Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking For the Peaceful LIfe

The influence of  new religions and religious-like movements on Korean  Catholics is a serious problem for the Church, says a professor teaching missiology at the Catholic University. One of the more popular New Age movements, the Dahn World, uses all the Korean methods of self-betterment and at the same time moves into the religious sphere. It has a strong foothold not only in Korea but throughout the world, with about 1000 franchises in nine countries and an estimated membership of 500,000.

The professor, in his article in the Kyeongyang Magazine, brings up the criticism of  present-day religious life and notes that this dissatisfaction continues to grow. Many who have rejected the established religions are looking for something to fill the emptiness that has come into their lives. They are looking for a transformation of culture to fill this void. Because of secularization and the increase of leisure time, health, to cite one example of dissatisfaction with the status quo, is more likely to be seen as a condition that can be controlled, not as in the past by professionals but by the health-seeker's decisions on lifestyle, making health an important field for new enterprises to exploit.
Today's New Age Movement is responding to this new awareness and presents a big challenge to Christianity. Not only does it deal with health issues but with a spirituality that cuts across denominational boundaries. It is an area of spirituality that the established religions have not done a good job in presenting. These movements are also delving into areas that many are curious about: the UFO world of extraterrestrials, the training in the secret ways of Ki, the way of the mind, and the more organized efforts of movements like Dahn World, among many others.

The professor ends his article by noting the results of a 2004 Gallup Survey of the teachings of different religions concerning life issues. These surveys have to be taken with some skepticism but results revealed that the beliefs of Catholics are far from what the Church teaches.

To the question "Why have a religion," 78 percent said it was to find peace of mind. The professor feels part of the reason for this belief is the influence of a new age spirituality. He feels a need for our Catholics to reject this asking-for-a-blessing type of spirituality and to remember that God is always with us.

Today is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Jesus' first disciple and World Day of Peace. When she gave her fiat, she knew it was not going to bring peace into her life but much trouble. Her understanding of what was to come teaches us a great deal of what it means to follow Jesus. Peace and joy do come, but it is not the goal but the by-product of a life of mature discipleship. Happy New Year.

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