Uncle Eddy's E-mail -- September 20
The 103 Korean Martyrs, (entered heaven between 1785 and 1886)
The conditions you describe are, indeed, adverse. I grant you that. With the student union supporting the International Wonderful World of Wicca Conference, the Northern Light Brigade, and the Frozen Moulin Detection and Protection agency and at the same time refusing to give any support to your more traditional initiatives, you do, in fact, find yourself in a difficult situation. I wish I had a solution for you. But I don’t. You’ll need cash to support your activities, and I have none. But I am confident that you will find what you need. All the money in the world belongs to God, so keep knocking on doors (and knocking your heads for good fundraising ideas). I’m sure there’re some wealthy Catholic alumni out there who would love to put their hard-earned money at the service of building the Kingdom at their Alma Mater. In the meantime, maybe you can derive some encouragement from today’s saints.
The 103 Korean Martyrs were canonized in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. He traveled to Korea for the ceremony – it was the first time in 700 years that a canonization had taken place outside Rome. The 103 canonized martyrs represent 10,000 Koreans (more or less) who were tortured and martyred between 1785 (when Christianity first took root in Korea, after some books explaining the Catholic faith had been brought back from China by Korean diplomats, and studied by Korean scholars, who compared them favorably with their neo-Confucian creeds, becoming Catholics simply from their studies of these books) and 1886, when the Franco-Korean treaty ended the waves of persecution that had washed over the Catholic community for the previous century. The Korean rulers resisted Christianity because it contradicted their customs and their traditional religious practices, like ancestor-worship. They feared the consequences of abandoning their pagan ways.
The first Korean Catholics adopted their faith simply from reading a few books. They had no priests, so they began to beg for the Chinese Catholics to send some. The first priest didn’t arrive until 1794, only to spark a fresh wave of persecution. (Whenever the persecutions would erupt, the faithful would flee to the mountains, where they preserved and lived their faith in classless Christian communities, a great contrast to the markedly stratified Korean society.) Other priests tried to enter frequently, but couldn’t. Finally the persistent requests of the faithful Korean laity led to the establishment of an Apostolic Vicariate. But even the first Apostolic Vicar couldn’t get across the border and died in Mongolia. The second Vicar was able to enter, however, and he began administering the sacraments to the Korean Catholics. But a further wave of persecution led to his being beheaded, along with the two priests who were with him. The third Vicar followed, entering the peninsula with the first Korean priest at his side, St Andrew Kim Tae-gon. Both soon suffered martyrdom (along with thousands of others) when Bishop Ferreol incurred the ruler’s wrath by refusing to help mediate diplomatic relations between Korea and Russia…
I think you get the picture. But I hope you also get the point. It’s worthless to complain about adverse circumstances that are out of your control; you need to do the best you can with the resources and opportunities that inside your sphere of influence. If you do, God will take care of the rest – and if he does so by leading you to martyrdom, you’ll have one very proud uncle over here.
Yours truly, Uncle Eddy
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