Dear Parishioners of Our Lady of Peace,

Today, as we venerate Our Lady of Peace on this solemnity of our church's patroness, we express our gratitude for the countless blessings that she has showered upon our community. We can count on her protection upon us all, as we fly to her refuge--just think of how much has transpired in this past year by her answer to our prayers! I'm reminded of her words at the Wedding at Cana. She looks at our Lord Jesus and simply says, "They have no wine." Likewise, she looks at our lot and says, "They have no church." Then she turns to us, as she did the servants, and tells us "Do whatever he tells you."

So here we are, officially beginning our pledge to construct a beautiful church worthy of her bridegroom. May we be inspired by the generosity of our Lord for those who generously fulfill His commands, "fill these water jars to the brim." Like the servants at Cana, we are tasked, "fundraise until the goals are met!" While it is no easy task, I am reminded by the witness of the martyrs and saints, particularly the heroic model of the Korean Martyrs.

I think of the affection that the martyrs of Hapdeok Church had for our Lord Jesus through Mother Mary. When the parishioners had just returned from hiding after concluding the Byeongin Persecution (1866-1875), they literally had nothing. They hid without proper facilities for years, yet once the ekklesia (church or people of God) were free to practice their faith, they committed to building our Lord the best that they could offer.
I remember visiting Hapdeok Church in fall of 2021, staring at the beautiful rising entrance to this quaint yet elegantly Gothic church, and I thought, "how much those parishioners loved our God!" I cannot comprehend the total detachment and sacrifice required by the community to build such a majestic church after a third of their parishioners were killed.

These surviving parishioners needed not depend on natural means—they were able to accomplish the unimaginable with the power of their prayers and self-sacrifice. Likewise, we need not proof to trust; Mother Mary is guiding us during these unpredictable times. Our Lord's timing is providential. He would not have extended the legacy of Hapdeok Church to us, inviting us to offer equal sacrifice had He not believed in us. So may we begin, with our hearts set on fire for our Lord, that through our Mother's intercession, we will build Him a church worthy for His Holy Sacrifice.


Fr. Daniel


사랑하는 평화의 모후 교우 여러분,

오늘 우리는 우리 성당의 수호 성인의 대축일에 평화의 모후를 공경하며 성모님이 우리 공동체에 쏟아주신 수많은 축복에 감사를 드립니다. 우리는 피난처가 필요할 때 마다 성모님께 의지 할 수 있습니다. 지난 한해에 우리 기도에 대한 그분의 응답으로 얼마나 많은 일이 일어났는지 생각해 보십시오! 카나의 혼인 잔치에서 그분이 하신 말씀이 생각납니다. 성모님은 우리 주 예수님을 바라보시며 단순히 "포도주가 없구나." 하였습니다. 마찬가지로 그분은 우리 공터를 보시고 "교회가 없구나.” 하였습니다. 그런 다음 일꾼들에게 했던 것처럼 우리를 향해 보시며 "무엇이든지 그가 시키는 대로 하여라"라고 명하십니다.

그래서 우리는 신랑에게 어울리는 아름다운 교회를 짓겠다는 공식 청약을 시작합니다. "물독에 물을 가득 채워라"는 주님의 명령을 아낌없이 이행하는 사람들을 위한 우리 주님의 관대함에 우리가 영감을 받기를 바랍니다. 카나의 일꾼들처럼 우리는…사랑하는 평화의 모후 교우 여러분,

합덕성당 순교자들이 성모 마리아를 통해 우리 주 예수님을 사랑했던 그 마음을 생각합니다. 병인박해(1866-1875)가 끝나고 숨어 지내던 교우들이 막 돌아왔을 때는 그야말로 가진 것이 없었다. 그들은 수년 동안 삶의 터전도 없이 숨어 있었지만 일단 에클레시아(ekklesia, 교회 또는 하느님의 백성)가 그들의 신앙을 자유롭게 실천할 수 있게 되자 그들이 할 수 있는 최선을 다해 주님을 건축하기 위해 헌신했습니다.

2021년 가을 합덕성당을 방문하여 고풍스러우면서도 우아한 고딕 양식 성당의 솟아오른 아름다운 입구를 바라보며 "저 교우들이 우리 하느님을 얼마나 사랑했을까!" 하고 생각을 했던 기억이 납니다. 저는 교우의 3분의 1이 살해된 후에도 그처럼 장엄한 성당을 짓기 위해 공동체가 요구한 초연함과 희생을 납득할 수 없습니다.

살아남은 교우들은 자연적인 수단에 의존할 필요가 없었습니다. 그들은 기도와 자기 희생으로 상상할 수 없는 일을 성취할 수 있었습니다. 마찬가지로 우리는 믿음의 증거가 필요하지 않습니다. 성모 마리아께서는 이 예측할 수 없는 시기에 우리를 인도하고 계십니다. 우리 주님의 시기는 적절합니다. 그분이 우리를 믿지 않으셨다면 합덕성당의 유산을 우리에게까지 확장하지 않으셨을 것입니다. 그러므로 우리는 우리 어머니의 중재를 통해 주님의 거룩한 희생에 합당한 성전을 세우기 위해 우리 주님을 위해 불타오르는 마음으로 시작합시다.

서 다니엘 신부


Dear Family of Our Lady of Peace,

As we continue "preparing" for Christ's coming this Advent season, we conclude the 1st week's virtue of "hope" and approach the second Advent virtue--"love". However, all of these virtues begin with the foundation of "humility." This is why, as I shared in last week's homily, I desire for us to live these virtues with sincere humility. In other words, we approach all these virtues with a docile heart to what God offers and chooses to refrain from offering.
How does this look in our daily activities? We identify how God is calling us to deeper conversion by trying to live out this virtue with greater purpose. I was focusing on "hope" this week with expectation knowing that God would present moments to me in which those who struggle with sorrow will need a cheerful reminder of God's loving presence and desire for "our surrender"--the exercise of humility.
First, with hope comes perseverance. God has humbled me with patience, but now with the help of our contractor Mr. Tuan Joseph Nguyen, we were able to break ground and prepare for paver installation. I hope we will be able to complete the courtyard project in time for Christmas! This is a real time of hope for our community because we will be able to center the Tabernacle, offer space for ministries, and have a gathering space for more community events!
However, not all hope has been presented this week with such joy and cheer. This Thursday was pretty heavy.
Aside from my usual responsibilities here at church, God presented two surprises. First, a couple that I married last year just had their first baby. However, she died as soon as she was born due to breathing complications. They called and asked me to celebrate her funeral, so I did. I preached about this couple once before during weekday Mass because I was so impressed by their faith and piety. This couple reminds me of Job in the Old Testament--they always try to live completely faithful to God's commands. It broke my heart to hear how their daughter passed, but it brought me joy to hear how the husband baptized her as soon as she was born. He knew his purpose as a father is to make her a saint--and that's exactly what he did. But, even further, the husband taught us in his eulogy why there is reason to hope. He said, "God wants our daughter Grace for Himself, so He called her home right away." While her death is difficult to understand, we have great hope knowing that her death was not meaningless.
Later in the day, God presented the second surprise. I received a call from a sheriff explaining that his uncle was on the verge of dying at the UCI Medical Center. So after I finished teaching RCIA, I drove over to the hospital to visit him. This poor man had cancer in his throat and had to surgically remove his tongue. He was told he would have two or three days to live, but when I met him he was completely present to me and the family. He had to write on a little white-board to communicate with the nurse and ourselves. His daughter and son were there at his bedside with his wife across them, and they shared about their plans to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary at Catalina Island. However, as soon as they arrived at the Long Beach Harbor, they had to rush over to the hospital because the man collapsed. Upon giving this man the Sacraments, I let him hold onto the crucifix, but he then held my hand and expressed his gratitude through his eyes. I reminded him that our Lord is with the whole family and has not abandoned them, and with the Sacraments our Lord will take good care of him and his family as he leaves them behind. But again, this man is such a good man. Why would God permit such a difficult journey for his family? While I struggle to wrestle with the economy of the Cross, I am humbled by the examples of the people whom God places in my life.
There is no telling when our Lord will call us to Him, so we must always be "ready" like our Blessed Mother. Lord, I am your poor and humble servant. May it be done unto me, according to thy Will. Holy Mary, Mother of Hope, pray for us.

Fr. Daniel Seo