Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Power of Words

A priest in the Seoul Diocese who is responsible for the pastoral care of the  deaf and dumb, and is himself handicapped, writes in the Bible & Life Magazine about the words that have  encouraged and energized him.

He lives in a home with priests who are working in special ministries. He is the only one with a handicap. Community life, he says, is not easy for he can't hear or speak. While eating he sees the other priests talking and laughing, he is not able to participate and it makes it difficult to get close to the priests, and he remains alone in his eating. He tells himself he is not alone, and comforts himself with the thought that Jesus is always with him.

When the estrangement gets deeper, even when he has something to talk about he does not go to his fellow priests. When this continues for any long period of time the relationship with his brother  priests becomes awkward, and his identity as a diocesan priest becomes weak.

Fortunately at one of the seminars there was a priest who knew the sign language and was able to translate for him. That day he was able to communicate with all his fellow priests. One of the priests approached him and said: "Father Park, a priest is not a loner, you have to be one with us!" These words he said with force. They were like a  small light coming into the cave in which he had enclosed himself, and enabled him to come out of the cave, and relate with his brothers. His fellow priests did not treat him as handicapped but warmly and with hand signs communicated with him as fellow priests.

During free time many of the priests who liked soccer were preparing for a match and he was  going  mountain climbing. An older priest seeing him, called him to join them in the match. He didn't have the proper shoes and it was somewhat difficult but he joined them, and was thankful to the priest who called him. Shortly after a priest gave him a pair of soccer shoes. The gift meant a great deal to him.  

One day before a Mass for sponsors he was praying before the tabernacle when a parishioner got his attention and asked to go to confession. He told her that he was not able to speak or hear but she insisted that she go to confession. He explained that it would have to be with written words and she agreed. After the confession he saw her tears and he was thankful that she insisted for he realized that he could also hear confession without the sign language with which he was  accustomed. He looked upon the parishioner as an angel.

When he is in low spirits it is these encounters that bring him out of the cave. "Father Park! you are one of us, when you have some difficulty less us know, we will help you, take courage!" These and similar words have given him strength, and is grateful. He is thankful for  words of encouragement  and for the many who  continue to support him and bring joy into his life. At this time of Christmas it is good to remember how just a few words of encouragement  can inspire and give strength.

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