03/16/2005, 00.00
THAILAND

Far from high tech gizmos, Thai Catholics celebrate Lent

Weena Kowitwanij
The faithful comein large numbers toa spiritual retreat organised by the Archdiocese of Bangkok. Similar events involving Protestants and Muslims are planned for the rest of year.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Inner reflection requires tranquillity and Thai Catholics are quietly preparing themselves for Easter far from modern electronic gizmos thanks to the archdiocese of Bangkok, which over the week-end (11-13 March) organised a retreat for the laity from ten parishes at Baan Phu Waan Pastoral Training Center. 

Some 160 people met to reflect upon the word of God in total silence. Cellphones, radios, TV and any other electronic devices were strictly banned.

Silent meditation was also accompanied by shared moments and prayers over the meaning of Lent and the Eucharist, charity and conversion.

The retreat ended with the Way of the Cross and the screening of a movie titled "Pay it forward", the story of a boy who is taught to do good to others but who dies, killed by the one he was trying to help, a modern parable that mirrors the life of Jesus Christ who died to save sinners.

The experience was well received and many said they would like to come back next year. For Ms Luino the retreat "was a time to be by myself reflecting on God's mercy and redemption". For Ms Wanna, the time was spent to "better understand the word 'patience'. I will now try to accept life's sad moments with joy to help Jesus bear his cross".

Fr Kriengsak Kovidhavanij, head of the team of ten priests who led the retreat, said that currently a number of seminars for the laity are being organised, covering different issues such as the catechesis, other Christian denominations, and Islam.

In order to organise the ecumenical seminars, Father Kovidhavanij visited the Haroon Mosque, which is located near Bangkok's Assumption Cathedral, where he met officials who welcomed the opportunity to "partake in a common experience with Christians."

The Catholic priest explained that other seminars are planned for the rest of the year, adding that anywhere "between 200 and 250 people, including some Protestants and Muslims," are expected to come.

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