Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This Catholic in Beijing

Tuesday greetings on a beautifully clear and sunny day here in Chicago. I am appreciating the fresh, clear air especially today. My time in Beijing, China, was more than I had hoped for, but the constant air pollution was a bit bothersome, so it is good to back where the air is clear.

Some highlights of the trip.

Climbing a portion of the Great Wall was a dream fulfilled for me. Ever since seeing photos in my geography book in Fourth Grade, I always dreamed that one day I would be able to see the wall in person. It did not disappoint.

A short video from the Great Wall.

After touring the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Lama Temple, Tiananmen Square, the Hutong area, and the beautiful lakes of the city, I have to say that the Temple of Heaven was my favorite. I returned there in the rain yesterday morning before heading to the airport. The park is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited; acre after acre of trees and pathways, uncrowded (unlike every other spot in this vast city). I watched groups of Chinese people dancing and doing their Tai Chi. Elderly Chinese women come to the park, find a tree, latch their water bottle to one of its branches, and then exercise beneath the tree. Just so peaceful and calm. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a spectacular site.

On Sunday, I made my way, using the amazingly efficient Beijing subway system (which I used each day I was there) to Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishop of Beijing. Social media is more than alive and well in China; my experience of the subway riders in Beijing was so similar to my experiences riding the "Green Line" subway here in Chicago.

The Cathedral sits in the middle of a busy neighborhood, filled with contemporary buildings. Frankly, it looks like most Catholic cathedrals here in the United States.

Here's the interior.

The Divine Mercy devotion seems central to the parishioners here.

The Mass was celebrated in English. The first and second readings were proclaimed in English and French. The cantor rehearsed the responsorial psalm with the assembly before Mass. All visitors were asked to stand and we were given a warm round of applause. All of the music was projected onto screens throughout the church.

Here are a few photos of the hymnal.

And the parish Sunday bulletin, this one in English because the Mass I attended was in English.

After all my recent comments about the misuse of the term "RCIA Classes," I was stunned to find the same usage in Beijing, in the parish bulletin!

Here's the video I took right after the Mass.

There were two large screens in the front of the church, broadcasting the Mass to those gathered in the courtyard. I arrived early enough to catch the end of the previous Mass, which was in Chinese. Paul Inwood's hymn for the Jubilee for Mercy was being sung in Chinese at communion.

Well, that's it for now. I am leaving tomorrow morning for Dallas for the Dallas Ministries Conference. I will try to post more of my impressions of China in the next few days.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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