselves! The meeting took place in a very nice hall in Shibuya. Father Campion, a charismatic Franciscan well known to the foreign community of Tokyo, who had been for a long time pastor of the Roppongi Franciscan Chapel Center, came all the way from Kiryuu, a two-hour drive to Tokyo, to participate in this happy event. At the concelebration of the Mass he had at his sides Fr. Eugene, his successor at the Franciscan Chapel Center, and Fr. Schneider, an outstanding Biblical scholar. He introduced Vassula at the meeting.
Two hours before the Filipinos meeting, Vassula met Mr. Tadanori Yokoo, a very popular Japanese illustrator who designed the cover of the Japanese edition of My Angel Daniel. Vassula had given Mr. Hayashi the permission to order the cover from Mr. Yokoo only after consulting the Lord Jesus, who said: He too can glorify God.
During her stay in Japan Vassula noticed that the Catholics from the Philippines and from Latin American Countries, who recently constitute a hefty part of the Catholic population of Japan, would exert a tremendous rejuvenating impact on the Church in Japan if they lived True Life in God. Nowadays you can find Latin American Catholics everywhere in Japan, even in tiny countryside villages. Most of them live alone and isolated. They risk being assimilated with the Japanese pagan culture that surrounds them.True Life in God books would be for them manna from heaven.
Vassula thought how she could help them by giving them copies of True Life in God in their languages. She has already got in touch with the translator and publisher of True Life in God in Portuguese, and with Mr. Fausto Galeano of Ecuador, publisher of True Life in God in Spanish. They will provide books for Japan. The first packs of books have already been shipped and a good number of pictures of the Face of Jesus of the Shroud, all free of charge. We must pray that the Japanese Catholics who understand the value of these books may find the way to reach the Latin American Catholics and hand them the books.
There had been tensions in Japan among some groups of True Life in God before the visit of Vassula.In spite of good will on all sides, the devil had sown seeds of division and some people had been hurt. God blessed the efforts of reconciliation and charitable attitude of all, and at her departure Vassula could see that the Spirit of Reconciliation dwelled sovereign in True Life in God communities. She left to them a code of simple rules that will foster harmony among them and keep them from falling into many of the dangers that even religious movements often cannot avoid in their process of expansion.
Before leaving Japan Vassula also saw to it that all the messages of the Lord to her may soon be translated into Japanese, to date only the book of the Angel and the first volume of True Life in God having been published. The Lord inspired some capable translators to offer their time helping with the translation, so that many Japanese may soon grow in faith and love as she did following the same gradual path to authentic True Life in God through which the Lord has so far led her.
The talks of Vassula in Japan will be published in a little book together with testimonies about healing and conversions.
The booklet will also feature recent pronouncements of bishops and theologians about Vassula and orthodoxy of Christian doctrine in True Life in God.
Prayer for Japan given by Jesus in Sapporo (Japan) on June 23
Yes, the Master of All has always loved her*.
Reported by Carlo Chiesa