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).

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