December 8th, 1941: Birth, Death, Eternity

 The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire; they were scorched by the fierce heat, but they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.    Revelation 16:8-9

USS Shaw exploding at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Source: US Archives, photo by unknown Navy photographer


December 8, 1941: a day that has lived in infamy for 82 years.

What? December 8th?

Americans remember Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December, but it was already December 8th in Japan when 353 of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s carrier-based fighters, dive bombers and torpedo bombers hit our ships and bases in Hawaii. 

December 8th , incidentally, marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin in the Roman Catholic Church.

Mere coincidence, one might say, but here’s another Marian “coincidence”: the Emperor of Japan’s surrender proclamation was broadcast to his distraught, astonished nation on August 15, 1945. The 15th of August marks the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, which pegs the end of the earthly life of the Mother of God, who would thereafter return to earth time and again to dazzle the wondering, upturn’d eyes of mortals in the form of countless apparitions warning mankind to believe in her Son’s reality and the direness of man’s addiction to sin, lest countless souls needlessly consign themselves to eternal fire—the lake of fire that is the second death.

So the front and back covers of that Book of Death that mankind knows as the Pacific War coincide with the conception of the Blessed Virgin (wherein began her earthly life) and her departure from this earth—which, for those who cling to Christ, is just the start of eternal bliss. But all this must be merest coincidence.

 That Imperial proclamation of surrender had been sparked by the fiery holocausts that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and 9th of August respectively, two atomic immolations from above that began with the release of the U-235 bomb named Little Boy high above its target, Aioi Bridge in central Hiroshima, on the morning of the 6th. The B-29 bomber named Enola Gay, having released her weapon, sped away to escape the apocalypse like an exploding sun that would otherwise consume her along with the city below. Little Boy dropped through Enola Gay’s bomb bay doors at 8:15 a.m., thus releasing all the heavens’ pent-up wrath—or so it would seem.

Eight Fifteen again.

And, curiously enough, August 6th in Hiroshima and August 9th in Nagasaki suggest another coincidence, i.e., 6+9=15. And, of course, the surrender proclamation broadcast six days after the Nagasaki bombing on the ninth brings us, certainly by the merest coincidence, to August 15th.

Just like the coincidence of Saint Francis Xavier’s arrival in virgin, unevangelized Japan by dint of an irresistible wind that drove his ship straight to Kagoshima, the home town of his Japanese interpreter, a refugee from Japanese justice who was now a convert to the Faith. The ship’s captain, a Chinese pirate, had been determined to avoid Japan, but that almighty wind had had its way, and now there was nothing to do but land his passengers on Japanese soil.

To secure that voyage into the unknown, the Saint had placed his own life and those of his mission companions in the Blessed Virgin’s hands. They had sailed from Malacca (in present-day Malaysia) on 24 June 1549, the Feast of St. John the Baptist, 52 days before their miracle-driven arrival on that hoped-for Japanese shore. That June Feast, incidentally, marks the birth of the prophet who prepared the way of the Lord, the prophet whom the sound of Mary’s voice made leap for joy by cleansing him of original sin in his mother’s womb.

And the date of the Christ-bearers’ miraculous arrival in Japan?

It was, surely by the merest coincidence, the 15th of August 1549, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and thus the birth of Christendom in Japan.

Eight Fifteen: miraculous birth, fiery death, and hopeful Eternity, if only men would heed the lesson of these scourgings with fire:

Wage Christ, not war.

Wristwatch in the Hiroshima museum frozen at 8:15 am on 6 August 1945. Photo by Zigomar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Luke O’Hara,