Editors 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.
WE NEED NOT BE HESITANT CONSECRATION
TO THE BLESSED MOTHER
By His Excellency Paul Chang Yeol Kim
Bishop of Cheju, Korea
(Translated from Catholic Digest Korea, March
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
dont 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
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. (Translators
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
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 Mothers. 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
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 Saints 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. Wasnt 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 dont know whether it was an inspiration or just an
expectation, but what I anticipated happened.
Lets 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 years 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
Now, we need to stop building our own houses and begin
rebuilding Gods house that has been in ruins. In other words, we must
seek what belongs to God first and then seek ours. If we push Gods work
to the back corner and become attached to or become absorbed in mans
work, it will be the devils 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 governments
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 Marys Touch By Mail,
Gresham, Oregon, U. S. A.
March 5, 1999)