Sunday, November 28, 2010

The First of the New Years.

Today is the start of a new liturgical year, Advent. Here in Asia, the Catholics start off with their first New Year's celebration with resolutions for the new year. They will have their second chance as world citizens on Jan. 1st, the Solar New Year, and again as Asians on the Lunar New Year, Feb. 3rd. The least important of these new beginnings would be the liturgical year, followed by the Solar New Year. For many, the real New Year will be the Lunar New Year. Attempts have been made to make this less important, with little success; it is given three red days on the calendar. The Bishops' pastoral message has helped form our own resolutions this year, and we have the opportunity of renewing them in each of our three New Years. 

Both Catholic papers mentioned in their  editorials the resolutions addressed by each Bishops' pastoral message.  The idea emphasized in each was the new evangelization, which was to be approached with  passion and renewed dedication.  Each bishop had his own message for the diocese but all had the new evangelization as the center piece of the message.

The Peace Weakly laments that the pastoral messages are not taken seriously by the diocesan Christians. They seem not to be interested, and the editorial gives a great deal of the blame to the pastors, who also do not make much of the message; yet this is the direction that the Bishops have set for their dioceses.

Here in Incheon we will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary as a diocese and the bishop, in his message, thanked all the foreign missioners who have worked in the diocese over many of those years. The diocese started off with nine parishes and 23,000 Catholics. Today there are 114 parishes, about 450,000 Catholics and 262 diocesan priests.

The present bishop thanks the first bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. William McNaughton M.M., who was the ordinary for 41 years, and also thanks and expresses his love and respect for his predecessor.

The pastoral message addressed three main concerns. First,  the bishop thanked God for the many graces the diocese has received.  He thanked all for their cooperation in building the Spiritual Retreat House at the pilgrimage site in Kang Hwa.

Second, he stressed the importance of building for the future, as well as expanding our efforts to work for the new evangelization, the reason for the existence of the Church. This will require more love on the part of all of us. We have to be an example of Christ-like living if this is to have results, he said.  And grammar, middle and high school children, along with our young people, must be encouraged to enter the community of Faith.

The third concern was for the family. The family is the smallest yet most vital community in the Church. The acceptance of divorce by society is now widespread and many of our Catholics have accepted it as well. To counter this trend, all of us must make the bonds of the family stronger, the bishop said, in an effort to sanctify the life of husband and wife so that they may overcome the difficulties they face.

Along with the family, we must be concerned about the very serious problem of suicides in Korea. This is  something that is increasing  and efforts have to be made to have the culture of life permeate all segments of society.

The bishop ends his message by expressing gratitude for the graces received and urges everyone in the year ahead to have firm resolutions working together and dreaming of a new tomorrow.

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