Fr. Kwon Taemoon served in Taiwan until 2013. He gave lectures and retreats in China having studied spirituality at Fordham University in the U.S. He is presently directing students that are doing their spiritual year in the Philippines.
I am living with an Irish priest and seven Columban seminarians in Manila. These students are from Myanmar, Fiji and Korea, and during the spiritual year they are discerning their missionary vocations as they concentrate on a life of prayer. When I was first assigned to this ministry I felt more than a little burdened and was only able to undertake the work as my colleagues encouraged me to do so by promising to pray for me.
Before coming to Manila I studied the process by which seminarians develop spiritually. I also spent time examining myself. I meditated on the good qualities of my priestly life, as I saw them, and wondered how I could improve them. I also meditated on my human qualities looking at the good ones I possessed as well as the qualities I was lacking in. I noticed my week points and the things that I felt shameful about. I reflected on the kind of person I could become in the future. My task was not only to accept myself for the qualities that I was proud of but to accept my weak points also. This was a really difficult process for me as I was inclined to only accept the part of myself I was satisfied with and refusing to accept my total self.
Having completed this spiritual course I began an eight day retreat during which I meditated on my image of God. I found that my God was a gentle God that I could confess my shameful parts and my sins to. I realized that useless pride and stubbornness did not belong to this God of gentleness. God gently accepts and understands me, patiently waits for me to examine myself and repent, without ever exerting pressure or force on me to do so. God simply waits while helping each of us to come to this realization. We humans are not all the same, but rather each of us share different gifts and together can meet a greater and more abundant God. Gentleness makes for a life of abundance.
In fact I did not like this quality of gentleness before as I often felt ignored when I acted gently in my mission areas. I used to feel angry thinking that had I exercised strong leadership I would not be ignored. I wanted to abandon that gentle quality and actually envied those that had strong personalities. However our God does not complain or criticize us even if we deceive ourselves about who we really are. God does not punish us but rather listens to our pleas while waiting for us. God has complete trust in us believing that at some stage we will become fully aware of our true selves and return to him. It is not a matter of us trusting in God but of God trusting in us and believing that even when we sin we will return to Him. Gentleness is the quality that shows perfect love, total trust and the complete emptiness of God. We can say that gentleness is not a weakness at all but rather is a real strength.
I felt deeply that God wished for me to show my gentle nature as He had actually given me this special gift. Through this reflection I began to realize that God was calling me to Manila to live with the seminarians and to guide them to become aware of this gentle God. I felt true freedom and peace at having discovered this fantastic treasure promising to live again in accordance with my gentle nature that in the past I wanted to ignore. I now chose this virtue with certainty and even if people were to ignore or use me that it was due to their inadequate nature and not because of my gentleness. Now I could take complete possession of this gift of gentleness. I now thank God for giving me this gift of possessing a gentle nature and can live happily with it and ask that you remember to pray that I may continue to develop this gift.