Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Catholic Mass Media in Korea

The Catholic Church in Korea has a comprehensive presence in newspapers, radio, television, the Internet and social networking. You will find it difficult to find any diocese that operates three communication media: newspaper, radio, and television.

They are a medium for the whole Korean Church but the responsibility of the Seoul Diocese. This year they celebrated their 29th anniversary. A staff member of the Broadcasting System introduces the readers to the aims of the diocese in social communication.

In the pastoral instruction on the means of social communication, Communio Et Progressio # 125 we have these words: "The means of social communication help Catholics in three ways. They help the Church reveal herself to the modern world.They foster dialogue within the Church. They make clear to the Church contemporary opinions and attitudes. For the Church has been ordered by God to give men the message of salvation in a language they can understand and concern herself with the concerns of man."

The Vatican Council for Social and Public Relations presented five tasks for the social communication media. First, the media serving people and culture. Second, media serving the world. Third, serving the development of the human community. Fourth, media serving church unity and lastly serving the new evangelization.

The communication medium needs to respect and maximize their unique functions. The means must be selected appropriately.There are a variety of means but the most effective means need to be used. You use a hammer to put a nail in a wall and not a screwdriver. Also, the nail has to be a proper nail.When the proper tools are not used we will not have the results expected.

In conclusion, he looks over his own relationship with the work in communication for almost the same length of time as the newspaper and broadcasting system itself and admits that he is embarrassed in not having always used the proper tools to convey the message over the past nearly thirty years.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Inculturation A Catholic Goal

A seminary rector writes in Window from the Ark in the Catholic Times about his impressions with the change of government. He sees it very natural to replace the leader of the country for lack of responsibility. Those who were involved have already been scattered. It's not easy to live like the Korean poet Yun Dong-ju: ("Wishing not to have so much as a speck of shame toward heaven until the day I die, I suffered even when the wind stirred the leaves"). If there was just a shred of conscience the great shame of impeachment would have been avoided.

Now thanks to the impeachment a gentle light of hope encompasses the land. Will we see a beautiful rainbow? After three years we have the raising of the Sewol ferry. He sees hope, a return to transparency, justice, experience living and seeing dreams come true.

Now the Taegukgi (Korean Flag) should stand as our emblem, not as a powerless flag. A flag that is waved at any time and place and during demonstrations seems cheap. If the sacredness of the flag was known it would not be waved at every occasion.

The writer wants politics, economy, culture to be in the Korean style.This he hopes will lead to a proper  Korean democracy, a sharing economy, and culture. He is not recommending a form of Nationalism. We have lost what was ours and taken much from other countries and lived well but now he says is time to regain what is ours and live fully.

Instead of buying from other countries and making it our own and envying other countries we need to cultivate what is ours: "(身土不二)  Body earth you are what you eat, slogan encouraging consumption of local seasonal foods for one's health, indivisibility of the body and the land because the body is made from food and food is made from the land."

He finishes the article with a wish that the Church quickly begin to work to indigenize our architecture, instead of mimicking the west with their Gothic churches and many nondescript buildings. He envies the Buddhist Temples which he sees being traditionally Korean. Nowadays it is difficult to differentiate a chapel from a cathedral.

Much of what is Korean can only be found in museums. He wants us to regain again the preciousness of what is Korean and the beauty of our culture and wants the Church to take seriously the movement within our tradition to inculturate.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sex and Responsibility

'Being alone is wonderful' TV ad for birth control pills. 'If you stay for 5 days you get one extra night' ad for sleeping accommodations. Ads of this type no longer cause amazement for they are merely reflecting our social reality.

We are living in a sexually free society. One entertainer who promised to be chaste before marriage was a big news item since it was so out of the ordinary. An article in the Kyeongyang magazine on education for responsibility in sex, interviews a college professor who started his own research center on love and responsibility. He decided to leave the classroom after noticing that many of his girl students were missing classes because of problems after abortion.

He mentions an incident where some feminists wanted to use the classroom of one of the Catholic colleges for an education program on sex. When the college realized they would be talking about free sex, contraception and abortion rights they were refused. The group had difficulty understanding the refusal for they were trying to decrease the number of abortions.

Where does this thinking come from? Our culture and economics are partially the reason but the mass media's influence is great. According to our authority, the media is a great user of pornography. 90% of our students use smartphones, which spreads a distorted picture of sex.

For the most part, sex education is mainly concerned with preventing birth. This has to move to the making of life and responsibility. When male and female meet sexually, life enters the picture, consequently, the first steps in sex education should be life and responsibility and for this to happen we need a partnership relationship between the sexes.

Movies, drama, musical videos, advertising, our popular culture and the media combine to show the romantic, pleasure-seeking happiness of sex. All have their place but often with the distortion of the true meaning of the sexual embrace, consequently, the need for media literacy. Sex education needs concern for life, responsibility, character building, and discernment.

Why is this a problem? He mentions an example of when the male knows the woman is using birth control pills and doesn't use a condom the woman feels used.  No method is 100 percent. When we have a failure we need responsibility which is not often the case. The younger generation understands that romancing requires the sexual embrace. Our authority would like to see in law, the reality in many countries, that the male be responsible for the child even if he is a minor. He wants this to be the law of the land.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Peace Talks in Korea

Jesus' greeting to the disciples after the Resurrection was simple: a daily greeting wanting peace for the disciples. The disciples who witnessed the death of their Master on the Cross knew that peace was not theirs. Jesus' wish for peace was not heard as in the past.

For these disciples, experiencing all kinds of confusion and fear, peace did not come easily. They were hiding in the Cenacle filled with fear of persecution and death, peace came only after the suffering, death, and Resurrection.

A priest writing for the Catholic Times introduces his meditation on the situation in Korea with the above words.  He gives us the government budget, the cost for energy, acquisition of weapons and their development and the defense budget. We are told this has increased 7% each year for a period of five years from 2010 to 2015.  

The North-South confrontation is used to justify the constant increase. Even though we have the opposition to the US Missile Defense System THAAD (high-altitude missile defense system) the pretext is to build peace on the Korean peninsula against the  North's nuclear weapons development.

The thinking on both sides is to maintain peace by increasing armaments, peace is obtained through force. The Catholic Church teaches that the arms race does not guarantee peace, but rather raises the chance for war. Human life is given little value and killing to satisfy one's own greed and interests are seen as justified. The thinking that peace can be achieved through war, violence, and force is never justified.

The countries that do not have an army do not maintain peace with arms. South and North Korea under international law face each other with a ceasefire. We do not have a genuine effort to promote peace. There is always a possibility of war which justifies the military buildup and people live in fear.

The peace from the resurrection that came to those behind locked doors was a gift of forgiveness, reconciliation, coexistence and solidarity. This is the peace that we should all desire and work to achieve.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hope in a New President

Korea after a hectic political campaign selected their new president. Many words were uttered. Each house received the campaign promises of each candidate. Catholic Times' columnist in View from the Ark tells his readers he didn't bother to read any of them for him they lack sincerity as did the TV debates.

Citizens see them as incompetent preachers, little tipsy drinking elders, school children. It's a feast of words, like a banquet where much is eaten and the stomach full. In the TV debates, all that the writer remembers are a lot of grave words but lack of policies.

He remembers hearing a news bulletin on the radio which mentioned that President Trump had within his first 100 days made 488 false or misleading statements, the only days without them were the days on the golf course. He will end his term as a Pinocchio-like president says many of his detractors, the standard for others in elections.

Those that feel that politics needs a strong man will accept the bluster and the acts of a man like Trump. They will tolerate irregularities, vices, and corruption because of the desires they place in the strong person. This we have seen in the drive for material prosperity in recent governments.

Those who show off their strength are considered capable populists. Although the word derives from the word people, in fact, they have little concern for the feelings of the people but only on strength.

During the campaign they kowtow to the voters but once elected they have little concern for the vision of the citizens but only their own.

Politicians who incite the public and show an interest in what the citizens' think is limited to the election season. There is no consideration or vision for others. They do not have the empathy of the Samaritan when they see the sick person lying on the roadside. The uncomfortable body sensation that I feel when I see someone who is hurt is a gift. On Easter Sunday Christians gathered to remember Jesus' death but were also reminded of the Sewol Ferry tragedy. But for self-centered populists, that uncomfortable gift was not received.
"Small people" in the Christian tradition are God's poor. When the world is morally blind and unjust,  people can not look elsewhere except to God. They are the ones who can not protect themselves and help themselves, the only thing left is the cry to God.

Jesus lived a thoroughly popular life. Jesus was a thorough populist who saw God's kingdom among the people and proclaimed the kingdom of God. The hope of Christianity was always on people from the beginning.

A new president was elected in Korea. He expects the new president to be sympathetic and uncomfortable with the pain of the citizens. Because of the inconvenience of the president, all public action for justice and freedom can begin.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Leisure: A Time to Recharge

Korea's work days are the longest compared to other countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). An article in the Catholic Times visits the topic of leisure as a time to be renewed. It mentions a woman, working in a department store, who has only one Monday off a month.

With the economic development of the country, the importance of leisure has come to the fore. The nation has also taken an interest in rest and leisure for the citizens. In May of 2015, a law was promulgated to find a balance between work and leisure and show the importance of leisure in the life of the citizens, guaranteed by law.

In a word, the nation is telling the citizens to rest. Citizens have a right to leisure and they have made this the policy of the country. With a proper balance between work and rest, we have better working situations. Without rest work suffers.

Rest and its place in Catholic teaching begins with God's rest on the seventh day of Creation. It is part of our makeup as human beings needing to alternate between periods of work and rest. Jesus finds time to rest with his apostles in the Scriptures.

"Rest is something 'sacred' because it is man's way of withdrawing from the sometimes excessively demanding cycle of earthly tasks in order to renew his awareness that everything is the work of God. There is a risk that the prodigious power over creation which God gives to man can lead him to forget that God is the Creator upon whom everything depends" Encyclical, Dies Domini (St. John Paul II #65).

A spokesperson for the Bishops of Korea has mentioned that a precondition for leisure is not receiving leisure for the sake of leisure. Often leisure is a reason for more stress, another occasion to do more work. 

Leisure is a time to grow as a person and discover who they are and this requires harmony in oneself. It's a time to look over our way of living not only to recharge ourselves but to examine the way we have lived our lives.

"Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life", Catholic Catechism (# 2186).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Creatively Eradicating Corruption

Among the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea ranked 27th, unchanged in its perception of corruption. A  college professor writing in a diocesan bulletin gives the readers an example of a country with a higher corruption index and what the private sector is doing to help overcome the problem.

Low levels of happiness and satisfaction invites corruption.Transparency International is an organization that tracks the victims and witnesses of corruption and makes their results known to the world. They work to stop the abuse of power, bribery and business irregularities. They want a world free from corruption. This organization compares a country with the rest of the world and not only with the 34 members as does the OECD. In this ranking Mexico ranks 123 out of 176 countries. Korea is 52 out of 176.

Each country in its own way attempts to overcome the corruption within the country with a variety of results. Our professor gives us an example of a private entrepreneur who has tried a rather novel way of conscientizing the citizens.

There are many sightseeing tours but Mexico has a corruption tour and for the present, according to the professor it may be unique. Usually, tours go to beautiful spots or historical landmarks where the sightseers admire with open mouth amazement what is before them. However, in Mexico, these tours are to 10 places of irregularities and corruption. During the trip, they discuss and make plans to bring about change.

One of the favorite spots is the gorgeous house of the president which is said to be built with the bribes received. When something is done repeatedly over time it becomes the ordinary way of acting. Mexicans are not surprised at the corruption and don't get angry. They have become accustomed to the evil.

Obviously, this is not going to change what has been done and is being done but it's an effort on the part of citizens to bring change. It is a beginning to change the way corruption is seen.

Korea is somewhat better than Mexico in the perception of corruption and the professor hopes the election results will see a  change in the way government is done.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Work And Pray

Ora et Labora is the motto of the Benedictine Order. To pray is the first work of the order, Opus Dei--God's work. Nothing is more important in the Rule of St. Benedict.

Why is prayer called work? A Benedictine priest in his article in the Kyeongyang magazine tells the readers when you are called seven times during the day to pray, you can call it work. Sometimes you go without emotion as you go to the workplace, often in a trance.

Life of a monk according to the rule of St. Benedict is prayer, work, and study. Those who enter the monastery at times find work difficult and find ways to avoid it. When they are not the subject of the work they do it as slaves and without joy. The Benedictine Monastery to which the writer belongs has a large tract of land set aside as a pear orchard and the work is difficult.

Work always gives way to prayer. When the work is difficult and takes too much time prayer is given the place of honor even if it means less income, the expenditures are decreased. In #48 of the rule: "Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading" (1).  "When they live by the labor of their hands, as our fathers and the apostles did, then they are really monks" (8).

"If anyone is so remiss and indolent that he is unwilling or unable to study or to read, he is to be given some work in order that he may not be idle" (23). Brothers who are sick or weak should be given a type of work or craft that will keep them busy without overwhelming them or drive them away" (24). All this is to help in the search for God, (Quaerere Deum).

Prayer and work are a cause of grumbling at times. Too little is as bad as too much. The monks last year attended the demonstrations in Seoul, monks who only knew prayer and work. The monastery life did suffer but they were all united in wanting the president impeached. Why are the monks joining the demonstration? Isn't that going a little bit too far? The writer does see the reason for the surprise but thinks it was a good thing to have the monks leave the monastery for the occasion.

Since the monks have only been concerned with the prophetic calling in a conceptual way they have now experienced it on the front lines. The results were that the bond to the community became stronger, work and prayer also improved. They have also attended a festival where they were involved in fishing which was thoroughly enjoyed. They cooked and ate the raw fish with a glass of Korean vodka. The era of prayer and work has passed and we have prayer and play.

When the monks joined the demonstrations there were those who saw them as followers of the North, leftist and now the writer says those in the future will come and say monks are to work and pray why are they playing? We are a family who in God do not know the world and enjoy play and living happily as a family.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Education of the Whole Person

Korea in education is seen as a leader in comparison studies with other countries. The educational program in the Korean system is intense. They have high achievement goals, are leaders in the educational results achieved,  students, however, do not have the time to live as children.

In the Catholic Times, an article and editorial addressed the need for education in personality traits of sociability and cooperation. A meeting of the presidents of Catholic-affiliated universities has agreed to work together to implement this in their course of studies.

Looking over the situation in society today the movement of the college presidents to expend effort in making the human qualities a part of the program of educating the whole person is deeply felt by many in society.

Korean students in their mastering of the textbook have few peers. The participation of parents in the educational role is high. Parents even before elementary school prepare the children in private educational programs in English, math and other subjects. The time and money spent on private education are enormous and the results are easily seen, what is forgotten is the price the children pay.

Student's goal of a good academic record during their pre-college years continues in the college years. The interest in character building will not be easy, faced with unemployment and the search for specifications in finding a job. Personal achievements and individual concerns will be difficult to dislodge.
The editorial gave examples of students from the best universities verbally harassing fellow female students in SNS chatting rooms and medical students accused of sexual abuse. These are signs that something beyond the intellect has to be brought into focus.

These are signs that something is missing in our programs of education. Once a person makes the universities all is permissible is a result of concern
only for grades.

Teachers and students in Catholic universities will work together in a coordinated effort to incorporate character along with the search for knowledge. The editorial hopes these efforts bear fruit and be a leaven spreading to other universities.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Easter Congratulations on the Election

Easter is the beginning of a new creation. Both East and West have the same names for the days of the week. In the Christian tradition, the first day of the week was the first day of creation with the separation of light and darkness. The last day of creation was the sixth and the seventh was the day of rest-- Saturday the sabbath. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week the beginning of the new second creation.

A time to sing a new song. On May 9th Korea will choose a new president after the impeachment of the former president over a corruption scandal. The hope is to have a new beginning but presently the threat of nuclear war is very much in the thinking of the Korean people because of the actions of the North and the way it has been played up in the mass media.

A medical school professor sings, in the View from the Ark in the Catholic Times, an ode to the Easter Season and the new life. We are all invited to a new beginning and new life with Jesus in a new creation, who accepted death to bring us new life.

God's love allows us to see all the disharmony, pain, conflict and death itself in the light of the Resurrection. How do we live this Resurrection Life? We are freed from sin, abandon skepticism and the feeling of loss and frustration. With love, we overcome hate, conflict, and disharmony in the manner of the prodigal son.

The Empty tomb suggests to us that we have a job to do in building up Christ's kingdom. All our relationships take on new meaning and life itself takes on a different value. Not possessing but sharing, not ruling but serving, not imposing but listening. Heading for the lower place and remaining in a place of poverty. Christians enjoy the freedom that comes thru the Resurrection. No matter the difficulty or crisis, we have the strength to live the new life.

Our society is now waiting for the resurrected life,  the extended hand of trust to overcome the lack of trust and the crevices that exist because of disharmony. The moratorium we experience needs to be filled with a responsible leader. We are praying for a wise choice of a new leader.

It doesn't all rest on our human efforts. With God, in humility and wisdom, we will be led on the right path. It will be a journey to the light together. We will be healing one another and returning to better times for we are all part of the tree of life, filled with new growth.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Waiting for the New Messiah

Looking for a messiah who will solve our problems and lead us into the land of milk and honey is a long-held desire of many. We see it in politics, science, literature, and religion where the true Messiah is not seen as a sufficient. 

Humanity has and will continue to have false prophets and messiahs. Even when the trust that was placed on these so-called prophets is proved misplaced many find it difficult to give up the hope they once had.

A Catholic Peace Weekly article gives us the example of the impeachment of the Korean president and her group of followers who lament the decision: "Our poor President" and "Even if we have to die our President must live" and similar laments to the point of exhaustion for many were taken to hospitals.

More than 10 years ago a  professor of veterinary medicine wrote a dissertation on research on human stem cell cloning that was a fraud. After it was known to be false there were many who continued to be his followers and even a movement to make him president. Bizarre was the way his followers tried to show support even after it was determined that it was a lie.

Religion becomes a part of our political reality our literary world, people are looking for a savior. We search for those to worship. Followers are willing to sacrifice for their hero. They see their savior suffering and oppressed, and the faith of the followers becomes more intense. They compare the suffering of their hero at the hands of the ignorant mob to the suffering of Jesus.

They are hoping for a messiah here and now. Facing reality is always painful, truth is not important, what is wanted is something to kill the pain. They grasp for any hope they can find, salvation here and now.

When Moses went to the mountain and didn't return for some time, the people were restless and weren't relieved until they made the golden calf and worshiped their new idol.

Korea is preparing for the presidential elections and looking for a new leader. One who will lead us into the new land flowing with milk and honey. Will the one chosen be that leader? We need to be slow with our 'Hosannas' for our earthly leaders and be wise in our efforts in selecting them in our democracy.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Unification Spirituality of the Irish

 All of us have three persons that we can consider our fathers: our birth father, those who have helped us in our mental development and God our heavenly father. The Catholic Times Weekly columnist in his column on unification of the country gives his readers what he has learned from an Irish priest on the unification of Korea.

He knew the priest from an early age and learned many difficult teachings from him."Ireland was a country that suffered like Korea, went through division and civil war. Live to reconcile and unify the country with the one life that you have been given. See all of life with conservative and progressive eyes. Looking at the past with a conservative heart and the future with a progressive heart. You will be living with a better future with these wings of wisdom."

At the time he heard these words they made little impression on him. Only later did he  began to understand. The priest broke it down to a few steps. Work hard for its realization, pay all your taxes, but live poorly. These are the words of the medieval St. Francis of Assisi. In this way we will have reconciliation and peace. When we have many who live in opposition to this we will have enmity and conflict. Few are those who will walk this path.

The Irish have  a proverb: the 'apple tree grows even during the winter months. We have to undergo trials to find freedom. We need to overcome defeatism if we are to bring about a different history. This is the Catholic spirituality of Ireland. Some see the difficulties on the road and avoid it while the Irish see the problem and make light of it and go ahead and dream and work to actualize the dream.

For a thousand years they were under England's oppression and contempt. With the break from Catholicism at the time of Henry VIII  and the  beginning of Anglicanism the Irish had another hardship to deal with which deepened their faith. After civil war and the attaining of freedom Eamon de Valera  as president , according to our columnist, devoted his efforts not primarily to unreasonable economic development but to traditional Catholic and human values unifying the country.

If he worked primarily for economic development instead there would have been divisions and conflict. Religion and art helped to unify the country. If Korea had taken this path we would not have the class and regional divisions we experience but rather a country  unified and living in harmony.

Ireland grew slowly economically and is one of the  healthiest and harmonious countries in the world. Korea grew economically too quickly, and suffers from the aftereffects of this growth. Before we work for the unification of the North and South we need to work for the unification of the South. We need to remember the advice of St.Francis, peace does not come automatically but with efforts, personal sacrifice and slowly.