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BEIJING CHURCHES



20-th of August after 40 days laying down in the bad because of kidneys problem I waked up finally and made grate walk in the center of the city. Just after breakfast and taking portion of hormones I have gone from my flat in direction of Bus stop. In Sunday there is less traffic as usual so I set down on the banc and took in my breast early morning smog of Beijing. Near there some handsome Chinese boys and nice dressed ladies waiting patiently in silence. Near bus stop small shops and plastic chairs with same tables were serving people as fresh air restaurant. People were eating cheep soy soup with funny Chinese bread. Hundreds of 20 flour houses of "Rainbow Garden" gave us shadow saving from hot morning sun rays.

1. Qian Men

In Beijing you do not need to buy ticket in the bus. If you have plastic card you may just fix on the sensor and automatically you are right passenger. I have no plastic card so I need each time explain to conductor the name of the station where I wish to leave because prices are different.

I know some places in Beijing but I do not know exactly their stop names. Also my pronunciation is so bad that ever may mistake. It is big confusion to me.

I just said shin (heart) which have meaning Center in Chinese. After one hour travel the lady wished me to leave the bus because there was a stop Qian Men (pronounced tsian) which mean Entering Door (to the Palace)...in her opinion as most foreigners I wished to visit museum, but I explained her by body language that I have to continue my travel ad she became silent.

2. St. Joseph on Wan Fu Jien

In Ukraine especially in Kharkov-Zaporozhe diocese st. Joseph is venerated very much. Especially we venerate Him in Donbass, the place where I am actually employed as a priest. One parish in Donieck has his name and the second in Makeevka city. I was happy seeing in the court a grate white statue of st. Joseph with infant Jesus in His brains similar style as in Makeevka garden.

There were no walls around the court but nice symbolic door at front of the entrance to the church.

The road to the church made nicely from stones. The walls of the church also made from stones.

Three towers with couples in pseudo Romanic style. It is difficult to precise the age of the church. In my opinion 100 even 200 years. Church is situated very nicely just on the most beautiful street in the city where many excursions start to see the Tien An Men Place. There is a funny to section law bus similar like attraction in Disneyland. There are children but also adults travel this way to have fun.

The people near the church was not very interested entering in. Many benches near the church serve just for a rest fro many elderly people or just for tourists.

Even some Europeans behave like they came to have rendezvous not a prayer. At the entrance some beggars with inscriptions asking support.

3. Memories from childhood.

Such a moments I loose myself. I start to be nervous and unsatisfied.

Sometime in Rome seeing well known from the books statues of Vatican and holy pictures I said to myself Vatican have to be much more impressive. It seemed too simple. Same in Paris. I expected Notre Dame have to be much more beautiful I realized, also the number of people was disturbing my observations.

Also in Beijing. I liked the celebration. Altar boys: 3 pairs in red and white dressings. Procession with gifts was with participation of small children, very amazing. Incense, two lay persons were collecting money using long batons and red sacs with Chinese inscriptions on them.

The people were answering nicely all the questions of the priest. In the black electronic tables people were seeing the text of answers also the number of the page during singing songs.

During the Mass two priest were confessing people. There was huge of people to holly Communion taking the host on the hand with a big attention. After the Mass another 30 people which confessed later came to take Jesus. The songs were very familiar to me. Some Gregorian motives even some other which we sing with youngsters in Europe.

The choir was with numerous and professional singers. I got impression that I am in my native town on holydays. But something was bothering me, difficult to say, what exactly it was that time again.

4. Blooding wound.

When I started my trip to China I said myself that I will do effort to touch the blooding wound of the church which is artificially divided and persecuted. Also I was thinking that I may be cured miraculously by touching this blooding wound. Yes, by that visit I got much joy. In my spirit I got also some destruction. Time to time I got impression there is more theatre than prayer. Holly Mass starts at 6.15, 7.oo and 8.oo

It is too early for some people even Chinese taking in mind big distance the people have to travel from some regions of Beijing. The celebration in Sunday have to be longer than one hour, the speech and Sunday announcements take time, but not here.

Especially I got confusion during wedding ceremony with using music from audio-player and applauding the young couple...everything artificial like in Hollywood movies.

Yes, the man have to be touched seeing these numerous peoples attending the Mass, but the way people here bless their couples with closed doors and without real singing seemed to much formalistic.

Without knowing local customs, thinking the priest may have time after the Mass I asked confession from one of the local priests. With our broken English both of us we were "trying to have Sacrament"...

Unfortunately all attention of my younger colleague was directed to people coming on wedding, finally in the middle of confession, the priest has gone to talk with them. He explained something and returned to me.

Same time some workers were putting flowers on the benches, cleaning the floor.

You may think: details, we have to be happy having Catholic Church in the center of Beijing outside very nice inside needs some reparations.

5. "Confession" of st. Joseph.

Inside the church in the central nef 2 lines each 30 four places benches. In right and left nefs I counted 16 similar size small benches. It means that on each celebration it may sit down about 500 people here.

On 3 celebrations 1.500 people were praying in 15 million citizens city.

I have nobody to ask but I suppose it is the church belonging to so called "Patriotic Association", which has to serve "two Lords". Yes they have also problems like "underground church", but because of declaring obedience to the Communist Party, they are more privileged.

How many celebrations happened that day in the underground in Beijing...I have no idea.

The walls inside which were no cleaned many years were giving me same impression like old and damaged just returned churches in Ukraine or Belarus.

Windows decorated with colored glasses in geometrical forms. Higher than tabernacle the big picture of st. Joseph illuminated by 40 simple lamps. Traditional presbytery with metallic barriers and big baldachin on four barocco style colons: so called "confession" behind the altar.

Left side of the altar the statue of Heart of Jesus one meter high, right side the same size Holly Mary from Lourdes.

I saw also outside the desk with pictures from daily life of the parish. Catechization of children, some pictures from first Communion, priest washing legs to elderly people in Holly Thursday Liturgy.

Far away I observed some other buildings similar style as the church, have to be some Parish House here...

6. St. Michael Archangel.

This day I got real happiness, during having a walk in direction of Hotel Beijing, enjoying nice stret of Wan Fu Jien I met the church of st. Michael. I saw his towers from the window in the bus so my legs took me there by intuition, even nice street finished.

After 20 minutes walking I got sure that it is neo Gothic style church very similar to cathedral in Kharkov city in Ukraine, also same restoration was made on the tower which here and there were damaged same way during taking out the crosses.

Also the big house at the main side of the church was rebuild such a way to make the church invisible.

Nice gothic style entrance and stairs. Small but full of people garden.

In st. Josephs church you may meet all the generations of parishioners, here you may meet mostly the youngsters. I got impression all the students from Beijing came here to have a prayer.

The young priest friendly talking with them on the stairs.

I was hurry to see the church before closing, so I was not disturbing the priest this time.

Church looked small from outside but inside I realized is similar size as st. Joseph so also here 500 people may pray on the Sunday Mass.

I asked somebody talking English to explain me where I can find addresses of another churches.

Also I was told that church was returned 8 years ago and local Korean Diaspora has meetings here once a week.

I was very impressed that such a small percentage of Korean Catholics is so active that got permission to have original Korean Priest from South Korea.

I was thinking myself why so numerous expatriates from the West Europe and America are not pretending the same. Why Polish people in the embassy is so passive. Some day we will have Olympic Games here. Our people will be very happy to have "own place" and own priest in Beijing...perhaps Chinese government will permit such activity.

7. Stupid ideas.

I am feeling that slowly China is following the same way as other post-communist countries. I am also afraid to be late like in Russia. Freedom of faith came earlier than Vatican expected and had no prepared missionary people to go there in time when religious enthusiasm was on the top.

China has own clergy: in the mainland and also in Taiwan, Singapore and Hong-Kong. You have to take in mind that we have 10 time more Chinese than Russians so the number of missionary people working here some day (in case of freedom)have to be huge.

Concerning Polish politicians I wish to say that visiting Russia or Ukraine communist Party member President Kwasniewski ever visited local Catholics and Russian authorities never disturbed him.

Also in the far past happened that Russians invited Charles de Gaulle to visit both Moscow and Leningrad. He made sure first that he my visit during his trip both places Catholic Church and pray there. There was so called French Church in Moscow just at the from of KGB on Malaya Lubyanka street. Unfortunately all the 20 churches in Leningrad were closed so they opened one on Kowenski pereulok and never closed again. It was also "French church", Holly Mary of Lourdes...

Both Charles de Gaulle and Kwasniewski: testified by this, that having Catholic church in Moscow or Leningrad is prestigious also for politicians.

This appeal I am addressing to the conscience of Catholic politicians in Beijing.

Perhaps it is still possible to have in Chinese capital a bit more national centers of pastoral activities fro expatriates than Korean one on more foreign priests especially on the eve of Olympic Games when the number of foreign Catholics visiting China will grow.

All around the Russia you may meet the parishes praying Holly Mass in Polish.

In Moscow there is a Church where Sunday Mass in celebrated in 7 languages by 7 original foreign pastors from Spain, Korea, Armenia, Germany...in Kharkov you may attend holly Mass in Vietnamese.

There is nothing to be afraid, it just have to be talking about it and some day the resolution of the problem will happen. It may happen in st. Michael church again it may happen in st. Joseph...there is no Holly Mass in the noon or afternoon, so the church is empty this hours... I know, sending such appeal I may be dismissed some day from china...but even so I will not keep silence, because it comes from my heart.

8. Tien An Men

15 years ago during Gorbachovs visit in Beijing local students realizing in him symbol of "peace and restoration" in communist camp made some demonstration on Tien an Men which is the same as Red Square in Moscow symbolic place.

Tanks killed hundreds of them, nobody punished until now, such is Chinese freedom now.

Meditating their sacrifice I took rosary and made small pilgrimage deeply praying "these innocent and immaculate souls" to help my staying here. No doubt they died also for such a man like me, for freedom of my staying here even working. For opened churches and empty prisons, even they did not know Jesus they behave like Him, it is why I decided venerate them this nice day of my first visit in church of Beijing.

Slowly I realized, I am still a sick man so it was time to come back to my Rainbow Garden House...next week I will obligatory come back to have a look for a doctor.


F. Jaroslaw Wisniewski - Beijing 25 August 2006

Losowe / Random

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