We continue our series of notable excerpts from the definitive book on the Marian apparition in Akita, “Akita: The Tears and Message of Mary” by Fr. Teiji Yasuda, who was the convent chaplain during the time of the apparitions and Sr. Agnes spiritual director.
This part contains some significant spiritual insights from Fr. Teiji regarding the greater meaning of the supernatural events that continued to occur in the convent.
Recognition for the Handmaids of the Holy Eucharist
On November 4th the Bishop came, and as usual, he asked if there was anything new. Sister Agnes told him of what had happened beginning with the message of October 13th.
The following morning while sister Agnes Assisted at the Mass celebrated by the Bishop, the angel appeared after Communion: “Your superior is getting ready to request from Rome the official recognition of your institute which he had desired for a long time. Announce that there will be many obstacles, but it will please the Holy Father to grant it because Mary has encouraged him to love poverty and to accomplish acts of reparation.“
These words were conveyed to the Bishop immediately after Mass.Pg 82
An encounter with the devil
It was when I was convalescing in the hospital in Myoko. I think it was the 20th of January. My condition had improved and as I had been advised to take a thermal treatment I went to the bath every morning after my temperature was measured. That day I went with another invalid of advanced age. When we entered the baths they seemed deserted. I had hardy begun to disrobe in the women’s vestiary when I saw Mr. T.
Mr. T. was an invalid gravely ill. He had been a practicing Catholic but one good day one no longer saw him in church. Some very believing persons who saw that his end was coming were concerned about his soul, and they exhorted him to become converted but without result. He no longer wanted to hear speak of religion. These persons had asked me to go to see him in his room because among invalids there was a kind of bond. I did this more than once. In the beginning he was hard, but little by little he loosened up and even accepted that I give him a prayer book and a Rosary.
At the time that I was in the thermal bath I had understood that he had gone back to his family for a rest cure. While I saw him standing before me I was dumbfounded. He had an anxious, tormented air with deep wrinkles between his eyebrows. I could not keep from speaking to him: ‘But Mr. T., what are you doing? You are in the woman’s section here!’
Then a black shadow which was leaning over him from the back began to suddenly grow. Then it unclenched its long, repulsive and grasping fingers with which it had gripped his shoulders, deployed black wings like those of a great bat and cast itself on me… What happened then? When I saw its fingers like grappling irons precipitating upon me to snatch me, I was so afraid that I fainted. I learned later that the companion who was with me prevented my falling and hitting my head on the concrete floor. I was taken immediately to the hospital where I remained ten days unconscious.
My body was rigid as a corpse and everyone thought that this time it was the end. On the third day they gave me the last sacraments. The doctors were saying that if I did survive there was a fear of cerebral lesions or blindness. When my mother saw my eyes covered with the white membrane, she would have preferred that her poor daughter, who had already seen so much in life, be not made to suffer more.
Despite my comatose state, I am told that I had the peaceful expression of a child and, strangely enough, when one called me I answered with a voice of a child of five or six years and made childish responses, ‘I am going home, I’m going home’ and when one asked me why, I replied ‘To play with papa and mama, to play ball.’ My mother was saying that if the good God would take me in this state of candor I would surely go to paradise.
As for me evidently I had not the slightest idea of what was happening around me. All that I remember is that I saw myself seated, overcome with fatigue, after having walked an immense fields which extended beyond my view. But there were beautiful flowers there and I was not at all bored.
Then the sisters of Notre Dame of Junshin of Nagasaki (to whom I belonged at that time) sent me some Lourdes water. Hardly had I even given a swallow than my hands and feet, as stiff as wood, began to move. And as though I were coming out of a long sleep I stretched out, extended my hands into the air and exclaimed ‘Oh, how beautiful.; I did not know that the flowers I had seen in the fields during my ‘sleep’ were those at my bedside. Then my strength returned and I was completely better.
The digression is a little long but it must be added that two months after my cure the wife of Mr. T. came to see me ‘…Before his death my husband told me how grateful he was to you for having saved him by your prayers,’ she said, thanking me. But when I told her of the frightening meeting in the bath she stated, to our great surprise, that had been the very moment Mr. T. received the last sacraments.Sister Agnes / Pgs 68-70
Fr. Yasuda prayers to Saint Joseph for a community garden project
The project of “The Garden of Mary” was each day a part of the intentions of the community prayers, always asking the special intercession of Saint Joseph.
On May 1st, Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, conscious of the financial burden implied by such an enterprise, I said some words at the beginning of the Mass in honor of Saint Joseph: “Today we honor Saint Joseph, patron of workers. We ask his very special intercession for the realization of the Garden. Since Saint Joseph passed his life in the service of the Lord and of Mary in self-abnegation, we are sure that in Heaven he will aid us with the same joy to bring this project dedicated to Mary to fulfillment. We celebrate the Mass for this intention.”
After breakfast which followed the Mass there was the usual time of adoration. Then Sister Agnes approached me and said: “The guardian angel who often gives me precious counsels appeared during the adoration and said: “The intention which you offer in conformity with the will of him who directs you is good and pleasing to the Lord and His Holy Mother. The more you offer this good intention, the more difficult and numerous will be the obstacles.
But today you have asked the protection of Saint Joseph in the same union of prayer. This prayer is very pleasing to Jesus and Mary: it will be heard. Saint Joseph will protect your work. To overcome the exterior obstacles, pray with confidence in interior unity.
It is rather a shame that there is no exterior sign here in honor of Saint Joseph. ask him who directs you to do this when you can, even if it is not right away.” Having said this the angel disappeared.
(After this a statue of Saint Joseph was placed in the chapel. The present statue was offered by a kind person some years later. It was made, like the statue of the Virgin, by Mr. Wakasa who sculptured it from the same kind of wood as the statue of Our Lady, so that it is complementary.)
This was the first time in my life that directly from the mouth of Sister Agnes I heard speak of the special intervention of a guardian angel. However, the truth of the prophecy depended obviously upon the real success of the enterprise which remained to be verified. But the following ten years progressively opened my eyes to the reality of the events.Pgs 97-98
Father Yasuda tells of his Marian devotion
I recall the encyclical of Paul VI Marialis Cultus. In that long encyclical addressed to all the bishops of the world on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the Holy Father meditated on devotion to the Virgin Mary concluding with these words: “If I have considered it necessary to speak at such length of a cult and devotion to the Mother of God, it is because it is an integral element which cannot be separated from our Christian faith. Also the importance of the problem required it.” And in the first part of the encyclical the Holy Father underlines that, “True growth in Christian faith is always accomplished by a just and balanced progress in piety towards Mary.
It was a reading of these words of the Holy Father in the encyclical Marialis Cultus after my arrival on the hill of Yuzawadai which revived in me the desire of a greater intimacy with our Holy Mother.
In my young years, it was after having heard a sermon about Mary that I made the decision to consecrate my life to the priesthood. During my years of preaching I often exhorted the faithful to a greater filial love towards Mary, trying always to remain faithful to the daily recitation of the Rosary which I advised. It was because of this that more than once it was said behind my back that I was that “backward Marianist.”
Today, following the so-called renewal of the liturgy, one sees the statue of the Virgin less and less in churches and especially in modern churches. It often happens that She is also taken out of all churches or that a much smaller statue is used or even relegated to the entrance as a sort of decoration.
When one hears this expression “backward fanatic” in this context, one asks oneself how those who use it would interpret the words of Paul VI in the encyclical Marialis Cultus: “The cult owed to the Mother of God is an indissoluble element of our Christian faith.”
During the time that I had charge of a parish, I dedicated an important part of my pastoral work to this problem. It was the time when the National Union of Youth had taken repercussions of which were felt even in the Church through the action of progressive priests. To preach Marian devotion in such an atmosphere was chancy, but I never abandoned the struggle. This true battle, drawn up in the bosom of the Church will long remain engraved in my memory.Pgs 99-100
Sr. Agnes’ guardian angel tells her that her hearing will be healed for a time
On May 18th, after the morning Eucharistic adoration Sister Agnes came to see me and said: “Just now, shortly after the Rosary and during the prayer silence, the guardian angel came to me and said: ‘Your ears will be opened in August or in October. You will hear, you will be healed. But this that will last only a moment because the Lord still wishes this offering and you become deaf again, the heart of those who still doubt will melt and they will believe. Have confidence and pray with good intention. Report what I have told you to him who directs you. But speak of it to no one else until it takes place.‘
Later, in the notebook where these words were copied she adds:
“In the beginning the angel was smiling but then her expression became severe. Already I did not believe my eyes but when I saw her severe air, I felt my body contract under the surprise and I prostrated myself. My heart was full of an overwhelming joy mixed with the feeling that I had to be totally abandoned to God’s Will. I said an ardent prayer of thanksgiving for so much mercy. When I told this even to Father, he appeared very interested. ‘Ah good,’ he said. ‘In August or October?’ he repeated with a nodding of the head.”
Indeed, what I was thinking was that if it was in the month of August it would certainly be the 15th, the Feast of the Assumption or on anther Marian Feast Day, although the month of the Rosary might be more appropriate…My imagination was going.Pgs 109-110
Her angel describes in detail when the healing will occur
It was the morning on Thursday, August 8th: during the Mass I was suddenly seized with terrible stomach pains underwent surgery and if my days were not counted, I was immobilized in the hospital until the 4th of September. On my hospital bed I said to myself that the cure of Sister Agnes would perhaps not take place during this period.Sister Agnes / Pgs 109-110
After I came out, when I had just about regained my usual schedule, Sister Agnes came to tell me the morning of the 21st of September after the adoration: “A little after the beginning of the silent meditation the angel appeared and said: ‘You spoke this morning at the table concerning the dream, didn’t you? [Dream is discussed later in this article] Do not be disturbed. Today or tomorrow begin a novena, one of your choice, and then two more. During the time of these three novenas made before the Lord Truly Present in the Eucharist, your ears will be opened during the adoration and you will hear. The first thing that you will hear will be the chant of the Ave Maria which you are accustomed to singing. Then you will hear the sound of the bell ringing for the Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
After the Benediction you will calmly ask the one who directs you to have a Canticle of Thanksgiving sung. Then it will be known that your ears hear again. At that moment your body will be healed and the Lord will be glorified. When he learns this, your Superior will be filled with courage, his heart will be consoled and he will bear witness. However the more you offer with good intention, the more there will be difficulties and obstacles. To overcome these exterior obstacles, pray with more confidence in interior unity. You will be protected be sure.‘
“After a silence the angel added: ‘Your ears will hear only for a certain time. They will not yet be totally cured. You will become deaf again. The Lord still wishes this offering…Report what I have told you to him who directs you.‘ After having fixed upon me her profound regard she disappeared from my eyes.”
Sister Agnes is healed
October 13th of 1974, anniversary of the third message of Our Lady here in Akita and also anniversary of the great miracle of Fatima, was a radiantly beautiful day. I took advantage of a few hours to go as far as Tenno, situated at the top of the Oga peninsula, carrying with me my fishing gear. As I had adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 5’o’clock in the afternoon, I intended to return to compose myself a little before going to the chapel.
That evening exposing the Blessed Sacrament and incensing the altar a thought crossed my mind: Could this not be the day? After the Act of Contrition I returned to my place and joined in the rosary. Then came the chant of the Ave Maria… it was toward the end of the chant, Sister Agnes prostrated herself on the floor and I saw that she was weeping. After the silent meditation and the usual prayers of Lauds came the moment of blessing with the Holy Eucharist. One heard the sharp tingle of the bell rung by one of the sisters. Raising the monstrance I traced the sign of the Cross, praying “Lord, give Your grace according to Your Will!”
Then kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament exposed I began the divine praises, “Blessed be God…” At the end I was getting ready to indicate a hymn, Sister Agnes to whom I had turned my back, spoke, “My Father, may we sing the Te Deum, hymn #12!”
I immediately turned around and said, “Do you hear again?”
“Yes I have just received this grace,” she answered without need of having to read my lips.
Therefore, I told the congregation (on Sunday there were also people from outside who assist at the ceremonies): “Today as the angel had predicted two times, in May and in September, the ears of Sister Agnes have been restored to hearing: this just happened. In thanksgiving let us sing the Te Deum.”
The news seemed to have produced a strong impression on those present who were unable to believe their ears…the proper expression here!…and some sobs mixed with the singing in an atmosphere charged with emotion.Pg 111
Sister Agnes recounts what happened when she was cured
At the moment of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, as the angel had indicated before, I first heard the voices singing the Ave Maria as though in the distance and though in a dream. I heard only the voices and nothing else. Then there were some moments of silent meditation followed by the usual evening prayers, but of those I heard absolutely nothing. At the very instant when Father gave the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament,I clearly heard the sound of the bell. Then I heard him begin, ‘Blessed be God.’ It was the first time I was hearing his voice.
In the beginning when I heard the singing of the Ave Maria, an intense felling of gratitude and of confusion filled my heart at the thought that God had leaned down to so small a thing as I. I was so overcome that I prostrated myself weeping. Finally able to stifle my voice, I no longer even found words for prayer.
During the year and seven months that I had been plunged into a world of total silence, my parents were desolate and it was for me a nervous tension renewed with each day. And even now that my hearing was restored I knew that a day would come when I would have to offer the privation of hearing once again and I fortified myself saying that it was necessary to continue to pray with more faith.
The announcement of the angel ‘At that moment your body will also be healed,‘ also had its effect. I noticed that the intestinal and other pains which had tormented me at this time had disappeared at the same moment.Pg 112
A strange dream
On the morning of Monday, June the 10th, when I was going from the presbytery to the chapel for the 6 o’clock Mass, my glance was attracted by a bed cover hanging from one of the windows of the first floor. As it was rather rare to see bedding hanging from a window at such an early morning hour it was natural that I noticed it. However, as it was a matter of no great importance I continued on my way and carried out the morning program as usual.
Now during dinner, one of the sisters began to speak of the terrible dream that Sister Agnes had had that morning. Curious to know more, I asked her to tell me about it in detail. Her voice was still deeply moved by emotion when she told me…
“This morning I had a dream in which I was the victim of a terrible persecution to such an extent that my heart was palpitating even after I awoke.
Before me was a group of persons who seemed to be religious. One of them who must have been their head, a foreign Catholic theologian it seemed to me, had a gray colored habit and advanced towards me and said in a peremptory tone: ‘Why would the God of the Trinity be one God? We cannot believe that Christ is God. According to you, where then is the center of the Catholic faith? If you believe in God and say that you serve Him, why do you not do as we who adore a multitude of gods? Then all of us too, will become Catholics. If you join us, you would lead an easy and agreeable life as we do. It is indeed because you wish it that you lead that life there. You are truly painful to see. Go, tell us that the God of the Trinity is not one, that there are a multitude of gods. If not, take that for your pain.’
Saying that, he brandished a sort of cane and I clearly saw that it was a large serpent which began to entwine itself around me. I was so afraid that I could not open my mouth but finally I was able to say with supreme effort: “The God of the Trinity is the only God. I can believe in no other God than He. If you cannot believe that Christ is God, you can never become Catholics. I believe that the essential of the Catholic doctrine is that Christ is God and Man.’
Then her returned to the charge: ‘You say that Christ is God? We cannot believe that. You became a Catholic because you believe that Christ rose from the dead?’
‘Yes, that is true. It is because we believe that Christ is God and man that we have become Catholics.’
At this response the serpent tightened around me strongly and completely immobilized me. For moments he darted out his red and pointed tongue, bringing his nose before my face. I was too exhausted with fear and physical oppression to be able to answer the same question which was tossed at me without ceasing like a defiance. I gripped my Rosary with all my strength reciting the prayers. When serpent’s red tongue came so close to my face I chased it with my Rosary, but my strength was little by little fading away. Seeking some aid around me, I saw my companions form a row on my right. I saw clearly that they were frightened and concerned, that they remained powerless to help me. Looking at each of them I could read in their look, ‘We are with you, courage!’ No one, even the superiors who are usually of such great help, was able to extend a helping hand.
I was at the end of my strength, no longer able to chase the head of the serpent nor to say the prayers, when suddenly Father Yasuda appeared before me. He made a large Sign of the Cross saying: ‘In the Name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit.’ Then added in strong voice, ‘She has a right to say that we believe that the God of the Trinity is the only God. Those who do not wish to believe cannot become Catholics.’
At that moment the chief of the group who was standing at my left with his repugnant and menacing air began to recoil and then the serpent who held me prisoner also left.
My companions were finally able to come to save me. I was in a state of extreme exhaustion. I did not even find enough energy to thank the chaplain for arriving in time. Perspiration flowed abundantly, but I did not even have the courage to dry it. It was then that the guardian angel came and dried it for me.
At that instant I awoke. Al my body was really bathed in perspiration. ‘Oh! It was not a dream,’ I said to myself while trying to get up and at first not succeeding, so great was the oppression which still rested upon my breast. My hands and feet were cold and my voice did not succeed in giving off the slightest sound to call a neighbor to my help. When I looked at the clock it was past 4:30 in the morning.
Once up, I saw that the perspiration had soaked through the sheet to the bed covering which still kept the imprint of my body. Seeing that I hung it from the window until the sun would rise to dry it.Pgs 116-118
Father Yasuda offers his interpretation of the dream, the community receives a shock
Tags: demons, Fatima, Fr. Teiji Yasuda, guardian angel, Marian apparitions, miracles, Our Lady of Akita, Pope Paul VI, Saint Joseph, Sister Agnes Sasagawa, The Eucharist
“This does not concern only Sister Agnes. There seems to be here an allusion to the state of the Church and to certain of its orientations. The Church, in the name of evangelization, tries to approach other religions, even polytheists. At the same time it is set to accept compromises which draw the life of faith into ways more adapted to the modern world, that is to say easier ways. It is clear that this attitude has some adherence even among those responsible in the Church. I believe it is our duty to observe faithfully the word of God putting into it the best of ourselves, if we do not wish to be tricked in this fashion…”
I was speaking to the community, and the sister listened with attention, but some of them didn’t seem to be taking the matter very seriously, “After all, it was only a dream,” they said. Nevertheless, all were persuaded that this affair of the dream was over and would not be coming up again. If that were so, neither would I have made so much of it here, but as there had seen so many external signs confirming the authenticity of the messages give through Sister Agnes in the past, so now something very extraordinary happened.
Now once again it is noteworthy that the entire community was involved… even as the community was to some extent “involved in the actual dream itself. That very evening we all received a surprise!
After the Rosary which precedes the evening prayers, Sister Agnes came abruptly to tell me: “Father, there is a serpent in the next room!”
I got up at once to go look in the parlor. Opening the door I saw an enormous serpent at the foot of the opposite wall. The sisters having also seen it from behind, I quickly closed the door, exhorting them to remain calm especially since the prayer had not finished. A little later I got the snake out and settled his account.
Sister Agnes told us that at the moment they were praying the invocation “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, pray for us,” the guardian angel appeared and told her, “Tell the chaplain that there is a serpent in the next room at this moment. This is to give awareness to those who took your dream lightly. The chaplain will know how to guide you.” surprised, she had interrupted her prayer to go and look and discovered a serpent of the same large size as the one in her dream, lifting up his head and darting out its red tongue. It was then that she hastened to come and tell me.
So many years later the event may now seem simply an interesting story, but indeed it had the value of a warning in many ways. It was a premonitory sign.Pgs 118-119