Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Myeongdong Cathedral: The Lights And Silhouette Of A Religion

It's a different experience visiting the Myeongdong Cathedral at night. The whole structure that is bright, noisy and full of parishioners during the day transforms in the evening into a sanctuary of serene solace this place of worship is meant to be.

When you're standing at the foot of the hill on your way up to the Cathedral, its presence is imposing and its silhouette is very familiar to any Catholic. Or to any Myeongdong tourist. 

And as you enter the Cathedral at night, especially after the Mass when most parishioners have gone, the whole church is so quiet that the only sound you'd hear is your footsteps. Although the whole place looks empty, a few souls silently praying on the pews are actually joined by saints at the altar, reminding everyone that someone somewhere up there is intently listening to the whispered prayers and the most ardent of supplications.

It's Lent.  For Roman Catholics, its the time to pause, reflect and ask 'to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us.' And for some, maybe a lot more.

As observing Lent here in Korea isn't that widespread as in the Philippines, a visit to the Myeongdong Cathedral at night after work has become a tradition for me. And when I do visit, the lighting, the shadows, the silhouette and the aura of the center of the Catholic faith in Korea never fail to amaze me or everyone else who walks up the hill and enters the wooden doors of this church.

And in this Holy Week, Catholics will again fill the Cathedral with hymns and prayers, and the traditional Via Crucis, or the Way of the Cross, celebrating each station below the colorful stained glass windows of the Cathedral.

Pope Francis will visit Seoul this year, and when he drops by Myeongdong Cathedral, he'll see what I see: the lights and silhouette of our religion.

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