Sunday, 25 September 2011

Burmese Catholics

Burmese Madonna, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011
A friend has been quite encouraging when I have drawn images like the one above -- a non-traditional image of the Blessed Mother and her Child.  I shared this image with him soon after finishing the drawing.  Here is part of his response:  "I think that I suggested, at one point, that you do more of these works in more realistic (non-iconic) styles, and this beautiful “painting” definitely supports that suggestion. It is always moving, to me, to see images of Holy people portrayed in the different cultural traditions that encompass our Catholic faith – thereby serving to emphasize the universality of the Church throughout the world."

In the process of doing this drawing and reflecting on it, I decided to do a bit of research into the Church in Burma -- history and current day.  What I found was very interesting and very sad at the same time.

Exactly when the first contact occurred between the Catholic Church and what is now the country of Burma is unclear.  However, by 1497 the Portuguese were showing interest in that part of the world as they moved out from Goa.  With the Portuguese soldiers came their chaplains and following them were the Jesuits.  Even St. Francis Xavier was involved in arranging for Jesuits "of the right character and constitution" to go to the area of what is now Burma (Myanmar).

Following the Jesuits, the growing Church in "Burma" was aided by the Barnabite Fathers.  Next came the Oblates of the BVM.  By 1730, Burma was declared a Vicariate Apostolic.  By 1894 there were more than 35,000 Catholics in Burma.

From the Myanmar Catholic Dioceses web site, we read the following:  "In 1966, all the foreign missionaries who had come to Burma before the Independence (4 January, 1948) and were not directly in charge of schools were permitted to stay and the others had to leave the country. From then onwards the indigenous priests and religious took up the responsibility of the Church in Burma. At the time of the hand over there were altogether two Archdioceses and six suffragan dioceses with about 120 priests and 350,000 Catholic population." For more information on this viewpoint, go to

On the other hand, a series of articles in the National Catholic Register says the following:  "Catholics in Buddhist-dominated Burma are small in number (about 1 percent of the population, or 500,000 people) but historically have had a disproportionate influence on the country’s life. Catholic orders once ran the best schools in Burma, graduating numerous elites in the pre- and post-independence years. But a coup d’état in 1962 dealt a stunning blow to the church -- and to education in Burma -- when a newly-installed junta nationalized schools, banned clergy and religious from teaching in them, and deported foreign missionaries. Catholic citizens are now routinely denied better-paying administrative jobs and barred from what little social services the government provides. While the junta often subsidizes Buddhist temples, it asks for large bribes for proposed church projects, or just blocks their construction outright." For more information on this viewpoint, go to

From within Myanmar, the report is that all is well between the State and the Church; however, from outside the country, we are told just the opposite.  Of special interest are some of the comments made by priests writing from within Myanmar in response to the National Catholic Register articles.  Take a look.

More "irony" photographs

These "Friends of Irony" seem to have quite a supply of photos.  I have one friend who sends them to me occasionally.  I enjoy these even though not all of them are really "ironic". 

I don't feel that the photographs below require any explanation -- some do require a few extra moments of looking, however, in order to see the full intent of the picture!


Suki and Me

Yesterday Suki accidentally gave me quite a scratch.  I was getting out of the chair which meant that she had to get up as well since she was asleep in the crook of my arm.  In an effort to jump up to the back of the chair, she started falling.  I made the mistake of reaching out to try to help her which meant that the only thing for her to catch on to were my hands!  Ouch!  I did keep her from falling but in the process she dug her back claws into the back of my hand.  The wound doesn't hurt, but it did bleed a lot and looks rather ugly.  Otherwise, our weekend was very quite ordinary. 

I have very little scheduled for this coming week.  Last week was full of appointments so I am pleased to be able to stay at home a bit more -- especially with the promise of rain we have for the next few days.

Oh, one bit of good news, my sister and her husband may come to visit for a day during the next week or so!  It will be wonderful to see them again.


A Back Yard Surprise!

Photos of a wildcat taken in a back yard in Black Creek, BC, September 10, 2011. 
Evidently, the homeowners have a small dog which they usually let out into the back yard first thing in the morning!  Well, this particular morning one of the family members just happened to look out the back door prior to letting the dog out for a run.  Otherwise, Fido would have made a tasty breakfast for this big cat.  I do not know how the story ended.  Perhaps one of you would be so kind as to search and see if you can find out the truth of this story and exactly how it ended.  Or if there is any truth to it at all!  Thanks.

A beautiful cat.

Let us remember to pray for the Church in Burma.
May the peace of God be with us all.

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