DECEMBER 05, 2010, Vol 60, No 24

Image of Our Lady, Empress of China, in Beijing’s North Church

Dorothy Esposo Claro visits the sites associated with the famous Jesuit during his 400th death anniversary.

I was blessed to have been part of a pilgrimage group that journeyed from Manila to China from Oct 15-22.

The trip was to track the mission trail of Fr Matteo Ricci to China, whose 400th death anniversary is celebrated worldwide this year.

The journey helped me to know the famous 16th-century Italian Jesuit who brought the Gospel to China at a time the country had cut itself off from the Western world. A group of priests led our group of 47 lay Catholics, most of whom were from parishes and schools of the Jesuit Chinese- Filipino apostolate.

From Macau airport, we went to St Joseph’s Seminary Church, which houses the famous bone relic of St Francis Xavier (1506- 1552), co-founder of the Jesuits. Fr Ricci arrived in the then Portuguese trading post of Macau in 1582. Here, he began to learn Chinese and was one of the early Western scholars to master the language and script.
I AM one of those people who find it difficult to throw things away. Sometimes with my hand suspended in the air ready to dunk a piece of junk-mail, I will hear a voice saying, “This might come in useful sometime”. And nine out of 10 times, whatever I was about to throw would end up on a pile on my desk.

But “sometime” never comes! So day by day, week by week, the brochures would pile up on my desk until they literally start to spill over the edge. Every year during Advent (which happily coincides with the year end), I harden my resolve and will throw out anything that I have not touched in the last 12 months. This major exercise sometimes takes a week. With some things, the decision is easy.

With others, it is more difficult; these are things I’ve developed an attachment to. Throw … don’t throw … throw … don’t throw … the refrain goes on in my head. At the end of the exercise, I would have gotten rid of 30 percent of the things on my desk. With a leaner workstation, I will notice a couple of things in the coming days. First, there is less physical clutter and I am able to find the things I need more easily. Second, there are less distractions and I will find it easier to get down to writing an article or checking my email or surfing the net.
I BELIEVE that we are called to live a spiritual life. That God has planted in each of us a seed of His divine nature. This seed is meant to be nurtured, to grow and blossom into a tree of life that is truly in God’s image. And I believe that we humans and all of creation are bound together in a great bond of blessing.

Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart (1260-1329) called creation “the first grace”. Hence, Creation can be understood as God’s original gift to us. We experience the gift of creation in our sense of wonder at the birth of a child, for instance, and awe at the sight of a stunningly beautiful sunrise or sunset. There is, in each of us, a yearning to experience all that is good, beautiful and true – echoing the divine nature within.

“We and all creatures are here to connect to the grace in one another and to the Source of all things,” says Matthew Fox, on interpreting Eckhart’s creation spirituality. Eckhart’s spirituality is one that is steeped in a passion for creation and rooted in compassion. It carries with it, as in biblical tradition, the responsibilities of justice-making.
I recall the CatholicNews in my childhood days having a section where kids can do crossword puzzles or colour pictures. Now that I am a mother of two and my six-year-old boy enjoys flipping through CN, I am wondering if the team can consider having such a section again so that the young ones can have a section devoted to them. You might like to consider Bible trivia, short stories (maybe in comic form), puzzles and colouring.

Thank you.

Cheryl Clair Teo,
I would like to highlight a trend we are witnessing today in our Church in Singapore on the deteriorating reverence for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Step into any church and it is not uncommon to see kids drawing, playing with their toys, eating and drinking in the pews, or running around during Mass. Among adults, many spot bermudas or shorts and slippers, engage in the latest gossip or text friends on their mobile phones, oblivious to others who are trying to worship God.

The Mass is where we encounter Christ our King and Brother in His flesh, divinity and soul, and in all His glory in the Eucharist as the Saviour of all. We become part of Heaven on earth, joining the saints who have gone before us and all the choirs of angels in our worship of the Father.