Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Inspiring! -- a "scandalous miracle" of grace!

Andre Gingerich Stoner, "Scandalous Miracle" (Mennonite World Review, September 28, 2015):
It was a miracle. Jun Yamada [pictured right], suffering from an aggressive leukemia, was on his death bed. He lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. The doctors told the family he was unlikely to live more than half a day. They began to make funeral plans.

Then, to everyone’s amazement, including the team of doctors, Jun’s marrow started producing normal blood cells again. There was no medical explanation. Over time, Jun made a full recovery. The family and friends were awestruck. Yet this healing was too scandalous to talk about for decades.
Jun was a Japanese Mennonite and a student at a Catholic university. His father was a Mennonite pastor. When Jun became ill, many Japanese Mennonites prayed for him. One of Jun’s professors, Catholic priest Alfonso Fausone, also prayed for Jun and mobilized members of his order to pray. They petitioned Joseph Freinademetz, one of the founders of their order who had lived 100 years earlier, to intercede on Jun’s behalf. Freinademetz is often quoted as saying, “The language that all people understand is love.”

From the hospital bed, one could see the light in the monastery tower that was lit each night as priests and students prayed.

For three months, the priests provided a place for the Yamada family to stay, since their home was 500 miles south. There was profound respect and affection between the Catholics and Mennonites who cared for and loved Jun. During the crisis, the Yamada family participated in eucharist at the seminary. When death seemed certain, Jun’s father asked Fausone if he would officiate at the funeral. All this was unheard of in 1987.

The father called Jun’s brother, Nozomu, then a student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elk­hart, Ind., asking him to return home. Nozomu left the U.S. preparing to attend a funeral, but he found his brother still alive, although in extremely critical condition.

The father said, “Hope has arrived.” (Nozomu means hope in Japanese.) In those critical hours Fausone asked if he could offer the sacrament of anointing of the sick. The family welcomed this gift.

The next day, the doctors came with startling news that Jun was producing normal cells again. Six months later, Jun was discharged from the hospital. His doctors and other patients began to refer to him as a miracle man. Today, Jun is a professor of early church art.

The fervent prayers and the shared love of Catholic and Mennonite brothers and sisters that surrounded Jun were central to these events. Yet it was precisely this ecumenical boundary-crossing that made this healing too scandalous to talk about openly for decades.

Years later, first in the Catholic community, this miracle began to be told. The intervention of Freinademetz was credited with a role in Jun’s healing. In 2003 Freinademetz was named a saint. Jun traveled to Rome to meet the Pope and participate in the ceremony.

In August, about 90 people gathered at AMBS for an annual Mennonite-Catholic Bridgefolk gathering to hear the story of Jun’s healing and to celebrate the marvelous thing God had done through the shared love and intercession of Catholics and Mennonites. Some participants reflected that after years of quiet, going to Elkhart in 2015 was for Mennonites perhaps akin to going to Rome in 2003 for Catholics.

As I listened, I pondered the amazing healing God can bring when people who love Jesus and love each other work and pray together, despite profound differences.

Andre Gingerich Stoner is director of interchurch relations and director of holistic witness for Mennonite Church USA.
Related: Nozomu Yamada, "THE HEALING OF JUN YAMADA Mennonites and Catholics in Friendship Leading to the Canonization of St Josef Freinademetz, SVD" (Bridgefolk.net, October 27, 2012).

[Hat tip to Darvin Yoder]


Amateur Brain Surgeon


According to Fr Fausone, who also was present, Pope John Paul remarked to cardinals attending the ceremony: “This miracle will be one of the bridges between Roman Catholic and Mennonites in an ecumenical point of view; such miracles should occur more often in traditional [catholic] countries.”

Does it make any difference to the Magisterium in which direction one crosses that bridge?

It cannot be denied that Ecumenism, The Universal Solvent of Tradition, has been a bridge over the Tiber leading to the field hospital tent pitched on the quicksand of Indifference and still invisibilium within the Prelature is that man whose puissant possession of Tradition could be applied as a force against our Inertia Into Indifferentism.

The Salvation and Sanctification of one's soul simply can not be achieved in any Mennonite community. Period. They must convert and become Catholic and, obviously, this miracle is intended to be an impetus in that direction even as the miracles that accompanied the Apostles were created by the Holy Ghost to support/prove the claims about the Gospel the Apostles made.

Scott Woltze


Thanks for the beautiful story.



Beautiful story.

Pertinacious Papist


Hey ABS, you should think twice before raining on this parade. Yes, there are flaws here, even in what is reported, e.g., offering the Eucharist to non-Catholics, for example. But one should not be blinded to what is positive here. It's true that bridges can be crossed in more ways than one. It's true that the ecumenical movement is fraught with peril and has led to great confusion among the faithful as well as the separated brethren. Nevertheless, such bridges are what in some cases (and I speak of myself here as well as other) allow people sufficient light to see their way to making the Rome-ward journey and crossing the Tiber into the Church. I was one of those.

Yes, those of us who were protestants needed to convert. But how we came to see for ourselves that we had such a need is another consideration. The blinds are heavy. The misunderstandings legion. Such bridges sometimes offer the glimmer of illumination needed to see ahead the one or two steps needed to move forward. As Newman wrote:

"Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me."

The distant scene is unavailable to the non-Catholic. What he needs is sufficient light to see the "one step" which is "enough" to lead him forward amidst the "encircling gloom."

Kind regards, PP

Pertinacious Papist


... not to mention the confusing scene that awaits the convert once he's crossed the Tiber into Rome these days! LOL

Amateur Brain Surgeon


Dear Doc. Often, ABS is blind to how it is he can be easily be misunderstood and that is one of his few specialties but he is constantly irked The Hierarchy refuses to actualise the Great Commission and so it is easy to see that protestants would think it is no big deal whether or not they convert for the competent (ahem) authorities never - as in never - speak about the necessity of conversion but, rather, speak about what it is we both have in common but what use is that within the Eschatological context we are, presumably, supposed to be operating in?

It is sort of like if the National Academy of Sciences simply routinely promoted the fact that men and cucumbers are both comprised of,roughly, 50% water; T'Hell is the point? (Ok, it can be conceded that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is, essentially, a talking carrot,but, that aside )

O, does it seem like ABS is becoming increasingly churlish?