Sunday, November 3, 2013

Can Religious Life be Fun?

Many people complain having too much work to do and not enough time to get everything done. Others would like to be busy with work, but having none are wondering what to do with all their free time. Some find their work boring, always fretting, while others who have worked don't know how to use leisure time when it comes. With this kind of thinking it is not difficult to see how the happiness of our citizens is affected. A seminary professor, in the Kyeongyang magazine, writes about the problems that come when there is no joy in what we do.

Even though the workweek has been reduced  to a five-day, forty-hour week, Korea is still known as a country addicted to work. A Korean psychologist is quoted as saying we have more leisure time than in the past, but many do not know how to use their leisure in a constructive way, such as learning to know themselves, being creative and communicating with others. The increase of leisure in society often results, the professor believes, in creating more disorder in our lives. 

Married couples in their middle years, once too busy working to find time for dialogue, now with the increase of leisure are faced with conflict and divorce. Young people also have more leisure to enjoy the single life; marriage is put off as the partners easily accept living together, without any interest in having children. This type of logic, he says,  is not improving the quality of life. More leisure time is an opportunity for consumer enterprises to reach more people with their pleasure-based commodities, giving us even less true joy in life.

This kind of thinking has also come into the religious life. The young children attending Mass do not know what is going on and the expression on their faces shows that they are not interested in knowing. If it's not fun, they're not interested. Adults have also been infected with this same spirit. The cultural code of society has changed our appreciation of holiness and the sacred. The repeated Masses and sermons and the problems with members of the community take their toll on the faith life of the Christians. Men at work and throughout society are bombarded with the ever-present commercialization of sex, making temptation ever present, and the accepted moral teachings a burden.

The professor asks if it's possible to make the religious life fun.  Or is it rather more like adding a necessary duty to our life?  To the secularized individual of our society, the religious life is a hindrance to enjoying the freedom of human existence. And to merely stress its necessity for a fulfilling life, lacks persuasive power. What is needed, says the professor, is a way to show the attractiveness of the religious life.

Examples of those who enjoy their life as Christians are easily found, and should be the examples presented  to our Christians, he says. The spiritual life is one of great joy and this has to be expressed in sermons and programs, with priests and pastoral workers obviously in the forefront, showing this joy in the way they relate with the Christians. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit this should be shown by the joy we experience in our daily lives. And the more familiar we become with the way God works in us, the deeper will be our experience of this joy. It may very well be necessary, the professor believes, to teach the various methods of finding joy in our religious life as society is in explaining their techniques in finding happiness in the secular life.                                                                                       

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