Monday, May 17, 2010

Seeing Life In A New Way

The daily newspaper had a story about Youn Seuk-in, a religious sister who developed infantile rheumatism at the age of 13, when all cartilages atrophied, and she became paralyzed.

She is the first severely paralyzed person in the history of the Catholic Church to become a professed nun. She is now the director of a home for handicapped women.

In addition to her directorial duties, Sister Youn is an artist. She paints by holding the brush in hands severely crippled. She says: "It is the care of my family, those who have taught me and accepted me that I am alive today." The family, with 5 children, neither rich nor poor, lived together harmoniously.

Until she was diagnosed with chronic rheumatism at the age of 13, she dreamed of being a nurse and living a normal life. Gradually, all she could do was lie on the floor. Her father prepared a place for her with books, and they became her constant companions. She read the complete works of Shakespeare and much philosophy.

She asked her brothers and sisters in the beginning to explain difficult passages until the day came when this was no longer necessary . The interviewer was surprised by her skillful use of words and by the depth of her thinking: you would never think she was a grammar school dropout.

This life with books, however, did not satisfy her, and thoughts of suicide came frequently. It was at this time that she came across the book by Cardinal Gibbons, "Faith of Our Fathers." She had no religion but reading this book started her thinking about God.

She finally asked her mother if she could go to church. They found a Church in the area, she started taking a correspondence course and was soon baptized with the name Bona. But the correspondence course was not the answer to what she was looking for. In the desire to get rid of an unfulfilled feeling, she started going to Church regularly. She was taken to different places by members of the parish, like museums and picnics, and started to paint again. She was told she was an inspiration to many. People seeing her paint gained strength to face their own problems, which seemed trivial in comparison, Even a priest asked her to pray for him. Finally, seeing how so many others were helped by her example, Bona could step out of the darkness that had followed her most of her life.

It was then that she visited a home for the handicapped where the priest asked her if she was interested in becoming a nun. The priest wanted to start a religious order that would accept the healthy and the handicapped, and when he finally received permission from the Cardinal of Seoul, Bona was among the first to enter the community. When her family saw her in a nun's habit, they all started to cry. It had been a long journey, for all of them.

She sees her life now as a blessing: "I can move my arms, can grasp a spoon and eat, can remove my hair from the front of my brow.... I can turn to one side for 5 minutes and lie on my face for 5 minutes. I can bend my back at a 45 degree angle-- it's all a blessing."


  1. that's AWESOME!

  2. Excellent post. Hat tip to Mark Shea for linking to it.