MY EXPERIENCE WITH NAJU
By Hak Yoon, a lawyer
(Reprinted from Catholic Digest Korea, the February 1999 issue)
I first heard about Naju from a priest, who was
studying theology in Rome. At that time, I was a lukewarm Catholic, not
even attending Mass regularly. This priest was spending his vacation in
Korea. It was amazing that I even made a confession to him. I wept a lot
while making the confession. The tears that I was shedding were coming
from my deep-seated desire to amend my life.
After Mass, the priest was riding in my car. I invited
him to visit my house and bless it, as we had moved into it only a while
earlier. He did come and bless the house. Then, he took out a small ball
of cotton and asked me to smell it. It was a fresh, mysterious fragrance
of roses permeating my whole body. I had never smelled this fragrance
The priest said that the cotton ball had absorbed
fragrant oil from the Blessed Mothers statue in Naju. Then, he told me
about his mysterious experiences in Naju. He also explained the meaning of
the tears and tears of blood that were flowing from the Blessed Mothers
statue. The priests voice was gentle and clear. This gentleness and
clarity of his words sounded to me like an invitation to become interested
I decided to find some time to visit Naju. If what I
had been hearing about Naju were true, it must have been an important
event that could change my whole mindset toward everything in the world.
However, I also thought that there was a possibility of
someone intentionally fabricating tears and tears of blood, throwing down
the hosts, and spraying perfume. It was not possible for me to believe
such significant events without personally checking them out.
I visited Naju with my mind filled with curiosity. I
examined the ceiling from which it was said that the Eucharist had come
down. I also examined possibilities of artificially spraying the perfume
of roses. I did the examination like a lawyer, but could not find any
evidence of fabrication. Later during the same trip, I visited the
"miraculous" spring on a mountain near Naju and smelled the
fragrance of roses while praying there. I also smelled the same fragrance
after I came back to Seoul and was working in my office. My doubts were
After these mysterious experiences, I began attending
early-morning Masses on weekdays. The experiences in Naju gave me new eyes
to view the world.
Then, last year, I was greatly shocked by the Kwangju
Archbishops Declaration on Naju. According to the Declaration, the
changes in my life came from a foolishness with which I believed in
fabrications and plagiarism.
For several days, I was struggling in confusion. I read
the Declaration again and again to get out of the confusion. However, the
more I read the Declaration, the more strongly I felt that the Declaration
contained many problems. When I read the Bible, I feel more and more
convinced that it is the truth, the more I read it. However, when I was
reading the Declaration, I had a depressing and stifling feeling that I
feel when I read something that is not true.
The Declaration was announced in the name of the
Church, but did not have the warm concern for the faithful or the fervor
for the truth that we find in dignified documents. It was restricting
peoples basic rights to read, write and see without sincerely and
clearly explaining the reasons. Furthermore, the Declaration was quoting
from Church doctrines, distorting the sentences and presenting meanings
that are totally different from the originally-intended meanings.
After finding these several obvious errors in the
Declaration, I could not help thinking that the Kwangju Archdiocese made a
wrong judgment. I could not erase the thought in my mind that the
Archdiocese, which should be leading the faithful in practicing love and
respecting the truth, made a decision that contradicted the truth and
treated the faithful carelessly. And it did it in the name of the teaching
I continued examining more information about Naju and
found the following amazing facts.
When Archbishop Bulaitis, the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio,
visited Naju, the Eucharist came down. The Apostolic Pro-Nuncio did not
have any doubts but consumed a piece of the Sacred Host and gave Communion
to people who were in the Chapel. With just one Sacred Host, he gave
Communion to about 70 people. (Two small pieces have been preserved.) In
1990, Bishop Hak Soon Chi saw the Blessed Mother shedding tears and tears
of blood through her statue. He prayed, wept, and wrote down, "I
surely saw and firmly believe." Bishop Chang Yeol Kim of Cheju
also came to Naju and witnessed the Eucharist that miraculously appeared
before his eyes.
After learning these facts, I had the following
thoughts. Why did the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio, other bishops and priests
visit Naju? It must have been for the purpose of becoming more faithful to
their priestly duty of being good leaders for the faithful. Also, their
humble minds with which they could understand the Blessed Mothers
sufferings as Gods children must have led them to Naju.
However, the Kwangju Archbishop and the priests who
became the leading members of the Naju Investigating Committee had ignored
the events in Naju for more than 10 years, even though these events were
happening within their own diocese. Only after learning about the
Apostolic Pro-Nuncios visit, they hurriedly formed a committee.
Many theologians and priests have been pointing out
that the Kwangju Declaration contains errors. They have also been pointing
out that what needed to be scientifically examined were rejected without
any scientific tests. Even some of the Naju Investigating Committee
members are admitting that there are problems in the Declaration. Some of
them even say that they are ashamed. This is a fact.
Archbishop Kong Hee Youn of Kwangju must be well aware
of all these. We hear that he gave a strict order (to the priests in his
diocese) not to discuss Naju publicly. I cannot erase the thought that the
Kwangju Archdiocese is still doing something wrong.
Where did they find such audacity to tell the numerous
people who had clearly seen the descending Sacred Hosts and tears on the
Blessed Mother's statue to accept the bishops judgment without
presenting any rational explanation. The old saying that one who has not
even been to the Southgate Market (in Seoul) pretends to know more about
it than others may well fit the current situation.
The Kwangju Archdiocese has been completely silent
about the numerous criticisms coming from both inside and outside Korea.
Are they expecting blind obedience by the faithful?
The Kwangju Archdiocese has prohibited public
celebrations in Naju. In obedience, Julia Youn has been refraining from
all public activities. On the other hand, streams of pilgrims to Naju are
continuing. The Declaration was translated into foreign languages and
mailed to all corners of the world, but foreign priests and lay people
continue visiting Naju.
It appears that the number of pilgrims to Naju will
continue rising. Are the pilgrims making the mistake of being disobedient?
Or is the Kwangju Archdiocese making a mistake by refusing to correct its
On one First Saturday, people were quietly praying the
rosary in the Chapel in Naju. When the rosary was over, one man stood up
and suggested that they pray for Archbishop Youn.
He invited people to picture in their minds the
Archbishops boyhood in Jinnampo, a city in northern Korea, when he was
walking to and from school, with his schoolbooks wrapped and carried on
his back and with his heart filled with humility, love, and a desire to
become a priest. He began singing a childrens song: A Winter Tree:
Standing lonesome in a shadow on the snow-covered
In this winter when no visitors are coming,
are you only whistling with the winds?
He began singing quietly, but soon was joined by
everyone in the Chapel. There was a boy who came with his parents. There
also was old lady. There was a girl from afar. They came from many
different places, but were of one mind, praying for the Archbishop.
They had no hatred or resentment in their hearts. Even
the official measures were not an immediate concern to them. They were
only praising God and trying to imitate the immaculately clean Heart of
their Heavenly Mother.
As I was watching them, I was moved to pray that
repression of the truth in the name of the truth may no longer occur at
least in the Church.
from Marys Touch, March 1999 Newsletter