Sunday, October 30, 2016

Listening With the Whole Body, Mind and Soul

Louann Brizendine a scientist, and neuropsychiatrist is quoted in an article in the Kyeongyang Magazine. A member of the  Seoul Diocesan Pastoral Committee, working in family matters, uses her book on The Female Brain from which the writer draws some interesting conclusions for his readers.

Men, he says, speak about 7,000 words a day which is a tedious task for many. Women, use about 20,000 words and if she doesn't succeed she is stressed and upset. "Women with one word speak a hundred; men with a hundred words speak one." Phrases like this just don't come to light without reason.

Relating this to family life the man at work speaks his 7,000 words and returning home wants to rest. The wife on the other hand whether in the home or at work has not succeeded in speaking her 20,000  or more words and gazing at her husband wants to talk. Consequently, this is a reason for some family conflict. Should they take turns one day with quiet and the next with talk? No, and proposes his suggestion to the readers.

He tells husbands to looks warmly at their wives, nod their heads and respond with the following words: "Is that right?" "That's Surprising?"  "How come?"  "So what did you do?"  "Ha,Ha Ha, That's interesting!"  These and similar words do not take much effort and will make the bond between the spouses stronger.

Listening is more difficult than talking. This may not seem the case but the reality is that more energy is expended in listening. Why should this be the case? We have to lower ourselves and raise the other; give our attention to the other which requires effort.

We have to refrain from interrupting, changing the subject, and refrain from giving advice, and looking away. Listening requires that we give up these thoughts and give our attention completely to what is being said which takes energy. Consequently, when the husband is listening, the wife should remember he is expending more energy in listening then she is and thank him.

He concludes the article with a breakdown of the Chinese character for listening:
Related image

On the left top, you have the character for Ear below that you have the character for King. On the right top, the character for Ten, below: Eye--One and Heart.  You are being asked to give your  complete attention as if you had 10 eyes, hearing with your ear and heart and considering the other person like a king. This can be tiring.

This is the way we should listen to God in prayer and to those in the family. We have been given only one mouth but two ears which should mean something. To love with words is easy but to live with a loving heart  requires that we listen in the way the Chinese character shows us.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Korea is Always in a Hurry

In the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly, the columnist mentions his time as a tour guide for pilgrims to Europe. Most Europeans are not able to distinguish the Asians but the sightseeing bus drivers have little trouble. Whether they are groups of tourists or pilgrims they quickly know where they are from.

When they experience a noisy group it's from China. In contrast, the  quiet group is from Japan and the  splendidly clothed group is from Korea. The columnist says they are invariable right.

With the Korean group, they also add 'hurry hurry' cultural traits they recognized. He mentioned a story of a group of bus drivers who were eating together.  One of the drivers was silent. The other drivers were curious and asked why he was so quiet. He responded that he had a group of Koreans and had to get back to the bus quickly.

There is nothing wrong with nice clothes and being in a hurry but when related to some other concrete action than we have either a positive or negative nuanced situation. An example of this would be some work that was done very quickly: could mean industry and capability but also at the same time that they were sloppy and negligent.

In our situation, the columnist sees this mostly as a negative.The splendid clothes are not just beautiful but ostentation and vanity. The 'hurry hurry' trait is not only overlooking precision but concerned only with results. These are not naturally good traits but avarice. Having high motivation is a good but when it develops into greed we have problems.

Within 50 years Korea has gone from a per capita economy of 100 dollars to about 27,000 dollars.It has joined the wealthy countries of the world. These traits have helped to make it the miracle of the Han River. At the same time, there has been substance missing from this outlook on life and we have some serious consequences.  

When attention is only on results we are overcome by extreme competition and discrimination. We have to be better than the other, better than our predecessor. We are mesmerized with results. Something is missing from inside of ourselves.

This is not true of all society. However, it is part of our reality. What is possible is that we will throw good money after bad. What we need is the wisdom to learn from the old and go to the new. This is not only true for the country and society but also for the church.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Aging in Korea

The Korean Church has given a lot of thought to the pastoral care of the aging. In the Catholic press, we see articles devoted to the elderly, symposiums and seminars on the problem. The Church is aging at a faster pace than society. 23 % of the Catholics are over 60 years of age.

In not the distant past we had a society that would have found it difficult not to believe in God but we are in a secular age with an increased  interest in spirituality but a decline in religion. This climate in the society will also influence the Christians who identify spirituality with religion. Spirituality can mean pretty much what a person wants it to mean. A deep understanding and living the Christian life is for a religious person the best way to enter the twilight years.

In one of the seminars, the initial talk mentioned that as we get older as a community it is important that the members do not become overcome by defeatism. The Church has to remain ever young and always being born again: always looking for ways in society, church and home to help the elders grow in grace and dignity.

Many of the  elderly are faced with extreme poverty. The churches can me mediators between the nation and the home in bringing personnel and material help. The elderly are faced with self-determination, sickness, pain, poverty, and loneliness. They need to have a strong conviction in the value of life.

One of the participators in a seminar mentioned the need for stronger bonds in the family. Small families are the present reality and unless there is a change he sees problems in the future. For strong family bonds, he uses the example of Naomi from the book of Ruth of the Old Testament.

Much concern is shown in finding profitable programs for the elders: school programs, developing interests in music, art etc. but also ways of using the elders in volunteer work in society and training them.

Those who are sick or bedridden there is the need for personal  contact and the need for society to show concern for them.The body gets weaker  but there is no reason for the spirit to grow old and weak and that message should be understood by all who are entering the twilight years (2 Cor. 4:16).

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lessons Learned From Jeju-do Island

The island of Jeju-do, the biggest of the islands surrounding Korea, has a history of valuing harmony and a win-win philosophy of life. When a neighbor has a special event at their home the villagers will send a special dish of food for the occasion. There is no distinction between young and old, men and women, those who have and those who don't all treated the same.

A priest of the Jeju-do diocese writes in the Catholic Times of the way the community of faith is joining together with the local communities.

Taking a walk along one of the old footpaths on the island you will see stone walls that appear to be built without much thought but they can withstand the heaviest of winds  and remain strong as ever. The walls are made of large and small stones, each placed in their respective places so that they withstand the worst of the weather conditions: a sign of mutual help necessary also in the human community.

Haenyeo is the word used for the women divers of the island. They worked to overcome poverty going into the cold sea with determination and independently working together where the young help the older and weaker and share their earnings.

Stumps are the starting place for the leaps the island has made over the years. From 1629 to 1825  the citizens were forbidden to leave the island. No one was allowed to visit and became a place of exile.

During a bad harvest year, people were dying of hunger and a woman, Kim Man Deok, sold all her possessions to help the citizens and others joined in to help. She is greatly revered even today.

Shortly after the end of the  Second World War Jeju-do had the most tragic incident in its  modern history, called the April 3th Uprising. The left and right  factions began fighting in Jeju-do after the end of the war. Most of the families had members killed during the uprising. The suppression of the rebellion by the South Korean Army was brutal and a reason for many deaths. It was a crime against humanity, a genocide.

Many decades were required to overcome the sighs and tears associated with the uprising. However, all was revealed and with the  return of democracy, in 2003, Oct 31 the president of Korea formally apologized to the citizens of Jeju-do for the  brutality of the Korean forces in suppressing the rebellion.  
Grandchildren will remember the lesson from the uprising.

Recently we have in Jeju-do development that has been unconcerned with the environment. In the Church, we have been influenced by worldliness and have succumbed to its influence but there is a desire  in the small Church community movement to join the other larger social communities in fellowship and sharing.

There is the desire to overcome the areas that are contrary to God's will. No matter the difficulties there is the desire for fellowship and unity, sharing and concern, and to build community and to overcome the temptations to worldliness. The writer hopes this will be the way the whole community of  faith continues to go using our hearts and wisdom.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Drinking Habits of Young Koreans

The Seoul Diocesan Bulletin had an article on the drinking habits of some of our young people. The writer is the head of a center for the treatment of alcoholics attached to a Catholic Hospital. He mentions a visit to the clinic by a high school girl. She meets with friends about 3 times a week and drinks about  3 bottles of 'soju' ( Korean vodka). Recently she had a fist fight with her friends and has inflicted harm to herself and decided to come in for help.

Young people, drinking is no longer something out of the ordinary, 75% of our young people have taken alcoholic drinks and 25% have imbibed more than twice  a month.  Many may want to ask if they drink how much do they drink? They are just imitating the adults and have little to drink. Strange as it may sound, he says, they drink more than the grown-ups and goes on to explain why.

When the young people drink it may be 3 or 4 bottles, they feel better, but there are no other accompanying symptoms. The brains of the young people are still growing and the frontal lobe does not mature until the early twenties. The frontal lobe is the last to develop which is where the  faculty of judgment resides. Drinking during this period we have serious problems.

They are not able to control their drinking. Usually, when the alcohol is in the blood there is drowsiness, headache, nausea, preventing one from drinking more. With the young, this built-in gauge with its break is not present. Consequently, when intoxicated they are more impulsive with dangerous results. In one year's time, there are about 4,000 incidents of intoxicated youths, violence, and suicides. Their personalities are also opened to change.

When the young people are exposed to drinking at a young age the chances that they will become alcoholics is 5 times that of the other young people. Society overlooks this. Popular television dramas have the young drinking in romantic scenes. We have young people drinking in advertisements. Drinking is  made attractive to the young with very little of the negative results of drinking.

Our Christian teaching tells us often and clearly that when we lose the ability to discipline ourselves and become attracted to instant gratification we are preparing oneself for despair. Addiction and alcohol are present possibilities. Once a person becomes addicted the process to overcome the problem is difficult. Preventing the problem is much easier.

According to the OECD, of the 30 countries reporting Korea was listed as 22nd in its consumption of alcohol. He mentions that the developed countries do not look upon drinking revelry as a good. He ends the article with a wish that the young people take to heart the words of Pope Francis to make a mess  in making a better, more honest and decent world. Put simply, to get rid of much of the harmful aspects of our culture will be a challenge and a need to confront what we have made.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Educating for Mature Sexual Lives

Sex education is a controversial topic but necessary.  The Catholic Times had an article on a seminar sponsored by a diocesan ministry to the young on the need and  direction to be taken.

Society has made sex into a recreational pastime and all the participants have with one voice stressed that contraception is not what sex is all about. The first speaker spoke about the way the media has made sex a recreational activity without commitment and destroyed its meaning for reproduction and responsibility. For many sex education is enjoying  sex but preventing pregnancy.

The first speaker,  before speaking of contraception there is the need to stress:  'life, responsibility, character, self-restraint, and chastity'. Hedonism which is spread widely in society by the media requires that programs in  media literacy be inaugurated in schools.

One of the speakers mentioned how in schools sex education is comprised  of contraception, abortion, sex diseases, a very negative approach to the whole topic. The positive beauty and seriousness of the act needs to be explained: responsibility to life.

The final participator, a priest, working in a parish expressed his experience in the pastoral work with the young and what they understand about sex. There is no connection with their religious belief  and ignorance of the responsibility of sex; a sign that little  education was present in the community of faith.  

We need groups within the Church who are sympathetic to the cause of education for sexuality in the schools and want to stress the need to internalize love, responsibility, and temperance in sexuality.

Some parents present at the seminar  have made known that the elementary school children have already been exposed to education in sexuality from the culture in which we live and it is not what we  want. Consequently, from the 5th grade on we need programs in the schools.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Selfishness vs Altruism

Humans are  basically selfish. This is true of all of life. Existence is to protect what one has received. If one is to continue to exist, selfishness is necessary. One's concern and actions for oneself are to one's advantage. Those who are soft-hearted will be used and the kind will be losers in the competitive reality in which we live. Existence is a fierce struggle: deceiving, pillaging, and even killing.

With these words, a Peace Weekly columnist gives us a topic for the readers to reflect on. We see how in many cases those who are selfish maintain their lives and wealth. In the recent ferry tragedy, the captain was one of the first to leave the ship. The teacher that hesitated went down with the ship. A president of a company before failure and the news became known, sold his stock.

When a nation  is perishing  to work for independence is foolishness for the chances of losing one's life are great. Those who are unmarried lose their chance to have children. The married will lose their means of livelihood and the family will scatter  and be in desperate straights. Better is it not to surrender to the invaders and cooperate with the plunderers: hoping for success and advancement in life, and prosperity of the clan. Independence?  Someone will work for it and we will benefit from the results.

Strange, however, even though gain and loss are rather clear we have people who act quite differently from what we would expect.  Recently we had the young man who was dreaming of a bright future who escaped from a burning building only to run back in, notifying the different tenants of the fire and ending up dying after going up to the top floor and collapsing on the stairs.

The number of those who sacrifice for their fellow brothers and sister is not negligible. We have those on the Titanic who while the ship was going down stayed on deck to help others take the lifeboats to safety. In the concentration camps, we had those who gave their lives to save others. Altruism is not dead.

Within us is both the selfish and altruistic character, in conflict and at cross-purposes. When selfishness  is the winner the individual appears to win but society suffers. When the altruistic character takes the upper hand and sacrifice is made the whole community  benefits. 

Altruism: honor, virtue, and conscience are the medicines that invigorate and support society. When  leaders in  society throw their responsibility to the wind and nourish their own greed that society falls apart from the inside. 

When the leaders of a society begin to have their banquets and' love shots' ( two people hook arms and take a shot of liquor)-- when money and power interact the just persons turn their backs and we have the breakdown of society. "When the pillars are overthrown what can the just man do?" (Ps. 11:3).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Need to Change Our Social Structures

In 2015  the world news reported that in the last 25 years, globalization, a strong violent wind has  blown on the global village. In every facet of the village, we see an embarrassing  polarization which needs to be adjusted. Eighty of the richest individuals possess as much as half of the world's population.

An article in the Catholic Times introduces us to the need to bring about a change in the world. This is not only a difference in material goods but with money you have an entrance into all the benefits and privileges of society. These are also passed on to the future generation in an even stronger way.

Income influences marriages, the lower the income the later the marriage, and fewer children. Obesity is seen more in the poorer;  the rich live longer.  Income will determine the education level of our citizens and give rise to many problems in society.

The polarization of the citizenry is the temporary worker issue. Employment insecurity, lower wages, inhuman treatment, and discrimination, goes to forming the lower strata of society becoming its scapegoats.

Pope Francis in his encyclicals, exhortations, talks has stressed this concern for the poor and asks that we hear their cries.

"Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility." (Joy of the Gospel #58).

Pope Francis makes clear that the unfairness in society is a reason for some of the violence we see in society. "Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. 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" (Joy of the Gospel# 53).

The structures of society especially the economic system from the very beginning the inequality was  ready to foster violence. Unbridled capitalism, consumerism,and the throwaway culture make the poor poorer, and miserable. The pope's sharp words in criticism of mammonism is a lament in seeing the poor driven from the  mainstream of  society and to an inhumane way of living.

Pope Francis and our recent popes have presented us with the same message same from the beginning: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.”

Friday, October 14, 2016

Life More Frightening Than Death

What frightens us the most? A medical school professor, writing in the View from the Ark of the Catholic Times answers: death. A fact common across all of the categories of biological life. There are millions of different species  active in the competition for life. However, the human species is the only one that finds life at times more frightening than death. Pain, both physical and mental, makes life no longer worth living and we have suicides.

Korea leads the world in the number of suicides. The government is concerned and is working on possible solutions. The National Bioethics Committee has published  a constitution on the dignity of life. Why is Korea the world leader in the number of suicides?

Many scholars mention the challenges that come with economics  bringing great stress to many. Whenever we have problems with foreign exchange, credit card problems, and world economic uncertainty we see a rise in the number of suicides around the world: not unique to Korea. However, in the past when the  foreign exchange problems subsided we saw a decrease of 30% in the number of suicides in other countries but in Korea, they continued to rise, especially among the elderly and the young.

The pain that comes with economics is a factor. However, there are many other nations that have had to deal with the problems that Korea has experienced. Korea has had many difficulties to overcome in its past and has done an admirable job of surviving. Why is Korea so prone to giving up on life?

Victor Frankl a psychiatrist who while in the concentration camp learned a great deal about life. After freedom, in his books, he stresses that his incarceration enabled him to see life more in depth  and finding meaning in life allows one to overcome all difficulties.

With the economic growth in the country, we have become colder and hardhearted, lost our leisure and fail to see the weak in society. A Korean psychiatrist saw the problem originating with the 36 years under Japanese rule which gave birth to a mass neurosis. Koreans lost their collective self-esteem: (instead of finding their worth in themselves they search for it outside of themselves). This was the results of the trauma of colonialism. Consequently, a person's own standards are not important,  appearances are everything. It is better to die than live with embarrassment. 

We search for  superlatives, fame, and ostentation; failing to see those who are alienated in society and at the same time see ourselves as good-for-nothing and not able to accept ourselves as we are. This is another division we have in ourselves and the pain that comes with it, we pass off to our children and others.

The professor finishes the article with the hope that we will come to an understanding of ourselves and overcome the shame of  being the suicide leader of the world.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Anti-Corruption Movement

The Anti-Corruption and Bribery Prohibition Act  also called the  Kim Young-ran Act went into effect on Sept. 28, and  will  bring  great changes to the culture. A religious sister writing in the Catholic Times introduces the law to the readers and what we can expect.

Kim Young-ran, the former chairwoman of the Anti-Corruption Civil Rights Commission started working on the eradication of corruption in Korea from 2002 and proposed a law in 2011 which after much conflict, five years later finally is the  law of the land.

The  object of the law is the correct understanding of  conscience in society. This applies to all public servants: government officials, judges, prosecutors, teacher, police, journalists... Any solicitations or taking of bribes in return for favors are banned.

The writer expresses her belief that the tacit understanding that was part of the citizens' consciousness has now been made clear with this law, a big step. Consequently, the success or failure of the results will rest with the citizens.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of the world’s most developed economies, in 2015  reported that Korea was 27th out of 34 members in its sensitivity to corruption. Denmark had the highest rating for sensitivity. The sister hopes with water on top becoming clean the water below will  also become clean.

Sister mentions how she has already heard the many expedients that are being planned to get around the law. Restaurants, and the giving of presents and entertainment has helped to prosper many in society, also the  live stock industry will face serious problems is a worry of many. Money as long as it circulates is good: 'If one want to go to Seoul, it matters little how one gets there', is a prevalent way of thinking.

Now is the time to begin gathering in the bubbles that are afloat and to purify the muddy water in the  network and replace it with clean running water.  The prosperity of the country that is tied to blood relationships, friends, and schools has to give way.

We have had many scandals in recent years that have depressed many in society and many are looking for solutions to the problems. We have a lack of material resources but a plentiful number of qualified citizens that we need to utilize. That will allow us to live in peace and be freed from the tiredness that infects society.

Over 50 % of the society are either Christian or Buddhists which means we can make a difference in society. Christians are the largest number in society; we have a lot to be sorry for and a need to ask for forgiveness, and hope to be tools in the hands of God.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Situation of the Elderly in Korea

Both Catholic papers and the Kyeonyang magazine remembering Oct. 1st, the  International Day of the Elderly,  had front page space on the issue and the magazine had a series of articles on the situation in Korea. The aging of Korea is one of the fastest in the world and consequently little time for  preparation.  Spirituality for  the elderly needs to be emphasized. In Korea we have help  with the phrases used  often in society: 'well living' and 'well dying'.

In a recent seminar on the situation of aging, faith and spirituality  a bishop mentioned the need to prepare the elderly to live fulfilled lives and know how to prepare for death. In Society and within the Church there has been a movement for 'Group Homes' for the Elderly.

By 2017 the number of elderly will be over seven million which will be 14% of the population. In 2025  it is estimated we will have over 10 million. In 2000 those living alone were about 540 thousand which was 3.7 % of the total families. In 2010  this reached one million. In 2013 this  rose again to 1 million 250 thousand which is 7% of the total number of families. 20% of the total number of the elderly are  estimated to be living alone.

There are  no  systematic programs in place to take care of the problems of the  sick, and those dying alone. We have few  statistics on what is happening. According to a report in 2014  we have 55. 5 suicides  for every 100,000 of the population, the highest in the world.  As the aging population increases, problems increase,  one of the articles mentioned the need for Group Homes. These homes provide the elderly with the care they need and living in an environment that is comfortable and personal similar to their own home.

The first Group Home was introduced into Korea in 1995, called a home for the aged. According to the Department of Welfare, places that can be called Group Homes  in 2015  numbered 131, a decrease from the 142 from the previous year, a sadness which the writer laments. They take care of about 1000 seniors.

One of the articles by a scholar  on problems of the aged laments that many of the elders have worked for the nation, society and the family and now they are neglected. The families of many have turned their back on them. Many have broken hearts hurting economically,  mentally, emotionally and we shouldn't  overlook this reality.  This will be  the self-portrait of our young people.

We all have a desire to live long lives. In the Old Testament this was considered a blessing. In the  ancient Roman world the average age of the citizens was about 22 years.  Koreans average age from 1926-30 was 33.8 years.  In 2013  for men it was  78.5 and women was 85.1. If we live to be over a  hundred  half of our life will be living as an elder. 

"Do not abandon yourself to sorrow, do not torment yourself with brooding. Gladness of heart is life to a man, joy is what gives him length of days" 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Working For Christian Unity

Next year is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and during two days at the end of September, an academic meeting of scholars from many different branches of Christianity met together to discuss the issues raised by the reformation both the light and the darkness.

It was a two-day meeting with three topics: reformation for renewal, reformation for unity and  reformation for reformation. The participants were  aiming for unity from division by means of theology and dialogue.

The president of the Korean's Conference of Catholic Bishops gave the opening talk at the meeting that was sponsored by Sogang University. The bishop in his opening remarks mentioned that in Korea Catholics and Protestants should not talk about what separates  but what we hold in common. We need to talk about our common patrimony, meditate and  pray together.

He mentioned that  both the Protestants and Catholics have instead of forgiving one another, accepting and working for unity we have been condemning each other. What is different from what we hold is wrong and have disparaged the other. We should not wait for results on unity from the West but work toward unity and and be an incentive to  the rest of the world.

One of the participants stressed the role of the 'Sensus Fidei' (sense of the faithful) in the work for unity within Christianity. We have to learn the way we express this feeling toward the faith in our faith life.  

A Protestant  participant mentioned the need of the Church to be evangelized if we are to evangelize the world. We have to find ways to reform the churches. He mentioned the need to criticize the 'three Solas': by faith alone, by  grace alone, and only by  Scripture. We need to return to the early church and the small church communities. The capitalist ethos that has entered the church makes this movement to the small difficult.

Over half the population of Korea: Christians and Buddhist are the majority and their influence on the country is not small.  Christians number about one-third of the population. They have been formed in a community by Jesus to be one but we  have  inflicted wounds on the community and with a lack of understanding, conflict, and division, have also infected the larger society in its  lack of harmony and reconciliation.

In conclusion a priest from Sogang Theological Research Center hopes this little flame from the Academic meeting will help us to be more in touch with the teachings of Jesus and to work for unity.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sense of the Faith (Sensus Fidei)

In the Peace Weekly Peace Column, the columnist introduces us to the phrase Sensus Ecclesiae (Sense of the Church). He uses the word often when he speaks with those working in the Church. It's the sensitivity to know when something is Catholic or not. The ability to distinguish and discern what is and what is not Catholic.

The faithful at baptism received the threefold mission of priest, prophet, and king. These three tasks are  not carried out in the  manner of the world but in the manner of the Church's understanding which is according to the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity.

Within the community of faith without the expression of these gifts, it's difficult to gain the  sympathy of the community. The columnist for his part feels it's necessary to have this feeling for the Church.

Recently he attended a symposium in which one of the speakers spoke about this Sensus Fidei as a requisite in the lives of the clergy and laity if we want renewal. This  Sensus Fidei  is not much different  from Sensus Ecclesiae: a supernatural instinct of the faithful. Because of this, there is a need to overcome the division between the teaching and learning Church. Pastors and faithful need to have sympathy for each other  and with this common sensitivity toward the faith, we will have renewal.

After hearing about the Sensus Fidei he went to the book published by the International Theological Commission: Sensus Fidei In the Life of the Church, 2014.  

"The importance of the sensus fidei in the life of the Church was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council. Banishing the caricature of an active hierarchy and a passive laity, and in particular the notion of a strict separation between the teaching Church (Ecclesia docens) and the learning Church (Ecclesia discens), the council taught that all the baptized participate in their own proper way in the three offices of Christ as prophet, priest, and king. In particular, it taught that Christ fulfills his prophetic office not only by means of the hierarchy but also via the laity" (#4).

Consequently, the hierarchy and clergy need to respect the 'sense of the faithful'  and accept them as  cooperators in the work. Without this, the laity will very likely find the flame of the Holy Spirit going out. He lists six attitudes that help this sense of the faith: participating in the life of the Church, listening to the word of God, openness to reason, adherence to the magisterium, holiness - humility, freedom and joy, and edification of the Church (89~105).

The Korea Church in  vitality is the envy of many other countries, however, if we look inside we see problems: authoritarianism and centrality of the clergy, immaturity, and individualism of the laity. The emphasis on the 'Sense of faith' in the symposium is the way we need to go.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Majority and Minority Are Terms of Quantity Not Quality

In every time and space, there is going to be a minority. This is true in the world of humans: differences of thinking, appearances, tradition, and infinite ways of acting. Within this quantity we have groups who are in the majority and those in the minority, The problem is the relationship of the majority with the minority. An article in the WithBible magazine by a priest of the Seoul Diocese introduces the readers to this important issue.

This can be mutually beneficial living in harmony, or can  be with conflict, and exclusion, control, and subordination. We must remember this is a question of quantity and not quality.

However, this quantity and quality are often forgotten and we mix up the two. He gives us an example of a family who  getting together have prepared a meal of cold bean soup noodles. One of the family members every time she has the meal  has a serious case of diarrhea and mentions this. At this time the other family members together chime in:  "We are all going to eat it, you also have to, we can't prepare another dish just for you. " What would a family who spoke this way say about the family?

He begins discussion on the the the topic of homosexuality: those who are sexually attracted to the same sex be it male or female. Korea has not been very open in bringing the  problems associated with homosexuality to the attention of the public. He asks the readers:  Are those who are attracted to the opposite sex the majority and the normal and the minority who are attracted to the same sex abnormal and to be excluded?

He reviews the teaching in the Catechism of the Church  on Chastity and Homosexuality. "Tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts'  are intrinsically disordered.  They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life, They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved" (2357).

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them, it is a trial.They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These  persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and,if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition" (2358).

"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery. that teach the inner freedom,at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace,they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection" (2359).

He concludes the article noting that the Church in Korea sadly has been silent on this issue; true also in society.  This teaching has a tendency to bring about a conflict in community and wonders if the silence  was not a wise way of acting. For we  are faced with a greater  problem when  we  fight about something as noble as sexuality: conservatives and  progressives in holding their positions can fight and  be violent.

Homosexuality is not the only issue where we have a majority on one side and a minority on the other. This is the reality of our world and requires that we always deal with those different from us with charity. A situation which is rarely achieved.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

In Non-Essentials Freedom, In All Things Charity

We often see persons who ignore what is central and concentrate on a side issue or something preposterous. They either don't understand the issue or  beat around the bush. We find them in the Pharisees and Sadducees of the Scriptures. They are enamored with the surface and formalities. So begins an article in the WithBible magazine by a retired humanities professor who spends his time in study and writing.

He feels that this kind of thinking is rampant in society. Moreover, many are within religion who are prominent and cling to the unimportant and consider themselves not only the true believers but also the protectors of true religion, often bringing down ridicule on religion. No reason here to distinguish between Catholic and Protestant.

In Korea, many Protestant Churches consider smoking and drinking sinful. They are harmful to health but are considered like an article of their creed. Probably, he says, without Christian justification, there is no place in the Protestant world that adheres to this teaching as in Korea.  

In Greek, the word 'adiaphora' is used to  express things that morality neither mandates nor forbids. It is an action that has nothing to do with right or wrong or salvation (an indifferent act). These actions are left up to the person to judge and act appropriately. The Church according to the writer should refrain from entering this area. Consequently, Catholics have difficulty with the Korean Protestant notion on smoking and drinking.

Many of the sermons  the professor  hears  are theological and have little to do with the important areas of life. It is not  seeing the world as it is. Sermon topics miss the important and  remain on the 'adiaphora'.

Much of Protestantism is tied down to the adiaphora, partially from the literalism of interpretation, so-called fundamentalism, praying for blessings, centering their faith on their pastor and he includes Orientalism in his evaluation. Inner freedom of a person of faith is destroyed.

In 2017 we will have the 500th anniversary of the proclamation  of the Reformation by Martin Luther. Let's forget whether Protestantism has realized their goal but it's a good time for Catholics to look back in history and examine and reflect on the event.

Luther at that time was fighting against the 'adiaphora' that were confusing the Church and asked for change. For him, it was (Sola Scriptura) only the Scripture. Luther was fighting to get rid of all the 'adiaphora'  that he believed accrued to the Church's teaching and did not match the Gospel message. 

He concludes the article with the impression  that many in the Church spend too much time with the 'adiaphora' and miss the essence. He singles out the treatment of workers  within Church facilities. 

Our actions are often on the side of the strong and ridicule the justice that is due the weak and poor. There should not be any temporary workers in our hospitals, schools, and parishes. This is not a case of 'adiaphora' but an essential teaching of the Gospel. Love should inform all that we do for it is the essence of our faith life. However, we often see the opposite.