Thursday, November 5, 2009

Divination in Korea

How many of the Catholics go to fortune tellers is not easy to determine; on the bus you often see adds for fortune tellers mentioning: "Christians welcomed". Some of the Catholic go from curiosity, some with friends, others for entertainment purposes but then you have those who do want some affirmation on what they are doing and knowldege of the future.

When I hear of a Catholic who has gone to a fortune-teller there is a sadness that liberation was not complete. Usually in Korea we here the word ' philosophy hall' which gives it a very erudite feeling . In this day and age we have the Internet which allows you to frequent the tellers with ease and anonymity. The price is right and the desire of human kind to know the future is part of the attraction.

In years past in one of the parishes, a very active and intelligent member of the parish with a good paying job asked me about changing his name. He felt that it was not helping him in his quest for success. I have forgotten what I said but I was surprised at the question and desire to change his name to achieve success. This is probably more common than one would expect even among our Catholics.

The four pillars (Saju) is probably the most common type of fortune-telling where the ' teller' wants to know your date of birth: year, month, day and hour. From there he will procede to give you his prognostication. The whole process seems to be very complicated. Over the years I have heard about the 'tee' which is the Korean zodiac with the 12 animals quite different from the Western Zodiac. They also read your face and work with the yin- yang theory and the five primary elements which appear as the days of the week in the Korean calendar- an import from the west by way of China. The tellers can weave these all together to come up with something that does satisfy those who frequent these diviners.

The Catholic Church has been very clear in its opposition to divination, the Catholic Catechism number 2116 states: "All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone."

In the Christian Initiation of Adults we have the first stage which includes the minor exorcisms. Baptism is a liberation from all that does not give us freedom in Jesus. We get rid of fear and one of the big reasons for fear is the unknown and the sense that we are controlled by it. The truth should make us free and freedom from superstition is a great part of that freedom. Superstition is not reasonable and is harmful.

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