10/17/2012, 00.00
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Alive and well, no Requiem for Mgr Ma Daqin on his 100th day of 'forced rest'

by Jian Mei
The auxiliary bishop of Shanghai jokes about it on his blog, describing centipede bites and laughter with fellow priests and seminarians at Sheshan. Under virtual house arrest, the prelate cannot perform his ministry after he quit the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association on the day of his ordination. His parishioners show they are with him.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) - Mgr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, marked 100 days of 'retreat life' talking about how he spends his time at the Sheshan seminary where he has been forced to live since his Episcopal ordination on 7 July.

Last night on his blog, he posted the first of a series titled Amusing stories during my 100 Days in Sheshan. In it, the prelate talks about his life, full of prayers, with God giving him some amusing experiences as a pastime, like the 'raid by a centipede' on his bed, late one summer night. He also posted a photo of the seminary and of Sheshan Basilica (pictured).

After his Episcopal ordination at Shanghai's St Ignatius Cathedral, Mgr Ma announced his intention to leave the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, whose goal is to establish a national Church separate from the pope.

Because of this, the Chinese government seized the seminary and banned him from exercising his Episcopal ministry as well as wearing his Episcopal insignia (zucchetto, pectoral cross, etc.). It also attacked seminarians and nuns for backing the prelate's choice,

"Unknowingly, I have lived in Sheshan for 100 days," the prelate wrote on his blog, where he had resumed writing on 16 July after halting on 6 July.

Recollecting his life as a parish priest, he noted that "when parishioners mourn their relatives or friends, on the 100th day after the death they will ask their parish priest to offer a Requiem Mass to remember them. Although it is the 100th day for me, I don't need a Requiem Mass because I am alive and well," the 44-year-old bishop said.

According to Chinese tradition, a newborn's 100th day is also celebrated. Some also hold a special mourning service 100 days after someone's death.

"Looking back at the 100 days, every day, I did my reflection, prayers, reading and drank tea," Mgr Ma said. "Even though this life seems extremely monotonous, God will always arrange some 'light moments' to amuse me as my pastime," he explained, as he went on to describe at length a night-time fight with a centipede, which bit his ankle and thigh.

Sharing this episode with his fellow priests at the seminary aroused rounds of laughter and more stories of other close encounters with centipedes in Sheshan. "For those who have had such an experience, at each sharing, there is a feeling of pain but also of joy," Bishop Ma concluded.

Just a few hours after the entry was posted, more than 70 Catholics had responded. Some expressed sorrow and sadness for Bishop Ma's suffering during 100 days under restrictions, but also hope that he might soon be back in his diocese. Others liked his humour, offering advice on how to ward off centipedes.

One commentator praised Mgr Ma "for being happy amid bitterness." Another said, "Bishop I think your pain is not only because of centipede bites. . . . May God bless you, and may your predicament come to an end as soon as possible."

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