Pope Francis has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, calling it a lifesaving, ethical obligation and saying the refusal to be vaccinated is suicidal. A coalition of Catholic groups, including Maryknoll, support the pope’s emphasis on being vaccinated. And just this morning, the Maryknoll Cambodia community received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine. https://catholiccares.org/resources #CatholicCares
Maryknoll Fr. Joe Veneroso is a poet who takes the themes of our belief and theology and puts them into a form that sings their meaning to us. We are still in the Easter Season–and will be for several more weeks. Let us not forget what Easter means for us. Here is Fr. Veneroso’s Easter message:
“We stand at the foot of the cross and
Cannot help but wonder why
Undergo such sacrifice and
Unspeakable suffering and humiliation.
As if reading our unspoken thoughts, he says,
‘Do you still not see or understand?
Nothing you can do, no sin you can commit
Will ever make me stop loving you.’
And with that he bows his head and dies.
Before daybreak we rise to walk
Alongside the mourning, myrrh-bearing women.
The stone removed, our sadness devolves into despair.
An empty tomb taunts us with renewed doubts.
Grave robbers? The owner? The wrong tomb? Or. . .
‘Why seek the living among the dead?’
He says our name.
He whom we thought dead now lives again
We rush back with Magdalene
To spread the Good News and henceforth
To live for him who died and rose for us. Amen. Alleluia.”
Normally during the period of Holy Week and Easter I post here photos of our Holy Week services at St. Joseph Church. That pattern was disrupted last year by the appearance of COVID-19 in Cambodia which caused the cancellation of our services with just a week’s notice.
At that time we thought…”Next year will be different and we’ll be back together.” But that didn’t happen. Instead our Covid situation in Cambodia is much worse this year than it was in 2020, and so once again we didn’t have any liturgies to show you here.
What we do have is this:
The government is really getting worried now about COVID-19. In the first thirteen months of the pandemic, we had 375 infections up to February 20th. Since then, because of some suspected playboys and infected prostitutes who flew in on a private plane, widespread community transmission has started and as of today we have increased to 2,700 infections in just six weeks.
The government’s response has not always been the best. The upper newspaper in the photo talks about all the people in the past year who have escaped from quarantine facilities because of bribery, incompetence, or lack of attention. The second newspaper talks about a newly instituted curfew from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM. Cambodians don’t go out at night so it may not be that effective, but then the punishment for violating the curfew is just to have your motorcycle impounded for two weeks.
I don’t see them as often as I used to but the missionaries from the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) are around in Phnom Penh–always in pairs, always in black and white, always on bicycles.
Ash Wednesday is tomorrow and in preparation I spent part of Sunday afternoon burning old palm to make plenty of ashes. I’m thinking we may need more than usual because this year we are to sprinkle them on a person’s head rather than mark a cross on the forehead. We have plenty of palm trees on the grounds of the deaf office and I found a lot of fallen fronds so that wasn’t a problem. [The three white bandages on my right leg are from three dog bites I received on Thursday. More on that later.]
Our Christmas celebration for the English Catholic Community was very different this year–as was almost everything in 2020. Click here to see some photos from the Christmas masses we celebrated.
We are having seven Christmas masses spread out over four days, December 24-25-26-27, to give more people a chance to celebrate Christmas with the faith community. For these masses we have reintroduced some liturgical practices we haven’t seen since March. We are saying the Gloria and starting to sing an opening and closing song and also for Christmas we are incensing the nativity set and altar at the beginning of all the masses.