Articles From the September 1995 Unification News


Blessing `95

by Joy Garratt-Albuquerque, NM

A hush falls inside the mobile communications unit parked in the pouring rain outside Seoul, Korea's Olympic Stadium. Julian Gray, the only Westerner in the truck, holds his breath. And at that exact moment (10:30am Aug. 25 Seoul time) on every continent in the world, dozens of others responsible for the simultaneous satellite hookups to their nation for the largest Blessing ceremony ever held hold their breath. Yes! The Holy Wedding Ceremony logo appears on screens in Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Europe, Africa, South America.... At hundreds of sites throughout the world, organizers breathe a collective sigh of relief. Men and women gathered for the Blessing ceremony of every continent begin to feel the excitement as they are connected by the marvels of electronic, fiber optic and satellite technology to the main ceremony of Blessing '95, the 360,000 Couples Holy Blessing Ceremony for World Peace Through Ideal Families.

At 10:45am the broadcast from Seoul goes on line with images selected from 12 different cameras beamed up to the satellite and then bounced down to everything from domestic satellites (for further diffusion) to home satellite dishes. In some isolated areas the image fades and wedding organizers must switch to the use of emergency videos prepared should transmission problems arise. Some distant locations have already discovered satellite technology cannot reach their environs and have had to prepare to use videos from their initial planning. But even couples in such places feel connected to the Seoul event as they ready themselves for the ceremony which will occur simultaneously across 20 world time zones.

"Couples, please put down your umbrellas." The sun is brightly shining at some sites while dusk has fallen at others. However, in Seoul it's 10:55am and rain is still falling. Heavy rains have battered the Korea peninsula for four days, causing serious mudslides, loss of life, flooding and road closure. Weather forecasters have been predicting the arrival of a typhoon, and reporters have been asking for Blessing contingency plans. Media relations official Michael Brazil informs reporters that "the Blessing will go on-typhoon or no typhoon. The sprinkling of Holy Water on the couples is part of the ceremony. If God wishes it to be a downpour of holy water, well...."

The ceremony is about to start but busloads of couples from every province in South Korea are still arriving as they maneuver around closed roads and the thousands of vehicles bringing the more than 36,000 participating couples, their friends and families to Olympic Stadium. While most of the couples are Korean or Japanese, representative couples from more than 160 nations have also gathered in Seoul.

At 11am, an incredible sea of couples turns from pink, yellow and green to white and navy blue as the participants remove their pastel- colored plastic raincoats. Filling the entire track around the stadium and all the lower tiers of the stadium's seats, the couples present an overwhelming image: closer inspection reveals most of the couples are now quite wet.

Master of Ceremonies Rev. Young Whi Kim calls the assembly to order in Korea, Japanese and English, his voice echoing around the world. A majestic orchestral prelude written especially for the occasion by American composer Kevin Pickard musically heralds the opening. Raindrops and tears mingle on the faces of young and old newlyweds and couples renewing their vows as they face the stage. All races, all nationalities, all religious backgrounds, all generations (participants ranged in age from 18 to 85) are present. Rev. C.H. Kwak, chairman of the Blessing's sponsoring organization, the World

Culture and Sports Festival, gives an address following the opening prayer by Rev. C.K. Kim, festival secretary-general.

The rain turns to mist as 24 elder couples from the Unification tradition form an aisle to greet the entrance of the officiators, the Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. As the Moons slowly make their way down the stairs, the overflow crowd of over a 100,000 people welcomes them with a standing ovation. The rain totally stops.

Then Rev. and Mrs. Moon sprinkle holy water on young international couples whose parents themselves had been blessed in earlier years, while several hundred elder couples sprinkle holy water on all the others. Moments later, Rev. Moon intones the four Blessing vows and the couples respond with huge "YE"s (Korean for "yes") which reverberate across the arena. Following Rev. Moon's earnest Blessing invocation, couples exchange rings, an extremely personal aspect of the proceedings which becomes complicated due to the difficulty of removing wet gloves. Rev. Moon then gives the blessing proclamation and public congratulations are offered by Mr. Man Sub Lee, former chairman of the Korean National Assembly, and the Rt. Hon. Edward Schreyer, former governor-general of Canada. A wellspring of emotion accompanies the wedding anthem, "World of Love," performed by international singers Gloria del Paraguay, Miyuki Harley and Raoul Joseph.

The ceremony ends to the resounding cheers of "mansei"-meaning "may you live for 10,000 years"-and surprisingly brilliant fireworks and firecrackers. And, yes, the rain begins to pour once again.

All over the world, more than 360,000 couples from over 160 nations at over 500 different locations celebrate their commitment, new or renewed. The ceremony has only lasted 90 minutes, but its impact will have lifelong and eternal results. Huge numbers of people have been involved, but behind the numbers are over 720,000 people, each with an individual story to tell-heartwarming, poignant, charming, funny, sometimes sad.

A European television journalist films the story of a former Catholic seminary classmate who has chosen Unification-style marriage and family life after years of dedicated priesthood.

A New Zealander, as he carries the bags of a Samoan woman who has come to Auckland to observe the ceremony, observes that she is a wonderful person and wonders who her lucky spouse will be. He discovers only hours later that he is the lucky spouse! Rev. and Mrs. Moon had matched a few more couples the week before the ceremony- coincidentally, the New Zealander and Western Samoan are one of the couples!

Two college students who had just worked together that summer and have become good friends are matched together and blessed.

A Hindu professor who believes divinity dwells in us all holds her husband's photo in Seoul as her husband holds her photo in Delhi during the Blessing.

A midwestern Unification couple in the United States presides over the blessing of the husband's parents.


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