Wednesday, April 11, 2007

China & the Church

This is from Fr. Z's blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say?

it is so amazing, I've copied it here:

Cardinal Zen was our parish priest some of the time we lived in Hong Kong. I can tell you all that he is a man of gentle steel, faithfully true to the Church and a liturgical delight. Not only that but he was a real father to his parish.

As for the struggle to be free in China, the following story may interest some:

Twelve years ago, when my daughter was baptised in Hong Kong, the priest who baptised her, Fr Bernard Tohill, SDB, had returned that morning from a short trip into the mainland. He had been asked to go and offer Mass in a small village about 300 miles into China for a community that had been without the Mass since 1949. He had relearned how to say the old Mass and was expecting be be saying Mass for about a dozen people.

When he arrived in the village, there were over 1,000 people waiting to hear Mass and after the first Mass he heard confessions for 6 hours straight. The following day he heard confessions for another 6 or 7 hours before celebrating Mass at which over 700 made their Communion.

The faith in this area had been kept alive by families and small groups meeting to pray the Rosary and to learn the Catechism, for over 45 years.

Whenever I hear stories about China, I am reminded of Fr Bernard’s story and I offer the day’s sufferings, frustrations and joys to our Lord through the intercession of His blessed Mother for the Church and people in China. Our Lady of Consolation, pray for China.

Comment by Stephen Morgan — 11 April 2007 @ 1:42 pm


Can you imagine? It is mind-numbing to consider what such an event would be like, we who are able to attend a mass at the time and place of our choosing! Perhaps that is why this other quote from Cdl Arinze (April 6, London) is also so apropos for us who have such comparative spiritual richness:

"Liturgy", says Pope John Paul II, "is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church" (Eccl. de Euch., 52). At the direction of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum in March 2004 "precisely to bring out more clearly this deeper meaning of liturgical norms" (Eccl. de Euch., 52).

It follows that individuals, whether they be priests or lay faithful, are not free to add or subtract any details in the approved rites of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22). A do-it-yourself mentality, an attitude of nobody-will-tell-me-what-to-do, or a defiant sting of if-you-do-not-like-my-Mass-you-can-go-to-another-parish, is not only against sound theology and ecclesiology, but also offends against common sense. Unfortunately, sometimes common sense is not very common, when we see a priest ignoring liturgical rules and installing creativity ­ in his case personal idiosyncracy ­ as the guide to the celebration of Holy Mass. Our faith guides us and our love of Jesus and of his Church safeguards us from taking such unwholesome liberties. Aware that we are only ministers, not masters of the mysteries of Christ (cf I Cor 4:1), we follow the approved liturgical books so that the people of God are respected and their faith nourished, and so that God is honoured and the Church is gradually being built up.

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