Monday, September 8, 2014
Happy Autumn Festival
Today is the Korean Autumn Festival Holiday called Chuseok. August 15th of the lunar year also called Hangawi: the full moon lunar 8th month. A time to give thanks for the harvest, to our ancestors and to God for the life we are meant to enjoy.
Chuseok means a great deal to the Koreans, it has a long history, and families will go great distances to spend part of the three day holiday at the home of their parents. On the festival morning many will have the rites remembering the ancestors, go to the grave site, and eat together: sharing their lives, and affection for each other.
Many of the Catholics after the rites in the home will attend Mass in which the deceased members of the family will be remembered, they recite the office of the dead and thank God for his blessings and ask to be renewed for a more fruitful life in the future. Reflection on death helps to live the gift of life with greater joy.
The readings for the Mass give us an indication where are thoughts should be. Happiness is a desire that we all have. We sometimes understand this happiness to be a feeling, the results of chemicals within the body.This is not the way we want to understand happiness. Feeling good is not what is meant by happiness. The parable for the Mass is taken from Luke 12:15-21: the foolish greedy farmer who blessed with a good harvest wants to tear down his barns and build larger ones to store his harvest and hears that death is coming: to whom is he going to leave his riches? Sharing never entered his mind.
Sermons today will try to show where true happiness is found. All of us have heard that material goods are not the answer, but what brings happiness is answered in thousands of different ways. Humanists will remember what the Greek philosophers recommended: contemplation of the true, good and beautiful and the practice of the virtues. A Christian wants to empty oneself, and be led by God and his graces. God wants us to be happy so we don't want to put any obstacles in his way.
Fr. Anselm Grun, an authority on spirituality is in Korea to give talks on spirituality and was written up in the Peace Weekly. He mentions that he finds Korea sadder than he found it on his last visit. The Autumn Festival and the death of so many young people in the Sewol tragedy, without any satisfaction coming from efforts to uncover the truth, is not helping the mood of society.
The Benedictine Monk stresses that our attitude is what makes for happiness.The search for wholeness and spirituality brings joy into our lives. We are changed by the relationship we have with God. Catholics attending the Masses on the holiday will be hearing a great deal about what the obstacles are in our search for happiness. Thinking of death and our ancestors will help us to see life without the influence from our popular culture. Happy Autumn Festival, and the joy that comes with gratitude.