Maria Holland

Thank You For The Music

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Out the door by 8 this morning, which is becoming sadly predictable for my weekends.  I’m glad I wasn’t late because apparently “come at 8:30” meant “Mass starts at 8:30”.  I ran up to the choir loft, robed myself, gathered the required books, and took my place just in time for Mass to start a little late.  Today was Fr. Cai’s first Mass as Xiamen’s bishop, and the concelebrants included another bishop, and about 15 other priests.


Most of the music was the same as yesterday, but there was a new song that I had to sit out because it contained way too many 生词 (new words that I didn’t know).  I had been considering asking if I could continue singing with the choir, because I really enjoyed the experience of participating in yesterday’s Mass, but after today I’ve decided to quit while I’m ahead.  The challenge of readings notes written as numbers and lyrics written in characters means I would probably be more of a burden than a help to the choir.  There’s also the inherent distraction of having a specific responsibility like that during Mass – something I’m very familiar with, as a two-year choir director back home.  Since Mass in Chinese already requires so much of my attention, I really shouldn’t be trying to multitask. 

Also, I think my presence in the choir (even more so than my normal presence at Chinese Mass) is distracting to others in the congregation.  There was one girl who was continually taking photos of the choir today; while maybe she was interested to see us all wearing robes I couldn’t help but feel it was because of me.  Who knows?  I’ve noticed myself becoming more vain and self-centered since I came to China, assuming that everyone’s looking at me and talking about me – I know a lot of times I’m right but sometimes I wonder how often? 

But the real clincher was seeing how the other choir members behave up in the choir loft.  Out of sight, they seem to believe themselves out of hearing as well, and completely off the hook for any sort of participation in the Mass besides singing.  Little Brother kept trying to talk to me about how much my things cost, and my hair (held up in a bun by a single chopstick) seemed to be a continual topic of conversation.  The woman next to me took cell phone pictures of her and her husband during the readings. 

So, thank you for the music but it’s time I left.  This picture we took after Mass as a choir with Bishop Cai might be the last proof of my participation in the choir of Our Lady of the Rosary church in Xiamen:


The threatened rain never materialized, so I took advantage of my proximity to ZhongShan Lu to take a walk.  I took Little Brother to my secret DVD shop, where I bought all 4 seasons of Psych, Alice in Wonderland, and three new Chinese movies (total price $8).  I wandered from there, checking out some clothing stores and looking into ordering a new pair of glasses.  I also found a new fruit store with my favorite name ever!  It’s called 水果立方 or “Cube Fruits”, which is a play on words combing the name of the Beijing Olympic swimming venue (the Water Cube, or 水立方) with the word for fruit (水果).  I love it.  They sell fresh made fruit juices but you can also get any of the fruits chopped up for you so that you can eat them on the go! 



Checking online for news of Bishop Cai’s ordination, I found this AsiaNews article.  It was interesting to read because, despite being a parishioner for nearly a year and actually being present at the ceremony, I still learned some things!  First of all, they had all the bishop’s names and where they were from.  One of them (I’m guessing the older bishop who was still here today) was from Taiwan, and only one (from Mindong, another Fujian diocese) is illegitimate, or lacks the approval of the Vatican.

Secondly, it turns out that Bishop Cai is a monsignor.  It’s not like knowing that would have changed anything, but it’s just kind of weird.  In America, monsignors are addressed as “Monsignor XX”, so you immediately know.  But I don’t even know how to say monsignor in Chinese! 

Third, they had some more definite numbers – 60+ priests and 1,600 faithful in attendance; 11 priests, 16 nuns, and 30,000 Catholics in our diocese. 

But there is something to be said for firsthand experience.  The picture they used is a stock photo of our church on Gulangyu; while it may be more photogenic, it would have been utterly impossible to hold such a ceremony in that tiny church.  Secondly, the last sentence is out-of-date, as our two deacons were ordained to the priesthood 6 months ago!


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