Saturday, 20 September 2008

Memorial of the Korean Martyrs

Today we celebrate the memory of certain Korean martyrs, namely St. Andrew Kim (priest and martyr) and St. Paul Chong (martyr) and companions (martyrs). Here are some facts regarding Korean martyrs (taken from Wikipedia):
- the Roman Catholic faith came to Korea at the end of the 18th century, by the reading of some Catholic books written in Chinese
- the strong and dynamic Catholic communities were led almost entirely by lay people until the arrival of the first French missionaries in 1836
- the Catholic community suffered major persecutions in the years 1839, 1846 and 1866, producing at least 8,000 known martyrs- most of them were simple lay people, including men and women, married and single, old and young
- on May 6, 1984 Pope John Paul II canonized Andrew Kim Taegon along with 102 other martyrs, including Paul Chong Hasang.
- currently Korea has the 4th largest number of saints in the Catholic world

Here are some facts on today's saints (taken from Catholic Culture):

- Andrew Kim Taegon (1821 - 1846) was the first native Korean priest and a son of Korean converts
- after baptism at the age of 15, traveled 1300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China
- at the age of 21 crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai to be ordained as priest
- was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul (capital of Korea)

- Paul Chong Hasang (1795–1839) was a lay apostle and a married man
- was a servant of a government interpreter- this enabled him in 1825 to travel to Beijing multiple times, where he entreated the bishop of Beijing to send some priests to Korea, and wrote to Pope Gregory XVI via the bishop of Beijing, requesting the establishment of the diocese of Korea, independent from that of Beijing
- was captured, went through a series of torture in which his countenance remained tranquil, was bound to a cross on a cart and cheerfully met his death at the age of 45

Bible Readings for today (20 Sep, Sat - 24th Week)

1 Corinthians 15: 35-37, 42-49
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed – perhaps of wheat or something else.
It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Luke 8: 4-15
While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from one town after another, he spoke to them in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds devoured it. Other seed fell on rock, and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and they grew up with it and choked it. But other seed fell on good soil and grew, and it produced a hundred times as much grain.” As he said this, he called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand. “Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in a time of testing fall away. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.”