Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mass in Chinese at St. Mary Mother of God in Washington, D.C.

St. Mary Mother of God Church where Mass is offered in Chinese languages every Sunday at 11:30 am.

The icon of Our Lady of China in the rear of the Church.

Worshipers reflect on the sacred mysteries in which they are taking part.
All the Mass parts are beautifully sung by the choir and congregation.

Having offered the sacrifice of Calvary and been united to Christ in Holy Communion, Father Nicholas Hien Nguyen, SVD, prays the post communion prayer.

天主 (Tianzhu) = God

St, Mary's seeks to provide a spiritual home for all Catholics in Washington and its surrounding areas, but in a special way for Chinese Catholics and those of Chinese ancestry who wish to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Celestial Kingdom which He established, and the will of Heaven for human beings.
The following brief history is intended to demonstrate how the religion of Jesus Christ has a long history in China just as it has among many other peoples of the world.

A Brief History of Christianity in China

Tradition proclaims that St. Thomas the Apostle, before his martyrdom in Kerala, India, preached the Gospel in China. Interestingly, ancient Chinese historical records mention a dream of the Emperor Ming di in which he saw a golden man whose face was radiant and glowing. This was not too long after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ when the Apostles were spreading the Gospel. Unfortunately, his advisors unknowingly misled him into thinking it was Siddharta Gautama.

The "Nestorian Tablets" witness to the fact that Christianity was also brought to China by the Persian monk Alopen of the Assyrian Church of the East in the seventh century. At first welcomed by the Emperor the faith spread despite the opposition of Buddhism which originated in India. In 638, Emperor Tai-Tsung bestowed the formal title of the Religion of the Light upon Christian teachings. The Venetian merchant and Roman Catholic Marco Polo attests to the presence of these Christians in the late thriteenth century.

Roman Catholicism definitely made a foothold in China in the thirteenth century. John, a Franciscan priest from Montecorvino, Italy arrived in Beijing in 1294. There he built at least two churches and translated the New Testament and Psalms into the local language. John was consecrated the first Roman Catholic bishop of Beijing in 1308 by three (of seven who survived the journey) sent by Pope Clement V. A bishopric was also established in Zaiton. Bl. Odoric of Pordenone was one Franciscan missionary who traveled to China and back around this time and, as Marco Polo, has left us a record of his journey. Meanwhile, Bishop John died in 1328. Not long after, the Mongols themselves were ousted by the native Ming dynasty which reacted harshly against anything perceived as foreign such as Christianity.

Two hundred years later, Jesuit missionaries arrived. The Jesuit missionaries, who at first included many Italians, were eager to bring Jesus Christ to the Chinese. Themselves inheritors of Roman Imperial culture, although now under foreign domination, the Italian Jesuits found Chinese Imperial culture congenial and wanted to make it clear that acceptance of Christ did not entail acceptance of Spanish or Portuguese overlordship. The Jesuits as a whole were solicitous to emphasize those elements of Chinese culture which had served as a preparatio evangelii, a preparation for the Gospel. Many found in authentic Chinese thought a kindred spirit. Confucius, who humbly confessed is ignorance of heavenly matters seemed to be able to play a role in China as Aristotle had in Europe. Ceremonies honoring ancestors could be adopted and given proper focus in light of the Gospel. Among these Jesuits, Fr. Matteo Ricci stands out as one who left father and mother, home and lands even his natve customs to serve Christ. Although unabashedly Christian, he is even honored today by the non-Christian Chinese for his great learning and adoption of Chinese culture. The Jesuits drew the interest of Emperors and converts among the people.

The popes gave hearty approval to the missions and even initially saw the fittingness of translating the Roman Missal and Ritual into Classical Chinese. Unfortunately, political intrigues in Europe and Jansenist sympathizers conspired against the Jesuits and helped harm the Catholic missions leading the Manchurian Qing Emperors to forbid future missions.

Catholic missions began again in the 19th century. Since then, the Catholic Faith has been steadily finding a home in the hearts of the Chinese. This is so even despite the persecution of the atheist Chinese government which has martyred many,forced Catholics into hiding, and state sponsored a schism. All this is proof that those the hypocritical Communists who have allied themselves to peversity and tyranny cannot bare to be exposed to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI has written a letter to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and the layfaithful in China, exhorting them to keep the Faith but also to remember to be ready to forgive and cooperate with their persecutors should these repent.

Christ the Lamb of God shed His Precious Blood for us.
He comforts with His grace those in China who are persecuted for their Faith, even to the point of shedding their own blood.

Recommended Links:

Our Lady of China Pastoral Mission, Archdiocese of Washington

The Cardinal Kung Foundation

Christians in China by Fr. Fr. Jean Charbonnier

1 comment:

Frank said...

You may enjoy this post (and others I've done on Chinese Catholics)...