"Wedding-Cana" project in Progress:
A spiritual journey with the jugs

Special ceramics jugs have been designed for the Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C., September 21, 2003, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Korean catholic community in America.


Trusting in Providence and God's gifts for her, Minhhang, a religious painter and a potter built the jugs one by one with his help and your prayers. Then together with Patricia, a potter and her expertise on a perfect combination of clay and glaze being fired at a certain temperature, they worked together to complete the project. Praise the Lord!

The latest update is October 4, 2003 and is at the end of the page.

August 15, 2003: Happy Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother!

"The Wedding at Cana theme for the celebration has inspired the work. The artists have meditated upon the
events at Cana and the vessels, which would have held the water that was turned into wine by our Lord at the request of his dearest mother.

They are not mass produced objects, which reflect an impersonal world. The viewer will discover an overall similarity in the jars, which springs from the original design of Patricia M. Wheeler. However, each will be unique, in imitation of the great care and artistry which the divine potter has taken to create His children and the highly personal relationship to which we are called with His Son, Jesus Christ.

Over the past year, Koreans all over the United States have united themselves with the prayer of the Catholic Church, in order to offer sacrifices and prayers for the evangelization of Koreans all over the world. The jars are a symbol of the vessel, the people of God, which holds this precious gift. This symbol is part of the anniversary celebration logo and speaks for itself."-- P.W.

August 18, 2003

"I MADE 8 JUGS TODAY! AND THEY ARE ABOUT 13-15 INCHES TALL! I AM SURE THE LORD AND THE BLESSED MOTHER HELPED ME. OUT OF THE 17 TRIES, I MESSED UP JUST ONE.... THEY TURNED OUT QUITE WELL. HOPEFULLY TOMORROW THEY WILL ALL LOOK FINE AND NO CRACKS! I HOPE TO FINISH ALL OF THEM IN THREE DAYS WITH GOD'S HELP AND YOUR PRAYERS!
THE BAD NEWS IS MY POOR RIGHT HAND IS HURTING VERY MUCH ALREADY. I AM SURE I OVERWORKED IT! I WORKED STRAIGHT FROM 9AM-5PM. NO BREAK! YES, I DESERVE A PENANCE FOR NOT BEING GOOD TO MY HAND. I WILL TAKE SOME PAIN PILL FOR IT AND HOPE IT WILL BE OK BY TOMORROW.

August 19, 2003 Happy feast of St. John Eudes!

I told the Lord and the Bl. Mother that I am not going to stop despite the fact that my arm is hurting so they must help me to get these done this week. A miracle in deed, I did not even feel the pain in my arm this morning. I just took one aspirin before going to bed last night and that was all! Your prayers help a lot with this project so far.
Today I did 11 more and did take a lunch break with a friend. Tomorrow I will do until I finish the 3 boxes of clay! So the total will be about 23 jugs I think. Sometime, I just use 7lbs per jug! I am getting a bit picky so I will choose the best 20. They are drying quite slowly! I cover them with newspaper every night before I leave. As you said that they are like babies and they have to dry slowly."

"Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words" ... and there he (the potter) was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, ...Then the word of the Lord came to me: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?... Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, ..." Jeremiah (18:2-6)

I wish we all of us know how to throw on the wheel or at least to have a chance to see a potter at work in order to understand more deeply what the Lord wanted to convey to prophet Jeremiah ...


A clay ball is placed in the center of the wheel


The clay is being shaped & centered.


As the wheel turns, the clay wall is pulled up...


and formed into whatever shape the potter wants...


a
water jug!
Praise the Lord!

Until I know about one's spiritual life, I did not realize how much one could actually meditate and pray while working on the wheel: "Sometimes when I had trouble working with a chunk of clay, I told the Lord it must be me (and he is the potter:-)). Pondering on that, I have more patience working and handling the clay perceiving how patiently he is trying to shape me!"

After a couple days of intensive work, I almost achieve my goal. Actually, it is a miracle! Many thanks for your prayers and support. Many jugs were thrown and they are drying slowly and naturally. Then I have to trim and carve them later to get the perfect and unique shapes. Hopefully, by the end of this week, they will be all ready for bisque firing!

August 22, 2003 O dearest Lord, this pot does not look too perfect :-(.... Should I "spoil" it and make another one? That would be easier for me to do than to spend a lot of time reshaping it by hands! And even if I chose to spend time to fix it, no one will notice its uniqueness and will know how much attention I give to this "imperfect looking" jug. We, (I am included) so often take things for granted and misjudge people by the way they look. And it always seems that when we are too quick to react or judge depending on our moods, we often end up regreting what we have done!

In appearance, many people who don't look "perfect" or beautiful according to the world standard, but in spirit, they are your holiest and most wonderful children who are meek, humble and generous of hearts...

Ok Lord, then I will not destroy this imperfect jug. On the contrary, I will give it extra care and attention, as you would do to any of your weak and infirm child.

"Hi little jug, aren't you the lucky one? Know that I am going to spend more time with you and pay more attention to you than any other "good looking" ones. Just like the Lord so often gives me that grace to perceive that he spends a lot of extra time with me especially when I am in anguish thinking I am such a sinner. Yes, he did he say that only the sick who needs the doctor?...

Also, it is not your fault, little jug, that you don't look perfect. It is I who made you so. This reminds me of our original sin. I often cry during confession that I don't want to sin, but sometimes I can't help it. And you know what my confessor told me? God's loving mercy and my desire to learn to be good are what really matter. We should not condemn us because of the original sin, rather we should be grateful for what we learn about our true-self and therefore, humbly we depend more on him who is love; who does not desire sacrifice but mercy! Thank you Lord for using this little jug to teach me.

So dear little jug, the Lord inspired me to create you for something good. So, I am going to let you be as he does so to his beloved creatures."

As I asked for your prayers, I finished building 25 jugs in 3 days! Praise the Lord! That was the toughest part of the project. However, there are more steps involved and they all take time. Yesterday and today, I spent several hours reshaping and trimming the walls and the bottoms. Slowly, some of them started to dry so as I left the studio today, I uncovered them. Tomorrow, I will check on them again to make sure they dry evenly.

My efforts are done for now until the glazing step. The drying and firing processes, which happen in the next few days, depend totally on Providence! Please pray for that! Thank you.

August 26, 2003 When reading Evagrius Ponticus' Praktikos (68), I asked my spiritual father why patience is specifically such an important virtue needed for "untoward emotions", he answered that: "SO WE DO NOT FEEL DISCOURAGED AND GIVE UP DUE TO THE GREAT STRUGGLE AND ENERGY NEEDED OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME....; OLD PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE TO ASK THIS QUESTION... YOU HAVE A LONG LIFE AHEAD OF YOU, I PREDICT!"

I am sure the older I get the more I will appreciate and perceive that wisdom more deeply. At the present, as I pondered on it, I see that the more I travel the spiritual journey which requires great courage and energy, the more I find "patience" a desirable and faithful friend whom every Christian should get to know well. She is honor and needed here at the Wedding-Cana project.


Drying slowly with newspaper covered


air drying


drying in the kiln before bisque firing

I have learned that even though my efforts matter, but it is the Lord who calls the shot! After 5 intensive days of hard work, I was so into the project that I would like to keep going with it. However, the Lord wants me to wait for about a week for the jugs to dry which I did not expect! As I get impatient, I am reminded that I do need to have some time in his presence to meditate, to appreciate and to listen to what the Lord wants me to learn from this blessing. Like the Wedding of Cana where he turned water into wine in no time and let us wonder for the rest of our Christian life about a wonderful mystery concerning our faith: water, wine, a source of new life, the blood of the Covenant, marriage, unity of man and wife, unity of God and our soul, etc and etc..., miraculously, he definitely helped me with building the jugs. This waiting time for them to dry is the time for me and you who are following this project to slow down, to ponder and meditate on his wondrous deeds concerning this event and many others which will be celebrated to glorify him. Anything we do in this life has a means to an end. How it helps us to be closer to him who is spirit and truth is what really matters.

As we are waiting in thanksgiving and prayers, Patricia got the glaze and started to mix it this morning. Gracefully, she did it with the least amount of dust, which could be a hazard to one's health. The two big buckets are ready. If all goes as planned (God's willing) and the "cocoons" (I told Patricia they look so from the picture above. :-) She told me that is another spiritual insight! but we will talk about that next time!) come out perfectly we will be ready to glaze them the coming Monday!

September 1, 2003 Happy Labor Day!

At the morning mass, Fr. Dan, the parish priest of St. Mary's gave a very simple, short but nice homily. He emphasized that today reminds us how we should be grateful for the ability to work, especially with our own hands ...

"Take my hands and let them move, at the impulse of Thy love...", a verse from Take My Life song which I sing daily at Terce before going to work echoed in my heart while I waited for Patricia to arrive. Praise you O Lord for entrusting us with our daily work!

Most people have the day off, but not Patricia and me. We were not complaining, but on the contrary, were refresh in spirit and so ready for glazing (even the day before) knowing that the jugs would be ready to be let out of the kiln. Many and many thanks to my dear and generous ceramics mentor, Carl Shanahan who has been a great help and a great encouragement to us from the very beginning of this "Wedding Cana" project. May God's bless him always for his good works and generous heart!

It rained throughout the night. By the morning it was still raining, though was not very hard. As Patricia and I were heading to the studio, we hardly saw many people on the streets. "They may still be in bed!", we chuckled. One could see it as a gloomy day alright! But we did not think so. On the contrary, we felt special in some way! :-)

... Patricia was being "CREATIVE" and was so confident in what she set out to do that after awhile, we had everything set up and ready to go. With joy and a little laughter, we imagined ourselves being present and taking part among the crowd at the wedding at Cana... As we were about to begin, Patricia expressed that glazing is her favorite! As you could see that here in the pictures. The whole process is very rewarding and edifying somehow. Besides the silent prayer, there is a peaceful and serene atmosphere. We could sense the beauty, the harmony, the gentleness and the gracefulness as we went through the whole glazing process, including the washing and cleaning up jobs!


To begin, we first gently wiped the dust off the jugs, then applied the wax resistance at the bottom of each one. One by one with great care, I poured the glaze into the jugs and turned them carefully. I then let out the extra glaze from inside the jugs while Patricia picked up where I finished and dipped them into the glaze can. When they were all glazed, we carefully inspected each one as if they were "little babies", as Patricia made the comment with a smile! At times, all we could hear were the whispering and gentle sounds made by our fingers rubbing against the delicate layer of glaze. "Listen Patricia, could you hear that? It is like music!", I whispered to her. I was thinking of the jugs singing for joy knowing they were about to have a life of their own, to be something special and be useful to others, and especially to take part in the special mass at the National Shrine. I would think they must feel quite special too knowing they are being made with the prayer intention that they will be like the jugs at the wedding at Cana witnessing the first miracle made by the beloved Lord the Creator of us all!

As they sang, we continued to smooth their wall and the opening to fix any imperfect spot they might have due to the air bubbles in the glaze. We then wiped the bottom for any excessive glaze and placed them on the cart heading for the kiln... After about 5 hours of hard work, we joyfully and carefully loaded one by one into the kiln and not to forget to recheck them once more. "Dear little ones, be good and be what the Lord intends you to be as we await in prayer and look forward to seeing you in the next few days!"

September 8, 2003 Happy feast of our Blessed Mother's birthday!

Those few days had arrived and the first 13 little jugs were born on September 3, 2003 like me :-) but years ago! They were lovely as they could be. Many thanks for all your prayers and praise the Lord the Creator for these new creations. The next batch of 12 was loaded into the kiln and fired. The next day, I was happy to unload them out of the kiln safe and sound. They were lovely standing together in different shapes and sizes. They too are slightly different in earthlike color tones. This happened because of where they were in the kiln.... These different characters however make them quite unique and lovely for what they are, just like the Lord created us!

Well! To humble me who built these jugs with much confidence (and may be there are more lessons the Lord wants me to learn! :-)), there are some small challenges concerning a few jugs. Since I am quite picky about making things perfect the way I think they should be, with my God's given standard, time and ability, I am spending some extra time on these especial ones just like some of us who are weak, infirm and different who need extra care and special attention. Besides that, just in case others don't see things and appreciate them the way I do, I made three more jugs in case we need them.

Well, I am off to the studio!
O dear Blessed mother! Please intercede for us to find joy and peace in the Lord in whatever we do. Amen.

September 12, 2003 It is kind of neat (actually "neat" may not be the right word to describe this but you will know what I mean). I was pretty tired the day I decided to throw these 3 jugs. Part of me said "not to push it. You are tired!", and the other part of me said: "just do it!" I was not really sure what the Lord wanted me to do. Then I recalled what my spiritual father once told me that God loves us very much and gives us the freedom to be ourselves. No matter whatever choice we make, he will always be there for us and will give us the necessary grace to go through and learn from it. Knowing myself, I am not surprised that I decided to throw these jugs. Thank you Lord for give me the strength, the determination and all the help I needed. What amazed me is that they all came out almost identical! I did not weigh the clay balls. I did not spend a lot of time deciding what shape they should look like either. I don't recall much. I just know that before leaving the studio that day, I was determined that they would be done. The Lord sure did all of that for me! Here they are, standing together with a pitcher (made for another commission) waiting patiently for their turn to be bisque fired and glazed. I can't wait to see how they get along well with the others :-).

At the meantime, Patricia and I tried to complete other jugs getting them ready to be picked up. With the beautiful handwriting and creativity, Patricia skillfully wrote on the bottom of each jug the information about the event and the date while I sanded the bottom and got them ready for her. What a team we are! As I wrote to a friend, Patricia is a good example of a contemplative holy potter! If I did not learn much from her experience and expertise as a potter (which I did especially with glazing), I sure profit much from her holy prayers. She too is pretty good about calming me down when I get too worked up about making these jugs too perfect! The Lord sure knows both of our different temperaments help make this project complete the way he wants it. Also he sure knows this opportunity would be good for both of us to work together, to learn from each other and to learn more about ourselves. Please pray for us.

Anyhow, after the writings were done, these jugs do look quite complete and beautiful/handsome from head to toe, top to bottom!

We thank you very much for all your faithful prayers. As we look forward to seeing these last three jugs on their way to completion next week, please keep Mr. Peter Choe and his team (they belong to the National Korean Pastoral Center) in your prayer. They are working quite hard to put these coming events together. May all honor and glory be His who so deserves it, and altogether let's pray for the unity, love and peace in this world. Amen.

September 16, 2003 Last night, we got the first 10 jugs packed, and today they will be delivered to Washington, D. C. May they be the best they can be for the purpose of their creation! We pray for those who will have them, and we ask them to pray for us. Thank you.

This means that the Wedding-Cana ceramics project is coming to an end, and Mr. Peter Choe, his team, those who will participate in the events, the Korean-American Catholics and the whole Church are getting closer to this celebrating of the 100th anniversary of the Korean Catholic community in America. Patricia and I continue to pray for the blessed and successful events, and we sure will join the Korean-American community in spirit especially at the mass where our (babies) jugs will do the honor of being what they are made and are intended to be for the glory and honor of him who so deserves them.

Personally, I thank the Lord for this journey, for Mr. Peter Choe, for those who are involved (that I don't know of) and for Patricia Wheeler for inviting me to be a part of this special celebration.

Like all spiritual journeys, this one helped me to realize that it is more valuable and fruitful to learn the many lessons from the book of life with a humble attitude and an open mind than just to aim for a fast and an easy result. And even though there were some tough and challenging times, they were the Lord's invitations for my spiritual growth because unless he knows one is ready to learn and has the grace to embrace and respond to his revelation, he would not give it to her.

In seeking God who is love, these jugs remind me of us who so desire (whether we realize it or not) to learn and persevere to reach our goal while walking in blind faith with total trust in his loving mercy despite of our constant and repeated failures and weaknesses.

Let's together pray that, like these jugs, we will some day have the grace to perceive his goodness and respond generously and wholeheartedly to his call to be the perfect instruments for the redemption and salvation of all mankind. Amen.

October 4, 2003 HAPPY FEAST OF THE BELOVED SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI!

As the special date approached, the last three jugs came out of the kiln. They are the noblest and handsome looking ones!

In D.C., hurricane Isabel got closer and closer. We heard that Washington D.C. was shut down 2 days prior to the mass. Patricia and I got quite worried. We did not get words from Mr. Choe to know whether the jugs got there ok so we could only pray in faith that the Lord would make everything perfect the way he wanted. As we continued to pray faithfully for the many graces and blessings bestow on those who celebrated the special events and the Korean Church, the Wednesday after, we received a wonderful message from Mr. Choe with an awesome picture attachment of the people at the Shrine attending mass. We were so glad and praised the Lord for such a successful event which we could visualize through the picture. I think I will let Mr. Choe's words and the picture speak for themselves.

Greetings!
+ Praise to the Lord

Our good Lord used all bad thing for the good. Hurricane caused us a great deal of inconvenience but could not stop us from continuing our endeavor. As a matter of fact, we didn't have electricity until Sunday.

At Sunday mass, there were 5,000 people came. Isn't it awesome?
It was an unbelievable scene when we saw a line of buses coming into the National Shrine. The Shrine had seats for 3,000 people, but we squeezed people into pews and the rest were to stand and filled small chapels on the side of the Upper Chapel.
Everything went just perfect. At the offering, ten jugs were brought to the front and were put on the steps to he altar.
It was indeed breath taking scene.

Thank you so much for your valuable contribution. Am sure God was and is pleased for what you've done for this event. We are currently updating our web page. You will be able to see many pictures very soon. We are loaded with work on following up the event. We may be able to pick up the rest of jugs by next weekend or the following week.
Please indulge with us for a while. Will keep both of you in my prayer.

In Christ
Peter Choe

This coming Monday, Mr. Choe and Fr. Dominic will pay us a visit and pick up the remainder (ten) jugs. Patricia and I spent some time together to pick them out from the 18 jugs and got them ready. The three I mentioned above go quite well with the seven which were picked out. Standing alone, the triplet looked nice but not as interesting. However, when standing together with the rest, they looked wonderful and helped add some special characters to the others as well. With this thought, I leave you with your reflection on how we are when we are alone, and when we are together as one Universal Church - the Mystical Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you all very much for all your faithful prayers, encouragements and supports! May God bless you and yours always! Amen.

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