Friday, November 19, 2010

Catholic Confucian Korea in the Month of All Souls

Father Maryknoller in Korea notes that "purgatorial societies" here "have been 'Koreanized,' doing much more than is commonly expected, which shows the importance of death in the Korean psyche" — Korean Purgatorial Societies:
    These Korean societies assist the family in every way possible and arrange for the priest to come, if the one dying has not already received the Sacrament of the sick. At death, when the undertakers were few and the people poor, the members of the society would do the work of the undertaker as a voluntary work of love. They would wash the body, clothe it, take care of the rites for placing the body in the coffin, and pray the office of the dead (yeon do); when sung, this takes about one hour. This was a great consolation to the family, for many would not know what to do. They would also make the funeral arrangements and be on call for the bereaved family until the burial and even after, if the family wanted.

    Some parishes have their own mortuaries where the body remains until the day of the funeral. Members of the purgatorial societies are usually the older parishioners and not infrequently,the largest group in the parish. They have motivated many people to return to the Church, seeing the devotion of these Catholics as they went about their duties during times of bereavement. Their presence at the home of the deceased or in the mortuaries giving strength to the bereaved families is truly a beautiful sign of God's love.

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.