Friday, 20 May 2011

Pope Benedict asks us to pray for the Church in China during the next few days

Next Tuesday, 24 May, is the day upon which the Church venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title "Our Lady Help of Christians." It is also the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, where Our Lady Help of Christians is venerated at the Marian Shrine of She-Shan.

This Day of Prayer for the Church in China, when all Christians throughout the world are specifically asked to remember the Christians of that land, was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 with the publication of his Letter to Chinese Catholics. The first of such days dedicated to praying for the Chinese Church was observed on 24 May 2008.

The Pope most recently mentioned the importance of the Day of Prayer for the Church in China during last Wednesday's general audience. At that audience, Pope Benedict XVI also called on all Catholics to pray for the Chinese and their Church during these days that precede the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians. The Holy Father added that on 24 May, "... all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the Faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers." He went on to say: “By our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline.”

In his original 2007 letter to the Catholics of China, Pope Benedict XVI noted that 24 May is the day on which the Church commemorates Our Lady Help of Christians, he therefore urged believers to ask her intercession for the persecuted followers of Christ who live in the People's Republic. In China, the Virgin Mary is venerated under this title at the Shrine of She-Shan, in Shanghai. For this reason, then, the Pope placed this day under the patronage of Our Lady of She-Shan.

Here is a small segment from the Holy Father's 2007 Letter to the Chinese Church, in which he explains his intentions and desire for a universal Day of Prayer on 24 May:
"This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China. I encourage you to celebrate it by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible . . . On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure"
Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us
Our Lady of She-Shan, pray for your children in China

Dylan Parry (A Reluctant Sinner)

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