04/23/2020, 10.29
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Church in China: more vibrant in wake of pandemic

by Teresa Xiao

During the pandemic, the faithful encountered many difficulties, but also experienced spiritual growth. The liturgies on Wechat were followed by hundreds of thousands of faithful. An important time for families and for the religious education of their children at home. Biblical readings, songs, homilies in abundance; the void left by the absence of the Eucharist.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) - "Christ is risen! He truly is risen! ": This proclamation from the Easter liturgy perfectly expresses the enthusiasm we feel after having spent a long Lent not of 40, but of 80 days in isolation due to the pandemic. Throughout this period the faithful faced many difficulties, but they also experienced spiritual growth.

For weeks, most of the priests had to celebrate mass on their own. But on Sundays and holidays they tried to transmit the liturgy on Wechat [the Chinese whatsapp] and the virtual participants were tens, hundreds and even thousands or hundreds of thousands! This happened in many dioceses: Ningbo, Zhengding, Shanghai, Ningde, Beijing, Shantou, Liaoning, ... The faithful tried to "participate" in the mass broadcast live not only from China, but also from other places: Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia. Above all, they were able to attend the Mass and liturgies of the Easter Triduum celebrated by Pope Francis and broadcast by the Vatican.

During the pandemic period, which started for China on January 23 and continued until April, the villages and neighborhoods were all blocked. But the priests did not stop their pastoral activity. They all had their own Wechat group and thanks to this, thousands of people were able to receive videos and written material: masses, homilies, biblical readings, prayers, articles, videos.

This time was also important for families and for the religious education of their children [1]. In the absence of the weekly liturgy, families found ways to pray more often together, also having celebrations of the liturgy of the Word in which every Sunday in turn, the Gospel was explained, people sang, read. Several times, families have organized continuous Bible readings. Apparently among the books that the Chinese like most are the Book of Wisdom and the four Gospels.

Several families say they are enthusiastic because the children study and form their faith directly from the Bible and from the liturgy. Even husbands, who often do not have time in normal life, have now found a taste for family prayer and reading sacred books. Before, they said the Rosary quickly, went to Mass, paid no attention to the readings, but now the Word of God is given to them in abundance. But of course, since they cannot approach the Eucharist, they feel a void.

During Holy Week, the quarantine was lightened, and so priests and nuns were able to go to visit the sick, to hear confessions (by reservation and at a safe distance and with a mask!), to pray for the deceased of the pandemic.

Before Easter Sunday, the priests blessed the Easter eggs and thanks to the catechists they were able to distribute them by bringing them to the faithful at home.

With Easter, we have seen hope reappear all over the world, even if still marked by the pandemic. Now we wait for the strength of the Holy Spirit: The Church grows more vibrant after every trial.


[1] In China, after the 2018 New Regulations on Religious Activities, the religious education of young people under the age of 18 is prohibited. The pandemic crisis and the use of social networks has allowed us to get around this rule.

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