Monday, February 29, 2016

What Our Voice Tells Us

We look for ways to relate with others, improve relationships, overcome interpersonal problems.  One of the easiest ways, we are told in an article in the Kyeongyang magazine, is in the voice. Written by a layman, in the Seoul Diocesan Family Pastoral Bureau, he reminds us of truths we have heard many times; find difficult to remember or when remembered know how to implement.

The first words between husband and wife, parents and children tell us what kind of relationship has been formed. Are the words gentle, calm and attentive or are they sharp, loud and authoritative? His article deals with the voice and what it tells us.

He mentions the well-known  law of Mehrabian, an American Scholar, whose studies, expressed simply and without qualifications, says we convey with words only about 7 percent, the other, non-verbal, 93% depends on attitude, facial expression and voice, more important in conveying our message.

According to the study, the non-verbal aspects broken down in more detail: attitude is 20%, facial expression  35%, and voice 38%. Consequently, says the writer, the voice is the most important. The voice is the second face.

He mentions that in a marriage over 70 percent of the time the wife is the first to initiate the conversation and by hearing the voice one can judge how the relationship is currently going. This he says is also true for the parent and child relationship. As the child gets older, the parent more often begins the conversation, and the voice will indicate how well the relationship is going.

First verse of Proverbs chapter 15: "A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." In the last paragraphs of the article, he mentions recent  studies of the voice and its perception. Scientists are seeing the possibility of determining a person's mental state, personality, and health by analyzing the voice. Like our finger print all different, so also our voices.

In the world, we have over 7 billion different faces, and similarly we have the same number of different voices. The voice is a gift of God and to use it correctly is a way of loving those with whom you relate with daily. It is a short cut to better relations,  and concludes the article with a question: Is your voice a peaceful one?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scandal of Mercy

Year of Mercy is an invitation to go out to others in love, kindness and generosity because God continues to show mercy to us. During this period of Lent, we repent of our failings because we know the mercy of God embraces us.

In the Catholic Times on the opinion page, a priest mentions mercy is not a concept easily understood in history. Jesus found it difficult dealing with leaders in society for they found him blurring the lines between good and bad: a man who lost  his wits.

Put simply, religious rulers of society couldn't understand why Jesus, with a stern face, didn't reprimand those living sinful lives. Instead, he frequented their meals and associated with them. Teachers in society found this a great scandal. "This one is a glutton and drunkard, a lover of tax collectors and those outside the law!" (Matt. 11:19).  

Those who considered themselves the righteous ones of society found everything that Jesus did upsetting. Not difficult to understand the umbrage, hearing from his lips: " I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you" (Matt. 21:31). He was telling the leaders of society that God's mercy was for everybody, and that message was a stumbling block to them but liberating news to the sinners.

In Luke 6:36, we are told: "Be compassionate, as your Father is compassionate." Even today when this kind of talk is carried out in action, it becomes a reason for scandal. In our Church society in recent memory, we heard much talk about being more sensitive to those who are hurting but when it comes to talking about pastoral ways of dealing with these persons, many find it a great obstacle.

The summit of this scandal of mercy is love for our enemies. This is God's 'sun shine policy to humanity' which makes us Christian, but one of the teachings we want to forget. 

In  society, the threatening atmosphere  surrounding the North-South Division: talk about  dialogue and rapprochement, opens oneself up to be stoned. Can we say we are free from fear, hate and anger present in society?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Love: End of the Spiritual Journey

In the spirituality column in the Peace Weekly, a seminary professor introduces us to the traditional three stages of the spiritual journey: Purgative, Illuminative and Unitive. This is using figurative language for the journey of the spirit, the same journey towards God in different stages.

Modern studies of the spiritual life have no proof texts, but they use scriptural verses to exemplify what they mean by the three stages: "Turn from evil, and do good; seek peace, and follow after it" (Psalm 34:15). Avoiding evil is the first step, doing good is the second and peace is the unitive stage expressed analogically.  

Another scriptural  passage used is Luke 9:23. "Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps." Denying oneself is the first stage, carrying the cross the second, and following in his steps the third. 

Church Fathers had different ways of expressing this journey.  Clement of Alexandria used the words of St. Paul: faith, hope and charity. Faith controls enthusiasm, avoids evil; hope prepares for the practice of virtue, and in the last stage, we have the motivating force of love.

John Cassianus, stressed the fear of punishment and evil is overcome by faith. By hope, one turns away from bodily pleasures and aims for goodness; love inflames the heart to move closer to God.

Saints have examined the words of St, Paul and have commented on their meaning. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, worked with four steps on the journey to God's love: Loving oneself for the sake of oneself; Love of God for self's sake, to receive his graces;  Loving God for God's sake and finally loving self for God's sake. This last step requires the help of grace.  

St.Thomas Aquinas has three steps in spiritual growth: beginner-in order not to lose charity, avoids sin and overcomes inordinate passions. In the advanced state, one grows in love and practices virtue. Last stage one empties oneself and desires oneness with Jesus this love makes us grow closer to God.   

In conclusion, Christians' efforts in growth become passive: the person is being led, and the columnist  wants the readers to be alert to this movement in the spiritual life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Servant Leadership in the Church

A priest who worked with the Young Catholic Worker Movement in Korea writes about his experiences in a bulletin for priests. He recalled a trip he made to Europe for an international meeting of leaders. Those in attendance were standing at a second-story window looking over an athletic field in which a priest translator was walking towards the building with a small hand bag, while a woman worker was carrying  two big bags.

The sight of the two walking, brought anger to the faces of the viewers who made known their revulsion at what they saw. That priest, they muttered, did not have the right to attend the meeting that was being held: despite what the culture considered the right thing to do in such circumstances. Those who were from the third-world also were appalled at what they saw.

He quotes in the  article a pastoral council president who said that in the larger society, many in positions of leadership have changed to doing many of the works of cleaning their offices and areas of work, but this is not as readily seen in clerical work places.

From about 30 years ago we have heard a great deal about servant leadership that has influenced much of society. Leadership whose primary focus is the well-being of the workers. We are not, he laments, quick to learn from Jesus' washing the feet of his disciples.  

Moving around to different parishes where the work is done by others, to change to another mode of living is difficult. The environment doesn't change, and we become habituated to this way of life.

In the past it was thought necessary in parish convents to have a housekeeper but this all changed when superiors met together, and decided that the sisters would  do their own cooking and cleaning in the convents. This change took place without any problems or opposition on the part of the sisters.

In many countries of the world, the priests do their own cooking and cleaning in rectories. They also do all the work in the sacristies preparing for Mass. Once in giving a retreat in Japan, Cardinal Kim was asked why the Korean priests don't do their own cooking and cleaning. He answered they were too busy. The Japanese priests thought that it was the natural thing for priests to do their own cooking and cleaning in  rectories.

"I,  your Lord and Teacher, have just washed your feet, You, then, should wash one another's feet. I have set an example for you, so that you  will do just what I have done for you."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

From Mercy to Solidarity

Care of the sick goes way back in history but hospitals as we know them today begins in the 16th century. Many were the places that took care of the sick until they recovered, similar to our general hospitals. The word hospital comes from the hospitality shown by the religious orders to the weak and poor. Catholic Times has an article written by the president of the theology department of the Pusan Catholic University, on moving from mercy to solidarity with the poor.

From the time of the middle ages until the present, religious orders have hospitably received the poor and weak in many different ways. They have fed the poor, gave lodging to travelers, accommodated and served the sick which became our general hospitals

During the pestilences of the middle ages and the ever-present cases of leprosy, members of the religious orders would accompany them and show them concern without regard to their own health.

In recent times, we have the Belgian priest Fr. Damian, who was canonized for his work among the lepers on the island of Molokai. He volunteered to work on the 'cursed island' of Molokai with the lepers and eventually becoming a leper, and staying with his community continuing to serve.  Hospitality was not  only welcoming guests, being with the poor, weak sick and the marginalized but being a voice for them. 

Our nation has become economically developed and is wealthy but the number of those who are in difficulty is not an insignificant number. Economically, Korea is high on the list of developed countries, but in concern for welfare, it is near the bottom. Close to four million people are living in painful conditions.  What does it mean for us to be hospitable to these people living in the  dark spots of society? The article concludes with a quote from the Joy of the Gospel #188.

"The Church has realized that the need to heed this plea is itself born of the liberating action of grace within each of us, and thus it is not a question of a mission reserved only to a few: 'The Church, guided by the Gospel of mercy and by love for mankind, hears the cry for justice and intends to respond to it with all her might'. In this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: 'You yourselves give them something to eat!' (Mk 6:37): it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter. The word 'solidarity' is a little worn and at times poorly understood, but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It presumes the creation of a new mindset which thinks in terms of community and the priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Challenges Come in Many Sizes

Vocations to the priesthood are no longer as plentiful as in the past, and in certain nations of the West the decline is serious. Reasons are many: the culture and the number of children families are willing to have are  factors in the results we see.

However, we hear stories of oases within the deserts, and individual stories of men who have made the step in unusual ways. Catholic Times writes about one such case in the recent issue.

A young man from the States, 25 years old, has a dream of becoming a priest for the Seoul Diocese. The only connection with Korea was learning taekwondo when a child. His main reason is to work with the North Koreans, who are no longer part of the South, and have suffered much. After the death of Kim Jong-il,  he became acquainted with the sufferings of the North, and wants to contribute in helping them; life as a priest came to mind.

Concretely expressed: he was teaching English in a middle school in the South of France and met some missioners from Brazil, which helped him make his decision. Communicating with the Christians and receiving spiritual help from the missioners strengthened his resolve to become a  priest, and help those in need. Before this, not once did he ever consider the priesthood.

His family were devout Catholics, but growing up whenever the thought of a priest came to mind: they were those who prayed in the rectory of the parish; this misunderstanding was all he had. His parents were welcoming of his decision but had some concern about the division within the country.

By the Internet, he got in touch with the Seoul Seminary; communication began by e-mail with the vocation director. After many exchanges, the diocese decided to accept him as a candidate. At the beginning of November of last year, he arrived in Korea, and is now resident in the preparatory school for seminarians. 

His big worry is learning Korean. He had his first meeting with the students preparing to enter the seminary, and in relating to the students he was frustrated in not being able to communicate as he would like. At Chicago University he majored in Romance Languages: languages that have developed from Latin-- French, Italian,  Spanish,  etc.. He speaks French like a native and has a gift for languages. In order to make his living expenses he teaches in a language academy and doesn't have the time to study as he would like.

With his experience at a well-known  university, he knows the problems one has in the years of study, and is looking forward to sharing what he has learned with others. During his one year of preparation he hopes to grow in humility and patience. He will be praying to St. Andrew Kim Taegon, and  Paul Chong Hasang and asks for the readers' prayers.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Oh Death Where is Your Sting?

Lent has begun and Christians prepare for the arrival of Easter in their liturgical journey, living the paschal mystery. Attending daily Mass, many hear the readings and  sermons preparing us for a new understanding of our place in God's kingdom, we entered at baptism, and make present in our lives.

A bulletin for priests explains to the readers how often non-believers are mystified by the attitude of Christians, when death comes knocking at the door.  He mentions the words he heard from a medical worker who attended many religious and clerics on their death beds. Many found going to heaven more distasteful than the ordinary Christians and non-believers.

"They speak often about living in God's kingdom and the joys of life with God but when it comes time to go, they do not like the idea."   Priest writer found these words of the medical worker disturbing. He believes we don't have an experiential understanding of living by faith in God's kingdom, united with Christ, in the here and now. He mentions the life of the Little Flower, St.Teresa, who had a strong desire to be with Jesus, rather than in the world.

A president of a purgatorial society in one of the wealthiest areas of Korea is quoted as saying that the wealthier the dying person was, the more difficulty in leaving, and it showed in the face. Was not this the reason, he adds, we hear in Luke 6:20: "Blest are you poor; the reign of God is yours." 

St. Paul tells us to rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Is this not a sign of already living in God's kingdom? St.Catherine reminds us of  this truth: "All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus is the way."

He concludes the article by reminding us to live daily as members of God's kingdom we entered at baptism. With this understanding of life, we are joyful, thankful for what we have, prepared for battle, and ready to leave in peace. 

On the first day of Lent we received ashes on our forehead, a reminder of where we are headed, prepared to  stare death in the face, overcome its terror, begin living with more passion and more fully, instead of just existing and forgetting our dignity as members of the Body of Christ: disciples already in his kingdom.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Unwed Mothers In Korea

Unwed mothers who choose life should be encouraged and supported instead of discredited. This was the title of an article in the Peace Weekly. Unwed mothers are the women who have children without benefit of marriage. Many are the reasons for the situation but the common element is the courage  in not opting for abortion, and accepting the gift of  new life.

Their choice and courage should be acknowledged and supported, however the world sees it quite differently and in most cases even the families do not welcome the child, and they end up going to some institution.

In the article we hear about Miss Kim, 27 years old, who when she notified the parents they told her to abort, and if she chooses to have the child she was on her own. She had the child and cried. She did think of putting the child up for adoption but while nursing the baby she changed her mind, and decided to raise the child. Her future, however, was far from bright.

When her boy friend heard about the pregnancy that was the end of the relationship. At her place of work she was not able to tell her boss she was pregnant so she quit.

A survey of unmarried mothers showed that 33.9 % of them find economic problems the most difficult. 26.6 % mental confusion was an issue; 11.2 % the child's future, 10.7 % family concern, and 17.6% listed other issues. Lack of concern and support of the family of the girl is the main reason for the difficulties.

Most of the families: 38.2% want the girl to terminate the pregnancy. 20.7% tell the girl she is on her own, 16.9 % of the girls are asked to get the boy friend to marry, 35 % want the girl to have the child adopted. Instead of accepting the child most of the families of the girl try to avoid the issue and refuse to accept the situation. This is an indication of a cross section of how society looks upon unwed mothers.

One of the priests working in the Seoul diocese with these new mothers would like everybody to drop the term unwed mothers, and treat them all as mothers and help.

Koreans have difficulty adopting children because of the strong emphasis on bloodline, and the history of Confucianism and the way it has influenced society.  In the past it was one of the largest exporters of children to families overseas. This has changed greatly in recent years, and most of those adopted are the children of unwed mothers. There have been efforts to change the thinking on adoption and promote domestic adoptions. Adoption to families overseas is more difficult than in the past, and hopefully time will see a change in the numbers adopted domestically.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Childrens Injurious Use of the Smartphone

With smartphone use so widespread, it's not surprising to hear so much talk about the digital world, and what it is doing to society. There is much good from the advances in technology and the abuses are many, and yet we need to remember the old adage: abuse does not take away use.

However, the  abuses of the smartphone are numerous, and need to acknowledge the reality society faces. Often, the very person we speak  to intimately is interrupted because of a call received. We become blind to those with whom we live and associate. The real world ceases to exist, and we become lost in the digital world. Not surprising to hear about the number of people with attention deficit disorders, and people who have difficulty distinguishing the real from the false.

A series of articles in the Catholic Times notes problems associated with the sexual culture that continues to grow with aid from the digital world. The article shows readers the many ways children and young people are being bombarded with lewd telephone calls and lewd pictures; exposed to an understanding of sex that is far from the holiness and beautiful encounter of husband and wife in the sexual embrace.

The article mentions a number of aberrations that  are pervasive in the culture. One of these are lewd telephone dating. Companies fostering this kind of interchange are springing up like mushrooms after rainfall. You are charged so much for every ten minutes of time with the person you are talking, and  not difficult to see the addictive attraction of this for some, and abuses that follow.

One of the deceptions is to have the women over the telephone suggest talking in the nude. This phishing acquires sensitive information, which is used to blackmail the person and threaten to notify parents and make known what transpired during the encounter, and asking for money. 

Young people have no way of protecting themselves from these schemes and malicious intentions of these efforts to make money from sex. The number of the young people with smart phones is close to 4 million: only 26.4 percent have the possibility of intercepting these lewd calls and pictures. Many started with the means to intercept lewd information but discontinued.

Government requires phones have the possibility of intercepting these lewd pictures and telephone calls. Companies selling these mobile phones are to notify the children and the guardians of the responsibility, and need to check to see if this is being done.

In 2015, a government survey determined 90.2 % of high-school students have smartphones, 86.6%  of  middle school children, and 59.3 % of elementary school children, Since this is the case it is easy to see how the children have access to adult content. One of the studies showed 38.3% among  children, and young people viewed sexting positively. The article concludes with hope parents will be more concerned in educating children to have a healthy understanding of sex.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Church for the World

On the opinion page of the Catholic Times, a priest recalls the speech the late Cardinal Kim gave in the Philippines. He stressed the Church should be for the world (Ecclesia pro vita mundi) one of the great teaching gifts from the Second Vatican Council. This statement to  Asians at that time came as a surprise, for many understood  the Church as concerned for itself: growth in numbers and size. (Eccleisa pro se ipsa).

Most of the organizations and groups in society are interested in preserving, and expanding their lives.   This is also true with the individual. Consequently, we have the ever-present  competition to deal with in  society, and  Pope Francis sees this unfettered competition as a social evil: success is succeeding in competition with your competitor at all costs.

Church is not immune from these market and worldly values, instead of evangelizing the world we are being changed by the world. We hear often, instead of the Church worrying about the world; the world worries about the church.

“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.” (Pope Francis)

Church is the bride of Christ, disciples of Christ, and exists for the world. In Scripture, it is described as salt, yeast, light. In an ancient  document, a letter sent to Diognetus the Church was described as:  “What the soul is in the body,  Christians are to the world.”

Externally the Church enters the world but internally remains different from the world if it is to succeed in doing its work.  "They are not of the world, any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them by  truth- Your word is truth. As you have sent me into  the world, so I have sent them into the world...John (17: 15-17). 

This is the attitude the Church needs. Holiness of the Church is prerequisite if it is to do its mission correctly in the world, and not be compromised, and mission jeopardized.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We Can't Go Back to the Past

We can't go back into the past, writes the Peace Weekly journalist, in Word and Silence, and contemplates the beautiful picture of the earth taken from the  Apollo 17 trip to the moon that appears  like a precious jewel: blue marble. Difficult to image the wars, hunger, pain and sorrow that continue to exist on this beautiful planet earth, he laments.

Is our life that beautiful? Many look back into the past with fond memories. We forget the pain and the difficulties, for suddenly they are healed. We look back with the eyes of a poet.

The curtain has dropped on the  drama of the 1980s. Nostalgia remains for much of the styles of dress, cosmetics, songs, etc..  In 1988, we had the Olympics, also the beginning of the Peace Weekly newspaper. How did we live at that time? Was it a time we want to see returned? In recent years, we have had many movies and dramas that bring back to us those years: television series on life in those years, young peoples' dreams, romance and close family bonds.... 

The future appears  as a cold biting wind, a serious depression, and many entering a gloomy tunnel. Young people see it as 'Hell Chosun''; young people half joking, see life  being destroyed, and fathers of families are hiding their tears in being asked to voluntarily put in for early retirement.

People who are suffering from the cold are looking for the warm spot on the floor. When did we have the warm spot on the floor? Are we able to return to the times when as children, we went fishing?  No, this is impossible.  Going back to memories is no more than seeing a mirage. Nostalgia is only temporary. We have to find the answers in the present. In these barren times, we have to make the roads and dig the wells today. Tomorrow we begin Lent, a time of  renewal and living each day more fully.  

"Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert,  I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers"  (Isaiah  43:18-19).

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Church Within A Consumer Society

A seminary philosophy professor writing for  the Catholic Times' opinion page recalls eating out with an older priest friend and laughing at his humorous story about a grandmother who was making it known that when she dies she wanted to have her ashes scattered from the roof of a department store.  She spent so many pleasant hours there with her friends, shopping, eating, talking, drinking coffee making many things possible for her. Sadly, he says, this thinking is a  self portrait of our present reality.

Enjoyment and happiness are so interwoven in our lives it's  difficult to distinguish between them.  It's true that enjoyment can be a part of happiness,  however, unfortunately few have little idea of what Aristotle considered necessary for happiness: virtue and contemplation is what satisfies.

Shopping is enjoyable and doesn't harm anyone and can be done alone; a way for many to unload much of the stress that comes with daily living. Consumerism is a way of exhibiting property and  values of society. He uses the words of a French philosopher who considers production of goods not as important as consumption. In our present society  consuming is a symbol. For many, what they buy is not what they need but a means of drawing attention. We need to buy brand names, expensive, but the reason to buy them. This gives one pleasure and a reason to separate oneself from others.

In the  consumer society it is not the use of the product but its symbolic value determining  our place in society and the standard of happiness.  When  others have that sign in their possession and we don't we feel like outcasts; not able to  follow the crowd we feel downcast.

Possessing these symbols we provoke the envy of others, moreover, with these symbols we have the illusion that we are happy, and have joined the class of the elite and are now the envy of all.

Koreans up until a few years ago, more than material wealth  considered  sharing of  affection, warmth  with neighbors and family in society of great value. Sacrifice was not considered an aberration; tenderness was not considered foolishness. To fight for truth was considered noble. We remember these times in the recent past but now only a nostalgic longing.

Devotion arising from our religious feelings is no longer common. True happiness is not related to contemplation, and  the propensity to have it slide in the direction of enjoyment and consumerism is only natural. Members of society are raising up temples with department stores. He concludes the article asking the readers to again recall the true values that God has given us, and begin following them in the new year. Happy Lunar New Year.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Superstition In the Life of Christians

Even among Catholics we still have about one out of  four who have  participated in some superstitious  practice, and close to one of three who have no problem with fortune telling. President of a Catholic College writes in the Kyeongyang magazine on the way he sees the issue and what has to be done.

In the Catechism of the Church #2116: "All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse  to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices  falsely supposed to 'unveil' the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots,  the phenomena of clairvoyance and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict  the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone."

'Begging for blessings' is a type of religious faith that those who indulge in superstitious practices find attractive. Many who have studied the issue have made known the problems and reasons for them.

First, we have little Christian understanding, lack of  trust and reliance on God, and no identity and confidence.  Secondly, the feeling of loss in an insecure society, Church's failure to present mercy and consolation, and to speak about the the harm of superstitious practices, are reasons for their prevalence.

Our  writer finds  reasons for the continuation of this  fortune telling culture as related to Christians' understanding of being led by the Spirit. Koreans see divination and looking for blessings as their search for elegance and elation. Buddhism, Confucianism and Christianity have as their bed rock shamanism. 

Koreans in their religious feeling believe something is moving them. Theologically, we Christians, call this the Spirit. The writer feels that more than wanting to know the future those that go to fortune tellers are seeking to be led by truth and the Spirit of God.

It is not easy for a Korean Christian to  experience God and following Jesus they always feel something missing.They want to be led by the Spirit and truth and they do not find this experiencing of the Spirit so they substitute it with fortune telling and asking for blessings.

He concludes the article by suggesting the way to lessen the hold of divination and looking for blessings is to deepen the faith of the Christians in the role of the Spirit in life by prayer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Going Against the Culture

In Korea, we have many who desire to become disciples of Jesus and are baptized, happy to be called brothers and sisters. However, once baptized  there is  a concern on how to address one another. A religious sister writing in View from the Ark column of the Catholic Times deals with the conundrum some Christians face.

She mentions that in Korean culture from the long past, calling a person by their name is not something that agrees with Korean sensibilities or ways of behaving. When we are dealing with seniors and persons with a higher position, it's  nearly impossible to call them by their given name. Consequently, a person is called by their office or position: teacher, president, director, chairmen and the like.

This very fact goes to show that we are not on equal footing, she says. Age and position are what is   important. Meeting for the first time we have to determine who is older or younger, so we will know how to address them. We find it difficult to call a person by their name alone: a sign of impoliteness and disrespect. This is true even within the church community.

She wonders if Jesus would be happy with the situation that we have in the church. Poor, and those with  difficult jobs are intimidated when they come to church. Not once in their lives have they had a job in which they would have a leadership position, or work that was respected.

We are all brothers and sisters within the church community, equal and with no highs or low, this is also  expressed in the liturgy. And yet within the community we have those who if not called by their titles think etiquette is breached, and feel diminished in the eyes of others. In Korean church beginnings, we had nobles, commoners and slaves all sitting and eating  together and calling each other brothers and sisters. We are no longer living in Chosen Dynasty  times, and yet rarely use our given and baptismal names when addressing each other, but titles of rank or work.

She concludes with a strong wish that we begin using in the community the names we were given by our parents and the baptismal name we received when baptized. She would like  priests and religious to be the first to show us by example: calling the parishioners by their baptismal name preceded by brother or sister.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Joy and Confidence With Doing Something Difficult

"You all wanted to go play in the water,  why aren't you coming in?" Words of the father of Han Pia, at water's edge. "Because it's  cold," was the children's answer."

"How do you know that without entering the water and seeing for yourself. Come on in,  if too cold you can always return to the shore." These words of her  father, she has never forgotten, and writes in  With Bible magazine that she often uses the same words with others, a valuable gift from her father.

Han Pia is  principal of the World Vision School of Global Citizenship, and writes about her experience, and what she has learned. For 6 years with a knapsack she has  traveled around the world, and experienced many difficulties. According to a Korean proverb, she recalls, when young these difficulties in old age would be worth even paying for them.

On one transcontinental train trip from Moscow to Beijing she traveled for 7 nights and 8 days. After that trip she has never complained of a  long, tiring trip. In China she was on a train that was crowded, like the subways in Korea around the New Year, and she had to stand all the way for 30 hours.

In India she was sick from food poisoning and her whole body was a rash, making matters worse,  she was attacked by mosquitoes and bedbugs which made her feel as if she was in a bee hive, her whole body smarting and swollen. On another occasion she was taking antimalarial medicine and the reaction to the medicine was nausea, and couldn't eat for two weeks.

She thought walking for 10 hours was her limit, but she did on one occasion walk for 15 hours which raised her expectations. She has extended this in  mountain climbing to 22 hours, and now wants to test her body for another longer mountain climbing experience.

Recently she met a woman who had walked a mountain trail for 30  hours. She envied the woman and made up her mind this new lunar new year to make the same trip. She doesn't know if her knees will hold up, but she will not know until she tries.

She recommends to the readers of her article to do something during  the new year which they would ordinarily consider difficult but a good, and have so far avoided. They will gain confidence, strength and  courage, helping them face the difficulties that come along in life.