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Editor’s Note (at Catholic Digest Korea): There is a bishop who is filling every ridge and valley of the mountain in his diocese with the Magnificat. When the pastoral activities of Church leaders are filled with the light of the truth, we experience love and peace. It is a great grace for us, who yearn to hear the voice of the Lord, to learn from the Pastors who lead their lives imitating the Lord. In this article, Bishop Paul Kim of the Cheju Diocese offers us warm love together with wisdom and humility.


By His Excellency Paul Chang Yeol Kim
Bishop of Cheju, Korea

(Translated from Catholic Digest Korea, March 1999)

There seem to be quite a few people who are hesitant about consecrating themselves, their families, their church, and their country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as if doing so is something unusual or eccentric. There are many such people especially among those who are supposed to be well-versed in the sacred studies of the Church.

When we think about what God has done to save us, we don’t find a single example that is not unusual. The Incarnation of the Word was not a usual event. His Passion and Crucifixion were not usual events, either. The fact that a woman became the Mother of God is not usual. Every doctrine about God, the Blessed Mother, the Sacraments, the Liturgy, and so on is not usual.

So we are to become unusual, too. There is nothing abnormal in doing something unusual to worship God and honor the Blessed Mother, as long as it is based on the Tradition of the Church and has been approved by the Church. We should not be hesitant about consecrating ourselves, our families, our parishes, and our country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, even if doing so may seem unusual. If everything that cannot be rationalized is considered abnormal and is to be resisted, we could not have been created or redeemed.

In fact, we all have become unusual people (Christians) through unusual means (the Sacrament of Baptism) and are leading an unusual life (as Christians). We are not ashamed of these. Then, we should not be ashamed of consecrating ourselves to the Blessed Mother, either.

I am worried because while we, the faithful, are busily observing others’ faces and doing calculations to avoid being viewed by others as unusual people, the string that has kept South and North Korea together may become thinner and thinner and become cut, resulting in a permanent separation of the country. I am quite concerned that this country may be subjected to many kinds of disasters again.

We have been preoccupied with difficult problems in the country and have struggled, making a lot of noise, to find solutions. It seems that there is nothing that the government and the church have not tried for reunification of the land and the people.

Despite all that, the current situation is no better than 50 years ago. The way to a solution has not been found. Much energy, time and money have been wasted because our efforts have not been directed correctly.

I would like to emphasize this again. The faithful are people who are supposed to do unusual things in a sense. They are wise people who can find the solution in an unusual way. Their hope is not in a straw but in a large rescue ship. They are wise, because they can save themselves not by entrusting themselves to a straw but by climbing into a large ship. The Blessed Mother who always stands by us and waits for us is the one whom we need to hold on to. This is where we have been failing.

With great anxiousness, I have wished that our Bishops’ Conference officially and solemnly consecrate the Church in Korea and the country to the Blessed Mother. Because this could not been done, I decided to do a solemn consecration at least in my diocese.

With warm and wholehearted support and with united hearts and voices of all the priests and faithful in the diocese, the Cheju Diocese and the Cheju Province were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on January 1, 1997.

So, fortunately, our diocese is holding on to the Blessed Mother. And we are convinced that everything that has been planned for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of ourselves and our neighbors can proceed successfully by the help of the Blessed Mother.

Last year, while I was outside my diocese, I heard some people saying that propagation of the faith is going well and the economy has been quite immune to the cold wave of the IMF in the Cheju Province. (Translator’s note: The Korean economy has undergone severe setbacks for the past few years with falling incomes and rising unemployment. Koreans incorrectly call this "the cold wave of the IMF," referring to the restructuring of the economy imposed by the IMF as a condition for its emergency loans.) People must have learned about the situation in the Cheju Province from the news media or from visiting the island province. When I hear people making such comments, I let them know that it is due to our consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The faithful in the diocese which has been consecrated to the Blessed Mother must realize that they have a task to accomplish. It is to imitate the Blessed Mother. The question is what we need to learn from her.

I would like to name one thing that seems to be most important. It is to be with Jesus always like the Blessed Mother. It is to have Him in our minds and hearts all the time. Has the Blessed Mother ever been away from Jesus in her Heart even for one moment? She has never had a single moment when she did not think about Jesus or love Him either during her earthly life or in Heaven.

We need to ask the Blessed Mother to obtain for us the grace to imitate her and also need to make our own efforts. Of course, the Blessed Mother lived on earth and must have thought about the affairs of the world and talked about them, too.

But none of the matters in the world could have distracted her mind and heart away from Jesus. We also live in this world, concerning ourselves with the affairs of the world. Even so, we must never turn our minds and hearts away from God.

I want Jesus to occupy all our minds and hearts. I want our diocese to be filled with fervor for Jesus. I want the main topic in the gatherings of the faithful to be about God, the Church, our salvation and our life of faith. The ratio of the topics of our thoughts and words about our salvation to those about worldly matters could be three to one. I can guarantee this. If we practice that, our life will become a happy one like the Blessed Mother’s. I am convinced that it will happen.

St. Therese of Lisieux could not imagine Saints who did not love their families. She sometimes had Sister Maria Agnes, a novice under her direction, talk about her brothers and sisters. She told Sister Agnes:

Entrust them to God Who is good, and do not worry. Then, everything will be all right. However, if you worry, God Who is good will not look after them and will not give them the graces that you can obtain from Him for them by trusting Him.

I think that the Saint’s remark can apply to our situation also. The current political, economic and social difficulties that we are experiencing are the consequences of our failure to be focused on God. To overcome them, it is necessary that we, the Christians, before anyone else, change course as a group — in other words, repent.

I have not been surprised by the current difficulties. I have thought that it has been a necessary consequence according to the law of cause and effect. In my pastoral letter issued for Christmas in 1995, I quoted from Isaias 26:18: We have conceived, and been as it were in labor, but have brought forth wind and we have not wrought salvation on the earth.

In fact, we have been writhing in vain and brought forth only wind. The whole nation and the people of God have struggled for democracy. As a result, a civilian government was born. But it was a wind and did not bring salvation to the land.

In the same letter, I also quoted from Aggeus 1:7,9: Thus says the Lord of hosts: set your hearts upon your ways. You have looked for more, and behold it became less, and you brought it home, and I blowed it away: why, saith the Lord of hosts? because my house is desolate, and you make haste every man to his own house.

While I was quoting the above verses, I was able to anticipate difficult times ahead. In less than two years, the per capita GNP plummeted from $10,000 to $6,000. Wasn’t that what the Scripture referred to as "blowing away even what you brought home"? It has been reported that income decreased further by $300 in the subsequent year. I don’t know whether it was an inspiration or just an expectation, but what I anticipated happened.

Let’s look back again. The premises of Myoungdong Cathedral, which is often viewed as representing the whole Korean Catholic Church, have been used for the past quarter of a century as a site for noisy political demonstration and labor strife. This sanctuary, however, has become a place that has brought about consequences that are quite the opposite of what the activists have sought.

Some people have used descriptions like "the delivery room for the civilian government or the mother of the civilian government" (referring to Myoungdong Cathedral), but the civilian government that was born has been branded as having caused the worst tragedy since the Korean War. What fruits have the loud screams of the labor union members who have freely used the sanctuary brought about? Their fruits have been bitter ones like dismissals from the workplace, early retirement, and restructuring, which are the opposite of what they have wanted. Members of the teachers’ union have also screamed there. The fruit has been a lowering of the retirement age from 65 to 62 for teachers. Thus, the sanctuary has become not an instrument of blessing but an instrument of curse. It even seems to be too late already, but we need to wake up fast regarding what kind of place a sanctuary is and what can be done and what cannot be done there.

In the pastoral letter for Easter three years ago, I wrote, "As I was preparing for this year’s Easter, I deeply felt the need for the whole diocese and the whole Church in Korea to make an epoch-making change for rebirth through true repentance."

In the pastoral letter for Easter two years ago, I wrote, "The responsibility for the current difficulties in the country must be shared by many people, nay, by the whole nation. Without question, the Church must bear much of the blame. Perhaps, the Church must bear the largest share of it. This is because we in the Church have been mixed up about priorities and, thus, brought about a disaster to the nation."

Now, we need to stop building our own houses and begin rebuilding God’s house that has been in ruins. In other words, we must seek what belongs to God first and then seek ours. If we push God’s work to the back corner and become attached to or become absorbed in man’s work, it will be the devil’s way. It was Jesus Himself who stipulated so. Jesus reprimanded Peter, calling him Satan, for not thinking about the work of God but the work of man.

Before the affairs of the country and the church can go well, we must be focused on the work of God and walk the way that is pleasing to God. We have to turn away from the road that we have been following, if we want to put an end to politicians’ reckless coining of slogans, which even they do not seem to understand clearly, and forcing them into our ears. If the Church truly wants that the current government’s new slogan — The Second Founding of the Country — not to become another topic for sarcastic gossips and comedies, as the previous governments’ slogans like Renovation, New Korea, and Korea for the World did, the course that the Church in Korea has been following must change.

(Translated at Mary’s Touch By Mail,
Gresham, Oregon, U. S. A.
March 5, 1999)

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