Beijing (Agenzia Fides) – The Chinese Catholic community is making preparations for the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which is widely celebrated in China. The month of May in all the parishes is celebrated with pilgrimages, praying the Rosary, Adoration, and the recitation of Marian prayers. Thanks to the initiative of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, which established May 24 as the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians in his Letter to Chinese Catholics in 2007. In 2008, he himself composed the Prayer to Our Lady of She Shan, on the occasion of the first Day of Prayer. Thus, the month of May takes on an even greater significance, offering an occasion of communion among the Church in China, the Pope, and the Universal Church.
PRAYER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO OUR LADY OF SHESHAN
ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER
FOR THE CHURCH IN CHINA (24 MAY 2008)
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians",
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
In the province of Shaan Xi, home to the most renowned Marian shrine, the dioceses and parishes have already begun organizing events in May: pilgrimages, volunteer groups, etc. The parish of Long Gang, in the area of Wenzhou, which at Easter had 189 Baptisms and 157 Confirmations (and prepared over 7,000 easter eggs for the children in the neighborhood), has begun arrangements for accommodating pilgrims. The parish is very active and pious, and every year about 60 pilgrimage groups come to visit, especially in May. During the preparatory encounter held on April 12, the pastor and the parochial committee decided that the motto for welcoming the pilgrims during the month of May should be: "Smile, warmth, patience, awareness, and promptness." (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 24/4/2009)