Sunday, April 14, 2013

Education for a New Level of Faith Life

With the passage of time, our faith life is becoming more individualistic and self-contained, according to an editorial in the Peace Weekly. Jesus came on earth to proclaim his kingdom and bring us salvation. When we put this call on hold, concerned only for personal peace, the central message of Christianity is being distorted.

Peace of mind is the natural first desire of many people; without it we will not be interested in the poor nor in working for the common good. These days life is difficult and the future unclear;  peace of mind can't help but be important. However, when one believes that by focusing on a personal spirituality we are becoming more spiritual, even though it often means moving away from the Church and its teachings, there is a misunderstanding of the meaning of spirituality, which always includes in some fashion communal life. Christians meeting at the table of the Lord and becoming one with the other members is no longer seen as important.

If we seek and rely on personal spirituality, it's easy to understand how looking for blessings is the upper most thing in one's thoughts. Looking for happiness and spiritual peace, we use God as a means to gain what we want. God becomes a means to achieve our earthly ends. This is superstition and not true religion.

Christians are not just to see the partial, individualistic goals, but to have a view of the whole. The desire for healing all manner of ills is a very important element in our society but it is not the central message of Christianity. Sermons to always address this  point  and desire to give comfort is not what the sermon is  meant to do. Why did Christ come to us, die on the cross and leave us with a mission has to be explained.

The limited, individualistic way of Christian thinking is not only a trait of Korean Catholics but a common trait among all believers. A seminary professor is quoted in an accompanying article as saying that Koreans have a desire to rid themselves of Han (unresolved resentment to some injustice received) more than having a desire to accept and understand the teachings of Christianity and truth. They have a great interest in the spiritual life but less interest on what exactly needs to be done to live this life. Because of a general uneasiness evident in our society, religion for many is seen as a way to resolve the uneasiness.

Those who have studied the problem make it clear that the Church is not interested in setting the blame for this limited understanding of Christianity, but is trying to lead its members to a more mature understanding. That many of our Christians are still looking for blessings is not surprising, but the work of the pastoral workers is to help purify the motivation of Christians, so they can move up to a new level of belief.


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