Why A Pilgrimage to South Korea?
Since the first announcement of a pilgrimage to South Korea, two comments have been more common than any other: “Wow,” and “Why South Korea?” The wow factor no doubt relates to the storied beauty of a country called “Land of the Morning Calm” and the intrigue of traveling to the mysterious East.
The question “Why?” invites us to the heart of the pilgrimage. Nine pilgrims departed on pilgrimage to embody an act of hope. They paused the exercise of their everyday responsibilities and submitted themselves to a process they could not fully comprehend at the outset. They risked feeling uncomfortable and challenged by language and cultural barriers even while they trusted they might encounter God in a new way through the experience.
Any pilgrimage is an act of hope—why South Korea in particular? These pilgrims were saying yes to friendship. Korean Benedictine Sisters named S. Anna, S. Isaac and S. Lumen had come to St. Paul’s Monastery and laid the foundations of a beautiful relationship. The invitation to visit their homeland and home reflected a real and personal bond more than an exotic adventure to a faraway place.
The friendships that were deepened and the insights that were harvested expanded each pilgrim’s sense of how Christians all over the world uniquely express their faith. Those experiences prepared the same pilgrims to return to their daily lives with renewed hope.
If you’d like to explore the sites, sounds and discoveries of the pilgrimage to South Korea, consider reflecting with a few of the resources. You, too, might just find yourself saying, “Wow.”
- An Interactive Google Tour 2016 Pilgrimage to South Korea, Land of the Morning Calm
- A Pilgrim’s Photo Journal
- Seoul Vespers, an original poem for the Missionary Benedictines in Korea
A version of this article was orginally published in the 2016A edition of the Listen from the Benedictine Center of St. Paul’s Monastery.