Friday, September 4, 2009

Beware of Number Nine

Unlucky numbers are a part of almost all cultures. In Korea we have the number 4 which is considered unlucky; true of those countries that use Chinese Characters. Four is spelled and pronounced the same as the word for death. In Korea many hospitals do not have a 4th floor, this is true also of apartment buildings.

In the Catholic Times this week there was an article on the number 9. This is also a hand down from China. Usually you hear that when you reach the age of 19, 29, 39, you have to be careful it may not be a good year.

This year in Korea we had the death of many influential Catholics: "the death of Cardinal Kim, Kim Dae -jung, the archbishop of Taegu and many others who did not live to see the year 2010. People do not like to move on a date with a nine, or get married . If one team has 9 victories the 10th seems difficult to make. They do not want to get married on their 19th or 29th year. The multiples of 10, which are good, follow so be careful.

In the old days one could not build a house with 100 kan or larger for that was the privilege only of the king during the Chosun period. One Catholic told me he thought that the inauspiciousness of the number 9 began from this time in Korean history. We can leave the facts to the historians to uncover, it could simply be the closer you come to your goal the more you have to be careful; the digit 10 and its multiples being whole numbers are something good.

We as Catholics try to stay away from what we think is superstitious. It does harm to our way of reasoning and brings fear into our lives for no good reason. Having all these folktales, legends, "old wives' tales" to influence what we do in our daily lives is not beneficial for our mental and spiritual health and even our physical health.

The Catholic Catechism #2111: Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even effect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance , apart form the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.

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