Sunday, 5 January 2014

Our Lady of Korea

"Our Lady of Korea", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

It is my opinion that our Korean Catholic brothers and sisters have a deep love of Our Lady. During almost 200 years (1590-1790) while Korea was truly a country closed off to the outside world, the prayers which comprise Our Lady's rosary kept thousands of Korean believers faithful to the teachings of the Church.  Is it not just like Our Lady to care for her adopted children in this way? 

Feeling as I do about this matter, when I came across a drawing of Our Lady of Korea this past fall, I strongly felt a desire to make my own version of this image.  This also meant that I needed to do a bit of research on the history of the Church in Korea.  I already knew something of the tortured beginnings of Catholicism in that country as I had read some of the history when I presented to you my drawings of two of the Korean saints back in 2012, but now I wanted to know the whole story -- and what a story it is.  I came across a truly graphic explanation of what occurred during the great persecution of Catholics that started in 1801 culminating in the Catholic Persecution of 1866. Thousands were killed, but the Church survived.  Religious freedom finally came to the Church of Korea in 1883.

From about 1590 until 1790, Catholicism in Korea begin to develop as an underground church. The first Korean contacts with Catholicism came through Korean diplomatic envoys who were regularly sent to China where they met Jesuit priests.  The priests gave them some Catholic books which the envoys took home with them. A group of Korean scholars became interested in the books and began to study the new religion, comparing it with the Neo-Confucianism which was the traditional philosophy in Korea. The study of these writings and the secret baptisms of a few of the Korean nobility in 1592 combined with the power of the Holy Spirit gave rise to a hidden church run entirely by lay people.  The teachings were those of the Catholic Faith, but for almost 200 years, the Church grew without its members ever having seen a priest or receiving the Holy Eucharist.

There is a story, perhaps a legend based on some real experiences, that tells what happened when those first Catholic priests arrived in the "Hidden Kingdom" around 1790.  It is said that as the priests began to explain some of the basic beliefs of the Faith, they were amazed to discover that these "interested and excited" people already knew of these teachings.  They were especially aware of such prayers as the Hail Mary and the Our Father.  They already had a love for Our Lady and her Divine Son!  True, they had much to learn and some things to re-learn correctly; however, the Faith had truly already been established in Korea -- a faith which would enable many of these first Korean Catholic Christians to face martyrdom by some of the most sadistic means of killing ever devised by man.

"St. Paul Chong" drawing by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

From the beginning there was hostility towards believers in strongly Confucian Korea. As I told you in my posting of September 23, 2012, during the persecutions of the mid-19th century, over 10,000 Christians were killed. Included was Korea's first native-born priest, St. Andrew Kim and St. Paul Chong, a catechist and seminarian. In 1984, Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized these two men along with 101 other Korean martyrs including clergy and lay, young and old. Their memorial feast day is September 20th.



As many of you are aware, Braden is only about 19 months old. Thus, I was quite surprised to learn recently that he has already been in training to become a Master Chef!  

Now, you might think that this is just a made up story written by a family friend (me) who thinks Braden is just the most clever, most handsome and charming young man she has ever known.  However, knowing that you might be skeptical, I procured photographic evidence!

Here we see Chef Braden is stirring
up his famous Sweet Potato Delight

Cutting each cookie with precision,
Chef Braden prepares his world famous
Shortbread-Rum Cookies  -- Yum!
Here we see Chef Braden hard at work in his kitchen
stirring his special Sweet Dressing.  (The recipe is sought by many, but the Chef has
it memorized.  He allows no one in the kitchen while he is putting the ingredients together.
The only written copy resides in a bank vault in Switzerland and the only other person who knows the recipe is his Mom!)



Friends, I am asking you to excuse me today from writing about Suki or about myself.

Neither of us have anything of import to relate.  We are both doing as well as usual but I have reached the point where I just cannot write anything more today.  I have run out of steam you might say!

Anyway, there are a couple of photos that I hope will suffice.  I promise that I will give a full report on both of us next time.

Happy Feast of the Epiphany (transferred here in the Archdiocese) and Merry Christmas to all our Orthodox brothers and sisters on Tuesday, January 7th.

May the peace of God be with us all.  My prayers are with you. Please pray for me.

Here is Suki making a nuisance of herself by sitting on the
room divider counter top while meowing.  She must believe
that being up higher will somehow influence me to feed her!

This fuzzy photo was not meant to be soft focus.
Rather the result is caused by the fact that the
"smart" phone my godson was using has been
dropped one time too many!


Anonymous said...

Sorry you are not feeling up to snuff and hope you get your steam back real soon!

Sallie Thayer said...

Thanks, Anon (Karen)-- I am resting up and hoping to have my steam back soon! Sallie

Anonymous said...

I'll put the kettle on.

Sallie Thayer said...

Dear Anon:
Why didn't I think of that?!!