40 Years in America
At the Blessing Ceremony
Many members expected that Blessing ’99 would be the final Blessing, certainly in the current sequence of International Wedding Ceremonies conducted on a global and mass scale. The goal of 360 million couples had been accomplished; a total that Rev. Moon had said would turn the world upside-down. He set forth an elaborate projection, stating, "the 360 million -- really 400 million -- couples constitute 800 million husbands and wives and, supposing that each couple has four children, this is approaching 3 billion people." Thinking in this way, it was possible to conclude that more than half the population on earth was connected to the Blessing. In other words, the scale had been tipped in the movement’s favor.
Global transformation was inevitable. Moreover, all this had been achieved prior to the dawn of the new millennium, which served as a kind of finish line for some tribal messiahs. It was a neat package.
Members with this mindset, therefore, were surprised when Rev. Moon announced another 400 Million Couple Blessing to be conducted in conjunction with his 80th birthday, on February 13, 2000. They were even more surprised to learn that the 400 million were to be "matched couples only."
However, as early as July 1998, Rev. Kwak communicated Rev. Moon’s request "to find many who can become candidates for the matching and participate in the Blessing." Rev. Kwak repeated the direction to find unmarried young people as single-person blessing candidates for Blessing ’99 in September and October 1998. However, the reality was that matched candidates constituted only a small fraction of a percentage of the global blessings: some 6,500 out of 40 million in Blessing ’97 and approximately 3,000 out of 120 million for Blessing ’98. The added push for matching candidates increased the total for Blessing ’99 but not enough. Church spokesmen set the number of newly wed, i.e., matched couples at Seoul Olympic Stadium at 12,000. There may have been several thousand more in other locales. The Philippines, for example, reportedly brought 14,000 Blessing candidates itself. Yet, obviously, these numbers were dwarfed by the 240 million previously married couples.
Rev. Moon spoke with some candor about the situation in November 1998. He said that "ideally, the heavenly blessing should be received on the tradition of the value of the blessing." It was "supposed to be dealt with very inwardly and with internal value." However, because of what he termed "the failures of Korea, America, and Christianity," the Blessing was "given out now as a token to people all over the world." It was, he said, as if "a royal family member... [were] being finally cast out...and marrying a beggar on the street." This much "devaluation of the blessing" was occurring. He drew some consolation from a scene he had observed on occasion during his visits to the South American interior where the movement was expanding. As he described it,
When an alligator catches a big animal or fish such as a shark or a snake, the alligator first just makes sure that he swallows it. Of course, birds and animals have fur, skin, and bones and all kinds of dirty stuff, but they are just swallowed. There is no cleaning process. I came to understand then that God is the king of swallowing. It is like casting a net and catching everything.... God is casting a net to swallow everyone, evil people, good people, and mediocre people. Likewise, when I give the Blessing to the world, as for example at the Madison Square Garden Blessing Ceremony, I cast my net out to the entire world. Whoever comes into the net, even if they may have been criminals and murderers, is swallowed. That is why two thousand years ago God gave the message through Jesus Christ to love one’s enemy. God’s representative can swallow everything from the individual to the cosmic level, including the cosmic Satan, without a problem. Can you do that?
Within the same discourse, he acknowledged, "[N]ot all the 360 million couples who received the blessing are fully ready to come...and meet God and True Parents."
Rev. and Mrs. Moon matching candidates for the Blessing
Rev. Moon expected that the millions of blessed couples would keep heavenly traditions. After Blessings ’95 and ’97, for example, there was an expectation that the 360,000, 3.6 million and 36 million couples would keep a forty-day purification period following the Blessing before consummating, or resuming marital relations; that they would pay a substantial blessing fee; that they would meet regularly for Hoon Dok Hae reading; and that they would bring ten of their relatives or friends to the next Blessing. After Blessings ’98 and ’99, Rev. Moon still had every expectation that the 360 million couples would help create "a family culture in which all people have affection for me." He took out advertisements in newspapers in major capitols throughout the world to address "Blessed Couples Worldwide." He also sent Mrs. Moon on world speaking tours following each major Blessing to educate newly blessed couples and others in the Completed Testament word.
However, there was a sense of dissatisfaction with the results. By January 1999, this evolved into a sense of sorrow and even repentance. Amid expressions of gratitude and determination in his Midnight Prayer at the beginning of that year, Rev. Moon also stated,
I am truly so very sorry that even today, after fifty years have passed, I have still not been able to hold a victory celebration wherein I could offer the entire nation and world to Heaven through establishing Your will on this earth. This was the fundamental motivation for the shift in emphasis from previously married to matched couples.
The movement had reached the outer limit of what was achievable or credible, even for Rev. Moon, in the 360 Million Couple Blessing. It wasn’t that the 360 Million Couple Blessing was unreal. It was very real in Rev. Moon’s mind. As he put it, "People think it’s a joke, but it did happen through God." However, its fruit was largely internal. It remained to make these victories substantial, to truly transform people and the world. In the movement’s terminology, the 360 Million Couple Blessing, and the global blessings that had preceded it, were a spiritual condition, a foundation of faith. They needed to be complemented by a foundation of substance. This is what the 400 Million Couple Blessing was intended to be, or to begin. Together, the foundations of faith and substance would establish an unshakable foundation for global salvation.
This brought Rev. Moon back on message. "The 400 million couples and the 360 million couples," he said, "will influence the entire human race." Elsewhere, he stated, "The 400 million couples who were blessed in 1999 can be the foundation of the 400 million youth blessing. Just one youth for every couple." If members used "photo albums of blessed couples, young people will get inspired to see so many wonderful matches made by Father. They will want to get matched by Rev. Moon." He noted that "the spirit world must be mobilized" and reported that on April 13, 1999, 1.6 billion young people were blessed in the spirit world. In addition, 106 past saints were sent to America and welcomed in a ceremony at Headquarters. Finally, on May 14, 1999, "Lucifer voluntarily surrendered to God." At several meetings, the texts of several astonishing letters of apology were read. Rev. Moon urged the membership not to take these lightly, but to believe in them as genuine and from God. Mrs. Moon also embarked on a world tour as a kick-off to the 400 million couple blessing, presenting a speech on "The Path of Life for All Humankind."
In America, this tour brought to fruition much of the work with Christianity at the grassroots level. Members had been encouraged to visit Christian churches. Many had taken this seriously and had developed good relationships with pastors and their congregations. Nowhere was this more so than in Chicago. When Mrs. Moon spoke there, over 4,000 guests, the vast majority being Christian congregations, gave her an extremely warm welcome.
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