Bishop Stephen Chow, SJ

At the mass for “Our Lady, Help of Christians”, Bishop Stephen Chow incense to Bishop Stephen Chow uses incense as he venerates a statue of Our Lady of Sheshan during the Mass in honour of Our Lady Help of Christians on May 24, 2023.Our Lady of Sheshan.

On May 24, 2023, the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Bishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong officiated a Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to pray for the Church in China. Below is the homily of Bishop Chow:

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter of the Holy Father to the Church in China, expressing his desire for “the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China.” This should be held every year on May 24th, i.e., the feast day of “Our Lady, Help of Christians,” which is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. Through this letter, Pope Benedict XVI wanted to show everyone in the Church in China that they are particularly close to the heart of the Holy Father. Through him and their prayers the entire Church is closely connected with them.

Admirable missionaries in the early days had covered incredible distances before arriving in China. Especially for Fr. Matteo Ricci and his companions, they had great admiration for the amazing depth of the Chinese culture as well as similarities existing between the Chinese and Christian cultures.

Therefore, it should be understandable that Fr. Ricci and his companions had wanted to promote the inculturation of evangelization, so that our compatriots could better understand and accept Christianity; allowing the Christian faith to take root in the entire Chinese soil. Unfortunately, their efforts of inculturation and achievements were met with resistance, contempt and attacks both inside and outside of the Church.

It was a crucial arrangement for the early community of faith to have Mary, the mother of their Lord to accompany them. This community, after their Lord’s Ascension and before the Pentecost, was practically in hiding. They were afraid of further persecutions and were wondering what was being installed for them. What should they do? Would there still be a future for them?

Hence, praying together in one accord was particularly significant for them. They could draw strength and solace in praying together as a community. Also, they could discern communally where and how God would like them to move forward. Moreover, what could be better than to have the mother of their Teacher and Lord praying with them! Her Son would likely pay more attention to her petitions given their loving mother-son relationship.

Therefore, we join the entire Church for the Catholics in China in prayer today. Praying through the intercession of Our Lady of Sheshan and Our Lady, Help of Christians, that there will be unity within the Church, under the leadership of the Holy Father, contributing to the welfare and best interests of the country.