The great Teacher Yibyok
The Great Teacher
john Baptist LEE BYOK
Founder of the Catholic Church in korea.
Birth and Childhood
Our holy ancestor, Lee Byok was born in 1754(the 39th year of the reign of King Young Jo) at Kwang Ju, which is now located in Kyong Gi Province, as the second son of Lee Bu Man of the Kyong Ju Lee family. His mother was of the Cheong Ju Han family. His family descended from the famous Koryo scholar, Lee Jae Hyun, who was an important civil official. From the time of his great-grandfather his family changed its pro-fession to military service. Therefore, Lee Byok\'s grand-father, father and brothers held high positions as generals.
When Lee Byok was born, the village was suffused with auspicious signs so the villagers regarded him as an extraordinary child. The baby\'s eyes were clear and shone brightly. People could feel some nobility from him. Moreover, his face was beautiful and handsome. He stood out above other children because he was clever, calm and prudent from his childhood. Lee Ik, who was an elder scholar, foretold that Lee Byok would become a great man.
At five, he was already able to discriminate like an adult and at seven he had already mastered Chinese classics. One day, when he was young, he told scholars about the \"Summary of God\'s Teaching\". At that time the scholars were amazed at his clear and reasonable explanation which none of them could refute and they completely surrendered to his theory and explanation.
Study and Research of God\'s Teaching and Friendship
Generation after generation of the Lee family served as government officials. Lee Byok\'s father, Lee bu Man, expected him to succeed in the Civil Service Examination and to bring honor to his family. When he became older, he studied under the guidance of An Jong Bok, a pro-minent scholar of that day.
At that time in Korea, there were many Chinese books about Roman Catholicism which came with came by way of China,but most of the scholars studied the books with curiosity just as a new and noble theory. However, Lee Byok, in spite of his young age, felt the deep meaning of the books and faith began to develop within him. When he was nineteen, he edited a literary collection of Kwon Sang Bok\'s works and wrote the epilogue of the collection which was called \"Meditation on Heavenly Teaching\". Moreover, he read, found the meaning and meditated on the works of Matteo Ricci who had published many books in China. When his friends visited him, he avoided drinking and idle chattering and used the opportunities to explain the deep meaning of and reasons for the universe. At that time, he composed a brief essay called \"The Way to Heaven\" and contributed to a shrine in Bong Seun Temple in order to hang his essay on the wall.
When he was twenty-five, he discussed various theories with the young students who wanted to carry on the scholar, Lee Ik\'s srudy. Jeong Yak Jeon, Kwon Sang Moon and Lee Seung Hoon belonged to the group. At this time, Lee Byok already recognized God\'s teaching, believed in it and put it into practice. In this respect, even though he was not baptized, he was a faithful man who knew, believed in and respected God.
The Catholic books which he had studied day and night had been delivered to him in two ways; one of them was from his great-grandfather, Lee Kyung Sang, who was a teacher for So Hyeon, the son of king In Jo, as he accompanied the King\'s son for 8 years in China(1637-1645), where they met Rev. Adam Schall and were taught by him about Catholicism. They brought many Catholic books and 5 Catholic Servants. And the other way to get religious books to him was by sending them in a wooden box from China through his father by the hand of Hong Dae Yong.
Up until this time, there was no prohibition of reading those kinds of books either in court or privately.
Whenever he found new books about Catholicism, he studied them deeply and meditated on them. Once he found nothing to doubt in the teaching, he couldn\'t participate in any worldly affairs and began to wander in the mountains and along the rivers longing for God and praying to heaven. If while he was travelling and enjoy-ing meditation and prayer, he came across scholars, he found his sole comfort in discussing God and explaining the Heavenly Teaching to them. Let\'s see what Charles Dallet, the Church historian, has to say about Lee Byok:
\"Lee Byok was the tool which in His Providence God used to send the Gospel to Korea. He was born into the Kyong Ju Lee family. Among his forefathers, there were many celebrated man and people in high positions in Court. From his great-grandfather, the family converted from civil officials. Lee Byok was well qualified both mentally and physically so his father intended to train him from childhood in archery and horseriding, skills which would him to rise rapidly in the world. But the boy, Lee Byok, obstinately rejected his father\'s wishes and told him he would not do such things even if he had to die.
\"As he grew older, he became taller and stronger. His strong body, his outstanding qualities and talents and fluent speech distinguished him from other young men. He dug into every problem and he tended to study the mysterious meaning between the lines when he studied the Classics. However, he was not satisfied with only studying books. Beyond that, he had a wide friendship with other scholars who might help him to learn new theories. He enjoyed joking and wasn\'t overly concerned with delicate and complicated Korea manners. Even though he did not assume a dignified air which char-acterized the professional scholars of the time, his bear-ing in itself was graceful and commanded respect.\"
The Seminar on God\'s Teaching and Retreat at Cheon Jin Am and the Kang Hak Hoe
In January of 1780, a scholar, Kwon Cheol Shin, held a seminar at Cheon Jin Am. When Lee Byok heard about the seminar, he walked through the snow on a cold night from Seoul to Chu Eo Temple where he thought he would find Kwon Cheol Shin. However, when he arrived there he found that seminar was being held at Cheon Jin Am. So he started out again to Cheon Jin Am in the dark despite the danger of crossing a high mountain at night. He arrived at Cheon Jin Am in the middle of the night and immediately began to discuss Classics with the scholars under the candlelight. During the seminar which continued for several days, the scholars examind the theories in the Classics and compared them one by one with the teachings of Buddhism, Confuci-anism and Taoism. Then through the lectures and persua-sion of Lee Byok, the scholars realized the truth of the existence of the Creator of the universe, the immortal soul, heaven and hell and other Catholic teachings. They not only believed them, but they put them into practice.
At this time, Lee Byok composed the \"Essence of Holy Church\" and the hymn, \"Praise of God\". Jeong Yak Jong composed the \"Song of the Ten Commandments\".
Kwon Cheol Shin made up some rules and a daily schedule which the participants of the Kang Hak Hoe followed diligently and strictly. Everyone got up at dawn and since it was winter, they washed their faces with the water from the fountain Bing Cheon which never freezes. They recited proverbs for self-discipline called Sook Ya Zam at dawn, Gyeong Jae Zam at sunrise, Sa Mool Zam at noon and Seo Myeong at sunset. In this way, they practiced the doctrine of God diligently and prayed fervently.
Lee Byok and the other scholars disciplined their minds and bodies with great seriousness, discretion and enthusiasm. No one broke the rules and they carefully adhered to the daily program. Lee Seung Hoon, who was the first Korean baptized as a Catholic, was especially fervent during this training period. Jeong Yak Yong. a Kang Hak Hoe scholar, later described and compared Lee Seung Hoon\'s training to a knife being gradually sharpen-ed exquisitely to a fine point.
Moreover, even though at the time they didn\'t use the solar calendar nor the days of the week, the scholars observed the Lord\'s Day every seven days by the lunar calendar (that is, every 7th, 14th, 21th, 28th of the month by the calendar) with fasting and abstinence and spent the whole day in prayer, reading and medita-tion. The Kang Hak Hoe, which was first begun at the temple Cheon Jin Am, continued for several years and Lee Byok taught the science of God in its lectures and conferences. In other words, he built up the science of God that began on the level of simple knowledge of doctrine into a belief on the level of holy religion. He organized a community of holy scholars and at that time he erected the Catholic Church in Korea. Let\'s see what Charles Dallet reported about the Kang Hak Hoe:
\"In 1779 several famous scholars such as Kwon Cheol Shin and Jeong Yak Jeon went to a remote temple in order to do research and study without interruptions. Having heard of this, Lee Byok was very pleased and decided to join this group. Since it was winter, every road in the long distance he had to walk was covered with snow, but this difficulty could not stop him. He started out at once. He walked bravely even through impassable roads. Although it became dark before he reached his destination, he kept going on to a certain temple, but he found on his arrival that he had gone to the wrong place and that he still had to cross another mountain. He was very disappointed but decided to continue his journey. He woke the monks in the temple from their sleep and asked them to accompany him. He carried a stick to defend himself against possible attacks by wild beasts. Finally he arrived at his destination.
\"The arrival of the group of travellers in the middle of the night frightened the scholars at Cheon Jin Am temple. They could not imagine why so many people suddenly came to the temple at night. But later on, when they heard their reasons they were very pleased. All night long they exchanged their ideas joyfully.
\"The seminar continued for ten days. The scholars searched for solutions of important problems such as heaven, the world and human nature. They recalled and discussed the opinions of ancient scholars and they studied the dthics of wise men. Finally they examined the philosophy, mathematics and religious books which were written in Chinese by Western missionaries. They con-centrated on interpreting their true meaning. In fact, many Korean scholars of that time knew about those books because when the ambassadors went yearly to China, they were accompanied by some Korea scholars who discussed Western science and religion with Chinese scholars. Among the books, there were several books of introduction to religion which dealt with the existence and providence of God, the holiness and immortality of the soul, the seven mortifications and the way to over-come those sins by way of virtues.
\"The scholars, who were familiar with the illogical and contradictory theory of Chinese classics, were anxious to find the truth so they responded to what was beautiful and reasonable in Catholicism. Even though the explana-tion in the books was not sufficient to give the scholars complete knowledge of Catholicism, what they read was enough to move their minds and enlighten their spirits. Immediately they began to put the teachings into prac-tice and to pray every morning and evening. After they read that they should devote one dey a week to God, on every 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th day of the lunar month, they applied themselves to meditation, did no work and abstained from meat. They did this secretly without informing others about their practices.
\"A precious seed had fallen into Lee Byok\'s heart but he realized he still needed more knowledge of this religion so his mind turned toward Peking where there were many books about Catholicism. However, he found that getting the books was very difficult and he failed in his first attempts to get them. He wasn\'t too discourag-ed with his failures and whenever he found a chance, he continued to study the doctrine deeply and to discuss Catholicism with others. According to the report written by the early Catholics, Lee Byok, after having stayed until the first anniversary of his older sister\'s death, start-ed out by boat to Seoul together with the Jeong bro-thers. They talked about philosophy and discussed one by one the existence and the oneness of God, the creation of the world, the holiness and immortality of the soul and reward and punishment after life. The other passengers were amazed and enchanted by the beautiful and consol-ing truths which were discussed. It is probable that there were many such seminars.\"
Sending Lee Seung Hoon to the Western Church in Peking
Finally, Lee Byok, who had been striving in vain to contact the Catholic Church in Peking, ordered Lee Seung Hoon to meet the Western Missionaries of the Catholic Church in Peking, to receive Baptism, and to obtain more books and religious articles. Lee Seung Hoon, after carrying out the orders, returned to Korea. That event became a great milestone in the rapid develop-ment in Korean Church history. Let\'s see again the report of Charles Dallet concerning this:
\"At last God allowed the sincere wishes of these honest souls who sought after truth to come about. In the winter of 1783, Lee Tong Ook was appointed Envoy to Peking and his son, Lee Soung Hoon, got an opportunity to accompany him to the court of Peking. Having heard that his close friend, Lee Seung Hoon, would accompany his father to peking, Lee Byok became excited and immediately called on him, According to some docu-ments of that time, Lee Byok said the following words, \'Your journey to Peking is a marvelous God-given opportunity for us to learn the true religious doctrine. This doctrine of the true saints, as well as the true way to serve the All-Highest Creator of all, is developed to the highest degree among the Europeans. Without this doctrine, we can do nothing. Without it, we can neither improve in spirit nor in character. Without is, how can we know the various laws of the kings and their people? Without it, there can be no basic rule in life. Without it, we can not understand the creation of the world, the laws of the celestial and terrestrial poles, the regular move-ment of the universe, the distinction between good and evil. We cannot know the origin and the purpose of the world, the union of soul and body, the problem of good and evil, the Incarnation of Christ to atone for sins, nor eternal reward and punishment.\' At these words, Lee Seung Hoon, who did not have the knowledge that Lee Byok had, became frightened and asked to see the books which contained such knowledge. After he looked over the books, he joyfully asked what he should do. Lee Byok answered, \'Your chance to go to Peking is a divine sign of the salvation of the Korean people. As soon as you arrive in Peking, go immediately to the Catholic Church and ask the priests about the catechism, learn the liturgy of the Mass and bring us the necessary books. This is a matter of life and death. The all-import-ant business of eternity is in your hands: go, and above all, proceed with prudence.
\"Lee Byok\'s request shows him as thirsting more for-religious than for scientific knowledge. God\'s grace pre-pared his mind so that the great mission of saving souls gradually became his main concern. Lee Byok\'s world penetrated deeply into the soul of Lee Seung Hoon. And he could not but listen to Lee Byok\'s instruction as if they were the words of a great Master.
\"He promised Lee Byok that he would do his utmost to accomplish their common wish. At the end of 1783, Lee Seong Hoon started out for Peking. As soon as he got to Peking, he visited Father Louis de Grammont of the North Church and asked for instruction. He studied Christian doctrine zealously. Just before he returned to Korea, he was ready to be baptized. He was given the name of Peter as it was hoped that he would become the foundation stone of the Korean Church.\"
Retreat and the First Mission Work
While Lee Seung Hoon was away, Lee Byok waited impatiently for the envoy\'s return. In the spring of 1784, Peter Lee Seung Hoon returned to Seoul with many books and religious articles. There was nothing more pressing for him than to send the religious books and articles to Lee Byok. As soon as Lee Byok received the large number of books which Lee Seung Hoon sent, he rented a remote house and remained indoors in order to apply himself to reading the books and meditation. Now he had more proof of religious truth and the ability to refute shamanic ideas in China and in Korea. He had explanations of the Seven Sacraments, catechisms, commentaries on the Scriptures, live of the saints and prayer books. With these books, he could discover what catholicism was in detail. In the course of reading the books, he felt new life coming into his heart and the growing desire to tell all people about Christ and divine grace. After having studied for a while, he came out from the hermitage and visited Lee Seung Hoon, Jeong Yak Jeon, and Jeong Yak Jong and told them, \"Catholicism is a very wonderful doctrine and is the true way. The great God pities the Korean people and wants us to participate in the work of saving their souls. This is the Divine Order. We should not be deaf to the divine call. We must tell the people about the Gospel and spread Catholicism throughout this country.\"
At that time Peter Lee Seung Hoon baptized Lee Byok and Kwon Il Shin . They did not choose their Chris-tian names at random. Because Lee Byok prepared the way for the coming of Christ in Korea, his Christian name became John the Baptist. Kwon Il Shin took the name of St. Francis Xavier because he decided to devote his life to Christian missionary work. He modeled him-self after the saint and regarded the saint as his patron.
Lee Byok himself began to spread the Gospel. First, he taught some of his learned friends who belonged to the middle class. Many people responded at once to the vital and convincing words of Lee Byok . Among those who responded were Choi Chang Hyun, Choi In Kil and Kim Jong Kyo.
Victory in Debate with Confucian Scholars
Lee Byok spread the Gospel to the literati and con-vinced some of them to enter the Church. He devot-ed to his duties and enthusiastically preached the Gospel while travelling around many places. The success of Lee Byok\'s preaching of the Gospel to all levels of society was great enough to disturb other scholars. These scholars felt instinctively that the new religious doctrine would uproot their traditional religion. Many scholars attempted to persuade the Christians to return to Con-fucianism. The first scholar to attempt this was Lee Ka Hwan, who was the son of a noble family which produc-ed several celebrated scholars. Although he was young, he had already made a reputation for himself. At the news of the rapid spread of Catholicism he said, \"It is a very serious problem. Though the foreign religious doctrine does not seem to be against reason, it is not Confucianism and if Lee Byok wants to change the world by such means, I cannot remain an idle onlooker. Therefore, I must lead Lee Byok into the right way of thinking.\" The date for the debate was set. Friends of the two scholars and many spectators crowded into Lee Byok\'s house in order to witness the debate. Lee Ka Hwan began to persuade Lee Byok to turn away from \'falsity\' to the true way. When he began he was sure of victory in the debate, but his opinions were refuted one by one by Lee Byok. Lee Byok penetrated into the details of Lee Ka Hwan\'s assertions and completely destroyed the structure of his arguments. Lee Ka Hwan did his best to rebuild his argument, but in vain. Lee Byok\'s rebuttals always hit the mark. Lee Byok\'s logic was so sound that he made no assertion without proving its truth. According to the Korean biography, Lee Byok clearly articulated his ideas, and his arguments were as brilliant as the sun; they struck like a hurricane and they cut like a sword.
Many people witnessed the wonderful debate. The scene could be compared to a fight between an old, hopeless warrior fighting for the old Chinese theory and a young, bright warrior fighting for the new angelic enlightenment. While the defender of the Gospel perfect-ly withstood any attack on the basis of the truth, the opponent, in spite of his flexibility, collapsed and re-covery seemed impossible. At this stage, the Catholic faith triumphed and captured the attention of the upright and honest people who were present at the debate and strengthened its hold on the mindes of the new believers. However, one day was not enough for Lee Byok\'s op-ponent to abandon his weapons. So the dabate continued for three days, but it continued to bring out the sound-ness and beauty of the new doctrine. Finally, Lee Ka Hwan, completely defeated, had no more excuses to continue the debate. He said the following memorable words: \"Christianity is magnificent and true. But Christi-anity brings pain and misfortune to its believers. What is to be done?\" Lee Ka Hwan returned home and from that time on, he kept silent about Catholicism and did not meddle with it.
Lee Byok, using the fame which resulted from the debate, wanted to gain new believers, but soon there ap-peared another opponent who had heard about the rapid spread of Catholicism as a result of the debate. The op-ponent was Lee Ki Yang who was the learned son of a noble family. Because Lee Byok had confidence in the truth of the new religion, he didn\'t avoid a second debate. He illustrated the origin and the order of the universe and the signs of Divine Providence. He explained the nature of the human soul, its function, and eternal reward and punishment. Finally, he proved that Catholi-cism stood on the base of principles which were not able to be attacked. Lee Ki Yang could not carry the debate so he had no choice but to keep silence. He seemed to believe the new religion deep inside his mind, but he had no courage to confess it. After he left, Lee Byok said about the two scholars with whom he had debates, \"The two Lees have no answers, but there is no hope for them because they do not have the will to believe in God.\"
The foundation of the Catholic in Korea
Lee Byok desired to have learned scholars as the pillars of the Church in order to have a strong foundation and to spread the Gospel rapidly throughout the country. He turned his eyes from the two Lees toward the famous Kwon family of Yang Kun which had already shown some favorable response to the now teaching. The family had connections with the new king when the dynasty changed so that it had great power. Kwon Cheol Shin, who was the leader of the Kang Hak Hoe seminar which was mentioned earlier, was a famous scholar of that time. He was the first of five sons all of whom were famous for their knowledge and reputation. Among them, the third son, Kwon Il Shin, was especially outstanding. These five brothers of the Kwon family had a large following of disciples from all over the country. Therefore, Lee Byok thought that it would be fruitful to bring them into the Church and make them pillars of the Church.
In September, 1784, he visited the Kwon family. As soon as he arrived at the house, he began to lecture on the new religion. Soon the light of truth prevailed in all its brilliance. The first son, Cheol Shin, who was about fifty, hesitated at first because he had devoted most of his life to the study of Confucian classics and philosophy. Although he did not resist the light of the Gospel, he could not in one moment give up the fruit of his long years of study that had made his reputation. Later on, however, he entered the Church and was baptized Am-brose. His devout and holy life prepared him to receive the laurel of glory as we shall see later on. The third son, Kwon Il Shin was converted at once his enthusiasm and enlightened zeal proved that Lee Byok\'s hopes were not in vain. Kwon Il Shin, not satisfied with practicing the religion himself, instructed all his family members and began to preach the faith to his friends with all the success which the authorith of his name, his knowledge and his virtue assured. God blessed his efforts so greatly that the native town of the Kwon family is now regarded as the cradle of the Church in Korea.
The three scholars, Peter Lee Seung Hoon, John Baptist Lee Byok and Francis Xavier Kwon Il Shin, used every method to enlighten their fellow countrymen to the light of Faith. Up to this time propagating the Gospel could go on without great difficulty.
The First Persecution of the Christians and Glorious Death of Lee Byok
The first persecution of the early Catholics began in the early spring of 1785. Meetings of Lee Byok\'s most able students took place at the house of Kim Beum Woo. Lee Byok dressed in blue attire to perform he liturgy and the scholars knelt down together to listen to his preaching and to pray together. Among the scholars were Lee Seung Hoon, who had been sent to Peking one year earlier, Kwon Il Shin, who was one of the greatest schol-ars of the time, his son, Kwon Sang Moon, Jeong Yak Yong, a brilliant and erudite scholar, and his brothers, Jeong Yak Jeon and Jeong Yak Jong. Besides these, were Choi Chang Hyun, Kim Jong Kyo, Chi Hwang, Kim Beum Woo and Lee Cheong Euk who were persons of high standing and who set an admirable example to society and the Church.
Police suddenly attacked the house while a meeting was being held and confiscated the religious articles and Bible. They arrested Kim Beum Woo, who was the owner of the house and a member of the middle class. Because of their high position in society, the police ordered the members of the nobility to return to their houses. At that time, the police couldn\'t recklessly punish the nobility, because the noble families were in high positions in govern-ment and it was prohibited to punish them without per-mission. However, the nobility including Kwon Il Shin, went to Kim Hwa Jin, the Minister of Justice, and asked him to punish them also because they too believed in the same doctrine.
The Minister of Justice persuaded the nobility to re-turn to their house, but he put Kim Beum Woo into jail and had him beat mercilessly. There was a way, however, to punish the nobility, through the power of the family and clan. Ever family concerned had a clan meeting . Those families that did not have a clan meeting were sent circular letters(used to report news and gather opinions like today\'s newspaper) ostracizing God\'s teaching and the meetings of the Christians. A new position even appeared for the ones who prepared and sent the letters to the families. The contents of the letters and the names of the people in charge of conveying the letters still exist in the books written by the early Catholics and clearly show how serious the situation was, especially for the families in Seoul.
At the clan meeting of the Pyeong Chang Lee Family, Lee Seung Hoon\'s father, Lee Dong Ok, was brought before the elders of the Lee family and was put to shame in front of them. Jeong Jae Won. the father of the Jeong brothers, was called to the clan meeting of the Jeong family and was severely reprimanded. It was the same for the An Dong Kwon family and the Kyong Ju Lee family. Having been reprimanded by their fathers, Lee Seung Hoong and Jeong Yak Yong visited each of their uncles and apologized to their families. This was not apostasy, but a simple apology for having caused trouble. At that time, there was no concept of apostasy in any-one\'s mind. Their apology was nothing but the usual courtesy for causing trouble for the family.
The Kyong Ju Lee clan meeting was full of violent hostility and jealousy. The reasons were that the brothers of Lee Byok passed the civil service examination and held high positions as generals and Lee Byok\'s outstand-ing personality, appearance and knowledge were respect-ed by many scholars. The relatives of Lee Byok were very jealous of the fame which resulted from his debate with the famous scholars in Seoul. The conservative members of the Lee family claimed that they could not hold their heads up in Soeul because Lee Byok taught the new doctrine. They claimed that anyone who taught a doct-rine which prohibited ancestor worship, allowed men and women to sit in the same room and which would remove the distinction between commoners and nobility should be expelled from their family. Lee Byok\'s father, Lee Bu Man, was often called to the clan meeting where he was severely reprimanded. The elders of the family threatened to remove all of Lee Byok\'s family from the family register unless the father prohibited Lee Byok from teaching the doctrine to the people. At that time, to be stricken from the family register meant to ruin both for oneself and for one\'s family. Lee Byok\'s father like other nobility of the time, highly respected the honor of his family. He called his son and through entreaties, reprimands and even threats, attempted to persuade him not to teach the new doctrine and to apologize to the elders of the family for having caused such trouble, but it was useless.
Having heard that Lee Seung Hoon and Jeong Yak Yong had apologized to their family elders, the elders of the Lee family became even more enraged at Lee Byok\'s obstinate attitude. Lee Bu Man, who was easily angered, threatened to hang himself because he did not want to see his family\'s name removed from the family register and their family ruined. When he actually tied the rope around his neck, his whole family became very angry and asked Lee Byok what kind of religion would let him stand by while their father hanged himself and who could believe such a religion? His mother cried, \"Even if your father hangs himself, are you going to go out to teach the new doctrine to people?\" Lee Byok was also very upset by the scene. At that time, to be a filial son was the highest ethical principle in Korea. In fact, if Catholicism became known as a religion which would allow a believer to watch his father hang himself, nobody would believer in it. Lee Byok\'s brothers, mother, and relatives begged and cried, \"Now even when your father is hanging him-self, will you still go out to teach the doctrine?\" In order to save his father\'s life, he said, \"No, I will not go out.\" Charles Dallet reported that this meant two things. Until that time, Lee Byok used to teach at Kim Beum Woo\'s house, Yang Kun Kwon Cheol Shin\'s house and other places. It was travelling around teaching the doctrine which caused the clan meetings, the family discord and even his father\'s attempt to hang himself. In this situa-tion he realized he could not continue to go out to teach the doctrine. Even if he did go out to teach, his activities would be curtailed because of the ostracism among the noble families and the arrest of Kim Beum Woo. There-fore, he thought it would be better to stay at home until the elder\'s anger calmed down.
Therefore, the mother persuaded Lee Bu Man to loosen the noose around his neck by telling him that Lee Byok promised not to go out to teach. His brothers and rela-tives told him that he had made the correct decision because it saved his father and maintained the prestige of the family. Peace was restored to the family for a while. Lee Bu Man sent representatives to the clan meeting and asked the elders not to strike his family\'s name from the family register since his son, Lee Byok, had promis-ed that he would not go out to teach the doctrine.
Howeverm the unyielding elders of the meeting did not trust the father\'s message. They knew Lee Byok\'s firm-ness of character and so they refused to believe the message. They asked if the message were true, why did not Lee Byok come to the meeting himself and explain his situation. Lee Bu Man called for Lee Byok and told him to attend the clan meeting, apologize to the family elders and to make his position clear. Lee Bu Man intend-ed to dissuade the elders from removing the names of his family members from the family register by having Lee Byok promise the elders that he would discontinue teaching the doctrine. Lee Byok, however, told his father that although he would present himself at the clan meeting, he would never make such a promise. Rather, he would tell all the Kyong Ju Lee family members to follow the teaching of the new doctrine. In fact, there was no one in the clan or even in the whole academic world of Korea who could contend against Lee Byok who had already convinced such great scholars as Lee Ka Hwan, Lee Ki Yang, and Kwon Cheol Shin with his pro-found learning and firm logic. The true reasons for the Kyong Ju Lee family\'s anger were that Lee Byok had hurt the family\'s honor and the men of the family were jealous of Lee Byok\'s reputation and of his family\'s success in the world. In fact, the Lee family clan meet-ing had no interest in the doctrine itself. They persecut-ed Lee Byok only because the teaching was against their traditional customs.
Since Lee Bu Man had already notified the whole clan that his son had decided not to teach the doctrine again, if his son Lee Byok now insisted at the clan meeting that everyone, including the Kyong Ju Lee family, should follow the Catholic doctrine, Lee Bu Man would be con-sidered a liar who tried to deceive the elders of his family. Although the logical argument of Lee Byok could have persuaded the family members to acknowledge the truth of the doctrine, it was clear that his attitude would only have intensified their anger and consequently the elders ensified their anger and consequently the elders would would take Lee Byok\'s family off the family register. Under those circumstances, Lee Bu Man sent a represen-tative to the clan meeting with the message that his son suddenly got sick and could not attend the meeting. Lee Bu Man sought the elders\' understanding about his son\'s absence and asked them to believe that his son had quit teaching the doctrine.
The conservative party of the clan, however, did not believe the message and demanded that if Lee Byok\'s illness were so serious, he should make his position clear by announcing in his own handwriting that he would discontinue teaching the doctrine. So, his father ordered him to write that, but instead, Lee Byok com-posed an essay about the worship of God. After reading it, Lee Bu Man became enraged and went so far as to say that Lee Byok was no longer his son. Even so, he could not report this to the clan meeting. He again sent a re-presentative to the meeting with the massage that his son\'s illness had become so serious that he could not even write, and asked the elders not to doubt his messages any longer. But no one in the clan believed it and their anger became more intense. Replying that they could not believe that such a strong man as Lee Byok would be struck by sudden illness, the elders notified the father that they would send a representative to Lee Byok in order to get an answer which Lee Byok could give by merely nodding his head.
Lee Bu Man was at a loss again. Finally, he decided to confine his son to a room, nail the door shut, and to keep people from approaching, had servants guard the room. He even spread the false rumor that his son was afflicted with typhoid as a punishment from heaven for following the Catholic doctrine. Two hundred years ago, typhoid was known to Koreans as heaven\'s punishment and there were few who survived it. There was no medicine to cure the disease and it often happened that all the people in a village afflicted with the disease died together. At that time typhoid was the most dreadful curse to fall victim to.
When the clan heard that Lee Byok had been seized with typhoid as heaven\'s punishment for teaching a doctrine against traditional customs, they said in one voice that the dreadful disease itself was the greatest proof of Lee Byok\'s being punished by heaven and that they did not need to question him any longer. The clan meeting, therefore, came to an end.
At that time, even Catholics were not allowed to see Lee Byok since his father had his servants keep people from contacting him under the pretext of typhoid. Lee Byok\'s ardent students, such as the three brothers of Kim Beum Woo, Choi In Kil, Choi Chang Hyun, Kim Jong Kyo, Lee Jeon Chang, and Kwon Sang Moon enterated Lee Bu Man to allow them to see Lee Byok, saying that it did not matter if they were affected with typhoid. But Lee Bu Man prohibited their even coming to the house and announced that Lee Byok had ceased believing in the doctrine. This violent reaction could be regarded as a natural outcome of Lee Bu Man\'s fury caused by the three-month long clan meeting and the various threats by a government office. For this reason, even today, there are rumors that Lee Byok died suddenly of typhoid and that his father hanged himself. These, however, are not the facts.
Whenever Lee Byok tried to go out to see other Catholics or discuss the doctrine, he was stopped by the strong and furious objections of his parents. They told Lee Byok that they would hang themselves before permitting him to teach the doctrine. Lee Byok, there-fore, realized that the time had come for his final protest. He took a bath, put on new clothes and applied himself to prayer and meditation in his room without eating, changing clothes or sleeping. At that time, in Korea, a child, whether a son or daughter, could neither eat nor sleep, when its parents were angry or very sick, or if there was some trouble in the family. It is believed that the three volumes of the Secret Adventure to God were written during his three-month confinement, or during this last stage of the confinement. Finally, Lee Byok began a complete fast and applied himself to prayer. Fifteen days later, at the age of thirty-one, he became utterly exhausted and died at midnight on the 14th of June in 1785 according to the lunar calendar. In this way, the first sacrificial lamb, Lee Byok, was offered to God during the first persecution of the Church in Korea.
The story of Lee Byok who raised doctrinal know-ledge to the level of religion and faith and who was used by God to establish the Catholic Church in Korea, was presented in writing by Hwang Sa Yeong in 1801, in the words engraved on Jeong Yak Yong\'s memorial stone, in Jeong Yak Yong\'s Commentary on the Classics in 1818, in The Introduction of Church History in Korea by seminarian Kim Dae Gun in 1840, in the Biography of Lee Byok written by Jeong Hak Sul in 1846 and final-ly, in The History of the Catholic Church in Korea written by Charles Dallet in 1872. In each of these works he is presented as the founder of the Catholic Church in Korea.
The grave of Lee Byok had been lost to scholars and churchmen and even to his family members for many years and there seemed to be no way to find it. However, just before the gravesite was to be destroyed by city officials, it was miraculously found by Father Byun Ki Yung in the middle of a public cemetery located in Kyong Gi province, one hundred ninety five years after his death. It was recognized as Lee Byok\'s grave by the memorial stone. His remains were moved to Cheon Jin Am where they were reinterred along with the remains of Kwon Cheol Shin, Kwon Il Shin, Lee Seung Hoon and Jeong Yak Jong who were members of the Kang Hak Hoe seminar at Cheon Jin Am two hundred years ago.
Finally, let\'s look at the Elegy of Lee Byok written by John Jeong Yak Yong:
A crane from fairland,
Came down to us common men.
It showed us the bearing of an immortal being,
Its feathers and wings were white as snow.
Cocks and ducks were jealous of its graceful features,
The crane\'s cry was strong enough to make
the Nine Heavens tremble
Its clear song stood out among the troubles of life,
In autumn, when the time to return came, suddenly
it flew away,
What use is it to moan its leaving?