Monday, November 30, 2015

Church of Mercy Needs Renewal

Pope Francis has proclaimed  an extraordinary Jubilee with mercy at the center. He wants us to live the Holy Year of Mercy starting on Dec. 8th which will continue to the Feast of Christ the King of 2016, remembering the Lords words: Be merciful, just as you Father is merciful (Lk. 6:36). Yesterday, we began our liturgical new year with the first Sunday of Advent and Mercy is the theme. 

A seminar, sponsored by the Catholic Pastoral Research Center, and written up in the Peace Weekly  reflects on the work ahead. They wanted to study the direction the Church should be going with the new evangelization in connection with the teachings of  Vatican II which ended 50 years ago. Hope was expressed that we will have a new turning point within the Korean Church for they all agreed that the implementation of the Council left a lot to be desired.

In the  keystone address the previous head of the bishops' Conference stressed Pope Francis' vision for a synodal Church at every level with everyone listening to each other, learning from each other and taking responsibility for proclaiming the Gospel. The bishop mentioned the need to listen to the people and be companions with them in their struggles.   

One of the participants mentioned we don't see mercy expressed in society, and in our culture but neither is it prevalent within the church. Another mentioned the need to understand two words collegiality and synodality if we want to bring about renewal.

Another participant listed the assignment the Church of Korea has to implement: to see the signs of the time and prepare for it pastorally; concern for the weak, the common good, and seeking peace; renewal and dialogue with the world, efforts to change the way we do politics, finances and the culture is our prophetic call. These are the elements that have come from the Second Vatican Council.

This kind of reformation will require a great deal of effort in the local areas of the Church. In  recent years we have had Synods in many of the dioceses which were meant to renew the local church but it was like the listing of problems and tasks  as they would be in an encyclopedia without priorities, and follow ups. We need targets and priorities, if we want to see change.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Peace is More than a Dream

In recent weeks, we continue to hear the news about  violence throughout the world. Islamic State has taken credit for the killings in Paris. Korea's demonstrations against the government for its education, and labor policies was met with violence to stop the demonstrators. A past president of a diocesan Catholic Farmers group was struck by a water cannon and injured seriously, and is hovering between life and death.

In a Column of the Peace Weekly, we are asked what should be our attitude in the face of all the violence we see in the world? We have been given at baptism the mission as prophet and what does this require  of us in this present reality?
We will not arrive at peace in the world with a few people of good will acting righteously; it is a task for all of us. Popes have made it clear that peace is the work of all, and we will not have it without justice.

From the first, we were created to enjoy the gift of peace. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us: "Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!"

Jesus' teachings are clear. "The precondition for peace is the dismantling of the dictatorship of relativism and of the supposition of a completely autonomous morality which precludes acknowledgment of the ineluctable natural moral law inscribed by God upon the conscience of every man and woman. Peace is the building up of coexistence in rational and moral terms, based on a foundation whose measure is not created by man, but rather by God (Pope Benedict's Peace Message for 2013).

This desire for peace is not a dream or a Utopia. Not just a wish we have but a real good  we work to achieve. Consequently, Christians have to work against all kinds of injustices, and work in solidarity with all movements for the common good. We have to resist all kinds of selfishness, violence,  greed,  thirst for power, and structures that breed hate and injustices: working on the side of the weak for their rights and dignity.

Peace we all know is not something we achieve quickly nor merely a distant ideal, but something with daily little steps, we persistently  and gradually work to realize: difficult though it be. In the fragmented society in which we live, working to realize this peace is carrying out the mission we have received from Jesus at baptism. And we start with ourselves.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Search for Authenticity

A recent symposium with the theme of Crisis in the Church  considered the reasons why people are leaving. Representatives from the German and United States Church  gave examples and compared their own problems  with the Korean Church's problems. Parents are not able to hand down their faith life to the children. People are thirsting for authenticity; one of the participants believes  it is this  lack of authenticity that people are looking for and not finding.

The failure of the Korean Church to grab the attention  of the Catholics is not unique to Korea. A professor from Germany explains that the secularization of the population has led to the turning of their backs to the Church. In 2010 there were more people leaving the Church in Germany than entering.

Germany is emphasizing the role of  the laypeople. The Church is discovering the value of the lay person and working to get them involved. The future of the Church is with the layperson and not the clergy. He further stressed that the Church is the people of God and in this they are not disconnected from  the clergy.  We need to put down our authoritarianism  and make the joy of the Gospel come alive.

The professor from the States reminds those present that women are not taking their rightful place within the Church. In the States those that approved of women priests  within the Church in 1987 was 35% in 2011 it rose to 55%. Within  Protestantism over half of the Churches allow  women clergy within the ranks. In Lutheranism and Anglicanism they are accepted as bishops. This is not the direction we should go,  he makes clear, but we should see what the laypeople are telling the Church  about women's role within the Church.

A Korean seminary professor says we need to find a way of having the women participate in the workings of the Church in an enthusiastic way. We have to find ways of being more persuasive in our teaching and in communicating with our Christians.

In the discussion that followed  there was a question about the new religions that are appearing on the scene.This is a sign the the Church is not fulfilling the role that it should have in society. People are not interested in what is the oldest and most original of the religions  but one that serves them the best. It is not the teaching that attracts but how it is received by the hearts of the people.

We have to find ways of being more authentic and closer to the Gospels if we are not to follow the ways of the West.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Competition for First Place

A column by a teacher emeritus tells the readers of the Peace Weekly of an e-mail he received about an elementary school child who had a health problem that prevented him from growing. He was a well adjusted, happy child, who got along with his classmates but short of stature.

At an autumn field day at the school, the child was in a race with his classmates. The older sister of the child and family seeing the child run brought tears to their eyes, but shortly this was the case for all who were in attendance for just before the end of the race the one who was in the lead stopped, and all the others as they came to the finish waited for the lagger, and all crossed the finish line together.

All made first place together. This is not the adult world in which we live. The columnist reviews his own life and realizes that more than considering the feelings of his children; he wanted them to be # 1. As a teacher, he was always interested in having his students number one. Not only in studies but in comparison to the other homerooms in cleanliness, singing  or whatever, nothing was better than number one.

There are many other things one can be proud of besides being number one. He has made the transition. Those that have made it to first place, hopefully will realize that they  have the privilege to be of service to others.

Each has special gifts, and these should be developed but society has a different set of values that it selects to prize and reward. We don't realize the harm this does to many who like the child, was not gifted as a runner.

We have in the Scriptures two disciples who wanted a better position within the group. When the others heard of this, they weren't pleased. Here we have a case even with those who were closest to Jesus for the first places. This did not help to develop harmony within the first community of disciples. Our Lord's words are very clear: Any one who wants to be first among you must be the slave to all (Mk 10: 44).

Competition is a part of life, and we will not see it disappear, but we can make it less harmful for the many who are not in the running. Even those who are in the running: the person who comes in second feels the loss of not being first more so than the  person who comes in third.

Society for many different reasons makes those who are first in many different fields the object of adulation. We even have it within the Church with the making of saints, but it goes without need of explanation, that these persons considered the first place of little value, and in the degree they felt so, were closer to God.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Korean Catholic Bible Week

During the last week of the liturgical year, the Korean Church celebrates Bible Week, hoping for  a larger reading audience for the Scriptures. Articles and the editorial of the Peace Weekly remind the readers the importance of input from the Scriptures to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.

This year the theme for the week is taken from Genesis: "God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1-31). We are urged to go to the Scriptures to find answers to our problems with the environment. Bishop's  message  reminds the readers that to undo some of the harm to nature we need to heed the Gospel of reconciliation and  intimacy with God's creation.

God has ordered us to take care of his creation. Reading the Scriptures we learn how precious creation is, and in Jesus, we see his intimate connection with nature and helping people to return to the  family of humanity from their ailments and alienation.
In Korea, we have many who have taken to transcribing the Scriptures: copying  each word by hand. In this issue of the Peace Weekly, we have those who have done this not only once, but one woman has copied the Old Testament 8 times in the last 18 years, and the New Testament 11 times. She says it deepened her faith life, and gave her more joy. She spends about 1 hour and 20 minutes each day in this way.

One young girl of sixteen heard that the diocese would give  a gift of an overseas pilgrimage to all the students who copied the Old and New Testaments. She began with the desire to go abroad; in the beginning, it was tedious and difficult, but she began to enjoy what she was doing.

There are many of these stories and those who accomplish the task find that it  gives them a chance to mull over each word and reflect on what they are writing. It is not to have another copy of the Bible but to meet God. We are forced to slow down and  become reflective when we read.

Reading, writing, and reflection on the words of  Scripture are meant to activate us to live them. Knowledge  we don't use is not really helpful to us. We need to live it daily. Hopefully, we will get more who will be attracted to reading of Scripture, doing it more frequently, with a change in lives.   

Friday, November 20, 2015

Abuses of Subsidiarity

Civil society is a word we use often, and one that helps us understand the social teaching of the Church. In Korea, the feeling of many is that civil society has little to do with our spiritual life and relations with God.   Forgetting, we are an integral part of civil society as Christians.

"Civil society is the sum of the relationships and resources, cultural and associative, that are relatively independent from the political sphere and the economic sector." A seminary  professor writes in an article of the Catholic Times how we fail to see a complete picture of our lives as Christians and gives us the quote from the Compendium of the Social Gospel #417.

Looking over society, we see a plurality of theories and ideologies, which at times tend  to reduce and curtail  this freedom in  society. An example would be a dictator or totalitarianism that wants to bring pluralism under the control of the government, and in the economic sector where they want to increase their domain and  decrease the domain of society.

Catholicism sees a three-part division: political reality (nation), economic (market)  and society. Politics tend to go into totalitarianism and market into neo-liberalism, and we have a loss of autonomy and harmony in society. 

Both the nation and economics are at the service of society: acknowledging the dignity of the individual.   "The political community and civil society, although mutually connected and interdependent, are not equal in the hierarchy of ends. The political community is essentially at the service of civil society and, in the final analysis, the persons and groups of which civil society is composed. Civil society, therefore, cannot be considered an extension or a changing component of the political community; rather, it has priority because it is in civil society itself that the political community finds its justification (Compendium #418).

Society proceeds the nation and the principle that makes this clear is subsidiarity. Which holds that a larger and more  complex organization should not do the work that can be done as well by a smaller and simpler  organization. Government should limit its control to areas that can't be handled by society.
In the conclusion of the article, he shows why he is concerned in the direction Korea is going. Government is not listening to the citizens and in different ways manipulating public opinion. We have the problem with the history text books the government wants to oversee, and in dealing with North Korea using the word follower of the North to designate those that don't agree with government policies. These are ways  the government is trying to extend its control over society: an abuse of subsidiarity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We Learn About the New from the Old

Change  requires we discontinue acting like we did in the past. This does not mean, however, we scuttle everything we did in the past, which, in fact, is  impossible.  Consequently, there is a need for some stability other wise we have chaos.

A seminary professor writing in the diocesan bulletin considers the  problems in society began with the disparaging, aversion, and without reason, jettisoning  many of the values that came  from the culture of the past. Among these are the Confucian family values we have let disappear, and have lost more than we have gained from the exchange.  Under Japanese colonial rule, we learned to discount much of our past and  forgot the merits and demerits of what to discard or retain.

Many blame Confucianism for many of the scars of our history. Our freedom was limited by etiquette, and moral duties: cause of our problems. During the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, the factionalism among the different  parties, fighting for their own interests, showed clearly the abuses in society.

In the history of the Church, we also had  periods of corruption, but we didn't throw out the Church because of the evils. Confucianism, likewise, did have infighting among those who were wearing  Confucian's vestments,  but it is no reason to remove all the values that have come from Confucianism. It enabled the Dynasty to last 500 years, and gave us our Korean sensibilities. Three bonds and five  moral rules in relationships are a description of its main teaching.  When we got rid of these values did  it  give us a better way of living?   

Ideas of an age influence all the structures and thinking of a society. During the Joseon period of our history,  Love, Justice and  Etiquette were all important. They were intrinsic to relationships, more important than status and material goods,  and all under the heading of family. However, all is now centered on money. We  turn our back on the past and go suicidally, after material goods: like changing a brass bowl for a stainless one, selling a silk blouse for nylon socks.

He finishes the article with the five relationships:   parents and children should be one of love; ruler and citizens should be one of justice; male and female are different, each other's area of action needs to be respected; proper order between old and young;  between friends, words and actions need to express faithfulness.

When we ignore these relationships and work towards  different values are we building a better society? We need to look for answers to this question.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Learning How To Die

In the  Peace Weekly column of its name, the columnist has an uneasy conversation with Death.  She begins with a quote from an American humorist who wanted to write his own obituary: "I died a little earlier." He was humorous even about death.

"Knowing about death is knowing about life." We are still afraid of death she laments. We do speak a lot about 'dying well' and have programs to help. but we still do all to avoid talking about its reality. In our culture we talk, she says, about a 'propitious death' of a person who dies of old age and wealthy. However, even in such cases we forget what we did very quickly after the funeral. In Korea, like in the West we don't find people going to a cemetery to read and rest.

She mentions how some years earlier she had the occasion to go to Germany for a story, and while in Berlin learned that one of the TV channels was devoted completely to death: obituaries and  cherishing images of the departed are shown on the channel, and are popular among the viewers. 

In one of the cities when the production team was approaching  an old-age home some of the grandmothers came out jubilantly singing one of their folk-songs. In a joking matter, they said they heard  the Korean magnolia was beautiful, and the  next time they come to bring them some. Death was  like a friend, but not only among the old. 

In front of the Korean production team, in one of the high schools there was no difficulty in speaking very easily about death. Some 30 years before they began a program on death, and it has been received favorably. In a workshop, she attended on preparing for death with an American professor she was told they had programs in schools on death, which are well received by both parents and students. 

A departure that is prepared and one that is not.... Clearly we have a great difference in the way they are received. When it is not prepared or covered over the experience is creepy. Whether as a friend or as an unknown reality death is a serious experience. One of the heads of a hospice said that in her opinion you know the way a person has lived by the way they die. 

At this point, of the article the columnist wants us to face something uncomfortable, since  we all desire a peaceful death. In hospice care, it is not realistic to think that those who are taking care of the patients will give them this gift of peace. Each person has to face death on his own, squarely and sincerely. Life was a gift of God, and we give thanks; death is also  within God's providence, but  we see it as under our control and sovereignty. She ends the article with the words: "God did not make humans in that way."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Catholic Inculturation in Korea

Inculturation is a word we often hear  when we speak about the Gospel and culture. Evangelization has to be sensitive to the culture in which one is living and how to make the Gospel message understood  in that environment.  Articles in two Catholic Weeklies introduce a  new book to the readers by a  seminary professor, Fr. Lee Dae-geun. He   received a prize for his recent book on  'Korean Religious  History of Ideas'  which was the author's  efforts to understand why Korea was fertile ground for Catholic  teaching.

Korean Catholicism, we need to remember, met people with a shamanistic history and Fr. Lee's efforts wanted to understand the encounter of these two religions. To understand Christianity in Korea, and the people's religious sensibilities, we have to understand  shamanism, which  influenced Korean culture and temperament, and continues to do so, according to Fr. Lee.

Easy it is for us to think that shamanism, exorcism rites, superstition and the like have mostly disappeared. Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism have come into the country from outside but shamanism was modified to adapt to the teachings of each of these religions.

Studies of shamanism have been going on for some time. No longer is it the study of folklore or history, but now it extends to sociology, anthology, religion, and psychology. Fr. Lee examines the influence of shamanism  on Christianity. He wants to examine the motivational force that enabled the Korean people to accept Christianity when it entered Korea. He was surprised at the ease in accepting Christianity. The book is the study of the reasons in accepting Christianity, a foreign import.

Fr, Lee has a doctorate in Korean Philosophy and Asian studies and in his examination of folklore and rites of the harvest, he came to a new understanding  of the legendary founder of Korea, Dan-gun, from whom the  Korean people are descended. He recommends that their identity as Koreans and as Christians be understood  as the meeting of these two religions.   

Fr. Lee's book was praised for his efforts to understand the religious sensibilities of the Korean people but he has been criticized in making some great leaps in what he has included in the book and also in simplifying much. In the critique of the book that followed the article, it was mentioned that many did find the acceptance of Christianity easy but with the teaching on Creation and Redemption there were also many who  gave their lives for the faith, which brings doubt to the minds of many on some of the points that were made in the book.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Obstacles to the Spiritual Life

Ascetical theology is a branch of  theology, which  deals with the practice of virtue and attainment of holiness.

An article in the Peace Weekly on spirituality
mentions the work that is necessary not only in controlling and purifying our five senses but also a need to purify our internal faculties of memory, and imagination. We work on the external, but need concern also with the internal.

Imagination is a neutral faculty it all depends on the way used if it is to be a help or a hindrance in the spiritual life. Jesus in his teaching used parables and worked on the imagination of his hearers. If our use of the imagination in the past has experienced a great deal of positive information, we will be helped, but if it has many harmful images, the effect on the imagination is injurious.  

Our external senses have to be controlled so that we don't have harmful images entering. It is difficult to imagine anything  that has not entered by the external senses. What we consider not helpful should not enter, if we want to advance in our spiritual journey.

Our memory also has to be purified. Whether we liked it or not, we have had many experiences, some we have forgotten but many we remember. Remembrances that have impacted us harmfully should not control us. Memories of our  sins and scars can be overwhelming, and need to be replaced and forgotten.

When we have experienced God's grace and blessings, these need to be remembered and brought to mind often, and the hope they have nurtured. This is a great help in developing spiritually.

We also have internal cognitive, emotional and volitional acts that have to be purified. Without our emotions being purified, we will be bothered with sensual desires. Our cognitive faculty helps us to put light on our faith life, and foster love in our spiritual life. A strong will is necessary to do what we know we should, and to be conscious of God, otherwise we will be concerned only of ourselves. 

Internal senses and faculties are all connected and working with one, will influence the others. In the past, the Church did take an interest in what books and movies the Catholics should not read and view, precisely because of the harm it would do to our imagination and memory. This is no longer advisable for the way society looks upon this interference in our daily life, but the reason was and still is, enabling us to live a healthy and happier life.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fifty Years After the Second Vatican Council

"Church opened to the world, renewal and adaptation"  were maxims  used after the close of the Second Vatican Council: 2015 is the 50th year from the end of the council. Korea has still some way to go to implement the changes according to the participants of a recent international conference on the theme: "Gospel and evangelization, 50 years after the  II  Vatican Council."  The following are the subtopics: *Dialogue among religions and evangelization  *Paradigm change in evangelization *Evangelizing Church * Mediums for the Gospel in evangelizing.

Interrelgious dialogue has been part of our reality from after the council. Reason for the dialogue is not to convert the other but as  companions in search of truth. This, said one of the participants, is a change from our traditional ways.

Our understanding of evangelizing  has changed from  understanding others only as people to be saved by baptism. In the Americas, missioners  risked their lives to go to the  aboriginal peoples and using pressure to save them was the understanding of  evangelizing. Salvation of the non-baptized was the thinking and the council has shown us  a need to walk  with others and discover how God speaks to them in their culture, a need for inculturation: not only to receive a response of religious faith but sowing  love. The lives of the Christians  become attractive and people want to join, not imposing but proposing. 

One of the results of the Council was a  Reforming  Church: always in need of renewal for it is  continually being secularized. We need to renew the face of the earth with God's original plans for the world. We need to help those who are weakest to appreciate their dignity and showing them God's love. Another participant said more than stressing the word renewal is to live a life of renewal: a poor church, poor priests, born again Christians. 

We have to give Jesus by our lives. We have to work for justice and peace for the common good. This work for justice when seen by others will be admired and people will want to join.

The process of catechizing in Korea has been by transmitting knowledge; we have to change to accompany them. It is not changing the way we have worked in the education of the Christians but to add another facet to what we were doing.

Lay people should feel free in giving  their opinions and the clergy and the diocese should listen. Dioceses have to spend money in the education of  lay people.

One of the participants stressed that the Council was a pastoral one, and this must be remembered. Lay persons must realize they are the church. He wonders whether most of the lay people see themselves only as  objects of pastoral work and as  helpers of the clergy, but they are the church and have been given their mission by Jesus. Both papers had articles on the conference. On the front page of the Catholic Times, the article ends: without change in the thinking of the clergy the ideas that have followed from the Council will be impossible to achieve.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How Objective Is Our History?

Anything  that is written is done with a bias.  Historians admit this rather obvious reality. Some biases will help one get closer to the truth than others. One danger is that history, for the most part,  is written by the victors and written by the most favored in society.
Korea is conflicted at present by the governments desire to control who writes the history books used in the secondary schools. Schools can choose the books they want but from 2017 all schools must use the books selected by the government. Present government does not like the left-leaning, American bashing, and pro-North Korean  language. How much that is the case is a matter of debate. In the Peace Weekly a  history professor, emeritus, gives his opinion on the matter by answering a series of questions.  

History is the combination of fact and interpretation. There is much room for interpretation, and this gives life to what we read. We don't have any established theories unless it is controlled.   

To the question, whether we have any international standards to go by, he rules out being influenced by ideology or politics. With the United Nations, history is turned over to the historians. Most of the developed countries do not get involved with the history books used and turn this over to those  writing the history. Those using the books have freedom to  select the ones they deem the best. When the government does the selecting, we are approaching totalitarianism.   

He reminds us  the books considered left-leaning now in use were approved by the government, and if there is a left-leaning, the Education ministry is at fault and not the editors of the books.   

When history has to be approved by the government, we have a black-and-white  camera with pictures that are in color. History is not to be interpreted by a certain class of society or written to  imbue patriotism in the citizens. Danger is high that, controlled by the government, it will be written to build up love for the country. 

A Christian way of looking at history would see it with the glasses of love and peace and the universal extension of  fundamental rights, which would not be much different from the way the historical academy would see it. If we have a love for humanity, peace and the  pursuit of happiness  as values, they will  help in the  writing of history: against war and on the side of the poor. We have to keep in mind the universal common values: a proper view of the  world and life requires  a universal outlook on values that serve as our starting point for interpretation and teaching.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Living Like We Should

Renewal, reformation, being what we are called to be is an ever present desire on the part of many. Seven religious groups Buddhist, Protestants, Catholics and others began the movement for the members to live according to their own groups' teachings: like human beings, like religious people, like government officials, like workers, like fathers, like mothers and so forth.

Doing what we are called  to do by our duties in society, giving an example to society with the hope society will follow. Since over half of the Koreans have a religious affiliation this would make a difference in society. The movement was written  up in the Catholic papers and also in the secular press mentioning a diocese that in a general meeting, 461 priests promised to carry out the proposal, the first group of priests in the country to do so.

*They have  promised to be faithful to their duties as priests.

*To be evangelizers to the best of their ability and live by the Gospel.

* Read the breviary devoutly and be an example of a prayerful life.

* Serve God's people.

*Will work for the unity and fraternal love among the priests of the diocese.

They have promised this in the presence of their communities.

They have also decided to help with a gift of about 1,000 dollars for all the families with a third child, and for any third child 1,000 dollars for high school, and if accepted for college, another 2,000 dollars.

In surveys made to determine the first need for renewal within the church, the answer in first place was  priests' authoritarianism and clericalism. The response of the diocesan priests is an understanding of this reality and an effort to bring about a change. It was a surprise to many to see the response of the diocese  to the movement 'to live like we should'.

Dec. 8th begins the Year of Mercy and the diocese has decided to set up a permanent place for confessions, and next year in May, they will have a day for all all couples with a renewal of the marriage vows.The response of the diocese has already moved another diocese to follow their example  next year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cruelty Experienced by Korean Separated Families

Recently, Korea had a three-day  meeting of separated families in the North's Diamond Mountain resort. One of the columnists in  the Peace Weekly writes about the meetings with a great deal of feeling. North and South never signed a peace treaty, so we are dealing with a truce and continuance of conflict. 

One of the elderly Koreans  who is just short of his ninetieth year, after 65 years met his daughter who was only 3 years old when he left his family for war. His wife died 35 years ago and the child he left is now a grandmother of 68. She wanted to hear her father sing, an  accomplished singer in his day. The father was only a father in name to the daughter. She held her father's hand while he sang and cried and never stopped. When the time came to separate there was no promise of a future visit only wishes for good health.
After some time, we have resumed the visits of the separated families which begin with tears and end with tears. Meeting family members, not knowing whether they are alive or not, is always a happy moment but shortly ends with the beginning of pain. Joy turns to pain, and we see the cruelty of the situation. Watching the meeting of families on television is filled with great sorrow on the part of the citizens, not difficult to understand the pain of those meeting each other.

Families  have done nothing to merit this separation. Nothing can justify this evil, and cruelty inflicted on so many families. Russia and the United States both looking for hegemony divided the country with the help from both sides: a symbiotic hostile relation that has brought  pain to many. Each side looks only to its own benefits, and forgetting the good of the citizens. We are all accomplices in this evil, he laments; we all sat idly while this was accomplished.

In the last eight years, we have had only four meetings of separated families. We can ask the two governments of the South and North why should this be. The previous 'liberal' government had 16 meetings of separated families. No matter, the reasons given the columnist found this difficult to accept. Those who profess the name conservative should  have a great respect for family and should be working to  decrease the pain that the separated families endure. The age of the separated families continues to increase, and the hope of meeting is left unresolved. 

He hopes the two governments will allow regularly a place where the separated families  can easily meet. He hopes they will think more of the families, instead of their own advantages and disadvantages. He would like the Cardinal of Seoul to use his position as the acting ordinary of Pyongyang, North Korea, to work to overcome the heartburn that so many in both parts of the peninsular have to deal with, and want to see resolved before they die.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Is It Pleasure or Happiness?

Pleasure is the gratification of the senses, fulfilling our desires. The opposite would be pain. Hedonism is the school of thought where pleasure is the highest good.  These are the words that introduce an article in the Kyeongyang magazine, by a Catholic College President, writing about one of the ever-present temptations we face. 

Pleasure's common element is being temporary;  we are gratified, but it soon disappears and we long for something else: 'hedonic adaptation' followed often by addiction.

We hear that modern man is losing his roots, his inner pillars are shaking and she seeks self-preservation in pleasure. One becomes alienated from the self. Young people, no matter how hard they work and save for the future,when obstacles are too many to overcome, the danger of falling into a life of pleasure is present. 

When education is not for the building up of  the human and aimed only towards wordily success, young people will not have the necessary knowledge and virtue to overcome difficulties of life.When the culture and the social order begin to fall apart, and morality becomes muddied, values are confused. 

Happiness that comes from pleasure is located in the body; the fullness of happiness comes from the mental and spiritual.  What do we learn from this distinction between the two? Bodily happiness may start with spice but leaves us with a thirst. It is only the authentic happiness that has God in the equation that will last.

Psalm number four shows us what the spread of the hedonistic culture will mean for those that confront the culture."Men of rank, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love what is vain and seek after falsehood? Many say... put gladness into my heart, more than when grain and wine abound."

Searching for pleasure is a temptation for those with a religious belief and a challenge. Will it be this emotion for pleasure that needs repeated changes or will we realize we are weak and repent? This is the way of living as a Christian.