By Fr. George Welzbacher
February 22, 2009
The penitential season of Lent is about to begin. This coming Wednesday, February 25th, is Ash Wednesday. Two Masses will be offered on Ash Wednesday: the regular morning Mass at 8:00 am and a late afternoon Mass at 5:00 p.m. Ashes will be distributed after each of those two Masses. Adults in the full vigor of health (defined in canon law as between the ages of 18 and 59) are invited to eat a little less at the two secondary meals of each weekday. ON EVERY FRIDAY DURING LENT each and every Catholic who is fourteen years of age or older is obliged to ABSTAIN FROM MEAT. Such abstinence is the bare bones minimum of penitential practice. It is not a recommendation; it is a requirement. It binds in conscience under pain of serious sin. By whose authority? By the authority of Christ, Who gave St. Peter the power to issue all such commands, provided only that they involve no contradiction of the Ten Commandments, that Peter and his successors might deem to be helpful in fulfilling the mission that they had received from Christ. "To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).
But every devout Catholic will want to do more to share in the sufferings of our crucified Lord than this, the bare minimum. Going "the extra mile" includes intensifying our prayer life: attending the Stations of the Cross regularly on Friday evenings at seven o'clock, reciting the rosary in common in the family home, receiving the Sacrament of Penance frequently and devoutly, attending Mass on weekdays if one's work schedule permits. These are obvious and appropriate ways to make this Lent a season of heightened PRAYER.
In addition voluntarily giving up something that we like, something innocent in itself, is a time-tested practice that "gives teeth" to our resolve to do PENANCE for our sins.
Such self-denial could include cutting way back on the time one spends on television. It could include: not going to "movies"; giving up candy, smoking or imbibing alcoholic drinks; climbing out of bed a little earlier in the morning to allow time for attending a daily Mass.
Finally, performing works of CHARITY will complete "the triple crown" of Prayer, self-denial and almsgiving, the three classical ways of atoning for our sins, of helping our fellow travelers on the road to God, and of doing what we can to make our own salvation more secure.
Almsgiving can be thought of as a large umbrella whose "spokes" are the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The corporal works of mercy are: 1)feeding the hungry; 2) giving drink to the thirsty; 3) clothing the naked, 4) harboring the stranger; 5) visiting the sick, 6) ministering to prisoners; and 7) burying the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: 1) converting the sinner; 2) instructing the ignorant; 3) counseling the doubtful; 4) comforting the sorrowful; 5) bearing wrongs patiently; 6) forgiving all injuries; and 7) praying for the living and the dead.
These are the practices that will allow us to draw closer to Christ Crucified; and as St. Paul reminds us: to the extent that we share in Christ's sufferings, to that extent we will share in His glory. Cf. II Corinthians 1:15...
* * * * *Stephen Kim Som-hwan, Cardinal, 86
New York Times, February 17, 2009
Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou-hwan, South Korea's first cardinal and a tireless advocate for democracy who stood up to a series of military dictators, died Monday. He was 86.
Cardinal Kim was named a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1969. He died at St. Mary's Hospital in Seoul, said Lee Hee-yeon, an official with the Archdiocese of Seoul.
Pope Benedict XVI, in a telegram to Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk, the Archbishop of Seoul, said he was deeply saddened by Cardinal Kim's death, according to the Vatican.
The South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, a Protestant, called the Cardinal's death "a great national loss."
South Korea was ruled by military dictators from 1961 until the late 1980's. Cardinal Kim was outspoken in calling for the country's democratization, using his Easter serinon in 1987 to lash out at the government of President Chun Doo-hwan as despotic.
In an interview with a Catholic newspaper, Cardinal Kim recalled that in 1987 he and the authorities at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul "decided to protect at all costs" antigovernment student activists who were demonstrating for democracy.
On Monday night his body was taken to the cathedral so that South Koreans could pay their final respects before he is laid to rest later in the week. A funeral Mass is scheduled for Friday....
His death leaves Cardinal Cheong as the only cardinal in South Korea, whose population includes 4.8 million Roman Catholics. The Catholic religion was introduced to the Korean Peninsula in 1784.
"Cardinal Kim never lost his smile or humanity to the last moment," Cardinal Cheong said, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Buddhism is the oldest major religion in South Korea, though Christianity has grown significantly, especially during the 20th century. According to government figures, Buddhists made up about 22.8 percent of the population in 2005, while Christians accounted for 29.2 percent.
Cardinal Kim was bom on May 8, 1922, in the southeastern city of Daegu. He was ordained a priest in 1951 during the Korean War, according to the archdiocese. The war ended with a truce that left North and South Korea divided.
By the South Korean method of counting, in which newborns are considered 1 year old, he was 87.
He was archbishop of Seoulnfrom 1968 until 1998. He was also in charge of the Diocese of Pyongyang in North Korea from 1975 until 1998, though he was never able to go there because of the peninsula's division and constraints on worship in the North.
Cardinal Kim had expressed regret at not being able to visit North Korea, which was once a center of Christianity on the peninsula, and he said South Korea should provide aid to the North to help ease its chronic food shortages.
North Korea nominally allows freedom of religion to its 23 million people. In a report last year, the United States State Department said "genuine religious freedom does not exist" in North Korea.