Church & Bangkok

It’s the Journey

FR. John MURRAY, Member of the Order of St Augustine,

Monday, November 23, 2020

 For so long, I have wanted to visit the famous and historical Santa Cruz church, standing by the river in Bangkok.  No matter what, last Saturday was the day. So off I went with Google Maps as my guide.  

I took the underground to Sanam Chai.  So far, so good but when I got above ground, I just stood there totally disoriented for I was assuming that I would be on the same side of the river as the church but I was not.  So I was standing looking around, wondering what to do, when I heard a call from nowhere – “Fr John”. 
I could have just collpased to see two people from church on a motorbike stop at my side.  They were able to give me my bearings and so off I went with a sense of certainty.  I knew now I had to cross the river but what awaited me on the way utterly took me by surprise for the pier was just full of activity.  It was no simple “jump on a boat” pier.  
I got to the other side of the river to see how close the church was to be stopped in my steps by an unexpected storm.  So near, yet so far; but I remained determined to get to the church, which I did, only to find it closed.  
So I stood in front of the church, being very philosophical, thinking that I had learnt so much on the way: 
1)  Don’t assume. 
2)  You can do it with the help of others.  
3)  Be determined. 
4)  The journey itself is worth doing. 
5)  It will be easier when I come again in the future. 
Then finally, I sought cover yet again at the church due to a second storm only to learn the last lesson of the journey.  If you wait long enough, you will strike gold, for the church was opened for a wedding.  What a magnificent church.  It was so worth the journey and the wait to be able to experience a grand, 100 year old church that gives witness to the Portuguese legacy to my Bangkok. 
He talked of where the Church has failed in Kenya, choosing power over service, with bishops preferring to visit the house of the President over the houses of the poor.  He spoke of how it all changed 20 years ago.  What happened 20 years ago in Kenya?  I don’t know but I did think from my own experience, how Church has suffered under the issue of sexual abuse, how younger priests can be more clerical and less focused on the poor and social justice, how the Church has lost its label of authenticity in society because of being seen as irrelevant or self-engrossed.


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