On the front page of the Peace Weekly we are told that 220 years ago in the Korean Church, after many years without any priest, they had their first Easter Mass on April 5th of 1795. Chu Mun-mo the Chinese priest who entered Korea at the end of the previous year celebrated the first Easter Mass in an area of Seoul.
The Mass was a moving experience for all those present and the alleluia was their expression of joy in a language not their own. That Mass was the fuse that brought about a new persecution that began in that year. Han Yeong-ik a newly baptized Christian was the informer that made know the whereabouts of the new priest and the efforts to find him. He finally gave himself up to the authorities to save the lives of the Christians who were being detained, tortured and killed. He was martyred in 1801.
Each year we come to the climax of the liturgical year with the Easter Vigil Mass the same Mass celebrated 220 years before without the ceremonies we are accustomed to at the Vigil Mass.
The bishops of Korea each year have their messages for the Christians of the diocese and the key words for Easter: light, hope, courage all have a predominant spot in these messages.
The liturgical calendar is filled with all manner of visual aids for our participation and renewal. This evening we start with the new fire and light that spreads from the Paschal Candle to the congregation, and from there to the whole world.
The Peace Weekly editorial reminds us that it is the Resurrection that has given us the Church, and our joy in life. Without this meaning the suffering and death has little to offer us. The Resurrection gives all that precedes meaning.
We are living the resurrected life here and now which is the message of the liturgy. The world in which we live has much to depress us, and it is getting more difficult to see the good which still surrounds us. We are not only to find this good but to add to it with our lives filled with light, sufficient to overcome the darkness we see.
The number of Catholics in the world are numbered at 17 percent. A large number, but sadly the light that should be given is not focused but distorted. The light that should be emanating from this sizable number of Catholics should be of great help to those who are looking for a way to follow, but the light we have received and celebrate on the Vigil of Easter is dispersed, not focused, and what we did in symbol loses meaning when we leave the church.The candles we held in our hands remain merely an external rite without any meaning for our lives.