Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dreaming of Open Access to Church Facilities

What we hear often bothers our consciences.  A religious sister adds to the burden with her words on the opinion page of the Catholic Times. She recounts her encounter with a homeless woman who she helped. She fed her and gave her a place to stay on church property without notifying anybody, and sent her off with bus fare.

Results were that she returned repeatedly, strongly asked for food, a place to stay, and a job. When the sister told her she would find her a place to stay, she said no; she didn't want anyone to notify her family. She refused to leave, which put the sister in a difficult situation. The church grounds had many different rooms, classrooms and facilities, but it was difficult to find a place for a homeless woman.

Church property is not a public welfare facility. It is not a place where persons can stay for any long period of time. This fact she knows well but whenever we are required to turn our backs on those looking for help, she finds it difficult.

Churches are not used during the week as they are on Sundays, and she who gives many talks finds it awkward using Jesus' words about what we do to the least we do to him, and when she  finds herself saying no to those in need: homeless, the elderly, children, these words come to mind. All could be welcomed to use church property.

She mentions how Pope Francis has asked that they open the religious houses in Europe to the migrants and refugees which gave her great joy. How would Jesus look upon the way we use our facilities in Korea?  In this year of mercy  are we using our facilities to express this mercy?

Many are those who remember using the church's buildings and playgrounds  as children. Neighborhood children  can use the parking lots of the churches as playgrounds. Young people can come to use the basket ball courts and ping pong tables. Migrants and foreign workers can use the rooms for meetings and celebrations. Those who have for one reason or another not had a marriage ceremony can use the churches for these activities. The homeless can find rest from the rain and a place to rest in rooms set aside for this purpose.

She concludes her article wondering if this is only a  dream. Is this kind of thinking unrealistic, impossible?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Prophetic Voice of the Church

All societies have structures, pecking orders, 'caste systems'  a good example would be the military. Korean society is patriarchal and hierarchically strong. Age is an important element in society: elders first, consequently, the need to determine the age when meeting others. 

These words begin an article in With Bible, written by a  man of letters,  with  a background in  teaching. He describes himself as a person who spent 25 years studying, 25-year  teaching and now hopefully spending 25 years reading and writing as a free person. 

The Second Vatican Council he says emphasized the place of the laity in the Church, but the Church in Korea is still centered on the clergy: one of the deformities of the Korean Church. Power of the clergy is not small, and he blames the laity for the problem: lack of knowledge of theology and scripture. Laity, consequently, rely on the authority of the priest and the bishop in all they do.  

On the Korean Bishops' ad limina visit, the pope said to the bishops: "I ask you above all to be servants, just as Christ came to serve, and not to be served. Ours is a life of service, freely given, for each soul entrusted to our care, without exception." Pope Francis reminded them: "Korean Church is built upon the thrust of the laity and the blood of martyrs." He asked them not to forget their roots as they enter the future. The pope also asked the clergy not to follow the easy life and reign over the laity.
He sees many good clerics but also those who by their words and actions are proud and self-righteous, many believe they are living according to the words of the pope, he says, but are not. Change will not be easy.

'To be on the side of the weak'  has lost all meaning, polarization has become a reality in Korean society.  The weak are now the majority. 

The role of the prophet is not only to criticize those in authority but to read the signs of the times and to warn about the wrong directions society is taking. This is the work of the Church and its members. We find few who are doing this and often criticize those who speak out and want change, and call them heretics.

The president of the Bishops Conference is quoted as saying that as society is getting more worldly and materialistic, we in the church are becoming middle class, and our faults are exposed.  Our interest in the poor is disappearing, clergy and religious are becoming more worldly, bureaucratic, young people are leaving the church and lay people are distancing themselves from the sacraments and religious life.

Why haven't the senior citizens left the  church like the young people? Devotion and a strong faith life are reasons,  but also they are more interested in hope, consolation, and compensation while the young want hope, proposals and plans. The Church has not seen the problems of the young and countered only with empty words. It is no surprise  they are leaving.

He concludes the article with gratitude that the bishops have decided to put aside money in a 'Good Samaritan Account' to help the needy but there is also a need to reduce the numbers of the needy, which is a work of the whole church and what service means.

Friday, May 27, 2016

New Revelation: Fourth and Walnut

On the opinion page of the Catholic Times, a religious priest writes after the manner of Thomas Merton on his own revelation gained in his mature years.

During one of his recent trips to the market and hearing the traditional Korean music blasting away on the old speakers, he was not hearing it as a saucy young man but with strong feelings that brought tears to his eyes.

"You don't know me/ How would I ever know you?" These were the beginning words to the song. His feelings on hearing the song were not positive: "Even if you knew me how much would you know? I don't know you either." And to his surprise he finds himself singing the words without reason, often to himself.

However, going back a year before, while riding a bus, he heard this song after many years, and it brought to mind the reason it made such an impression in the market. The word 'You', and 'I' are very similar in sound, and he is from a province where they don't ordinarily distinguish between these two vowels. Consequently, what he heard was: I don't know myself how am I to know you?"

We are on a journey to God and in prayer, I am discovering God and myself in the process. We are made in the image of God who is the foundation of who I am. "After all, you have died! your life is hidden now with Christ in God" (Colossians:3:3).

We can all say we don't know who we are. We have the image of God in us and are consequently, related. This reminds him of the insight Thomas Merton had at the corner of Fourth and Walnut  in Louisville.

"In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people,that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world.... If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred,no more cruelty, no more greed...." (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Thomas Merton) 

Individuals and groups when separated into different  camps, says the columnist, either assimilate or continue division. I don't know myself how would I know you? Knowing the meaning of these words would allow us to bow before all those we meet.

(Tathata) is Sanskrit for a title of Buddha: ''the ultimate inexpressible nature of all things" and the name of the song.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Politics Is Not About Numbers But Issues

A Catholic University professor of Sociology mentions in her column in the Peace Weekly that she approaches the subject of live broadcasting of public opinion surveys and exit polls with trepidation. 

Number of those questioned is very small, and the response is smaller still. Humans quickly change their minds. This makes the predictions unreliable, but they continue to take the pulse of the electorate. Exit polls are also often wrong. Why do they continue when the expenses are so large? The reason is that live broadcasting of the results gets many viewers and the price of  advertising increases:  making the surveys and those who broadcast the results all benefit.

Many years before we began converting  public opinion into  political numbers, we were doing it in the financial field. Numbers become the reality with which we think we are dealing.  We forget what the numbers represent, and only remember the numbers. This is what happened in 2008 during the financial crisis.

Korea's history with political parties is short and consequently; changing of party names continues. It takes about ten years to determine exactly what  a special area of study is all about. In politics, newcomers are welcomed and the learning begins.
Election time brings the nominating of candidates for the different parties, and pressures begin, for they again use numbers often to select the candidates. Difference of candidates, policies, the meaning of reform all is figured out by numbers. Going from quantity to quality takes time and is difficult. All of this is determined by public polls and surveys: policies and discussion yield to numbers. When one candidate leads another by just one percentage point, all discussion disappears.

We were all surprised at the results of our recent election on April 13th. We saw that the results of the surveys and polling were not accurate. Very little was said about this except that  polling used home phones rather than mobile homes ( the younger generation was not contacted). Political words were translated into numbers, and numbers were converted into our social reality. No one gave this any concern. 

Voters this past election were alert, and they made a collective appeal to intelligence. It's  nonsense to think that live broadcasting of  public opinion will help us understand issues. She hopes public opinion numbers will be ignored, and we go directly to discussing politics. This past election helped us to wake up.

Monday, May 23, 2016

No Longer To Be Hidden

Families are faced with many problems, and domestic violence is one of them. Kyeongyang magazine has in its recent issue a number of articles on Domestic Violence: a sin and a crime.

The writer is a woman who has  been working as a social worker and counselor with one of the dioceses helping families. She begins the article with the story of a woman who lived with an abusive husband and mentioned how before marriage some of the signs were present during the period of courtship, but she didn't recognize them.

After being out with him for an evening, he would always be attentive in her getting home  without mishap, and she saw this as kindness and concern. When she wore a short skirt,  he would complain, and she saw this as his  ardent nature. She accepted everything as signs of his love: a person who was strong, and she could  trust  but after marriage,  she realized that it wasn't love but extreme possessiveness and jealousy: lacking trust in her faithfulness to him.  

He would beat her on coming home from work routinely. He would bring up a relationship she had for a short period of time with a boyfriend, after  mentioning  it to him, and it would often come up in conversations. He even brought this up when she gave birth to their first child without reason and out of the  blue: "this is my child isn't it?"  His verbal abuse was hard to accept. She would be hit without reason, even in the most common everyday issues  communication was missing, put briefly all was hell.

One day, he didn't return home after work; she received a call  from him early that morning to come out to where he was. He was in his car, and she began to fear for her life. He began beating her, abusing her sexually, and she  broke away and ran to the nearest house which happened to be a rectory unbeknown to her. The priest brought her to a shelter. Her face was swollen,  broken bones and nose; it took some time to recover her former appearance.

They were a young virtuous  couple who were envied by those that knew them. She was 33 years old and a member of a research team in a large enterprise, and the husband worked for a big company.  Who would believe that an  attractive  educated  and professionally qualified mother with two children would be the victim of domestic abuse?

From 1998, there has been a law on the books to prevent this kind of domestic abuse, but most have not paid much attention and  has remained a family problem. The present government sees it as  crime.  More than twice in a period of three years,  perpetrators  may be confined to prison. If the victim  does not want the confinement, he will have to attend a program, and will be given a stay of prosecution.

According to one agency in 2014,  69 women were killed by their spouses and 57 were nearly killed. With this 57, family members and friends were also killed or injured. These are the ones that have been reported. In 2013, less than 1 percent have asked for help in domestic violence incidents.

In 2014, the women's family bureau reported about  48,000 cases of domestic violence, the previous year 38,000  were reported. For the last three years, there has been on  average 562 cases reported daily. The main reason for not separating is the children. However, studies show that it is better for the raising of children to leave this situation for their emotional health. Children living in these situations show uneasiness, depression and anti-social-behavior.  

Many women find finances a reason they can't leave.  Beatings have taken away their self-confidence:  "they are not capable of anything." A woman who has been abused for many years has a feeling of powerlessness and without the help of others they find  leaving the situation difficult.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Communication: Listening and Openess

Whenever we have a blockage, signs appear but are not quickly apparent. If we don't catch it at the beginning, the signs will become more obvious. When a drain is plugged, and  water drains slowly or the drain is completely clogged and returns the water, we know something is wrong. In the Peace Weekly, a columnist begins his article on communication with these words on clogged drains.

Road congestion is similar. In the beginning, we have slow progress, followed at times by stoppage and loss of time and harm. Wisdom is to prevent blockage or  fix  problems as soon as possible. Isn't this the  wisdom when communication between persons is not working correctly.

Between persons when we have an impasse, we look for ways to communicate: finding ways to understand one another. What is the reason for the breakdown in communication?  Persons in positions of authority are at times obstacles to the free flow of ideas and communication:  found in political  societies, communities, religious societies  and in  families.

Authoritarianism on the part of the person on the top is often the reason for the lack of communication. What has to happen is the one on top has to stop being bossy. How does the one on top stop being bossy? We who are Christians have Jesus as our example of the ideal communicator.

What enabled him to be such an example? He was willing to sit down and eat with anybody. The columnist  mentions two qualities that are necessary for communication to happen: to listen and  be open to what the other one is saying. Jesus was always opened to prompting of the Spirit.

In our society,  communities, parishes and families when we have problems with  communication we need to work on hearing and being open. Those in positions of authority should be less captivated by their authority and bossy ways. When we listen to God's voice and the voices of others, the results  will be communication.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Living Well and Dying Well

德 is the Chinese character for virtue. The ideogram  explains  clearly what is necessary for a natural human life in all its fullness: a good subject for meditation. Before economic development we often saw on  school gates the Korean word for virtue: few school children would now know its meaning.

The left side ㄔcould be seen as a person walking: a leg and a foot. We can understand it as our bodily behavior. The top of the right side 十目 are the characters for ten and eye. Before we do anything, we have to use our heads and examine well what we do: right thinking. 一心, the character for one and heart. We need a singleness of purpose.  Body, mind and heart need to work together in harmony.

When we make the sign of the cross, we acknowledge  these three aspects of our earthly life, but we also add the spiritual, our souls which infuse all. We touch the head, the heart and the shoulders, our bodies. Thinking, working and practicing the virtues make us open to the gifts of Grace. As Christians, Jesus comes into our lives with his death and Resurrection and gives meaning to our existence.

An article in a diocesan bulletin a priest tells his  readers before taking his medical exams, he  feels some trepidation but when he receives word, there is no problem, he is elated and has boasted about his good health to  the parishioners. One of the women responded: "Father, do you want to live a long time?" Receiving this question he was shaken and  embarrassed.

Was he so lacking in other areas that he had to brag about his health? He mentions, he exercises his body each day. There is time for nurturing the mind and the spirit. He knows that life is more than the body and just living a healthy life, but what we do with the health that we have is what is important.

"Stop worrying, then, over questions like, 'What are we to eat, or what are we to drink, or what are we to wear?' The unbelievers are always running after these things.  Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. Seek first his kingship over you,  his way of holiness, and all these  things will be given  you besides" (Matt 6: 31-33).

He concludes the article  with the phrases 'Well Living' and 'Well Dying'. When we live well we will die well, and for a Christian to live well does not mean a long life.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Living In The Real World

A TV drama was the talk of Internet news for some time. Philosophy professor in a Catholic University in his article in the Catholic Times, was surprised hearing the drama was a fantasy. He praises the writer, director and cast for their efforts in producing a drama that has moved the hearts of many viewers.

What is the reason for this interest and message  conveyed?  We see this with myths and classics in which reality, for the most part, is missing, but people return to them repeatedly. To hear the present drama is full of wisdom, may embarrass the writer and producer. 

We are attracted to what we lack, and most don't know why. Do I really desire what attracts me, and consider it  a good or is it others who gave me the desire? Rarely do we bother to find an answer. What we desire is it true and good? In many cases, we prefer fantasy, and  relegate our daily lives to the back burner and search for beauty in the unreal.
Our lives may be seen as purposeless and empty, and in the world of drama, we try to fill  the void. In the real world, love, fellowship, and even family are reduced to a question of finances. We don't find this ideal love in our lives, and envy and try to find it in the fantasy world.  

What do we look for in drama? Entertainment, but if that is all, it's only temporary and merely sentiment.  We want to love and trust like the heroes and heroines but are confined to the real world. However, continue to dream of a harmonious world, and see ourselves as narrow-minded and cowards.  

If this is the case, in a drama, the actions  and words quickly pass through our minds and leave us with an  afterimage, and he would like us to see this as a mirror to look at ourselves who live in the real world.

There is a danger of living vicariously in watching fantasy dramas and movies. Creating our real world is more difficult but a Christian has a world view that makes the reality more exciting, and satisfying.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Helping to Change the World

A broad understanding of the social teaching of the Church is the way a Christian sees the world, and wants to change it to correspond to the teachings of Christ. A professor at a Catholic University gives us a brief introduction to this Social Gospel.

"There are three stages, which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act" (Mother and Teacher, Pope John 23rd).

Christians are looking at themselves and  God's word and wanting to change the world to correspond to this thinking, which is also the way we become more spiritual. 

Narrowing the point of view, the social teaching is part of the magisterium of the Church's prophetic voice. The universal teaching office of the Church: "It is the expression of the way the Church understands society and of her position regarding social structures and changes" (Compendium #79).

This teaching comes from the scriptures and tradition, revealed to us by God  in our consciences,  intellects and the natural law. "This is not a marginal interest or activity, or one that is tacked on to the Church's mission, rather it is at the very heart of the Church's ministry of service" (Compendium # 67).

This is why Paul VI established the Committee for Justice and Peace in the Vatican. "This doctrine in turn is integrated into the Magisterium of the Bishops who, in the concrete and particular situations of the many different local circumstances, give precise definition to this teaching, translating it and putting it into practice" (Compendium #80).

Whether the Christian wants to follow the teaching or not is up to the individual conscience, but at least they should not speak out at the bishops for being 'followers of North Korea'  and telling the priests 'they are involved in politics'. This is not the correct attitude of a Christian. At  least, they should listen and have respect for the teaching, even if they are not able to follow it.

There are also many non-Catholics who have respect for this teaching and try to make it part of their vision of society. In the recent election in Korea, 77 Catholics were elected to the parliament, and  the hope is they will be working for the common good of society. 

Today is the Church's birthday: Happy Pentecost.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Catholic Spirituality in Korea

Writing in the Peace Weekly the columnist, a professor of spirituality, ends his 50-week  series on spirituality and feels academically speaking, it is still a subject that is not well understood in Korea.

Christianity has a history of 230 years but for the first 100 years, it was persecuted. Up until 1950, our society was in great unrest. Catholics, for the most part, did their duties and had little time for anything else. It was with the opening of the Second Vatican Council that in the 1960s, we saw growth and activity in the mission of the Church.

At this time, we had according to the teaching of the council begun educating in scriptural studies and our tradition. Persons were studying scripture and theology; programs were started for the laity with the impetus from the Council.

With an increase in the number of  priests in the  20th century even though they were attending Mass in Latin, parishioners were praying the rosary and memorizing their prayers; up until the end of the 20th century, there were no big problems in the  spiritual life of the Catholics.

In the last part of the 20th century, he says we saw indications of heterodoxy which the Vatican pointed out, and we had a movement within the church to train specialists in spirituality. However, since we started late there are many issues that have to be faced.

Books  published in the past were well written, moved the emotions: essays and miscellaneous writings but few were written on spiritual scholarship or the spiritual classics.  In Korea, we have many spiritual  classics that were popular before the Protestant Reformation translated into Korean but not well-known to our Catholics.  

Efforts are needed to  introduce Catholics to a mature spirituality and church authorities should help with  finances. Living the spiritual life does not mean we ignore the study of spirituality.  

His opinion is that we do not separate spirituality from Systematic Theology and make it only a part of Practical Theology as is done in Korea. St. Thomas Aquinas considered Spirituality a part of Systematic Theology.

Ideas in our heads are going to end up in our actions. When we do not have a foundation in spiritual theology,  we will often lose our way, and our spiritual life suffers. We will not have love, peace and joy to motivate us to give ourselves to Jesus' mission.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Yin and Yang Thinking

In the Peace Weekly we have an article on 'unmixed politics' and 'mixed politics.' He begins with a village  built only with Korean traditional styled houses, and a  franchised coffee shop among the homes. A beautiful village surrounded by mountain peaks as in a folding screen. Does it fit to have a franchised coffee shop in such an environment?  One response:  "Let me think about it. Is being always consonant with the culture always the only answer?

The columnist mentions a wine store near his home that offers Korean makgoli ( a sweet alcoholic drink made from rice). When you order makgoli you get a bowl of ice chunks in water. Taken together, he says, you have an unique and original taste,you experience something different. Gently melting ice also melts the tiredness of the day. It adds elegance to the makgoli.

Drinking a cup of coffee we are introduced to a topic of conversation and drinking makgoli with ice water, we are introduced to the present times. We are living in a time of diversity: in a Global village. Multiculturalism is the reality, to think only of a traditional Korean drink in Korean style homes, limits us. With this thinking we have difficulty living in our world village. He doesn't want to say this hodgepodge like culture is a good, but we need an open mind and wisdom.

Coexistence and win-win thinking  is the maxim of society in which we live: a time of fusion. Korean culture is spreading to other countries: Korea pop music, dress, food. What is the reason for this? Truth, originality and self- respect is maintained, but we are open to listening, and communicating with others. In politics those who stubbornly held to the  purity of their case without compromise lost in the recent election.

When political platforms are broad it has great merit. To foster zeal, inbreeding is a help, but not always a good, as we know from history in cultural revolutions, and many of our recent political-isms.

We also have the opposite: politics is the art of the possible, and its own brand of pragmatism: "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse." We have in the past alliances that helped to achieve the goals of the respective  parties even though they were far from being sympathetic to the others' ideas.

Blending  helps the creative buds to work. This  slogan has long been used in industry and culture. We have to bring this into our political thinking. Understand what is different and work with it, and work so that everybody wins. I am always right and you are always wrong kind of camp thinking is not profitable with political realities. Conservative means you will have progressives and vice versa.

Koreans should be masters of this way of thinking. Look at the flag and the message is very clear: Yin and Yang  thinking. We  are blessed also to be peninsular,  surrounded by water, where we have interchange and communication. We need to be an example to the rest of the world on how to get-along.

Monday, May 9, 2016

No Longer Lone Rangers Needed

Catholic laity needs to be motivated to take their rightful place in the mission of the Church. Many articles in the Catholic press appear reminding us that one of the negative aspects of our Church culture is the powerful place of clergy in  administration which makes it difficult for laity to find the will and desire to participate in roles of leadership.

In this recent issue of the Catholic Times, a committee whose work is to help the elderly in the church  has a lay leader, and been working in the Seoul Diocese for the last ten years, responsible for the pastoral work among the elderly. The journalist who wrote the article mentions how necessary it is for qualified lay persons to get involved in all the different areas of church life.

14 members and a priest helper are on the  committee  responsible for the study and working among the elderly. The committee head has the qualifications for the work being a college professor, in the public  welfare department at a university. Laity needs to find their place in the works of the church.

Society is aging, and the church members  are aging quicker. The article mentions two issues that need to be addressed. One is to have words necessary to speak to the elderly about their situation of age, weakness and approaching death,  that makes sense to those with a religious understanding of life. This requires them to  go to the tradition and  teaching documents of the Church.

Secondly, to make the pastoral workers understand the problems of aging and how to deal with the aging. We are still at the beginning and need to find ways to mobilize those working in parishes to become interested in the problem.

The church has not come to terms yet with  aging of  members and lack of new births. Within ten years, we will experience negative effects of this change in society, and we need to start preparing, says the committee head.  

A person with varied accomplishments, a factotum, is  no longer admired as in the past. Our society demands  we work together to achieve our goals and find those with specialties we need. We no longer live in  a lone ranger type society; this also goes for the pastoral work and mission of the Church.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Like Minded Fellow Sufferers

In Bible Life magazine, a priest reaching his forties writes about his struggle with disease, pain and death. At birth the amniotic sac broke, and he was delivered as a lump of bluish blood; the doctor gave up hope, and his mother was in a frenzy. His aunt gave his bottom two strong blows, and he responded with a weak cry: a story that continues within the family. Whether this was the reason, he doesn't know, but he was afflicted by all kinds of allergies and diseases. On his mother's side, the lungs were weak, and he spent a great deal of time in hospitals as a baby with asthmatic problems.

During seminary days, he was often in the hospital with pneumonia or in bed being treated by his classmate with rice gruel. Weak bones, he was disposed to many breaks in arms and legs. In the military twice during training he was sent home because of sickness.

After ordination, he can honestly say he gave consolation to many who were sick, and they weren't empty words. He took pride  with his experience of sickness to help others and felt pretty good about what he could do. During a physical exam, they discovered a polyp in the stomach. No real problem, he was told, with the endoscope, they would easily remove it. During  the procedure from the esophagus to the stomach, the lining of the  upper GI tract was perforated. He was immediately taken to emergency room where they performed surgery,  everything continued to go wrong and during one week, he underwent three different operations.  

They told him he would have to  wait for the perforation to heal, and would take three months. They made a hole on the right side of the stomach and fitted him with tubes to feed him. An assistant to the chaplain came to feed him three times by tubes and give him painkillers five times during the day. He was hoping God would take him.

His body temperature dropped suddenly; blood poisoning was the reason, and  he was taken to St. Mary's hospital in Pusan. He was an army chaplain coming to the diocesan hospital which caused some commotion. The doctor on duty seeing  the holes in the stomach and the tubes was astounded. Losing  consciousness the priest was transferred to the hospice ward of the hospital.

With nutrient given by injection and continuous care he began to mend. Since he was in his own  diocese, many came to see him. In the beginning, he welcomed them but the visits began  to get on his nerves. He got a call from the soldier working as his office man, who apologized  for not visiting: he said he could  appreciate his pain and feeling. However, the patient was not happy to hear these words, and very  brusquely told him so: "What do you know about how I feel?"

In conclusion, when his  office man came to see him, he learned that during the priest's ordeal, he had an operation for cancer of the stomach, the stomach was removed entirely. When he heard what the office man  went through he felt so embarrassed he embraced him.  He was a much humbler man from his experience. He dropped the case against the doctor who operated on him, thinking of how the doctor must have felt, and he will never again tell a person he knows what they are going through but only close his eyes and bow his head, and try to share some of the pain of those he visits.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Family Happiness: Is There Anything More Important?

A father of three children,  a member of the Seoul Diocesan pastoral office in family matters, writes in the Kyeongyang magazine about family happiness. May is family month, and he gives us his thoughts on the subject.
Speak with your eyes is his first recommendation. Our eyes are the passage way from  one heart to another heart. If we don't look our family members in the eye, we are not communicating heart to heart. Make sure to remove strength from our eyes  when we look at a family member: we look at them with a soft and attentive gaze. 

Embarrassed, we don't turn our eyes away to the nose or other parts of the face but look directly into the eyes. We have to become used to looking directly and warmly into the eyes of the family member and begin talking and showing our love. 

He mentions not to be stingy in hugging. We have the five senses of hearing, tasting, smelling, sight and touch; the most sensitive of the five is touch. It is the sense that easily conveys love.

Koreans often say they want to return to the mother's bosom since that is the place they felt fully embraced. He reminds us the cry of the baby after birth is for loss of that embrace the child felt within the womb: embracing  the baby the crying stops. Another name for the embrace is longing. One hug is worth a hundred words.

Never fight in front of the children. Children are taken up in their own world: they are at the center and the sun is rising for them everyday. When parents fight they consider it their fault: "I am no longer lovable; I am of no value;  my life will only be full of sadness; I am afraid of the world. My mother and father are fighting like this here and now."

If the children come into the room when the parents are fighting they should stop immediately, no matter what,  and tell them they must be  surprised to see the parent's fighting, but  they are not the reason for the fight. When they have resolved the problem, they should make it clear to the children they have reconciled and show it by a kiss. It is not easy to be parents.

Refrain from giving  admonitions. The reason for dialog is not  to solve problems but to understand and be sympathetic. When this is absent no matter how much one tries, matters only get worse. Most of the time  when you have understanding and sympathy problems are solved. Many of us are like frogs and see only what is next to us. We are not moved as much by words as we are by a person that cares for us.

In the family, there is no need for a prosecutor who  determines who  is right and who is wrong, but rather a family lawyer who adjudicates on what is  best for the family.  In Korea, the word for a family member is one who eats together: this should be the case at least once a day.
He finishes the article by telling the readers that the problem is not a lack of knowledge on what to do,  but rather we find all kinds of reasons for not doing what we know we should.  Knowing what to do is not what is  important but doing it. "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Not Either Or, But Both And Thinking

Inclusion and not the exclusion of finances, begins an article in the Peace Weekly on the visit of Dr. Eutimio Tiliacos, Secretary General of the Centesimus Annus-Pro Pontifice Institution. He is active giving talks to business people, and those working in finances to overcome poverty and presenting the Church's teaching on the subject.

While in Korea he attended talks with those working in finance, explaining the Church's understanding of the issues in its teachings. He was in a discussion with the bishop's Justice and Peace Committee, and explains the subject as not exclusion of finances but embracing it for the common good.

He asked those on the committee if they met and talked to those in industry and  finance. No answer came from the group, Secretary General  stopped for a moment in his talk. Both within and outside the Church we have to see the situation as it is. Catholic teaching is obviously on the side of the poor. An important principle and  teaching and must be upheld he says, however, one wonders at times if this is not understood as exclusion of those who are wealthy without reason.  

The reason we select the poor is not  that their situation is something good but because their dignity has been degraded, and they have lost their enthusiasm for life.  We want to return their dignity, meaning and hope for life. Help them get out of poverty and to live a life of dignity.

Consequently, we can't stop talking to the wealthy and employers and urging them to have concern for the poor and workers. We must meet them and talk to them.  Both the poor and workers are God's people but so are the rich and employers. They like the poor, and workers are objects of God's salvation.

Is it not the impression that being on the side of the poor and the workers the Church is against the wealthy and  employers? But is it not the wealthy and employers who help the Church continue its work?

In Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation on  Joy of Love he mentions that what the world needs most in pastoral care for families is dialogue, discernment and  integration.  Is this concern only needed in families?

The columnist finishes his article with the need to meet with the wealthy and employers to discuss the problems of poverty and workers. He admits that he had a one sided understanding of our 'preferential option for the poor' and forgot that God's salvation is for all.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

No Longer Two but One

In a diocesan bulletin, the writer tells us a warm story of a recently  young married  couple. The wife went visiting the home of a neighbor, while in the room, she saw a pearl ring on the dressing table and overcome with its beauty, and the temptation to possess so strong, she  took the ring.

Next day seeing the ring missing from the dressing table, the neighbor, knew immediately it must have been the young woman, and quickly went to her house. Screaming she told the women to give her the ring.  She denied that she took the ring. Her neighbor told her no one was in that room except for her family: "You are lying,"  she rebuked her.

The neighbor notified the police of the theft. In the meantime, the husband coming home from work heard of what happened. "My wife is not that kind of person. Why are you falsely accusing my wife? I believe my wife, Please leave." Hearing the words of the  husband, the police and neighbor had no choice but to leave the house. The husband attempted to placate his wife.  

That night after his wife went to sleep, he found the ring in the bathroom table draw, and immediately went to the neighbor with the ring. He knelt down before the woman and asked for forgiveness. "My wife was not able to overcome the temptation to possess the ring and committed a great fault. My wife and I are one in mind and body, so I will take the punishment that you want. Seeing the great love the husband had for his wife, she sent him back to the house without a word.

Unbeknown to the husband the wife followed her husband and saw what he did and overcome, started to cry uncontrollably. The next day the wife at the break of day went over to the woman's house and with great sorrow asked for forgiveness.

The neighbor took the woman's hand warmly and said: " I envy  you." The husband's actions moved both his wife and the neighbor's wife to see beyond what was done to new possibilities.

In the year of mercy we hear many of these stories and are moved, but at  the same time we know it is far from the reality in which we live. Mercy does not cancel out justice but shows us justice even more clearly.