Every year Bishop Olivier has a gathering on the Sunday of Epiphany, inviting the lay missionaries, sisters, brothers, and priests, and the leaders of all the Catholic communities of the diocese. This year the celebration was the final event of a three-day synod about Catholic families in the church. Click here to see the activities for the Epiphany gathering.
The three wise men made it to our Epiphany mass at the World Vision auditorium this evening! Liturgy at World Vision is a bit of a challenge because we just rent their hall every Saturday evening and have to set up everything, hang banners, etc. It’s not like walking into your own church and flipping on the lights and you’re ready to go. And then afterwards World Vision we have to take everything down and pack it up (for another year for the crib figures). I took this picture because next year Fr. Bob (who does most of our creative environment work, like the crib) will be gone and I’ll need to remember where everything is and how we arranged it around the altar.
This Francis comic appears twice a week in the National Catholic Reporter. It has some good insights. If you’d like to follow it, click on: https://www.ncronline.org/feature-series/francis-the-comic-strip/stories
The Sisters of Providence have a residence and programs for children with disabilities near the Church of the Child Jesus in Boeung Tum Pun. In the really heavy rains in November, their aquaponics project was severely damaged. Aquaponics combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like prawns, snails, or fish in tanks) with hydroponics (raising plants in water) in a setting where both environments support each other.
The sisters teach the children a valuable form of organic farming while producing healthy food for their center. The heavy rains caused the fish tanks and other structures to collapse so the sisters asked for help to rebuild, putting down a concrete pad that would support the heavy weight of tanks and troughs in future storms.
During Advent our English community had a Giving Tree from which we invited parishioners to take an empty envelope and insert a donation and then drop it in the collection. In the four Sundays of Advent we collected $1,475. Thank you very much! The sisters and children thank you for getting them set up again and we thank you for your support for the work of the gospel.
Today was another day of running back and forth between church events for Christmas and the demands of what for the Cambodians was a normal Monday working day. Click here to see some to the day’s activities.
Today was a strange mixture of religious holiday and normal Sunday for the Khmer people; and of the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve for the Catholic Community. Click here to see some of the day’s activities.
Every year in Advent and Lent we have a communal reconciliation service, offering the sacrament of reconciliation. This Advent, for the first time we decided to have the service at the Maryknoll office.
Cambodia is 94% Buddhist and especially outside of the cities there is little understanding of Christianity, and Christmas—which people will have heard of–will be seen as just a western holiday where the foreigners wear Santa Claus costumes and decorate their homes with evergreen trees and lots of ornaments and lights. Christmas is not celebrated throughout the culture at all but most western families and groups will mark the birth of Christ with church services and parties at Christian-based NGOs. Click here to see how the English Catholic community began its Christmas season.
Some Catholic people comment “I don’t get anything out of mass.” First, it is important to remember that the eucharist is not entertainment so we need to temper our expectations about what we feel when we go to mass.
Secondly, because the mass is not entertainment and we don’t approach it passively expecting someone to make us feel good without our doing anything–like going to a funny movie which might cheer us up when we’re down, we might appreciate the experience of the eucharist better if we prepare for it.
I’d like to offer some resources to help us do that. These are websites or e-mail mailing lists that give some thoughts about the readings for the coming weekend. Since many Christian churches now use the same common lectionary (book of Sunday readings) as the Catholics, these resources could benefit Christians from a variety of denominations.
These resources present the readings so you can read them in advance and then they offer some insights about how the readings developed, why Jesus said what he did or the evangelist included it in his gospel, and then some comments to help us appreciate what we will hear on Sunday.
The first resource I’d like to suggest is First Impressions. It’s written by a group of Dominican priests based in Texas. They offer not only thoughts on the scripture readings but several other helpful items that might help you develop your spiritual life. Give it a try, bookmark it, and click on it each week!