Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Korean Catholic Missioners

Korea is among the leaders in sending Christian missioners overseas, and many say they will be number one in a short time. The missioners they have in mind are the Protestant missioners.  Catholics have begun to make inroads but at present there are only about 700 priests, religious and lay people working in various countries of the world. A Korean bishop has stressed the importance of  missionary work and has asked Catholics to support their work. 

One of the lay missioners in Chile writes in Bible and Life  about some of the difficulties of the life. He returned recently from a meeting, and  as soon as he arrived home, he lit the stove; his hands and feet were so cold it was more than he could bear, he writes. His wife gave him a massage but with  no improvement. He looked for a needle to prick his finger, and not finding one only made matters worse.

He was preparing for a retreat with his fellow missioners and was to pick them up the next morning.  Would he be able to go? he wondered. The  thought  bothered him, as he sat on the sofa and pondered the options. 

He was a member of the navy before he became a missioner and knows what it means to be busy.  Whatever he was given to do he would do it to the best of his ability. But suddenly the thought came to him: Was he living the way he was thinking, or thinking in the way he  was living? He was, he admitted, unskilled in knowing how to rest, and his personality didn't help. He often sought the leisure to rest but when it came he didn't know what to do, and then felt guilty for wasting time. He knew this was his psychological problem.

He had often heard that a healthy missioner's life was composed of four elements: prayer, study, action and leisure. All four, he knew, were equally important, but for him he realized that taking advantage of leisure time required some training. He wasn't adept with small talk; games and play were not enjoyable; reading was enjoyable but after reading his mind couldn't rest, and travel required money. What could he do that would rest the head, heart and body? He sat on the sofa trying to rid himself of all thoughts--it was difficult. He recalled that this was the first time in his life that he ever attempted an hour of doing absolutely nothing.

That night he tried to sleep on the sofa but succeeded in turning and tossing on the sofa all night. Though in the morning, he felt that he would be able to go to the retreat. He realized that to take advantage of leisure required an act of the will. He wondered whether he would continue as a missioner in the future or return to a life back in Korea for a  short period of honey-like leisure. It was a matter he decided to discuss with the Lord during the retreat.

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