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The "E" Word PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 19:04
Br. Robert King, OP has a good post on "The E word" on his blog. It is interesting the questions a day spent welcoming new university students to campus ministry can raise. Check it out.
 
Traffic PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 18:05

What do you get on a Sunday evening on the last weekend before school starts and every family in Seoul is out for a last fling with the kids?

A traffic jam that begins 100 km outside the city, and rest areas that are mobbed with travelers hoping to get a respite from the crowded highway encountering an even more congested parking lot.

There even was a line for the men's room!

Oh, the humanity...

 

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More Culinary Adventures PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 16:57
Seokgulam is an 8th c. Buddhist temple carved into a rock grotto up the mountain from Bulguksa, a famous Buddhist monastery and temple. Inside the grotto is a large, seated Buddha in a pose of deep meditation. During part of the year, the light from the sunrise strikes a golden jewel in his forehead, which must be an impressive sight.

On our way down the hill from Bulguksa, we walked by some street vendors selling faux traditional Korean masks, parasols, keychains and food. Korean snacks are much more nutritious than western ones. Some were selling a kind of fish jerky, others had fresh roasted chestnuts, and several vendors had what looked like pots of cooked insect larvae. But they couldn’t be, I thought. I asked Young-kyeung, my Cha’s wife, what they were. She said they were delicious – one of her favorite childhood snacks, called bundaegi: silk worm larvae. I commented that I couldn’t imagine having such a snack as a child, or as an adult. Of course, the next thing I knew, she had purchased a paper cup filled with the plump little 1/2 inch long buggers. And two toothpicks. Intrigued, I asked her if they were “gushy”. I didn’t think I could keep it in my mouth if I could differntiate its insides from its outsides. She said, “no, just a little crunchy. It tastes kind of like sesame seeds.” Yeah, right.


I have to admit, part of my incentive were those three words of Sherry’s: “boiled jellyfish tentacles.” She got my competitive blood boiling, so now I have three words of my own, Sherry: “sautéed silkworm larvae”!

I speared one with my toothpick, and held it up foor closer observation. They look a little like the Michelin tire man, but without arms or legs. Just segments, and what looked like a mouth. I chose to look at the other side instead.

You know, when you pop one in your mouth and don’t think about what you’re eating, it does taste a little like sesame seeds, only with a hint of salt from the water they’re cooked in.
And like Lay’s potato chips, no one can eat just one.

They’re amazingly filling, so I stopped at two. At which point my friend, professor Cha - Mr. “I grew up a poor farmboy and walked 6 km to school and back each day” - told me he’d never eaten one before. Still hasn’t, I can tell you. And then Yong-kyeung remembered she’s allergic to bundaegi, so we had to find a pharmacy and get some antihistamines for her – but not until her arms and legs had broken out with a pretty bad rash. I’m thinking I won’t have another opportunity to try silkworm larvae again this trip.
 
Confucian influences in Korea PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 16:39

The other day I was commenting on the apparent freedom that Koreans enjoy because of their sense of community. My friend, Cha Yun-kyung, a professor in the area of sociology of education at Hanyang University, Seoul, said that the tenets of Confucianism also play into the sense of propriety and responsibility that helps maintain order in this densely populated country.

This past weekend the Chas and I drove to Gyeungjong, the ancient capital of the Silla dynasty. We traveled along part of the north-south spine of the country, a series of low, but quite steep granite mountains that rise about 2000 feet from the road. The small valleys we passed occasionally were intensely farmed, creating a patchwork of rice, corn, sesame, garlic, eggplant, ginseng, and a variety of fruit trees.

The city is dotted with ancient tombs of the Silla kings and queens. They date from the mid 8th century A.D. and are rounded hills ranging in height from about 15 feet to over 100 feet. The royal corpse was laid to rest in a wooden chanber that was covered with as much as 15-20 feet of rocks, a relatively thin layer of clay a a foot or so thick, and then that was buried under soil.

On the trip back we stopped at a Confucian school outside Andong, a city about three to four hours northwest of Pusan. Dosanseodang would have housed about thirty students at a time. Founded in 1561 by Yi Hwang, a well-known neo-Confucian scholar who also went by the name of Toegye, it has a variety of interesting structures, like a double library raised above the damp ground to protect the delicate handwritten parchments, a printing room, several classrooms, as well as small cells for Confucian scholars and students. In a small museum adjacent to the school, some of Yi Hwang’s basic principles for living are described. They sound very much like some things St. Paul says: be patient, observe your surroundings carefully; don’t be deceitful, love others, do not kill, don’t even entertain vicious thoughts. I wonder how the Gospel was preached by the early Korean missionaries, and how much resonance their listeners would have heard in St. Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthians or Philippians?

I know next to nothing about Confucianism, although it seems that Yi Hwang at least thought that knowledge should lead to right actions in order to truly be called knowledge. It also sought order in one’s personal life and in society. Neo-Confucian scholars were important figures in the Joseon dynasty in Korea, and the good Korean king would have been expected to govern according to neo-Confucian principles. In fact, Yi Hwang served in nearly 30 different administrative posts under for Joseon dynasty kings, and was known for his impeccable character and dedication to truth. Whether he and other scholars were more successful in influencing the behavior of Korean politicians than Catholic religious leaders were regarding the behavior of European kings, I do not know.
 
Calling All the Catholic Truckers of California . . . And All the Ships at Sea. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 16:02
I was interviewed last month for a Catholic Digest article which is coming out in the September issue and is apparently titled "How to Live a More Meaningful Life". (I haven't seen the article yet and had nothing to do with the title.). I am told that Catholic Digest has 2.5 million readers and even circulates in the Philippines and Trinidad & Tobago. If all 2.5 million want their own inventory, you'll have to give us a few days to print some more.

We weren't expecting it out so early but are starting to get phone calls about it and bloggers are starting to quote some of my comments in the article.

“Many people struggle with discernment because they don’t yet have a living relationship with Christ, and charisms don’t manifest and start operating in your life until your faith becomes personal. We have to help people address those fundamental issues of discipleship. Once you have a loving relationship with Christ, people are hungry and eager to discern.”

I have no idea what the rest of it says. I haven't done much of this and It feels odd when I read quotes like the one above. My first response is "did I say that?" My second thought was "Even if I didn't, it sounds like something I would like to have said." Which you gotta admit beats a gasp of horror at the statement being attributed to you.

(Not that I'm impugning the honor of the Catholic Digest interviewer at all. It's just who knows what comes out of your mouth when you are babbling as I am prone to do?")

Some of the fall-out is already clear: I received a call on Thursday from the Catholic Channel on Sirius Radio and they'll be interviewing me about the Called & Gifted process on the Morning Show next Friday, August 29 at 6:40 am EASTERN time. (And I live in mountain time!). Which is why home espresso makers were invented.

The Catholic truckers and insomniacs of the Pacific coast are going to get an earful at 3:40 am Friday. So I called Catholic Digest and said "could you possibly send me a copy of the article so we have some sense of what people are reading before they call?" So the nice lady at CG is sending it right out. Hopefully, I will see it before Friday.

If you, gentle reader, have found this blog because of that article or the radio show and want to know more about the Called & Gifted process, check out our FAQ.

If you would like to attend a live Called & Gifted workshop, check out our event calendar here.

And for all you right coast listeners: It is true that we don't have many east coast events. (Although we do have one scheduled in Greenville, South Carolina on September 26/27. Do check it out and call Kate to let her know if you decide to attend. We need to make sure we ship enough materials.

We have done a number of east coast C & G's in the past, but we haven't been asked lately and we go where we are asked. (We started out in Seattle and have slowly moving south and east ever since). If you'd like to have a live Called & Gifted workshop in your parish or diocese, just call our office or drop an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

If you want to begin your own discernment now as an individual, you can. You need a copy of the workshop on cd and a copy of the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory. Start with the cd and listen until the point when we ask you to take the inventory, Then take it and return to the cd for information about what your inventory scores do and do not mean.

If you would like your small group to go through it together, you can. Check out the C & G Small Group set. which contains one of everything!

And If any CSI readers stray across the article or the interview, it would be fun to hear from you.
 
How Does Your Garden Grow? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Sunday, 24 August 2008 12:44


Very nicely, thank you.

The cool weather and heavy rains of last week seem to have generated a second spring. My California poppies that looked spent when I got home from Spokane are now blooming again by the hundreds, some of my spring bulbs seems to be mysteriously emerging again (I don't think I planted any autumn bulbs) and most mysterious of all: my bloom-in-May Columbine are starting to bloom again.

Is this good or bad? I can't seem to find out. Any ID readers know?.
 
Agia Sophia: Fresh Coffee & Ancient Wisdom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 23 August 2008 11:54
There a new espresso shop in town - or more accurately - in the town next store: Old Colorado City on the west side and the first territorial capital of Colorado.

Agia Sophia is located in the old Victorian town hall and combines really good espresso, great atmosphere, comfy leather couches, tables, free wi-fi, and a very nice collection of books from the deep end of the pan-Christian spectrum.

Agia Sophia is run by our local Orthodox Church in America congregation but the books, while understandably heavy on Orthodox titles, run the spectrum. I also saw Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a bookshelf dedicated to C.S. Lewis and the Inkings, Richard Foster, who introduced the classic spiritual disciplines of historic Christianity to evangelicalism 30 years ago, Leanne Payne, an Episcopalian deacon with an incredible healing ministry, history, poetry, etc. The staff told me that they were advised in their choice of books by the famous Eight Day bookstore in Kansas. It is no surprise that they carry Touchstone magazine which pretty much sums up the spirit of the place.

Agia Sophia is the closest thing this evangelical city has to the Logos Bookstore that I once worked for in Seattle (and through which I met Mark Shea who volunteered there). That particular Logos was dominated by evangelical titles but intelligent evangelicals titles: Lewis, Inklings as well as Catholic and Orthodox titles. It was no accident that a number of us associated with the store used our reading privileges there as one of our major sources for our journey into the Church.

It is a refreshing initiative and worthy of your support. I"m sorry that we didn't find out about this bookstore in time for Joe to visit it as he would have enjoyed it.

When next in town, why not spend a beautiful sunny Saturday morning in Old Colorado city? Catch 8 am Lauds, Mass, and Benediction at Spanish style Sacred Heart Church, then stroll a few blocks west along Colorado Avenue to the park and lively farmer's market filled with Palisades peaches, chilies, fresh basil and huge buckets of glads. Then continue west through the charming historic shopping area to Agia Sophia on the corner of 29th for a latte and leisurely browse.

I"m glad I did. I'll be back.
 
Great Stuff PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 22 August 2008 12:44
One of the great privileges of this work are the amazing people, communities, and initiatives that we get to spend time with!

Last week at Making Disciples, we were joined by Fr. Chas Canoy of St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One look at St. Thomas's website lets you know that this is not a run of the mill parish! Fr. Chas works with the young adult group there which has its own website: Generation Christ.

Both websites are worth a visit. I'm going to add St. Thomas to our website list of "intriguing parishes.

Meanwhile, I am preparing for an inservice with the country coordinators of Renewal MInistries next month and in reading about their current work, I am pretty seriously intimidated. Wow! At those moments, you just abandon yourself to God and offer your little bit even when you know it is wholly inadequate.

You'll understand why I feel that way if you take a look at this article by Peter Herbeck about an evangelization consultation in Ghana that took place in 2007.

Amazing. This consultation was held by Cardinal Peter Turkson. What prompted it was the recognition that Christianity in Africa is a mile wide and only an inch deep. And that catechesis without intentional discipleship is not nearly enough.

One local bishop requires that every priest in his diocese goes through a month of evangelization training. I'd post some quotes but can't seem to figure out how to do so from the original pdf document. But read the whole thing!

It is powerful.
 
Testimonies of Muslims Who Have Discovered Jesus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 22 August 2008 08:02
Fascinating.

A reader sent me this very interesting website, The Sun Rises, which features a well done introduction to the life of Christ and 6 testimonies of Muslims who have become Christians. In Arabic with English subtitles. Take the time to listen to as much as possible. It is a remarkable window on another world.

If you listen to all of the stories, you'll hear several people talk about receiving a vision of Christ which was the turning point for them. These sorts of experiences have become very common in the Muslim world over the past two decades. For more, see my post Why Muslims Convert to Christianity.

The Bible also looms large in these stories (which makes perfect sense to people raised in a religion where the Quran is the functional equivalent of Christ for us - they are the quintessential people of the book.) But Scripture also looms large for the producers who are obviously evangelical Protestants. You'll notice there is no mention of the sacraments in these stories.

This reader commented that he is interested in but knows only a few Catholic MBB's (Muslim Background Believers). He said that a Christian TV station that broadcasts widely in the Near East and North Africa would broadcast similar testimonies of Muslims who become Catholic - if someone would produce such a film.

Hint. Hint.
 
The Price of Freedom PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 21 August 2008 16:00

Seoul is an enormous city, with high rise apartments everywhere. I was really surprised to find that my friends let their sons, ages 16 and 14, to go alone on the metro system - at night, no less. One of the first nights I was here, Junseo, the 14-year old, was out until 10 p.m. on the metro. He was attending an English practice class for a few hours (during his summer vacation, no less), and had an hour-long trip to return to the apartment.

I also noticed two nights ago that for all the people living around me, it's amazingly quiet at night. No stereos blaring, no loud TVs - nothing. That night Yun-kyung and I were out for a walk along the Han river. It was about 10 p.m., and there were literally hundreds of people out walking, including women walking alone. I asked him why this was possible. In the U.S., parents who let their kids out at night in a large city would be considered negligent or idiotic. Here, it's common - and safe. The crime rate is very low. One reason, my friend said, is that there are strict gun control laws, so if someone wants to rob someone, they might use a knife, at best. But then, in a land that invented taekwondo, you never know if your intended victim has a black belt or not!

But more importantly, he said, people have a sense of respect for others, and a sense of community uncommon in a more culturally and ethnically diverse like the U.S. Here in Korea, the culture has been profoundly shaped by Confucianism, which continues to effect how people behave. In the university where he teaches, he said, within a few weeks freshmen are including the suffix indicating "elder brother/sister" when they address seniors. Individualism has not taken hold the way it has in the U.S.

In the U.S., we constantly are out to protect our individual freedom, whether it is to carry heat, play our music at our desired volume, or whatever. We seem to interpret "freedom" to be able to do whatever we want, but when separated from a sense of community, responsibility, and the needs of others, it leads to a lack of freedom in some respects. I can't really do some things I'd like - take a walk at night, for example.

More on this later - I have to leave with my friends for a trip to Kyungjoo, the ancient capital of the Shilla dynasty, which ended in 918.
 
Saints, Holiness, and Charisms PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 August 2008 12:52

Written by Joe Waters

Pope Benedict's catechesis yesterday focused upon the saints in the life of the Church and as models of holiness in daily life. He also spoke clearly of the charisms and the quoted Hans urs von Balthasar as saying that the lives of the saints are "the most important commentary of the Gospel." Pretty cool stuff!

Dear brothers and sisters, day after day the Church offers us the possibility to walk in company of the saints. Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote that the saints constitute the most important commentary of the Gospel, their actualization in the day-to-day routine and, therefore, they represent for us a real path of access to Jesus. The writer Jean Guitton described them as "the colors of the spectrum in relation with the light," because with their own hues and accents each one of them reflects the light of God's holiness. How important and advantageous, therefore, is the determination to cultivate the knowledge and devotion of the saints, together with the daily meditation of the word of God and filial love for the Virgin!


The period of vacation is certainly a useful time to review the biography and writings of some men or women saints in particular, but each day of the year offers us the opportunity to become familiar with our heavenly patrons. Their human and spiritual experience shows that holiness is not a luxury, it is not the privilege of a few, an impossible goal for a normal man. In reality, it is the common destiny of all men called to be children of God, the universal vocation of all those who are baptized. Holiness is offered to all.

Naturally, not all the saints are the same. They are, in fact, as I have said, the spectrum of divine light. And one who possesses extraordinary charisms is not necessarily a great saint. The name of many of them is known only by God, because on earth they seemed to have lived a very normal life. And it is precisely these "normal" saints that God usually wants. Their example testifies that, only when one is in contact with the Lord, is one full of peace and joy and in this way it is possible to spread everywhere serenity, hope and optimism. Considering precisely the variety of their charisms, Bernanos, great French writer who was always fascinated by the idea of the saints -- he quotes many of them in his novels -- points out that every saint's life is like "a new flowering of spring." May this also happen to us! Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the supernatural fascination of holiness! May Mary, Queen of all Saints, Mother and refuge of sinners obtain this grace for us!

 
Equal to the Apostles PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 06:52
Catholicism around the world - and the critical role of lay Catholics in sustaining the Church - is the theme of the day around here at ID.

I can't compete with Fr. Mike's fabulous tour of the sights and tastes of Korea, but the the fact that lay people brought the faith to Korea in the first place and have been the catalyst of evangelization there is no anomaly.

In fact, Eastern Orthodoxy has a special term for Christians who have played a critical role in the spread of the faith: isapostolos or "equal to the apostles". Many of those officially recognized as "equal to the apostles" in this sense are lay Christians, including a number of lay women such as Sts Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well; Thekla, Helena of Constantinople, Olga of Kiev, and St. Nino of Georgia.


(Giotto's magnificent Magdalene)

One of Gashwin Gomes' last posts was on this story of the remarkable growth of Catholicism in certain part of India. (Gomes has had to close down his blog because he has entered the archdiocesan seminary in Atlanta. We're losing a great blogger but gaining a great priest, so I guess that is a fair exchange.)

From Aid to the Church in Need:

"A CORNER of India lays claim to be the place where the Catholic Church has grown the most over the past 30 years – with more than 10,000 adult baptisms every year.

Since the 1970s, Catholics in Arunachal Pradesh state have grown from a few scattered communities to almost 200,000 in number.

And all this in a region of north east India where Catholic missionaries were forbidden for generations.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for suffering Christians, Bishop John Thomas Kattrukudiyil of Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, said: “The fastest growth of the Church over the past few decades has been in this region.

“When the people hear that the bishop is coming to see them, people walk three or four days just to be there.


Snip.

He explained how the Church in Arunachal Pradesh was unique, in that it spread thanks largely to lay faithful because of the ban on missionaries from outside the region.

He said it was only thanks to contact with a dynamic parish on the border with neighbouring Assam that Catholicism was able to enter the region.

The parish in Hamutty attracted visitors from Arunachal Pradesh who returned home as catechists and soon the Church spread to the point where in the early 1990s converts became government ministers and insisted that priests finally be allowed to work in the region.

The rapid growth of the Church in Arunachal Pradesh led Pope Benedict XVI to set up the two dioceses in the region, Itanagar and neighbouring Miao – both of which only formally created less than three years ago.

News of the Church’s growth in Arunachal Pradesh comes barely a year after ACN News reported on Catholicism’s boom in Assam where Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon has had up to 20,000 conversions since 2000.

Snip.

The bishop said the Church now faces the rise of the Jehovah Witnesses and other evangelical Church groups, requiring a greater emphasis on catechesis to keep people committed to Catholicism.

According to the bishop, conversions to Catholicism were significantly down from the 1980s and 1990s when they were at their peak but people retained their enthusiasm for the Church.
"

As reported by Christianity Today a year ago:

"Catholicism in North East India – which began barely 100 years ago – is now booming with more than 50 men ordained to the priesthood every year.

Barely a century after the first Catholic missionaries arrived in the region centring on Assam, there are now 1.5 million Catholics.

Christians in general are now considered the majority in three of the eight political states that make up North East India.

The Church’s expediential growth was spelled out by Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil, whose new diocese of Bongaigaon has swelled by nearly 20,000 people since his episcopal ordination in 2000.

In an interview this week with Aid to the Church in Need, the charity for suffering Christians, the bishop said that in the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh on the border with China, thousands of people had defied draconian anti-conversion laws and become Christians.

In this part of India there are 180,000 Catholics out of a total population of nearly 800,000 – a vast difference from 25 years ago when there were no Catholics at all throughout Arunachal Pradesh.



I hate to contradict the good Bishop but the situation in Arunachal Pradesh is not unique, even by Catholic standards, and is positively run of the mill practice among evangelical/Independent Christians throughout Asia.

Christianity entered Nepal in the 1960's in exactly the same way and the staggering lay-driven growth of Christanity in China has become proverbial.

Since Georgia has been tragically highlighted in the news this past week, it brought to mind one of my favorite stories of lay apostleship: St. Nino.



There are some considerable differences in the traditions about St. Nino. The Orthodox believe that she was well-born and educated and begin her missionary work in response to a vision of our Lady.

"Nino received a vision where the Virgin Mary gave her a grapevine cross and said:

"Go to Iberia and tell there the Good Tidings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you will find favour before the Lord; and I will be for you a shield against all visible and invisible enemies. By the strength of this cross, you will erect in that land the saving banner of faith in My beloved Son and Lord."


The Roman Catholic traditions hold that she was brought to Georgia against her will, as a slave.

"Nino reached the borders of ancient Georgian Kingdom of Iberia in about 320 A.D. There, she placed a Christian cross in the small town of Akhalkalaki and started preaching the Christian faith in Urbnis and finally reaching Mtskheta (the capital of Iberia). Iberian Kingdom has been influenced by the neighbouring Persian Empire which played an important role as the regional power in the Caucasus. The Iberian King Mirian III and his nation worshiped the syncretic gods of Armazi and Zaden. Soon after the arrival of Nino in Mstkheta, the Queen of Iberia Nana (daughter of King Asphagor) requested the audience with the Cappadician.

Queen Nana, who suffered from a severe illness, had some knowledge of Christianity but had not yet converted to it. Nino, restoring the Queen's health, won to herself disciples from the Queen's attendants, including a Jewish priest and his daughter, Abiathar and Sidonia. Queen Nana also officially converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino herself. King Mirian, aware of his wife’s religious conversion, was tolerant of her new faith. He secluded himself, however, from Nino and the growing Christian community in his kingdom. His isolation to Christianity did not last long because, according to the legend, while on a hunting trip, he was suddenly struck blind as total darkness emerged in the woods. In a desperate state, King Mirian uttered a prayer to the God of St Nino:

"If indeed that Christ whom the Captive had preached to his Wife was God, then let Him now deliver him from this darkness, that he too might forsake all other gods to worship Him." [2]

As soon as he finished his prayer, the light appeared and the King hastily returned to his palace in Mtskheta. As a result of this miracle, the King of Iberia renounced idolatry under the teaching of St Nino and was baptized as the first Christian King of Iberia. Soon, the whole of his household and the inhabitants of Mtskheta adopted Christianity. In A.D. 327 King Mirian made Christianity the state religion of his kingdom, making Iberia the second Christian state after Armenia.

After adopting Christianity, Mirian sent an ambassador to Byzantium, asking Emperor Constantine I to have a bishop and priests sent to Iberia. Constantine, having learned of Iberia’s conversion to Christianity, granted Mirian the church lands in Jerusalem [3] and sent the delegation of Bishops to the court of the Georgian King. Roman historian Tyrannius Rufinus in Historia Ecclesiastica writes about Mirians request to Constantine:

After the church had been built with due magnificence, the people were zealously yearning for God's faith. So an embassy is sent on behalf of the entire nation to the Emperor Constantine, in accordance with the captive woman's advice. The foregoing events are related to him, and a petition submitted, requesting that priests be sent to complete the work which God had begun. Sending them on their way amidst rejoicing and ceremony, the Emperor was far more glad at this news than if he had annexed to the Roman Empire peoples and realms unknown. [4]
In 334 A.D, Mirian commissioned the building of the first Christian church in Iberia which was finally completed in 379 A.D. on the spot where now stands the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mstkheta.

Nino, having witnessed the conversion of Iberia to Christianity, withdrew to the mountain pass in Bodbe, Kakheti. St Nino died soon after; immediately after her death, King Mirian commenced with the building of monastery in Bodbe, where her tomb can still be seen in the churchyard."


Understandably, "Nino and its variants remains the most popular name for women and girls in the Republic of Georgia. There are currently 88,441 women over age 16 by that name residing in the country, according to the Georgia Ministry of Justice."

St. Nino, pray for the suffering people of Georgia!

I am morally certain that there are now living innumerable lay Christians whose names are unknown to us but who have been the instruments through which the love of Christ has entered a family, a community, a city, a profession, a business, a region or a nation in a transforming way. In their own way, they deserve the title of "equal to the apostles" .

I'm also sure that I've met some of these apostles on the road but from now on, I'm going to stay alert to the possibility that I might be in the presence of one of these blessed heralds of the gospel.
 
The Soul of Asia PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 20 August 2008 04:39
On numerous billboards around Seoul the claim is made that it is "the soul of Asia". This morning, Yun-kyung and his wife Yong-Kyeung took me to the Korean martyr's memorial, commemorating the some 10,000 Korean Catholics who were executed in four persecutions in 1801, 1839, 1846 and 1866. What's remarkable is that the faith took root before French missionary priests arrived in 1836! Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest, was ordained at age 25 and martyred the next year, 1846, near the site of the memorial I visited. Yun-kyung took this picture of his wife and me standing underneath this statue of St. Andrew Kin Taegon.












While at the museum section of the memorial, a group of Korean sisters arrived and I snapped this picture while they were listening to a brief introduction given by one of their members. I didn't see one that looked older than me!






I also took a picture of this painting by a Korean artist who captured both the agony and the glory of these men and women.
 
What Makes a Meal? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Tuesday, 19 August 2008 18:01
On my first morning in Seoul, my old friend, Yun-kyung, offered me a typical breakfast in Korea: concord grapes, Korean peach, tomatoes, squash from his farm, and breakfast cereal. I suppose the last wasn't typical a generation or more ago, but the box touted (in pictures, at least) one of it's special features: squash seeds.

It's funny how two cultures can look at the same food item and think of it differently. Yun-kyung's sons made a little puddle of honey on their plates to dip their tomato wedges in. I asked for some salt. I never would have thought to put something sweet on a tomato. Even the salt was a little unusual - more like dust than crystals. This morning I found out it's sea salt that has been purified by being packed in bamboo with the ends plugged with a very fine, special clay, then heated to 1000 degrees until it melts, poured out of the bamboo and hardened, then crushed and put back into more bamboo and heated until liquid, etc. This is done NINE times until all the impurities have been removed. It sells for over $50 for a small jar. Next time I'll ask for soy sauce.

Yesterday Yun-kyung and I went to one of the many ancient palaces that dots the northern bank of the Han River that bisects Seoul. This is the two of us in the "secret garden" of the Changdeokgukgung (Changdeokguk palace). It's a UNESCO world heritage site, and was first built in the early 1300's and rebuilt in the late 16th, early 17th centuries after it was destroyed in a Japanese invasion.

After visiting the palace, we went to the Insadong shopping area a few blocks away where we had a typical Korean lunch. It was a feast! We had bulgogi, a national dish of thin strips of cooked beef and marinated onions, a seafood/tofu stew, and a
lot of marinated foods: raw crab (their cut in half, you pick them up by the legs and suck out the innards from the body), burdock root, codonopsis lanceolata root, squid, sesame leaves (pungent and really, really good), kimchi, bean sprouts, garlic greens, black beans, a dish whose main ingredient was tofu made from acorns, and some really delicious "pancakes" made with green onions and squid. It really was delicious!

I know Sherry's wondering if I have a charism of missionary. I think I just like to eat.
 
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