"Always be happy!"
"I hope everybody will be happy. Living happily is what God wants from us." Cardinal Nicholas often mentioned happiness.
"I give thanks to everybody. Always be happy. Happiness is the will of God." These are the last words of the late second Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, who served as Archbishop of Seoul from 1998 to 2012, and passed away on April 27, 2021.
Whenever he talked with others, he constantly advised them to give thanks and to always be happy. How can we be truly happy? As Cardinal Nicholas said, we can be happy when we are willing to give away everything.
True happiness comes from neither possession nor enjoyment. As in the witness of Jesus who gave his very life up to the point of the cross, giving away everything is the root and basis of happiness.
When he became the youngest bishop at the age of 39 in 1970, he chose "Omnibus Omnia" as his pastoral motto, because he wanted to be "everything to everybody." This determined will was clearly testified throughout his life. Especially preparing for aging, he gave away everything he had.
In 2006, he signed up to donate his organs and corneas at the moment of his death and he actually donated his corneas upon his death. This sincere act of donation came from an example set by his mother who did the same when she died. In 2018, he decided not to have any surgery nor rely on any equipment or life support to prolong his life.
I think his faithful testimony of life is deeply rooted in his family's strong faith. He was born on Dec. 7, 1931 to a Catholic family dating back four generations. He lost his father in Japan even before he was born. His mother became a good example of putting faith to practice.
Dreaming of becoming an inventor, he studied chemical engineering at Seoul National University. But he had to drop out of the university due to the Korean War in 1950, and instead served as a commissioned officer and helped at an orphanage.
Seeing piles of corpses and surviving near-death experiences, he decided to become a Catholic priest. In 1955, he entered the Major Seminary and was ordained as a priest in 1961. He studied Canon law at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.
Being warm-hearted, mild, extremely considerate, and caring, he was most faithful to his pastoral motto and took care of the poor. He also donated all of the balance in his bankbook to a Myeongdong restaurant and the Mission Scholarship Association of Child Faith Education among others.
Being an expert in canon law, he promised the late Fr. Park Do-sik, who was his roommate during his days as a deacon, to write one book a year to help his parishioners. As a result, he translated and wrote 51 books. He translated "The Seven Storey Mountain," an autobiography of Trappist Brother Thomas Merton (1915-1968), and its Korean version was first published by Pauline in 1976 and became a classic.
He protected "life" and cherished the value of "family." At the same time, he showed the example of practicing poverty in life: He never used an air conditioner even in mid-summer and he liked to use the same old leather bag.
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