Saturday, January 30, 2016

Broken Scale of Justice

One of the frustrations, teachers' experience is misunderstanding, or the failure to sympathize with what is being conveyed. Society always has had prophets or whistle blowers, bringing to our attention activities or ways of thinking that are not those of the majority and consequently, not easily accepted.

Lady Justice holds balance scales in her hands, and eyes blindfolded so as not to be swayed by personal feelings. In With Bible magazine, the writer in his article titled 'Broken Scale' feels that our society's fairness  is slanted in one direction, towards the one percent of the world made up of the strong and wealthy. This small number's  high-handed  manner is not criticized, and we are blind to what is going on. The scale is seriously broken.

When a lawyer some years ago was a whistle blower on corruption in one of the industrial giants, it was only the priests for justice who sided with him. He brought his message to the newspapers, but they all treated him coldly. They knew that they would lose income from advertising. He was a well-known  lawyer and had information that few others would have available and yet society made him out as a Don Quixote and isolated him. Many turned against him and because of regional prejudice that was added to the opposition, justice was not achieved and he returned to his hometown a broken man: similar to the lives of the prophets of the Old Testament.  

A small group within the church have opposed the priests for justice and have expressed this loud and clearly. They have put pressure on the church to do something with these priests. The writer makes clear that not all that is done by these priests needs to be accepted without criticism, but it is a lack of reason when you let some small errors of judgment on their part, in the eyes of some, close the  eyes of society to  big evils.

The  scale of justice needs to be fixed. He mentions a number of professors who maintain the central point in justice is impartiality. The church should be working in its prophetic role as a leader  to fix the scale of justice. Social irregularities and unfairness in society need to be addressed. This is the concern of the Church, a present and  future subject and Gospel message.

What is meant by justice? We need to think deeply and work to achieve it in our lives. If we make-believe the scale of justice is in good order, and we remain concerned only about what profits us, we are not living as Christians. We need to go about fixing the scale, and concludes with the hope we will work to do this during this new Lunar Year.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Personalism: Dignity of the Human Person

Joy and Hope booklet from  the Institute of that name, mentions in one of the articles, encyclicals of the last few centuries, and Pope Francis' Laudatio Si. They restate the Church's understanding of the social gospel and our Christian values.
Personalism and  concern for the individual are all important, and the author mentions the work of a number of priests who were leaders in the co-operative movement:  Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta  in the town of Mondrag√≥n, Rev. Michael Coady and Jimmy Tomkins  in the Antigonish Movement in Canada, and in 1890 the movement by Don Lorenezo Guetti the first cooperative founded in Trentino, Italy.

He then introduces us to  Peter Maurin: Prophet in the Twentieth Century, a book translated into Korean last year.   He was a founder of the  Catholic Worker Movement in the United States with Dorothy Day and was considered Dorothy's mentor. He failed in many of the programs he tried to implement but left behind round-table-discussion groups, houses of hospitality, farming communes, and other programs. He died a pauper but is respected as an outstanding Catholic layperson.  

He was born in France  and joined the Christian Brothers. He left them and was attracted by  the Sillon Movement  in France, which aimed to bring Catholicism closer to the ideals of the French Republic, but he left them because of their lack of concern for what he thought was the spiritual. His call to military service and his opposition to war prompted his leaving of France for Canada and later for the United States where he worked in the movement for Catholic workers with which he was familiar in France.

He lived a very difficult and poverty filled life. He found the church in the United States lukewarm, and receiving no help began a house of hospitality for ten women without homes as a cooperative. He joined  Dorothy Day, a journalist, a woman with radical ideas with whom he began the Catholic Worker newspaper which used the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII,  Rerum Novarum,  and In the 40th  Year an encyclical  issued by Pius XI as resource material for their paper.

Briefly, he was against all movements and systems from above that used force and was promoting movements that relied on personal responsibility. He would  be considered a Catholic anarchist by many for he would oppose industrialization. He wanted everything to come from below, the responsibility of everyone and wanted the church to be a dynamic leader in the movement. His Easy Essays promoted these ideas. 

1. To give and not to take
that is what makes man human.
2. To serve and not to rule
that is what makes man human.
3. To help and not to crush
that is what makes man human.
4. To nourish and not to devour
that is what makes man human.
5. And if need be
to die and not to live
that is what makes man human.
6. Ideals and not deals
that is what makes man human.
7. Creed and not greed
that is what makes man human.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Joy, Happiness and Pleasure

In the Catholic Digest one of the writers wonders why faces in church are so grim. He was in church with his wife waiting to confess and remembered the words of a friend. A grandmother in the confessional didn't speak so the priest asked her to confess her sins....  "Father living is sin." He laughed at the words of his friend but they continued to reverberate in his mind while waiting to confess.

He recalls the look on his own face and those he sees in the church:  soldiers on the battle field, or like the walking dead. Even when praying the grim face doesn't disappear. What should his face express when praying? He asks himself.

When he was in the States he was called back to Korea when his mother was dying and recalls the peaceful look on his mother's face at death.  

On the day he was preparing for confession the Gospel at the Mass was from Matt. 11:28-30. "Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle  and humble in heart,  and you will find rest for your souls. Yes,my yoke is easy and my burden light."

Thoughts usually are expressed on our faces. Should not the words of Jesus become so much a part of oneself that  they find expression on our faces?

During the liturgical year we have two Sundays in which the celebrant of the Mass wears rose vestments:  Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent and Laetare Sunday the fourth of Lent, both words can be translated rejoice. Joy is the hallmark of a Christian and  Pope Francis in his message to us wrote about the Joy of the Gospel.

In Korean as in English we do often distinguish between Joy, happiness and pleasure. Without much thought we can say that joy is internal, happiness has to do with the emotions and pleasure with the body. All are important and valuable, but the one that should always be present is  joy which does not depend on external stimuli and lasts.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Living the Decent Life

Recently, the world news reported how a few rich persons have more wealth than billions of the poor. We have heard similar news repeatedly over the years, and  wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer persons, and unless something is done, matters will only get worse.

Catholic Times' column on the issue reminds the readers that for a Christian, God in his creation intended the goods of creation to be enjoyed by all. "God intended the earth and all that it contains for the use of every human being. Thus, as all men follow justice and unite goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis" (The Church Today # 69).

Catholicism has not denied the right to private poverty, but it is not the highest right. Abuse of this right of private property should be regulated with certain limitations. Development of the market and increase of money is not always for the benefit of all the citizens.  

Thinking that economic development alone is going to be distributed to all the citizens is false. The increase of the national wealth, has as in the past, made the gap between the haves, and the have-nots  larger. Economic development is a good  when it benefits all the citizens. Markets should be controlled by mechanisms that will help to make an adequate distribution of wealth.

It is not that we have a lack of food that people go hungry, nor a lack of clothing for the  many who  do not have clothes to wear. The reason that children are dying in Africa from sickness is the market system is not working. "Seeing their poverty, hearing their cries and knowing their sufferings. We are scandalized because we know there is enough food for everyone, and that hunger is the result of a poor distribution of goods and income. The problem is made worse by the generalized practice of wastefulness” (Joy of the Gospel #191).

We need to meditate on these words of Pope Francis. When the economy is doing well not all benefit and when big business does well not all do well. To help all live decently there is a need for restrictions on personal wealth and freedom of the market, and expansion of welfare. 'Common good thinking' should be our  goal: not only the ethical thing to do but the way we will all live the decent life.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ecumenism and Week for Prayer for Christian Unity


Each year in most of the countries where Christianity is present we have the Unity Octave or Prayer for Christian Unity from January 18-25. This year's theme is taken from 1 Peter 2:9-10.  "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

  This year the material was prepared by the Christians of Latvia based on the passage from St. Peter's first letter where we are asked to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord. Themes for each day are listed below.

  Day 1: Let the stone be rolled away

Day 2: Called to be messengers of Joy

Day 3: The witness of fellowship

Day 4: A priestly people called to proclaim the Gospel

Day 5: The fellowship of the Apostles 

Day 6: Listen to this dream

Day 7: Hospitality for prayer

Day 8: Hearts burning for unity

  Week of prayer has a history of over a hundred years and since many different religious Christian groups met together to compose the  prayers, expectations of all the parties may not be satisfied. All know, however, that the objective is to bring about the wish of Jesus that we be one as he is one with the Father.

  "May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me" (John 17: 21).

  Korea is an example of ecumenism at the highest level that hopefully will be spread throughout the whole of Christianity. Emphasizing what  we hold in common, and praying  we may come to a common understanding of what separates us, and work to achieve unity the Spirit wants. 

  The editorial in the Catholic Times reminds the readers that Catholicism entered Korea 230 years ago and Protestantism 130 years ago. We need to reflect deeply  on the path we are called to walk as disciples of Jesus, and do all we can to heal the wounds we have inflicted on the mystical body of Christ.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Appearance: Supreme Value in Marketing

A series of articles in the Catholic Times exams the way sex is seen in the popular culture. Morality gives way to profit as the standard of judgement. News is often not  honest, and citizens  show little concern. Biotechnology without recourse to any ethical position is of little interest to the media.

All kinds of suggestive advertising come into the homes; there are no limits in contents or location. Smart phones are used mostly by those in their 20s and 30s  and what  is harmful is difficult to classify and passed over quickly.

A recent article was concerned with the way  advertising for clothes is made to the young students. Thinness is carried to a degree where it becomes harmful. One is not recognized if one is not pretty and thin. Appearance is the supreme judge of a person's value: corsets grafted into the  school dress and length of dresses.   

On the wall next to the entrance to a high school was an advertisement addressed to girls with a famous dance vocalist. Wearing her school uniform a girl student in the advertisement was drawing the  attention to her thinness of a man in his forties with dark classes, admiring her beauty. The advertisement was removed shortly for being suggestive.

There are persons  sensitive to what is happening, and the article mentions health teachers in one of the school systems. They notified the schools and made the problem of these kinds of advertising known. The result of this  kind of advertising is having a bad influence on students. A girl's figure becomes all important and  leads to all kinds of health problems: anorexia, indigestion, menstrual pain, underweight and TB and other problems.

With the attentions given by the public to the advertising, the clothing company did agree to change the advertising for the future. Companies of this type are not interested in the health of the students as much as appearance and consequently, the way they choose to market their clothes: 'Beauty is strength.'

Many are the teachers who feel that the protection of our school children is not provided for adequately.  "When we don't take a problem seriously it is not a problem, but needs to become a problem." When the young people become objects of sexual exploitation in  advertising, something needs to be done and more voices raised in protest, working  for a change.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Advice From an Old Korean Missioner on Unification

A Catholic Times' column by a professor of Chinese Studies on unification of the peninsular, has an interview with the local superior of the Maryknoll Society, Father Gerard E. Hammond. He begins his article by  mentioning a brief history of Maryknoll, established for mission to Asia. Mission work for the Society began in Korea early, and in 1927 the Pyongyang Province was made a prefecture and work continued until war and the Communist take-over of North Korea.
Father Hammond has been associated with the Eugene Bell Foundation whose president is Stephen Linton. Father has been working in North Korea with  Stephen Linton and his foundation combating those with Multi-drug -Resistant Tuberculosis. They have 12 centers in the North which they visit frequently with drugs, assisting and examining patients. They are one of the biggest groups in this work.

Recently, Fr. Hammond told one of the Korean priest leaders in promoting unification of the county that  medical aid to the North is one of the most important works that we can engage in at present. Germany is a good example of what was needed for unification.  East German citizens trusted West Germany, and they made the choice of joining them because of the good will towards the West.

When North Korea has a trust in the government of the South, we will have the citizens' peaceful transition to a one Korea, says Fr. Hammond. When North Koreans are having problems and difficulties, we should not neglect them. We  need to monitor what is being done, ensuring the aid is going to the needy. That is the reason the Eugene Bell Foundation has established the 12 centers.
Persons that were  members of the elite in North Korean society were  purged from positions in government by Kim Jong-un for selling medical supplies on the market for personal gain, given from the South and  international  organizations. Which showed medical help  given by 'angels' was acknowledged and punishment was duly given to those who stole from the sick of the country.

Fr. Hammond is 80 years old and has his grave site  selected, and  wants to be considered a Korean. He will continue working to help the North Koreans and  prays and hopes for the day of unification.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Choose Karios Over Chronos

One of the gods of Greek mythology is Kairos, god of opportunity. An article in the Kyeongyang magazine by  a layman, working with families, in the Seoul Pastoral Office explains why the statue of god has a head of hair in the front and bald at the back.

Mop of hair at the front allows one to grasp opportunity, but once it passes you, the bald head is all you have and a missed opportunity; the chance has passed. "So then, as often as we have the  chance, we should do good to everyone, and especially to those who belong to our family in the faith" (Gal. 6:10).

In sports, we know how important it is to take advantage of the opportunities that one is given. Likewise, in life we don't know when we will hear the whistle, so it is necessary to seize every opportunity,  there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. We know speed of time on earth continues to increase as we get older. Chronos is the Greek word for lineal time: quantity of time. Kairos is the quality of time, a subjective understanding of time.

He uses the example of the last  4 minutes of a soccer game where the score is 1:0. For the winning team, the 4 minutes are extremely long while the losing team too short. Kairos time is meaningful and quality time, and you are the master and in control.God's clock has no hands because it is Kairos and full of love and he wants us to live with this kind of time. 

Sad, it is, to spend so much time without meaning, a great tragedy. When surveys ask what do people want: money is the answer, but one thing money can't buy is time. Consequently, the greatest gift we can give another is our time. 

Tragic, how busy we are, and can't find time to be with family. There is so much to share, and we miss the opportunity to spend quality time with those  we have bonds of charity. We miss so much without this contact with family and members of our different communities, and yet we know what Jesus asks of us:  "Now I give you a new commandment love on another. As I have loved you so you must love one another" (John 13:34).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Throwing the First Stone

"Look here, do you want to play for a while?  I will make it cheap, there are two you can choose from." A journalist on news gathering for the paper writes about his visit to a red-light district and the greeting he received from the pimp.
"I am just passing through, are you open for business even during the day?" He asks, refusing the invitation. He was offered the girls who were in their twenties, sitting in the porch of their place of work, scantily clad and with plenty of make-up, staring vacantly at the journalist.

Price for satisfying the desire of the man is about 66 dollars but over half of the money is shared with the owner of the establishment and the pimp. The money they receive often goes to pay off debts they have incurred for clothes and cosmetics. Buying a woman for sex is just another of our distorted consumer values.    

In the Catholic Times' article on the issue, the journalist  gives  us an  example of why the situation goes from bad to worse. He found a  woman who left  and began a new life. She was in her middle 30s,   brought up Catholic. At age 8, her father died, and her mother put the children in the care of the grandparents and left the family.

 The family was in debt; she didn't have much schooling, and without education, she found getting a job impossible. She did get a part-time job which was not enough to take care of her needs and help her family. Room Salon was her only hope; and told she could earn more than 2,500 dollars a month.

Reality was different. She received money in advance for living expenses and a place to stay; these became her shackles. She was forced to have cosmetic surgery on her whole body, paying off this debt she ended up in the red-light district of the city. Even when sick, on certain days she would have  over ten clients. If the debt was not paid she would be beaten by the owner and reviled. Her body weakened, and her mental faculties were a mess. With counseling, and overcoming  difficulties, and  with the help of the police  she left, but her situation was serious. 

" I was a woman of the street, and this road which I chose, destroyed my life." She fought bitterly to change her life and the image she had of herself. With counseling, and training, she received certification and a job. She was one of the lucky ones, says the journalist. Government programs  do not offer the money, and the return to the past is common.

She dreams of a society where the past does not  prevent one  from living in the present when changes are made. She finds her religion a great help in making the transition and the words of Jesus to those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. The Journalist finishes the article with a hope that those who read the article will be ready to help those in similar circumstances. We are all members of God's family.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Comfort Women" Justice Postponed

Recently the agreement between Korea and  Japan on the 'comfort women' issue  is not appreciated by many in Korea. Comfort women was the euphemism used  for women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army before and during the Second World War.

Both Catholic papers had editorials  and a number of long articles on the issue; all very much against the statement that was  published by the press. Simply stated: Japanese prime minister would apologize and show sorrow,  a foundation would be establish to help those who were victims of the atrocities, over 8 million dollars would be conveyed, the issue will finally and irreversibly be settled and they will reach   a mutual agreement concerning the statue in front of the embassy. (A statue of a young Korean woman that sits in a chair opposite the Japanese Embassy in Seoul symbolizing all the Korea women sex slaves of the Japanese soldiers)

Peace and Justice Committee of the Bishops' Conference made clear that the agreement reduces the infringement of basic human rights and a war crime into a diplomatic issue between two countries and  needs to be renegotiated. The agreement  placed economics and diplomacy ahead of dealing with infringement of  basic human rights and seeking the truth. Organized crime was  overlooked, and again trampling on the dignity of the victims who are still living.

The committee sees the agreement ignoring Japanese legal responsibility, and failure to recognize it as a crime of the country. The agreement was between two country's diplomatic agencies without any communication with the victims and not passed as a resolution and agreement of the two parliaments. Japan has maintained it has apologized  and paid compensation but it  never has taken responsibility as a country for the  wrongdoing. 

Those in agreement and those opposed have many other issues that enter the thinking, which are not on the table but will determine a persons views on the settlement of the comfort women's issue.

Words used: “final and irrevocable”, leave little room  to pursue other historical disputes is a bone of contention among those opposed to the agreement. We continue to have demonstrations and division on this issue but ignoring the living  victims of the crime perpetrated, and failing to understanding  their feelings will guarantee the continual division and loathing at what was done.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nature Expands Our Imagination

Material development with all the good it has brought us may be distancing us from nature. Books, computers, smart phones and man made instruments can blind us to the world of nature, and we don't know fully the results of this alienation from the natural, and what it will do to the mental and spiritual makeup of the individual.

Imagination expands a child's vision, and openness to the  world. By means of imagination the child begins to ask questions. Can I exist in  this world in a different way? How would I feel? What can I find and create? Within community, imagination helps  a person grow to maturity and enables one to give their special gifts to society. During the years of growing up we are continuing  to develop our imagination.

Peace Weekly spirituality columnist recommends the dream world of the child be encouraged, and the need to  draw out the child to express colors, sounds and touches experienced. Concern is not with interpreting the dreams but to exam and deal with  the feelings that are aroused and help them to speak about their dreams.

Studies show that 80% of the dreams children have are about animals which show their relationship with nature in the wild. Not only concern for material and personal matters is important  but life is filled with  interesting and inviting opportunities, and children are acquainted with this. Children do not grow up with only what they experience in the home.

The world of the imagination is what helps the child to mature. They should be encouraged to experience  internal reality to the degree they experience their external  reality. William Blake says: "But to the eyes of man of imagination, nature is imagination itself."

We are a part of nature. Children don't just examine nature but all their senses are in mutual interaction with nature. They don't only see a bird on the chimney top but their arms move and body feels lighter. They hear the sound of the wind, and the bird's song; trees are to be climbed, water is drumming; they want to run into the water. They see themselves one with the animals. Rain brings to the child a sense of loss, the sun warmth and hope,  storms bring fear to the child. Imagination, Body, Emotions and Nature are influencing the child complicatedly and charmingly, interacting with the child. Children need to experience the four of these,  when one of them is ignored, the other three are in some way damaged.

"I think we have exploited nature too much," Pope Francis said, "Thanks be to God that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about it." We need to find again a harmony with nature and deepen it daily.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

One Lesson we Need to Learn Repeatedly

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is be someone who can be loved.
The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care,
some people just don’t care back.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust
and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life
but who you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes.
After that, you’d better know something.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself
to the best others can do,
but to the best you can do.
I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people,
It’s what they do about it.
I’ve learned that no matter how thin you slide it,
there are always two sides.
I’ve learned that you should always have loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you’ll see them.
I’ve learned that you can keep going
long after you think you can’t.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done
When it needs to be done,
regardless of the consequences.
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly,
but just don’t know how to show it.
I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry,
but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.
I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to
doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend is,
they’re going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.
I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken,
the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are,
but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.
And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put the individual
ahead of their actions.
I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing
and see something totally different.
I’ve learned that no matter the consequences,
those who are honest with themselves go farther in life.
I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours
by people who don’t even know you.
I’ve learned that even when you think you have no more to give,
when a friend cries out to you,
you will find the strength to help.

I’ve learned that writing,
as well as talking,
can ease emotional pains.
I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life
are taken from you too soon.
I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice
and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.
I’ve learned to love
and be loved.
I’ve learned…

The recent issue of the Kyeongyang magazine had an article by a professor of English Literature on the above poem "I've learned." She believes  words give life,and poetry is the heart of words which she enjoys investigating.

She begins by telling the readers the above poem has been attributed to others and she mentions Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) a Frenchman who began his career in the  military,  and feeling great skepticism changed his life around, and at the age of 43 became a priest and  went back  to Africa. Because of the drama of his life, she mentions, it helped to make the poem popular but it was written by an Arabian poet Omer Washington. 

Love she concludes is the beginning and end of the poem. Love is the only thing that will overcome chaos and disagreement, sadness and despair, wounds and betrayal. Love is something we have to learn over and over again, and she hopes it will be the road that her readers will be walking in the new year.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Choose Life and not Death

In Window from the Ark column, a priest who worked for a missionary organization of the  Vatican while visiting an area of South East Asia, saw for the first time the tapioca plant. Tapioca is extracted from the cassava root that is native to South America and is now grown in many parts of the world. The starch is used in many different ways, food, fuel and even in the making of alcohol.

Africa is  a supplier. East Asia supplies 30 % of the world's production, which has changed the way we are world. And we find ourselves continually adapting to changes in our environment, not always correctly.

With genetic changes in the make up of life we have adaptation to our environment and evolution. This adaptation allows the individual and species to evolve but also become a monster. Cancer is an example of an outside influence on the cell that turns it into a monster. The columnist mentions a movie in which the earth seen from its perspective: humans have become a virus to the earth.  If we don't stop the damage we are doing to the earth it will be the death of one or the other.

He meditates on this scenario for this time of the year. What is the kind of world we Christians envisage God wants, and how do we prepare for it? Like a  life organism it would be a healthy and harmonious earth if nutrients were sent to all corners of the earth and especially those in most  need. It would include respect and love for all and avoidance of  pride and egoism in the care of all, the way Jesus showed us.   

The world is losing the fire for this love. Instead we have extreme greed, and fear as reasons for our lack of cooperation. Failure to solve the problems we face, increase the suffering of the weak, and inflict  pain on ourselves and society. 

Law which is to protect the weak is on the side of the strong and the gap between them, continues to increase. Instead of ridding  ourselves of the injustices in society we make it worse. Harmony and a win-win approach is not part of our thinking:  appropriate at this time of year.

Church as mission, and  disciples of Jesus are to be with those hurting, the poor, to share with them, and to live the good news.  This is not a question of morality but of life. Cooperation and harmony breaking down in society is a serious malady that  torments the earth. " Let the heavens and the earth listen, that they may be witnesses against you. I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life that you and your descendants may  live" (Deut. 30: 19).

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Just Believing Is Not Enough

In the Peace Weekly, Question and Answer column, a reader asks: does religion require  unconditional belief? A young person who had been looking around for a religion  found Catholicism to his liking, but those that introduced him to religion, when he had questions, repeated  what the apostle Thomas was told by  Jesus: blessed who believe without seeing. Since he has a desire to understand and study, and go deep into what he believes, he wants to know if  this is wrong for a Catholic?

Priest columnist  answers that the young person has the correct attitude and on the right path. St Thomas, the apostle, despite all  that he saw and heard still doubted, and it was this that Jesus was addressing. 
Religious people are searching and will do so until death. Spiritual mentors often say: faith is receiving answers but at the same time asking questions. We continue to ask questions and look for answers.

Life is a school always open 24 hours a day, where we learn about love, forgiveness,honesty, fear, patience, adaptation and the like: we are learning to become human. Like the butterfly that sheds its cocoon we leave infancy to become a mature adult.

A person who studies is like a mental wanderer, a person on a voyage of discovery. We see this often in the Scriptures. Abraham in his old age became a wanderer, and we have  Jesus sending his disciples  on a journey. When we are closed to new ideas and a deeper understanding of our Lord's teachings, we put obstacles in the way to spiritual growth and the movements of the Spirit.

When we close  ourselves off from new thoughts and ideas we punish ourselves and even when prayer is devotedly attended, a person loses the joy of life. Many who are sick and near death have written great pieces of literature because they were mentally alert and their hearts still searching, and on fire.

He concludes with the words from Sirach."Wisdom instructs her children and admonishes those who seek her.  He who loves her loves life; those who seek her out win her favor.  He who holds her fast inherits glory; wherever he dwells, the Lord bestows blessings" Sirach  (4:11- 13 ).

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Living 2016 Fully

We have moved into a New Year,  and according to the wisdom from ancient Korea each person becomes one year older but with a twist, young people add a year but the old, subtract: one year from life.  As a society, we are getting older writes a history professor in the Peace Weekly, and many meet the new year with sadness.

Life begins slowly, with age it gets faster: true, also of countries, beginning with development, but followed  by infirmity and collapse. Speed in our lives doesn't allow us to reflect, and  we became careless. We look forward to a new year and hope for change.With the start of the new millennium, we experienced great euphoria, and we had a baby boom but shortly after a financial  slump,  and  unemployment caused suffering. This was true of other countries where we had Lone Wolf millennium terrorism.

The lunar calendar tells us many things and in 2006, we had the year of the two springs, a very rare occurrence. In that year, we had a leap month in July,  which made for a long year. The number of marriages increased over the previous year by 16,630,  and the year of the pig 2007, a favorable year for births; we had 45,000 more births than the previous year. This year is the election year, and we will have many messiahs appearing.

Steve Jobs in his  commencement talk to the   students of Stanford University in 2005 quoted from something he had read:  "If you live each day as if it was your last you'll be right. I have looked in  the mirror every morning and asked myself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what  I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been 'No'  for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." The professor recommends to his readers this as a healthy approach to a way of living each day fully.

Yi Sun-sin  the Korean Admiral is the professor's example of a person who overcomes his own desire to do what was necessary in his situation. It was at the battle of Myeongnyang Strait where he called all his staff officers and ship captains: " He who seeks his death will live and he who seeks his life shall die." Under impossible odds, he was victorious.

He concludes his column with a desire for himself and readers to begin the  new year in the way Steve Jobs and Admiral Yi looked upon the work they were to face. We should see this year as the last one and  make sure that we live to do all the things that we want and need to do before the New Year of 2017, and not lose time with trivialities.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Change the World

Both Catholic papers wish the readers a happy and mercy filled New Year, and a reminder the sun will rise again tomorrow. 'View from the Ark columnist,' a college journalism professor,  begins his column with the words of Ephesians 5:16: "Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days."

He mentions a number of young people who face an unknown future. One graduate  student in his journalism class, started to cry, talking about the future and lack of job opportunities. Many students have finished their college and dreaming of a place in journalism. Now in their late twenties and early thirties, in graduate school, and having difficulties finding a place in society. He mentions many students are struggling and expressing  this frustration to teachers; not easy to do. He feels the pain, hearing their plight.

Many are the students working part-time to earn their tuition at low-paying jobs. Mass media uses the word  'Sampo'  generation: compelled to give up romance, marriage and children.  'Sam' is the word for three and 'Po' give up. This give-up-generation now adds four more things they have to give up:  home owning, social life, and recently added  was dreams and hopes.

He wants students who come  for counseling to hold their head up high, look up at the sky, know what they want in life, and go for it. When he tells the students to look up at the sky, what he is saying is  keep their ideals, become the journalist they desire to be, and work to make persons the center of their mission. He recommends they take a trip, look over their lives, confirm their mission and when they return view the  full marathon course, and be determined to begin.

Each New Year symbolizes  a new beginning with resolves and  dreams. Young people are the future. They need to dream, when they fail they need another opportunity. He mentions the movie 'Gone With the Wind,'  at the last scene of the movie the heroine Scarlett tired, broken and depressed returns home and says: "Tomorrow the sun will shine again."

Even when all looks black, we still have to go on living. We have to fight against anger and hate and begin the new year with hope, and use the time given us well.  We live in our place in history. Young people should look beyond the present reality to a new horizon with renewed strength. He finishes the column with a cry of encouragement: Keep on dreaming, stand up and change the world. Happy New Year!