For Catholics, attending the Holy Mass on Sundays is sort of a religious obligation. Sort of. (I sometimes miss it! Forgive me, Father, for I have…overslept! Ha-ha-ha!)
And where do most Catholics in Seoul go to hear the Holy Mass? Where else but at the Myeongdong Cathedral!
The Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Seoul and is perhaps the most popular of the Catholic churches in South Korea. How can you go wrong with such a location when you’re located next to the most popular shopping spot in Seoul: Myeong-dong?
As they say, God is all-knowing and very wise. I'm pretty sure He has a hand in picking up the location of the Cathedral, because, after hearing Mass, his chosen people can just go down the main road and head down to the Myeong-dong shopping lane and reward themselves with some shopping at the stores and boutiques for the latest trends in Korean fashion!
Of course, whenever I visit Myeong-dong, I always make sure I also visit the Myeongdong Cathedral. And the best view of the Cathedral is at the steps, where one can look up and admire its Gothic architecture and its towering 45-meter high steeple imposing its presence against the backdrop of the clear blue skies.
Its construction started in 1892 and was inaugurated in 1898. Standing there, right in the middle of Seoul, the Cathedral has witnessed for more than a hundred years, how this city and the Catholic faithful were persecuted, survived and eventually flourished to what they are now today.
On certain church holidays in the Catholic calendar, I visit the Cathedral to celebrate with the rest of the Catholics, both Korean and foreigners, sitting there at the nave among the congregation, professing both faith and religion.
But on certain weekends, when the Cathedral has become a venue for weddings, it is turned into a mall by noisy guests and friends probably of the groom and the bride as they stand and chat with each other right in the middle of the aisle like it was another high school reunion.
As I understand that at Korean weddings which are usually held at wedding halls, guests and well-wishers can chat all they want, I hope that these people would show respect and reverence for the Cathedral, where other people sitting at the pew are there to perhaps pray and commune with God. Sadly, how can one silently do this when its all chaos and noise all over. Disgusting. I guess this was one thing God failed to foresee: wedding gatecrashers. I hope just hope He does something about them.
So, the next time, I visit the Myeongdong Cathedral, I'll do it during vespers. No noisy disrespectful, wedding people. I'm sure the whole hallowed place will be quiet, when the only things one can hear are one's prayer and the voice of God.