SS. Andrew Kim Taegon and Paul Chong Hasang and Companions| SS. Eustace and Companions| Stigmata of S. Padre Pio (9/20/1918)| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions
This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and married man, aged 45.
Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for bringing taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.
When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men.
Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of 13, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.
Today, there are almost 5.1 million Catholics in Korea.
We marvel at the fact that the Korean Church was strictly a lay Church for a dozen years after its birth. How did the people survive without the Eucharist? It is no belittling of this and other sacraments to realize that there must be a living faith before there can be a truly beneficial celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments are signs of God's initiative and response to faith already present. The sacraments increase grace and faith, but only if there is something ready to be increased.
"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land" (Blessed John Paul II, speaking at the canonization).
Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S. Eustace and Companions, Martyrs. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
Eustace (ca. 2nd c.), early Roman martyr. According to legend, the Roman general Placidus was out hunting a stag when an image of Jesus on the cross appeared between the animal's antlers, inspiring him to convert to Christianity and adopt the name Eustace. He was tested for his faith by a series of misfortunes, and was later burned alive inside a bronze bull. Though his historical existence is doubtful, he was a popular saint throughout the Middle Ages.
Excerpt from The Golden Legend
So on a day, as he was on hunting, he found an herd of harts, among whom he saw one more fair and greater than the other, which departed from the company and sprang into the thickest of the forest. And the other knights ran after the other harts, but Placidus siewed him with all his might, and enforced to take him. And when the hart saw that he followed with all his power, at the last he went up on a high rock, and Placidus approaching nigh ... And as he beheld and considered the hart diligently, he saw between his horns the form of the holy cross shining more clear than the sun, and the image of Christ, which by the mouth of the hart, like as sometime Balaam by the ass, sp[o]ke to him, saying: Placidus, wherefore followest me hither? I am appeared to thee in this beast for the grace of thee. I am Jesus Christ, [and] I come hither so that by this hart that thou huntest I may hunt thee. ... I am Jesus Christ that formed heaven and earth, which made the light to increase, and divided it from darkness, and established time, days, and hours. Which formed men of the slime of the earth, which appeared on earth in flesh for the health of the lineage human, which was crucified, dead, buried, and arose the third day.
And when Placidus heard this, he fell down again to the earth, and said: I believe, Lord, that thou art he that made all things, and convertest them that err. And our Lord said to him: If thou believest, go to the bishop of the city and do thee be baptized. ... And when he was come home to his house, and had told this thing to his wife in their bed, she cried: My Lord! and said: And I saw him this night that is passed, and he said to me: Tomor[row] thou, thy husband, and thy sons, shall come to me. And now I know that it was Christ. Then they went to the bishop of Rome at midnight, which baptized them with great joy, and named Placidus, Eustace, and his wife, Theospis.
Stigmata of Padre Pio (9/20/1918)
In his Own Words
The more intimate and personal the experience we have, the less capable we are of expressing in words all that we feel. The following two paragraphs, taken from the correspondence of Padre Pio with Padre Benedetto (his spiritual director), are so revealing, yet we will never be able to fathom all that he felt. As we prepare for the feast of Padre Pio, let the following words of our Father speak to your heart.
What can I tell you…? My God! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer in being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature! On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass…absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment…All this happened in a flash…I saw before me a mysterious person…his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually… I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him (Jesus) until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation.
(Letter of Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, 22 October 1918)
Ah, my dear Father, what am I to do? I feel that I am really about to die, for I no longer have strength to go on living. My crucifixion still continues. My agony began some time ago and is becoming more and more heartrending … For how much longer is my “consummatum est” (“It is finished”) to be deferred … I’ll always pronounce my “fiat” (“Let it be”) of resignation.
(Letter of Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, 13 November 1918)
God does not abandon people just because an accident happened. He does not abandon people who are the victims of poor judgment or of evildoers. He is always there. It's up to us to find him.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Deep down in my soul, it seems to me, God has poured out many graces of compassion for the sufferings of others, especially with regard to the poor and needy.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 263: God as Your Helmsman in the Storm
Imagine being a small child on a small boat in the middle of the sea. A storm sets in and you cannot see land in any direction. You are tossed and turned in the waves as they cover the bow with each crash and you wonder how you will survive. Now imagine that your dad is also on the boat with you. He tells you to sit and hold on and that all will be well. He is confident and in charge and shows no fear. The confidence that your father exudes calms you and you trust that he will keep you safe. This is an image of our lives. When we face a crisis we must realize that we are but a child in the midst of the stormy sea in need of our Merciful Lord. It would be foolish for a child to try to take charge of the boat. It would also be foolish for us to try to direct our own lives. We need the steady confidence of Jesus to put our hearts at rest. The Lord must be your Helmsman whenever the waves begin to rise. Do not doubt His ability to handle everything in life (See Diary #1322).
What do you do when the storms of life set in? Do you panic? Do you try to take control and handle things on your own? Or do you turn your eyes to the strength and confidence of our Lord and let Him take control of the situation? Turning to Jesus is not simply a matter of sitting back and doing nothing. Rather, turning to Him in abandon is an act of the greatest trust. That trust, when all seems chaotic and overwhelming, opens the door to His peace and keeps you safe and still no matter what comes your way. Reflect upon the way you handle difficulties in life and make the conscious choice to turn to the Divine Helmsman to direct your life through the storm.
Lord, I turn to You in confidence and choose to put my full trust in You. I know that You can handle all things and that Your love and care will keep me safe. Increase my confidence in You, dear Lord, and help my heart to always remain at peace. Jesus, I trust in You.