Saturday, January 28, 2023

What Senior Citizens Need to Learn

간호사의 무료 일러스트

On the Spirituality page of the Catholic Peace Weekly, a religious sister gives us some interesting suggestions on growing old and the way we need to examine ourselves.

One day, an elderly man's voice on the phone made her feel powerless and sad. Brother Joseph and Sister Maria, who participated in senior citizen groups for a long time said they wanted to prepare well for their deaths, and looked for homes for the aged, which would be their last living quarters as they grew weaker and weaker. It is said that there are not many places and the conditions are not good, so the concern grows. Many people around us are thinking about this. Even if there is a place where the conditions are right, many have doubts about adapting and living in a new environment, and the passing of time itself comes as a fear.
We met the elderly at the Senior Citizens' Center where they shared about 'the old age I want'. What they said in one voice expressed their sorrow and guilt for not being able to pass on ample wealth to their children despite having lived for them all their lives. As they get older, they spend more and more on hospital bills and medicines, and since they have no income, the wealth they saved will decrease and they will become a burden to their children in a few years. Therefore, it is said elderly parents endure pain without going to the hospital, and hide the fact that they are sick for fear of worrying their children.
How much do children know the hearts of their parents? Don't dismiss parents she says as being desperate but make the effort to understand them. No matter how much their children tell them to go to the hospital, the parents say it's okay and ignore their children's voices.  Parents often neglect to take care of themselves and feel sorry for not being able to give more to their children even after giving everything to them. That's why she thinks it might be said that love is descending love. If children have received boundless, overflowing love, shouldn't there be some degree of love from children to their parents?
She has meetings with seniors who have been abused and abandoned by their children. Looking back on the counseling, the elderly who have been abused are people who have lived a hard life by providing everything for their children. Therefore, amid abuse, they face the pain of their lives collapsing in front of their children's emotional and physical abuse. Sobbing, they ask: "How did I raise you, how could you do this to me? I gave you everything, and you keep asking for more, what can be done?"
While working with the elderly she was able to see some of their common characteristics. Our elders are clumsy about how to love themselves and only familiar with the love they give to their children. Since they don't respect themselves others might find it difficult to respect them. When a fish comes out meal time, don't just eat the head, but actively express yourself by saying, "You guys will have many opportunities to eat it in the future, so now I'll eat the body part of the fish." That way the children will understand that the parents don't like fish heads. When you value yourself, others will value you as well.
In Confucian culture, the position of the eldest son was always different from that of other children, as it was believed that children would attend to their parents when they grew older and hold ancestral rites when they passed away. However, according to a recent survey on the elderly, only 12% of the elderly wish to live with their children. The old-fashion household is changing rapidly, but the consciousness of the elderly about their children is not keeping up, so the conflict with their children will continue to get bigger.
Now is the time for the nation to take more responsibility for the support of needy families. The type of care service for the elderly is becoming increasingly diverse and the scope is gradually expanding. Sister is asking the senior citizens to put away worries about their children and enjoy a lively, confident, and happy old age.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Religions and World Peace

배너, 헤더, 사람들, 비둘기, 평화의 비둘기, 평화, 실루엣


There is a saying that everything is a 'sacrament'. The Catholic Peace Weekly in its Eyes of the Clergy column gives the readers some thoughts on the subject.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a sacrament is a holy sign expressed sensibly and symbolically so that the invisible grace of God can be seen and felt. In other words, "everything is sacramental" means that God’s grace is everywhere in the world. God shows his grace through everything in the world so that we humans can feel and realize it. It is up to us to have the eyes and heart to recognize the grace of God inscribed in all things in the world.
The language of religion is 'symbols' we can broaden the scope not only of the sacraments but also the scope of neighboring religions. In religious studies, the language of religion is called 'symbols'. It is said that human beings convey their thoughts or opinions through 'words', but religion conveys values or doctrines through 'symbols'. So, understanding the symbols of each religion is like understanding the value and depth of that religion. For example, if you do not understand the meaning of the cross in Christianity, you will not understand the resurrection and salvation that Christianity speaks of.
But what if the symbol or action of a certain religion causes inconvenience to other religions or neighbors? What if it is a meaningful symbol or recommended act in my religion, but a symbol or act that is taboo or uncomfortable in other religions?
For example, going to a Catholic Church and using a  'moktak' in prayer. ('Mok' means wood and tak 'hit' —is used in Buddhist temples to call the believers to prayer). Or Christians going to a temple and singing hymns. Christian Believers forced to apostatize during the persecution of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea had to step on a cross.
Last year, in a neighborhood in Daegu, the Emergency Response Committee against the construction of a mosque was said to have barbecued pork at the site where a mosque was being built under the pretext of an end-of-the-year party knowing it was taboo in Islam. When we use symbols that are taboo in the religion one opposes this can be considered religious violence when done deliberately in opposition to the religion.

Moreover, it is a bigger problem if the reason for opposing a certain religion is fear and hatred. There is such a thing as "Islamophobia" an extreme fear and aversion to Islam. Residents of the mosque in Daegu feared a slum area if the mosque is built.
The picture on the cover of the Korean edition of the Encyclical 「All Brothers」 shows St Francis meeting the Muslim Sultan Malik al-Kamil. The beginning of the Encyclical also begins with the story of that encounter impressed by the fact that this meeting, which took place during the Crusades prompted St. Francis to avoid all forms of aggression or strife and to practice humility and fraternal 'obedience' even before those, not of the same faith. At the same time, the Encyclical suggests we should remove the clouds of a closed world and imagine an open world.

Assisi in Italy is full of the spirituality of Saint Francis. In Assisi,  people of various religions, gather to pray for world peace. It was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1986. Members of each religion gather together to pray in their own ways and practices. Differences do not lead to discrimination and exclusion but the appearance of coexistence in diversity is a manifestation of peace.
As was the case in the past, it is often religion that opens the door to a new era. Some philosophers and religious people suggest an 'open world' as the next stage of development in history beyond the polarity of left and right. It is a pluralistic society based on solidarity. Beyond the world of 'cliques' that separate you and me, we will walk toward freedom and equality based on brotherly love. There we will have peace.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Grapes and not Thorns

 Matthew 7:16 KJV - Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather - Bible Verse Picture

In Bible and Life magazine the writer gives the reader a meditation on common sense (truth) that will make us free.

Matthew's Gospel 7:15-20 states that we pick grapes from grape vines and not from thorn bushes. If people see grapes and still call it a thorn bush we have a problem. We can simply call it lying or worse—  bribed or threatened to see other than what is. We can see it as violence or evil. This situation seen by some in society is similar to what Jesus experienced 2000 years ago.

Let us look at John's Gospel 9:1-41. Jesus one day seeing a man born blind made some mud with his saliva from the earth and smeared the man's eyes with the mud and told him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. He returns able to see. This showed who Jesus was. He gave life and rescued others. He was doing God's work.  A grapevine was producing grapes.

Pharisees were from the beginning seeing a sinner. He had to be a sinner. They saw the society in which Jesus moved as an enemy of the kind of society they espoused, no matter what he was able to do he was a sinner. To prove the point they had to attack and distort the reality of the person who was blind from birth and is now able to see.

They asked many times how was it that he now was able to see. They questioned the parents of the blind man to see if he was blind from birth to prove that Jesus was a fraud if that was not the case, the parents made it clear he was born blind.

But this not prevent the Pharisees to continue their assault on the blind man, they now changed from asking how he was now able to see to what does he think of Jesus. They were looking for reasons to expel him from the synagogue, but the once-blind man continued to speak well of Jesus. "I do not know if he is a sinner or not, one thing I do know: I was blind and now I see." He was expelled from the Synagogue.

This is a situation we are often familiar with in our society. Irrationality is quite common. Absurd investigations, confinements, using the media to advance the views of those in authority,  arresting the innocent, and freeing the guilty. Truth is not important but authority rules make life difficult.

The blind man not only began to see with his bodily eyes but also with the eyes of the heart. The truth is often no big issue but rather seeing grapes where there are grapes and thorns where there are thorns. Our faith life is very much the same: living according to our consciences. We begin with common sense. "The truth will make us free." John 8:21.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

God's Time

도로 그만보기 여행한 - time with god 뉴스 사진 이미지

The Peace Column of the Catholic Peace Weekly  gives the readers  a mediation on God's time. 

Korean Catholics celebrate the New Year three times each year.  The first comes at the beginning of the liturgical year,  the  first Sunday of Advent. The second is the solar New Year on January 1 with the change of the calendar year and the third and final is Jan. 22nd of the Lunar New Year (Word of God Sunday). The Word of God contained in the Bible is the mirror and compass of our daily life. Celebrating, reflecting on, and disseminating that word is God's blessing to us.

The last of the new years contains the desire to expect changes through introspection. Advent is a new year for believers who are waiting for Jesus, and it is a time to dream of hope for the future. The Gregorian New Year and the Lunar New Year are times to renew our daily lives and design new lives and challenges. At the time of the new year, everyone has a question to ask themselves. Who am I and where did I come from and where am I going? There is life and time is given, but the path to take is always a worry.

Time is invisible. It just flows without stopping with the second, minute, and hour hand. However, this is a set calendar time. Chronos is physical time measured as a quantity. The relative time we feel as quality is Kairos. If Chronos is objective time that applies to everyone, Kairos is subjective time that has different meanings to people. In the end, we entrust ourselves to the flow of time, divide it into the past, present, and future, and always stay awake and prepared according to the word of the Lord. The place where the past flows and the future begins is 'today' the 'now' moment.

Human beings divide time according to its flow, and they are created and end their earthly life regardless of their will, but God, the Creator, has neither creation nor extinction, neither the past nor the future. His own time neither comes nor goes, but exists only in the eternal present, always now. A moment is also an eternity, and eternity is also a moment. "For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night" (Psalm 90:4). "All our days have passed away in your indignation; we have spent our  years like a sigh" (Psalm 90:9). "Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong. And most of them  are fruitless toil, for they pass quickly and we drift away" (Psalm 90:10). 

The time given to us always accompanies space. In the exhortation 「The Joy of the Gospel」, Pope Francis defines time as "the expression of the horizon that is always open before us", but space as "the limits of living in a limited reality (space)". "Giving priority to space means madly attempting to keep everything together in the present, trying to possess all the spaces of power and of self-assertion; it is to crystallize processes and presume to hold them back. Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces. Time governs spaces, illumines them and makes them links in a constantly expanding chain, with no possibility of return. What we need, then, is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events." (223), so the Pope says "time is greater than space". 

We are always busy. Tired of this and that, and moaning over achievements and goals. The lunar New Year was the third New Year. You don't have to be impatient, torture yourself, or give up because your resolutions that you made before the Lord didn't last a month or even three days. Save the memories of the past, but don't cling to them, and there is no need to be afraid of the uncertain future. Let's hope again, promise again, and challenge again. God's time is always 'today'. You have to live today. To live faithfully today getting up after your falls and recovering. It is the way to repay the grace of the Lord who gave  us 'today'.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Lessons From the Past—Hippocratic Oath

Hippocratic 선서 단어 클라우드, 추상적인 배경 - 로열티 프리 선서 스톡 사진

We have said good bye to the Solar New Year but we will usher in the Lunar New year on the 22nd of  this month. In the Diagnosis of the Times column of the Catholic Times the writer has some thoughts for the readers.

The new year has dawned, and the time train has left the station on the first day of the solar New Year.

He recalls  how  many people were sick due to the Itaewon disaster last year, and everyone was thinking about what keywords to choose for the new year after the sad year-end and the New Year holidays.  

His back hurt a little bit, and saw it as a gift of New Year and his aging, and probably the  onset of some kind of disease. He searched for a suitable hospital and pondered the ancient Hippocratic oath, praying that the doctor's ability would heal him. Then, he realized that this oath is a universal declaration that applies not only to physical pain, but also to psychological and social pain.  

Has human suffering decreased and happiness increased in modern society compared to the historical past? Last year, the top 10 news items included a change of government, conflicts in the National Assembly, spacecraft launches, North Korean provocations, outbreaks of global war, domestic disasters, protests for the rights of the disabled, World Cup, high prices and high interest rates, and labor reform or deterioration. Most of them are related to unhappiness. These issues are not someone else's problems, but are directly related to our lives, our suffering, or our happiness. So, we must fight social pain, the source of that pain, just like a doctor trying to protect physical pain, fundamentally, life. Now, let us excerpt the  lines from the Classic Hippocratic Oath{}

“I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius the surgeon, likewise Hygeia and Panacea, and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment. 

I will reverence my master who taught me the art. Equally with my parents, will I allow him things necessary for his support, and will consider his sons as brothers. I will teach them my art without reward or agreement; and I will impart all my acquirement, instructions, and whatever I know, to my master’s children, as to my own; and likewise to all my pupils, who shall bind and tie themselves by a professional oath, but to none else.

With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage. (Everything has to be done for the patient. Two pitfalls to avoid: over treatment and therapeutic nihilism. I will remember that there is an art in medicine as well as in science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may be greater than a surgeon's knife or  medicine).

Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.  Further, I will comport myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner.I will not cut for the stone, but will commit that affair entirely to the surgeons. 

(It is an important story that the response to social pain should be applied accurately, neither excessive nor insufficient, and should be based on humanity, not bureaucracy or mechanical application of functions).

Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood, and (in an especial manner) from acts of an amorous nature, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free.

Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast.
If I faithfully observe this oath, may I thrive and prosper in my fortune and profession, and live in the estimation of posterity; or on breach thereof, may the reverse be my fate!”

Even today, we hear a little knowledge in the medical world is a dangerous thing. Social efforts are not for individual achievement, so we must expect collective intelligence and cooperation where our limits are revealed. It is desirable to start with solidarity from the beginning.  

Exposing personal information that the victim does not want without consent, invasion of privacy, is now called secondary harm. Considering that such problems were present even in ancient times, how many times in history have these  evil habits and the lessons been repeated?

Happy Lunar New Year!





Wednesday, January 18, 2023

North and South Koreans Living Together

 대륙, 대한민국, 조선 민주주의 인민 공화국, 배경, 손가락, 보여 주다

The recent Catholic Times in its North South Reconciliation Column has an article on a village in England where  the North and South Koreans are speaking to each other. 

The author Lee Hyang-gyu, Theodora, is a principal of the  Hankyoreh School in London. She has written a number of books and compiled A Missionary Journey,  a biography of Father Gerald Hammond a Maryknoll Missioner in Korea who has spent over 60 years in the country.

The parents and teachers of the London Hankyoreh School, have all left their hometowns in Korea. She lists the different provinces from which they came. Most of the children were born in England and can speak Korean but not very well so every Saturday they study Korean at the Hankyoreh School in London.
The London Hankyoreh School was established in 2016, by her North Korean parents who settled in the UK as refugees. Her father was from Chongjin and took the lead, her mother was from Pyongyang and became the principal. Theodora became  the principal in 2021, she is from Seoul. They now have about 90 students. She  doesn't  know exactly where the parents are from because she never asked them, but  would say they are half South Korean and half North Korean. 
This school is very special. She has occasionally seen a small number of North Korean defectors attend gatherings made by South Koreans in both Korea and England, but this is the first time she has seen a space where South Koreans join a place created by North Korean defectors, where one side does not overwhelm the other and  are able to create something together.  
The reason this is possible is that this place is outside the divided Korean Peninsula, and there are about 1,000 North Korean defectors living in this town called New Malden, located on the outskirts of London. Both South Koreans and North Koreans are a small minority among immigrants in the  mainstream British society.   
The parents both have the same desire to teach their children the Korean language and the culture of the Korean people. The fact that British society basically respects cultural diversity and has laws that prohibit discrimination, such as the Equality Act, makes it easy  for North and South Koreans to form a community. 
On the Korean Peninsula, we still have a long way to go for ordinary citizens of South and North Korea to meet each other freely. The few North Korean defectors living in South Korea are intimidated in their activities, but the setting in England is different. Perhaps, it may help us imagine life on the Korean Peninsula, where the division has been lifted, some time in the future.
The important thing in living together is an equal relationship and respect. Constant contact and exchange rounds off the sharp edges that have appeared in relating with each other over the years. She hopes they will begin talking to one another.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Solo And Marriage Hell

 푯말, 경유지, 희망, 가망 없음, 우울증, 심리학, 요법, 목재, 곡물

These days, people use the religious term 'hell' without hesitation. The self-deprecating word "Hell Joseon" ( a satirical South Korean expression used to criticize the socioeconomic situation in South Korea), Indirectly points to the harsh reality of the young people of the 'N-po' generation (giving up numerous things in South Korea). A pastor in the Eyes of the Believer column of the Catholic Times gives us a look at this present situation as seen in Korean Reality TV dramas. 

The difficulties of life that all generations must face are replaced with 'hell'. In particular, while monitoring popular broadcasting programs such as 'Solo Hell' and 'Marriage Hell', the situation of the times is reflected as it is, and viewers sympathize with it, but it exposes unethical and non-evangelical values. 

'Solo Hell' and 'Marriage Hell' are both entertainment programs, but there is a difference. 'Solo Hell' aims to create couples, and 'Marriage Hell' aims to recreate couples. The hell referred to in 'Solo Hell' is simply a place where you are a solo person and survive on your own without anyone’s help, but in 'Marriage Hell', hell is a miserable state with no escape, suffering, despair, and pain. According to Christian doctrine, a hell is a place where people go as a result of their sins and are punished endlessly. Even in marriage itself, the word hell is used symbolically in the sense of foreshadowing such an experience.

In 'Solo Hell', single men and women are confined to an uninhabited island, and when they become a couple, they escape from Hell and go to 'Heaven Island'. This reality show is gaining popularity not only in Korea but globally.

There are many 'solo people' in our society who have not been paired up. Recent statistical surveys show that most of them are unable to marry due to financial difficulties or unable to find a suitable spouse. In that respect, these mating programs can have a good effect in attracting young people from single-person households to marriage.

However, it is also necessary to be aware of problems that arise. The rules presented by 'Solo Hell' are based on the dichotomous thinking that couples are desirable and singles are not. As if shouting 'couples heaven', 'solo hell'. However, single-person households are the trend in Korean society these days and will become even more so in the future.


Of course, some people are voluntarily single, but there are quite a few people who live alone involuntarily. Therefore, this program subtly reveals the discrimination that living alone is not right. Careful consideration is needed so that this program can make use of the advantage of inducing solos into couples but not discriminate against singles.


Even if you manage to succeed in becoming a couple, go to heaven, have a good relationship, and achieve your final goal of marriage, there are many cases where the fantasy that was like heaven after marriage is broken. The reason why an entertainment program called 'Marriage Hell' has a huge viewership rating is that it provides a solution to escape from a hellish marriage life.


In 'Marriage Hell', many viewers sympathize with the various marital conflicts that are seen without filtering and have a positive effect in eliciting vicarious satisfaction. However, due to the nature of broadcasting, which is tied to viewership ratings, several critics point out that there are limits to a system that relies on a single professional counselor, even though problems such as child molestation and domestic violence are raised. 

Also, the word 'marriage hell' in the program title imprints a negative image of marriage as hell in the era of low birth, and the danger of making 'living alone', attractive, and raising concerns of hitting a steep demographic cliff. 


In Dante's 'Divine Comedy', he takes himself as the main character and travels through heaven, purgatory, and hell. A place without hope is hell. If you think about it, it means that the moment you have hope, anyone can head to heaven. Whether you are living alone or married, you can have a fresh start when you acknowledge your own and the other person's shortcomings and accept the hope of change.