Beijing (AsiaNews) - On May 23 evening (Beijing time), Bishop Ma issued his vesper through his weibo, marking the eve of the Prayer Day for the Church in China. He is still under house arrest in Shanghai, but not in Sheshan seminary.
His weibo message first cited Ecclesiasticus 1:11-13: "The fear of the Lord is glory and exultation, and gladness and a crown of rejoicing. The fear of the Lord delights the heart, and gives gladness and joy and long life. With him who fears the Lord it will go well at the end; on the day of his death he will be blessed." Then, he said: "Lord, we are originally created by you, and there is no place we can boast. But you promised, those who fear You will be blessed. Lord, tonight we praise and pray to you. May the earth be filled with fears for You."
Also, Bishop Ma placed an article in his blog again on May 11, after a break of six months. His last one was uploaded on Nov. 3, 2012. The latest one was the seventh scene of an opera on Xu Guangqi, a disciple of Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci. The seventh scene is titled as "The Pillar of the Church." Some respondents of his blog wrote that they were very happy to see Bishop Ma again in his blog.
Both Xu and Ricci have been proposed to be beatified together. The late Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian was an active promoter of the beatification.
Fewer pilgrims have been seen at Sheshan pilgrimage site in the month of May.In other places in China, Catholics in China have made special prayers for China today, May 24, they told AsiaNews.
Father Joseph, an underground priest in Henan told AsiaNews that instead of organizing any events or pilgrimages to Sheshan to mark the day, he decided to bring a dozen Catholics to visit sick peasants, Catholics and non-Catholics, in the mountainous areas. "We can celebrate the Day of Prayer for China with concrete actions which will give witness to our faith. Jesus has never left China," he noted.
Several Catholics in China told AsiaNews that they prayed for unity and reconciliation of the Church in China and the universal Church. They said they hoped the Holy See would care more about Church affairs in China, and that the normalization of China-Vatican relations will take place soon. "The Catholics in China are very obedient to the Holy Father," a priest said.
Another priest Father Thomas in northern China said he would say a special Mass in the afternoon of May 24 to pray for the Church's internal harmony and unity. "Many conflicts are created within the Church, and priests cannot get along with their fellow priests or bishops," he noted.
A laywoman in Tianjin added that she prayed for the declining vocations to be priests and sisters. "A purified Church in China, now much influenced by a secularized society, is needed," she noted.
Click here for the full text of the prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan