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Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Friday, September 12, 2003

Ancestral Rites

Yesterday was Chuseok here in Korea, a holiday in which one's ancestors are honored in a ritual caled the chesa. This ancestral rite includes the preparation of an elabortate traditional meal for the spirits of the departed followed by two deep bows (keun cheol) to the ground. This ritual is Confucian in origin.

The chesa is permitted by Catholics but forbidden by Protestants. Interestingly, it used to be the other way around. Nowadays, this situation can cause quite a deal of friction in families, especially when non-Christian parents have Christian sons or daughters-in-law (It's a strictly patrilineal affair).

While I have more intuitive sympathy for the current Protestant position banning the chesa, as it is allowed by the Catholic Church, I submit to her authortative teaching on the subject and have participated enthusiastically in the ritual at my in-laws' house. I took it as an opportunity to pray for the souls of the departed as well as for the conversion of the whole family.