When Mark and I heard Easter vigil mass at the Franciscan Chapel, the priest said in his homily that Easter is all about new beginnings. One of the points that struck me the most was when he said: "We're fortunate to live in a country where there's an obvious physical manifestation of Spring."
In this context, the Sakura becomes more than just a flower. It becomes a symbol of new beginnings and the ushering in of a new season of hope.
So, it was but fitting that the Easter vigil mass was the occasion when 7 people begin their lives anew as Catholics. Last night, we were able to witness the baptism of 7 new members of the Catholic Church.
The first time I witnessed a baptism in Japan was in 2006 in Tokamachi. This was held in Father Bruno's chapel, and it was an old woman being baptized. Last night, the 7 new Catholics ranged from a young boy (who looked around 5 years old) to a middle aged woman (who looked like she was in her 50s.)
Unlike the baptism we're accustomed to, where water is poured on the baby's forehead, the baptism I witnessed was completely different. The "neophytes" are led into a small pool where they say their prayers, then are submerged 3 times. One was for the Father, another for the Son, and finally, for the Holy Spirit.
After being submerged in the water, oil is poured onto their foreheads to seal the anointment. After this, cheers and applause filled the room as the 7 new Catholics were welcomed into our fold.
I found the entire ceremony rather poignant. Honestly, I was teary eyed at some parts, and just had to hold it in since people might think I'm related to one of them. Harhar.
In our first 5 days in Tokyo, Mark and I went to places and did things that we normally do. But yesterday was the first time that we heard Easter Vigil together, and the first time we witnessed baptism.
And among the new things that we could've done during this trip, I must say that this is one of the best new things to do.