ASIA/CHINA - Advent in anticipation of the birth of Jesus: meditation and spiritual exercises

Tuesday, 28 November 2023 local churches   advent   priests  

Guangzhou (Agenzia Fides) - Catholic communities in mainland China are beginning the Advent season with pastoral initiatives, often inspired by the pastoral letters addressed by the bishops to the people of God in anticipation of Christmas. "Meditation" is the title of the pastoral letter that Joseph Gan Junqiu, archbishop of the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou, published at the beginning of Advent at the beginning of the church year. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus, and "waiting in meditation," writes Bishop Gan, "helps us to find God," because "without inner silence we cannot encounter Jesus and speak with him". Bishop Joseph emphasized the importance of this silent meditation in today's frenetic times, "deafened by so much noise, so much unrest." It proves all the more important to "preserve this unique and indispensable moment of silence, the silence of Nazareth ", added the Bishop of Guangzhou, quoting the sentence from the Gospel of Luke ("And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart"). "Teach us, quietly, contemplatively and fervently, the true teachings to respect the soul; and also teach us to wait, prepare and receive Jesus' Christmas in silence," Bishop Gan added. According to the Guangzhou Ethnic and Religious Affairs Department, as of October 2022, the diocese had a total of 15 priests and 25 religious women. Joseph Gan, who was appointed archbishop in November 2006, was ordained on December 4, 2007 in communion with Pope Benedict XVI. In the Diocese of Ningbo, meditation was also the focus of the priests' spiritual exercises "to clear the heart so that one can encounter the Lord." Twenty-eight priests from the diocese took part in the year-end retreat, which took place from November 21 to 24, just before Advent, at the diocesan formation center and focused on questions and aspects of priestly life. Among other things, it was about the crisis of orientation and identity that some priests find themselves in when they reach middle age after the years of initial commitment. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 28/11/2023)