Announcing the Good News in person to passers-by with readings and speeches; gifts to families and children; offering fruit (sign of peace) to visitors and the poor; toasts with wine in a church room or restaurant. The testimony of a woman from southern China.
Rome (AsiaNews) - Despite all the limits placed by the government on the life of the Church, evangelization and proclamation continue in China. Preparation for Christmas is a time of enormous pastoral creativity: Announcing the Good News in person to everyone; gifts to families and children; offering fruit (sign of peace) to visitors and the poor; toast with wine. Here is what Ruomu, a lay woman from southern China, told AsiaNews. This is the third part of a series of testimony about the celebration of Christmas in the People's Republic of China. Click here for Part I and Part II.
I. From the beginning of Advent, the bishop and the clergy have invited all the faithful to make a good spiritual preparation to welcome Jesus, the Incarnate Word, as the Savior of the world. An Advent wreath and four candles, two purple, one pink and one white, were placed in front of the altar in each parish. Each priest then in the homily explains the meaning of each Sunday: vigilance, repentance, joy and peace. From December 16 onwards, some priests invite the faithful to celebrate the Novena of Holy Christmas (individually, without constraint).
II. Observing Christmas traditions
1. Go out and proclaim the Good News
Biblical quotations to proclaim: Lk 2: 10-11; Is 25.8; Phil 4.13
+ Merry Christmas and Happy New Year wishes!
A second way: Going to proclaim the Good News to the families of priests and Sisters (with some gifts)
Biblical quotations to proclaim: Lk 2: 10-11; Jn 12:26; 1 Cor 9:23
+ The right way, love God and love your neighbor, Listen to the Word of the Lord, become light and salt of the world
+ Merry Christmas and Happy New Year wishes!
A third way: Go to proclaim the Good News to Sunday school children (with gifts)
Biblical quotations to proclaim: Lk 2: 10-11; Mt 11.25; Mk 10:14; Lk 2:40
2.Share the 'Christmas fruit'
It is generally implemented in two different phases: the first a few days before Christmas, each parochial association, volunteers in charge, divide the places between them and go to schools, hospitals and other public institutions to distribute the 'Christmas fruit', which includes cupcakes , fruit and drinks ... The package also includes a Christmas card on which the announcement of the Good News is written in the following terms:
“Dear friends, we wish you a happy Christmas, full of the Lord's blessings!
Two thousand years ago, God sent his only-begotten Son among us to free the world from the chains of sin and death, so that humanity can enjoy peace, true freedom and eternal hope. "
Biblical quotations follow on the front page: Jn 14.6; Lk 11.10; Mt 28.20, while on the back the following text:
“More than 2000 years have passed, but there are still people who reject the Lord. But God is love and never abandons humanity. Today, the Lord, through the birth of Jesus Christ comes to look for the lost children. At this moment he asks: 'Son, where are you?'
Don't you hear Heavenly Father's loving call? He very much wants you to come home and enjoy the great love of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus will bring you true peace, he will free you, he will forgive you all your mistakes. In him you will have eternal life and glory!
So come back, dear friends. The merciful Heavenly Father is waiting for you. "
The second phase, the 'Christmas fruit' is distributed on Christmas Eve at the door of the church to all those who participate in the Eucharist.
3. Organize the Christmas Show
This is the main initiative of each parish, which began in the 1980s of the last century. Each parish organizes it every year. In October or November, under the guidance of the nun of the parish, the leaders of the various associations begin their preparation. The content usually includes dances, songs, skits, dialogues and monologues with music, bands, etc.
Everyone is psychologically preparing to participate. Priest and nuns insist that we do not to use overly secular forms and to give importance to spiritual formation to express the expectation of the Child Jesus.
The Christmas show is usually held on Christmas Eve or even on Christmas evening. In my parish it is done on the evening of December 28, choosing and collecting the best shows of each church so that everyone can enjoy them. This is appreciated.
4.The welcome of the Child Jesus
As in the universal Church, during the celebration and the Eucharist on Christmas Eve, there is the welcome of the Child Jesus, with the theatrical representation of the birth with Mary and Joseph, the adoration of the Magi and the shepherds who adore him, as well as the thanksgiving rite.
5. Distribution of Christmas wine
Every church at noon on December 25th, offers Christmas wine. The bishop and priests always invite to be moderate. This usually happens in the church cellar or outdoors. Some parishes have it distributed by restaurants, where everyone can go to pick it up and invite friends, poor or the homeless on request.