Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Power of the written word.

In the first years of the seminary, the spiritual director would give us a book to read and on the following visit would ask for our opinion. Our level of spiritual maturity was judged by how we responded to that question, and would determine which book was assigned next. This method may not have been always accurate but few would doubt that what we read is a good indication of how we will think and act.

April 23rd was World Book Day, a tribute to books and their authors, which encourages everyone to discover the importance and pleasures of reading and to support the publishing and distribution of books. Begun by UNESCO in 1995, the event is now the biggest day of the year for bibliophiles and is celebrated in more than 100 countries.

The Catholic Church in Korea is also doing its part as it tries to motivate Catholics to become readers. Not an easy task, since the typical Korean is not a reader. In the Catholic Times, a Religious Sister of the Bishops' Mass Comm Committee has written that Koreans spend only 8 minutes a day reading.

In our mission station, with its small library, we have tried to get our parishioners, during the winter months, to spend more time reading but few show any interest. Without the habit of reading, it is very difficult to begin, especially when there are so many distractions. We seem to be, these days, in perpetual motion with little inclination to slow down enough to enjoy the moments of doing nothing. If we will allow those moments to occur without feeling threatened by the inactivity, we can begin to make friends with books.

If one can get into the habit of reading, the excuse of a lack of education would not be important. In the early days, many of those who came into the Church were not able to read; by participating in the catechumenate they became readers. The step from non-literate to literate was for many of them as important as the entrance to the Catholic community. The Catholic newspapers are giving the movement publicity. Hopefully, we will soon see results.

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