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.

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