ďNow, I realize what a terrible thing prejudice isĒ
A Personal Testimony
by Francisco Sohn
I live in the City of Mokpo, located on the
southwestern coast of South Korea. I have been married for ten years and
have three children. I am a public employee working as an engineer for
passenger trains. I was baptized in the Catholic Church seven years ago.
I write this testimony for my dear brothers and sisters
in the whole world, to tell them about my experiences with Naju. I want to
tell them about how I came to an understanding of the meaning of the
miracles in Naju; how a person of this modern age was able to accept them.
I used to be a typical man of this age, feeling
enormous pride in the scientific progress and believing that all the
problems in the world could only be solved by further scientific progress.
I was a worshipper of science. I was a Catholic, but considered Godís
Words in the Bible a fiction and believed in evolutionism more than in the
teaching that God created the world. I even doubted that God could find a
place in this highly advanced, industrialized modern society. I was almost
an atheist. I even thought that one hour per week for Sunday Mass was a
waste and wished that I could spend the time for recreation with my family
instead. I was indifferent to the sufferings of my poor neighbors. I liked
associating with successful people in society like professors, doctors and
company presidents, conversing with them about life and faith and blaming
many other people for the problems in the world. I was a very worldly man.
It was because of my beloved wife that I first heard
about the miracles in Naju. My wife had learned about Naju from a lady who
was a leader in our parish. My wife became interested and wanted to visit
Naju. So, on April 23, 1999, we went to Naju together and saw for the
first time what we had only heard about. My wife looked at everything in
the Chapel with much interest and sincerity, but I felt somewhat uncanny
about the large photograph of the Blessed Mother shedding tears of blood
hung on the left wall of the Chapel. I did not feel like approaching and
seeing other photographs and evidences of the miracles displayed in the
back of the Chapel, either. After we came home, my wife continued her
interest in Naju and wanted to visit Naju frequently. I warned her that
she could be carried away by fanaticism and heresy, and even neglect her
family. I strongly scolded her for embracing the miracles in Naju so
wholeheartedly, which did not even have the approval by the local diocese.
My wife had been a better Catholic than myself, but had not been a fervent
Catholic until we first visited Naju.
After our first visit to Naju, many changes occurred to
my wife. For example, she began praying many decades of the rosary before
a candlelight. I was very disturbed by that. Her main duty was to look
after her husband and children. But I thought that she was obsessed with a
religion and was praying so much like a shaman! I could not understand her
and even felt betrayed by her. She had been faithful to the family. I had
also been faithful to her. Had she had so much emptiness in her heart and
was trying to fill it by sinking into a religion? I decided to stop her. I
told her not to pray, especially when I could see her, and burned all the
books, prayer books and photographs that had been brought from Naju. I
even smashed the statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed
Mother from Naju into pieces. While burning the books from Naju, I glanced
at one page. It said, "The world is so corrupt. Godís
chastisement will fall upon you, if you do not repent your sins. Hurriedly
repent, renounce yourselves, and be embraced in my bosom." I
thought, "Ah, this cannot be anything but a heresy! That is why
the diocese has not approved it. I heard about many Protestants who were
misleading people with talks of the end time. The Blessed Motherís House
in Naju must be a place of heresy in the Catholic Church. If we renounce
ourselves as the message says, how can we be humans? We will only be
idiots. Julia says that miracles have occurred through her, but she must
be possessed; she is a shaman. She is confusing and attracting fanatical
people to establish a strange new religion. She wants to be its
leader." Everything about Naju looked abnormal to me. Everything
about it seemed like the devilís work.
In the Blessed Motherís messages, I found this
sentence: "My Son Jesus loved you so much that He established the
seven Sacraments." I misread "the seven Sacraments"
(which is pronounced "chilsungsa" in Korean) as "chilsungdang"
(which means a shamanís house). I was sure that Julia was using the name
of the Blessed Mother in trying to establish a new religion. While I
continued to have serious prejudices about Julia and the miracles in Naju,
I began realizing that I was so miserable and was becoming overwhelmed by
anxieties. We had a happy family. Now, my wife was becoming obsessed by a
strange cult. I was fearful that our family was breaking apart. I had
already seen many other families broken apart because of cults.
So, I decided to do something to save our family. I
decided to prevent my wife from going to Naju, to prevent her from
associating with anyone who was favorable on Naju, and to keep watch on
everything that my wife was doing. At the same time, I thought that I
needed to know more about my own religion to be able to guide my wife on
the right track. I began attending not only Sunday masses but also weekday
masses with my wife, still mainly to keep watch on her and lead her on the
right way. We also attended retreats together. In addition, we went to the
overnight prayer meetings in Naju together to find out what kind of
meetings they really were. The reason for my going there still was to
watch my wife, but, gradually, I began to realize that many rumors and
accusations about Julia were actually groundless, preposterous
misunderstandings. I even began understanding why the Blessed Mother was
shedding tears of blood. It was an incredible change to me.
I realized that what the Blessed Mother was saying was
correct, but I did not know how to put her words into practice. For
example, she said that we should renounce ourselves, but how could I do
that? Isnít it enough to live with a fear of God? Why should we
willingly accept sacrifices, reparations, and sufferings? For what
reasons? The struggle continued in my mind. Because of this conflict in my
mind, I did not accompany my wife to Naju any more, but was still unhappy
about my wifeís wholehearted acceptance of Naju.
If everyone in the world lived a good life, the whole
world would become a good place. So, isnít it enough for me to lead a
good life? Why should I suffer sacrifices and pains for others? Besides,
othersí mistakes are their own responsibilities. Why should I carry
their burdens also? It is the nature of every living thing to avoid pains,
but she is telling us to willingly accept pains. Even if she were right,
it surely would be hard to practice.
When my wife found out that I was struggling with these
thoughts, she suggested that I read the Blessed Motherís messages
seriously, not just casually as I had been doing. I refused many times,
but she persisted. I said to myself, "There is an old saying that
even a dead personís wish is granted; why couldnít I grant a living
personís wish?" I finally began reading the Blessed Motherís
messages very sincerely.
After I read the whole messages eight times in 15 days,
I slowly began understanding what the Blessed Mother was trying to say to
her children in the world, shedding tears of blood. And I was really
shocked, as if I was struck on my head by something, when I read the
Blessed Motherís message that what was most needed in this extremely
corrupt world was love. She further said that, with faith, one could lift
a high mountain, but, with a deep love, one could lift the whole world. I
received a tremendous grace of understanding the meaning of true love, as
I was finally coming out of a tunnel of prejudice and misunderstanding
about my wife and Julia.
Yes. The Blessed Mother wants to lift this world out of
the crisis of evil and accomplish a heaven by leading her children in the
world to practice unlimited humility, sharing and love, in order to save
her children in the world who have fallen into errors and corruption and
are walking toward hell.
All my dear brothers and sisters in the world! You know
better than I do that errors in this world have reached extreme
proportions beyond imagination, as the Blessed Mother has already
mentioned. This desolate age lacks the love of sharing before anything
else. The world is decaying because of greed and extreme pursuit of
pleasure. The cultural currents of this world, which is about to begin the
21st Century, are filled with a new liberalism. This age is becoming one
of unlimited competition to acquire information and capital.
The inequality between rich and poor and the rich
nations and poor nations is worsening. Even the sacred area of the mystery
of life is being interfered with. The order in the human society is
collapsing, and a very serious situation is threatening the community of
the human race. We have been warned that the collapse of the social order
and deepening of the inconsistencies will lead to a crisis situation. The
Church, which is called to do Godís Will, is partially infected by
secular interests. The Church is not being faithful to her role as light
and salt of the world.
Are all of these not illnesses that result from the
lack of love? I can say "Yes, they are!" before all my
brothers and sisters in the world, despite my shallow faith and limited
If we ignore the Blessed Motherís message that we
must love one another and continue following all the errors in the world,
the human race will perish even without Godís chastisement. I say this
even to those who are still far away from the Blessed Mother. If the
Scripture, which is Godís Words, is the textbook to the faithful, the
Blessed Mother is its teacher. In order to become true believers, it is
necessary to listen to the Blessed Mother. Isnít the purpose of oneís
going to school to learn from the teacher, whose teaching is based on the
textbook? Our Blessed Mother is carrying out her duty as our teacher by
means of her apparitions in Naju and many other places in the past
centuries. Catholics are truly blessed people, because they have the
Blessed Mother as their great teacher.
Lastly, I would like to speak to those who are in the
Church and are listening to the Blessed Mother. I began acquiring an
understanding of the Blessed Motherís words and reforming my own life,
without experiencing extreme difficulties. Isnít this a grace from the
Blessed Mother who loves me so much? However, if I become proud and have
doubts about Godís Words, He can take away the grace from me. There is a
saying that reaching the top is easier than keeping it. It is true.
Receiving the grace must be easier than keeping it. In order to preserve
the grace, I need to be lowly and humble. Now, I realize what a terrible
thing prejudice is and what horrible obstacles can be erected by careless
words and actions in the Church in spreading the Blessed Motherís words.
In the mean time, my wife has been healed of her
chronic fatigue and hemorrhoids. One lady in our neighborhood drank water
from Naju and the many freckles on her face are almost gone now. I have
not met Julia, even though I have visited the Chapel in Naju many times,
because she does not attend the prayer meetings in obedience to the
instructions from the diocese.
Thank you so much, Jesus and Mary!
Francisco Min-Doo Sohn
Joongang Heights Bldg. 8, #107
Mokpo, Jeonnam Province
Phone: (0631) 276-9196
December 20, 1999
óFrom Mary's Touch, January 2000