I was woken up by one of the most disturbing texts I’ve ever received, from an EAPSI colleague in Shanghai:
I woke up in the midle of the night to a woman screaming. Look outside my window to see a man beating up a woman. I go to the front desk and ask them to call the police. They call the police and the police “don’t want to get involved”. Amazing.
I went to 北堂 again today. I had the route figured out and, feeling healthy, had a bit more pep in my step, so I made good time. I got to the church at least 10 minutes before Mass started, and was able to stake out a good spot near the front. This is important because I don’t think the music is in hymnals, just on two screens near the front, which I couldn’t read last time.
The only thing I caught from the homily today was that “we all have our own crosses to bear”. I did find myself wondering what people in the pews were hearing back home, and praying for my country. A lot of “I’m so sorry, Father”s.
I’ve written a lot about the Church in China in the past, and most of it holds true here in Beijing. The main new thing I’ve noticed is the fairly regular occurence of priests or members of the congregation taking Hosts back from people who try to walk away with It. I think I saw this once in Xiamen, and it was very confusing to me at the time; I only later realized what must have happened. Maybe we get more tourists at the Beijing cathedrals, who don’t know what’s going on but want to get the snack that everyone else is getting? I’m not sure, but I’ve seen this happen at least once at each of the Sunday Masses I’ve been to so far. I am really impressed and gratified by the sharpness of their observation, and their courage in confronting people (gently); as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at my home parish, I know it’s a difficult task for many reasons.
Last week, I took a taxi home immediately because I wasn’t feeling well, but this week I took the time to look around. I visited each of the side altars, and was struck by two of them in particular:
They’re both images of Mary with the child Jesus, but with Asian features and dress. These aren’t great pictures, but I also bought several prints of each at the religious goods store. Plus a book on The Art of the Catholic Church in China!
I took my time walking back to the subway as well, and stopped for noodles on the way.
In the evening, I got a few friends to go to the U-Center for fish. This was a great choice. We got one big fish with potatoes and broccoli, plus rice and tea, for the four of us for 100元. And afterwards I splurged on a kumquat-lemon drink from Coco which was all that I had hoped for, and more.
Today I learned:
You can see a forecast of the pollution at http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/. The next two days are supposed to be more of the same. I haven’t seen a hint of blue in the sky since last Sunday.