Seeing the face of God in Japan

Madonna and Child with Mt. Fuji in the background. Photo taken by Beth Sulleza (PHI) at Sacred Heart, Susono, Japan

As part of her international experience before probation,
Bethanie Sulleza rscj of the Philippine District
visited Japan from September 8 to October 26.
She shares with us some of her experiences and reflections. 
“To see the face of God is my heart’s desire,” a line from the song “The Face of God” has been the running theme in my six-week exposure to the RSCJ-Japan Province. On this day that I am going back to the Philippines, I ask myself, “What has stirred my heart all this time?” 
When I began my journey in religious life, one of God’s invitations to me was, “How much more beauty can I show you if you just allow me?” Twelve years after and oceans away from that encounter, I continue to sense God echoing the same call. Going to all the different Sacred Heart schools here in Japan, I am amazed by the beauty I experienced – the natural environment, the facilities, the students, the richness of the Sacred Heart education and the simplicity and care of the sisters. 

The beauty of Susono, Obayashi and Kyoto filled my heart with awe at God’s grandeur. 

Being a Filipino who sees much poverty in the Philippines, I was surprised that I needed to travel far to see the poor in Kamagasaki, Sanya or the victims of the Fukushima power plant explosion. But even in the city as I listen to the students and how they perceive the challenges in Japan, I guess there must be some form of invisible poverty amidst the material abundance that leads people to suffer in isolation. In these, I contemplate Jesus on the cross, unreachable and suffering alone. 


Spending days in Haramachi Base made me feel like it is Black Saturday, Jesus is dead.

But meeting people who chose to be bearers of hope assured me that resurrection is coming. 

As I shared the realities in the Philippines with the Sacred Heart students, all the more did I grow in conviction that the poor help us see what is truly essential in life. I am affirmed by the realization that my sharing with different groups were venues for me to give voice to the lives of the many young people in the Philippines, so that their struggles may lead others to reflect about their own values and priorities. 

Sharing with students in Sapporo, Obayashi, Sankocho & Susono.

In my quiet day in Susono, I realized that with all the travels and encounters I made these past weeks, there was likewise a journey that was happening within me, vibrant and compelling. Recalling my experiences here in Japan led me to encounter a Jesus who never misses the opportunity to remind me of how “wide and long and high and deep” (Eph 3:18b) is His love. I come home to the Philippines not only with the gift of these encounters, but more importantly, I go home with the certainty that no matter where God will take me, the search for Him within me is what I value the most. 

Enjoying the silence. 

I am filled with gratitude for this rich experience you have given me, sisters of Japan Province. I carry you all in my heart and pray that we may see the face of God in all our journeys. 
Bethanie Sulleza rscj
This article was originally printed in the Newsletter of the Japan Province, and is republished here with permission.

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