September is the month of the martyrs. Korean Catholicism has a great devotion to the martyrs; their spirituality is influenced by the martyrs. In the Catholic Bible & Life magazine a pastor explains what this should mean for the church of Korea. Obedience of the martyrs has become the foundation for the growth of the Church. Efforts continually are made to instil this mind of the martyrs into our Catholics of today: their courage, sacrifice, and love of neighbor.
Spirituality of the martyrs, is not something that is sentimental and of the moment, but a deep appreciation of their life. The priest as a pastor of a parish makes it clear to the catechumens who are preparing for baptism the joy they should have with a martyr as their patron.
At present he says only about 4 percent of the parishioners have a martyr as their patron saint (baptized with the name of a martyr). However, with the newly baptized we see more who are choosing the name of a martyr. When the example of the martyrs enters into our lives we become witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and open to the seeds of the new evangeliziation. The results are many: we are changed and the Church renewed.
He introduces us to two of the martyrs who were recently beatified on August 16th. One is
Simon, Hwang Il-kwang, a devout follower from the lowest class in the Joseon society. The other was Simeon, Yu Keun-myeong, from a high class noble family. Simon was a butcher by trade and not welcomed in the society of the times and before his death said:“There must be a heaven on earth and another one after death.”He was treated so well by his community of faith that he felt that he was already in heaven. Yu Simeon after being baptized, a hundred years before the law required, freed all his male and female servants and gave all his property to the poor neighbors. Here was an example of breaking down the walls separating the different levels of society, and giving freedom to those that had become his property because of the Gospel message.
In order to follow the example of the martyrs there is a need to know them and the pastor has made this an important part of his teaching method. The dying daily is the way we partake of the paschal mystery in our daily life, and the way we live the Christian life. White martyrdom is living the life of the martyr without the blood, but with their heart and spirit.