China Bridge (神州橋樑)_2011/Dec

Christmas, a time of outreach and unity

Many Catholics make Christmas a time to introduce the faith to their neighbours. The festivities on snowy, wintry days always attract the young and the curious to the churches to experience the Christmas atmosphere.

In a village church in a mountainous area of Lanzhou diocese in Gansu province, Brother Peter prepares liturgies and cultural performances for Christmas Eve.

The cultural show, which consists of singing, dancing, poetry reading, a nativity drama, as well as reading from the scriptures, lasts from 7.00pm to 10.30pm.

Brother Peter said that on Christmas Eve last year, amid heavy snow and temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius, more than 700 people and their friends attended. “But all enjoyed the show. The non-Catholics stayed for the midnight Mass as well. More are expected to come this year.”

The parish children performed dances and sang, but this year fewer can show up as most have to stay at their boarding schools for the weekend. Some children asked Brother Peter with sadness what they could do, since they could not attend the Christmas Masses.

“I comforted them by telling them to pray to the Infant Jesus at school and to know that Jesus is always with them,” he said.

Adults working in the cities will return for the Christmas celebrations and reunions, and stay until after Chinese New Year.

Meanwhile, Christmas baptisms will be held at some local churches in China. In Hebei, Maria Joan, will be godmother to two friends, one of whom was a communist for 10 years.

She told China Bridge that she accompanied her friends to catechism classes and shared her faith experience with them.

When she was invited to be their godmother, she was overjoyed, saying it was “like giving birth to new children.”

She hopes to have more time to accompany other catechumens in walking the path of faith.