Monday, November 16, 2009

Lay People's Sunday In Korea

In 1784 , a Korean with his scholarly friends , through reading, became acquainted with Catholicism. This Korean Yi Seung-hun (Peter) was sent to Beijing China to be baptized, and on his return with his compatriots started the first community. Today's Catholics are very proud that their start was not by foreign missioners but by their own lay people. This means a great deal; an image they remember in their life of faith.

Yesterday was Lay People's Sunday in Korea, a day given to reflect on how faithful they have been to the example they have been given by their fore bearers in the faith.In our small community the catechist gave the sermon which is the one day of the year that they are expected to be in the pulpit.

The Lay Apostolic Council of Korea sent sermon material to all the parishes, addressing the 5 million Catholics in the country. A point that is being made, editorialized in both Catholic papers, is that the Korean lay people are very generous and active in their prayer life and service to others, admired for this by other countries but one of the weak points is that there is a spilt in their religious life and daily life. They may have concluded that it is sufficient to be doing works of charity and forgetting that they have a responsibility for the life of the society in which they live. In the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul he expressed it very clearly: "A new state of affairs today both in the church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time render it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle."

It is easy for one to think that he enters the community of faith to pray and to have fellowship but this is not all that we are called to do and most of the blame has to reside with the pastors of the communities for not making this clear. The Peace Weekly ended the editorial on this note.

The Catholic Times in a similar vain emphasized lay people should be on the front lines. They hold the key to the Church's life and strength: a bulkhead against the excessively materialistic world, rampant individualism... the break down of the family, contempt for life, this can't be stressed enough. In a word lay people are to enable all of us to live a fully human life- this is the main responsibility of the laity.

I have found that in Korea a great number of priests are very active on the front lines trying to improve the life of our citizenry and part of the reason for their activist role is that our Catholics may be too interested in the workings of the Church and not taking their part in the battles in our society.

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