Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Preparation for Catholicism in Korea

In sermons it would be difficult to give credit to all those who have helped in their composition. It is a good thing we need not fear being called a plagiarist. Scripture is the basis but to try to explain it properly there is no religion, philosophy or idea that is out of bounds.

In Korea many ideas have been imported from China and changed by the Korean mores. You have Shamanism , Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity. Many ideas would have been spread by means of books among the educated classes, working their way down to the ordinary citizens by the culture that resulted. Our thinking is formed by innumerable 'downloaded' information.

It is difficult to keep all these movements separated for they have cross fertilized each other over the centuries. Even the scholars agree that some of the Chinese classics attributed to an author are probably anthologies, put together by followers of the different movements.

Catholicism in Korea is considered to have been introduced in the last part of the 18th century by some books that came in from China. It is difficult to reconstruct what happened in the past for each history is written with each historian's personal history.

Confucianism was part of the reason for the quick growth of Catholicism for the belief of an older son or a father would be the means of spreading it to the other members of the extended family. The parts of Catholicism that were egalitarian where attractive to many and aroused an interest in Catholicism, a ferment that preceded the introduction of the Church in 1784.

Catholicism started with scholars and went from there to the poor because of the hope that Catholicism gave them. The books by Matteo Ricci were already known in Korea before 1784 and helped to transmit western ideas. These ideas were in circulation and began to influence the society and culture. The seed had been sown and Koreans were being changed. For a Catholic, the revelation that came with Christ does not change but the way we teach and explain it, can and does. Cardinal Newman said: "To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often." Korea was being changed and continues to change; grace hopefully will be there to help.

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