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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 knowledge.

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
Sanjung 3-dong
Mokpo, Jeonnam Province
South Korea
Phone: (0631) 276-9196
December 20, 1999

óFrom Mary's Touch, January 2000 Newsletter

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