Because the Maryknoll Superior Jerry Hammond was busy doing what he does best (keeping busy), he asked me to fill-for him and go to
Sr. Mary, Fr. Stan and I would get together early each morning for Mass privately in one of the rooms wherever we happened to be. On the two weekends of the trip we were in Pyong Yang so the whole group also attended Church services. The first Sunday at the
At the Catholic Church the Blessed Sacrament is not reserved. Fr. Stan and I were asked to come up into the sanctuary but we both respectfully declined.
As happened the previous Sunday, we foreigners were ushered out of the church first. Except for an elderly gentleman who mentioned that he remembers Bishop Patrick Byrne, M.M., there was no contact with the local faithful. Bishop Byrne is buried somewhere just south of the
Fr. Stan and I wore our Roman collars for both Sunday services, entering and leaving
More knowledgeable people might easily take issue with these superficial observations. I'll be the first to admit my ignorance of the North's Military First Politics and the social, economic, quasi-religious underpinnings of their system, i.e., their own homegrown Juche (self reliance) interpretation of communism. But by and large, I was pleasantly surprised during this trip mainly because of people of good will on both sides. These people of good will are the raw material out of which the Christmas message of "Peace on earth" (Lk2:14) becomes a reality. Their efforts are helping people in need and making this a more perfect world. The alternative to this is the gloom and doom of the Korean proverb: "When whales fight, the the shrimp get crushed."