Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Catholic Mission Stations of Korea

To raise a child requires more than a family, says Hillary Clinton in her  book It Takes a  Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. The Catholic villages of the past have been good examples of the effect they can have not only on the children raised there but on the other inhabitants as well.

A professor of Korean history, in the "View from the Ark" column of the Catholic Times, writes that the early Christians lived in these villages, and pasted on the walls of their homes were liturgical calendars specifying the feast days of the year, which gave a direction to their daily  activities.  Each morning and evening, the sound of prayers would come from their homes and often the evening prayers would be said in common. On Sundays they would have the mission station liturgy.

The children grew up without knowing any  great difference between their daily life and their religious life. They would play their games to the accompaniment of hymns they had learned. The food left over at mealtime would be shared with others, knowing that  they would receive it back in kind. Talents and knowledge were also shared. The village was an inexhaustible storehouse for living, sharing, and spreading the faith.

Many of these village mission stations have produced vocations for the Church. One mission station over the past 60 years gave the Church 14 priests and 16 religious. Another produced 1 bishop, 15 priests and 11 sisters. Overall, counting the bishops, priests and religious who have retired, the number is quite large of those who after being raised in these villages then went on to dedicate their lives to the Church. 

Looking at the villages from the viewpoint of the greater society, the villages would be seen as very insignificant places on the map. Some going back to the persecution, but most of them beginning after 1890, at the end of the persecution. And gradually non-Catholics moved into these villages, the Sunday liturgy became the Mass, the mission stations became part of the parish, and the stations began to disappear.

The writer tells us about a trip to one of these old village mission stations, with a friend raised in the village. A number of grandmothers were selling apples at the entrance to the village. The professor had a desire to eat an apple and was told that a container of apples would cost 10 dollars. After much haggling, his friend was able to get the cost reduced to 5 dollars. When it came time to pay, however, the woman wanted 10 dollars--no doubt responding to the influence of a commercialized society, the professor mused.

Society does change us, the professor laments. When it comes to losing a small benefit we hesitate, and have little patience when it comes to trifles. She would like to see a return to the spirit that was present in the Catholic villages of the past, and have this spread throughout society.  

No comments:

Post a Comment