“…a man of gentle steel…”

In my entry on Card. Zen‘s speaking about the upcoming papal letter to the Chinese there is a comment which deserves special notice (my emphasis):

Cardinal Zen was our parish priest some of the time we lived in Hong Kong. I can tell you all that he is a man of gentle steel, faithfully true to the Church and a liturgical delight. Not only that but he was a real father to his parish.

As for the struggle to be free in China, the following story may interest some:

Twelve years ago, when my daughter was baptised in Hong Kong, the priest who baptised her, Fr Bernard Tohill, SDB, had returned that morning from a short trip into the mainland. He had been asked to go and offer Mass in a small village about 300 miles into China for a community that had been without the Mass since 1949. He had relearned how to say the old Mass and was expecting be be saying Mass for about a dozen people.

When he arrived in the village, there were over 1,000 people waiting to hear Mass and after the first Mass he heard confessions for 6 hours straight. The following day he heard confessions for another 6 or 7 hours before celebrating Mass at which over 700 made their Communion.

The faith in this area had been kept alive by families and small groups meeting to pray the Rosary and to learn the Catechism, for over 45 years.

Whenever I hear stories about China, I am reminded of Fr Bernard’s story and I offer the day’s sufferings, frustrations and joys to our Lord through the intercession of His blessed Motherfor the Church and people in China. Our Lady of Consolation, pray for China.

Comment by Stephen Morgan — 11 April 2007 @ 1:42 pm

Can you imagine the joy of these people at being able to have Mass?

And there are many who whine "Father doesn’t wiggle his little finger at the same point in my St. Joseph’s Daily Missal like old Fr. Ralph did back at St. Ipsydipsy when I was a kid… Father is too fast… Father is too slow… I don’t like the way…. "

 

Two things:

First, when the Motu Proprio comes, even though it might not have everything some would hope for, get down on your knees and thank God for Holy Mass

Second, when you go to your parish, no matter how wreckovated, no matter how disappointing the music or lax the priest, thanks God for Holy Mass.

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12 Responses to “…a man of gentle steel…”

  1. ray from mn says:

    Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

  2. Wow. Thank you, Stephen Morgan, for sharing that story! I live in awe of such faithful, embattled Christians.

    Reminds me of a story from a Korean War military chaplain during December, 1950, in the village of Majonni (excerpt from _Blessings from the Battlefield_)
    “Having been denied permession to fight our way out, we knew that any day would bring hordes of Chinese and North Korean Communists who could easily overrun our position. The good people of Majonni were keenly aware of this reality and lived in daily fear.
    “One day [Dec. 4] as I walked through the village with a priestly stole in my hand, a civilian approached me, kissed the stole, and led me to the chief of the village. Through an interpreter I learned that the entire village was Catholic, yet hadn’t seen a priest for two years. I offered to hear confessions and celebrate Mass for them.
    “They assembled at two in the afternoon and the entire village lined up to have confessiojns heard…. I proceeded to offer Mass atop a stack of ammunition crates, and all proceeded well until I announced Holy Communion. The entire congregation objected with vigorous shakes of the head — it was afternoon and they hadn’t fasted — until I assured them that I could give them permission to do so. […]
    “On December 6 the North Korean Communiists overran Majonni and killed everyone in the village. […]”

    Yes, indeed, Father — thank God for Holy Mass!

  3. Jon says:

    And of course there’s this unforgettable testament to Chinese Faith.

    From the Cardinal Kung Foundation:

    “A couple of months before his death he was interviewed on national television. One of the questions was this: ‘Bishop Sheen, you have inspired millions of people all over the world. Who inspired you? Was it a Pope?’

    Bishop Sheen responded that it was not a Pope, a Cardinal, another Bishop, or even a priest or a nun. It was a little Chinese girl of eleven years of age. He explained that when the Communists took over China, they imprisoned a priest in his own rectory near the Church.

    After they locked him up in his own house, the priest was horrified to look out of his window and see the Communists proceed into the Church, where they went into the sanctuary and broke into the tabernacle. In an act of hateful desecration, they took the ciborium and threw it on the floor with all of the Sacred Hosts spilling out. The priest knew exactly how many Hosts were in the ciborium: thirty-two.

    When the Communists left, they either did not notice, or didn’t pay any attention to a small girl praying in the back of the Church who saw everything that had happened.

    That night the little girl came back. Slipping past the guard at the priest’s house, she went inside the Church. There she made a holy hour of prayer, an act of love to make up for the act of hatred. After her holy hour she went into the sanctuary, knelt down, bent over and with her tongue received Jesus in Holy Communion, since it was not permissible at that time for laymen to touch the Sacred Host with their hands.

    The little girl continued to come back each night to make her holy hour and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on her tongue. On the thirty-second night, after she had consumed the last and thirty-second host, she accidentally made a noise and woke the guard who was sleeping. He ran after her, caught her, and beat her to death with the butt of his rifle.

    This act of heroic martyrdom was witnessed by the priest as he watched grief-stricken from his bedroom window.

    When Bishop Sheen heard the story he was so inspired that he promised God he would make a holy hour of prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament everyday of his life. If this little Chinese girl could risk her life everyday to express her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with a holy hour and Holy Communion, then, at the very least, the Bishop thought he should do the same.”

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    The following day he heard confessions for another 6 or 7 hours before celebrating Mass at which over 700 made their Communion.

    One can only wonder how many EMHC’s this required!

  5. Geoffrey says:

    Amen, Father! :-)

  6. tim says:

    Father,
    “First, when the Motu Proprio comes, even though it might not have everything some would hope for, get down on your knees and thank God for Holy Mass”

    Um…. NO PROBLEM!

    Henry,
    “The following day he heard confessions for another 6 or 7 hours before celebrating Mass at which over 700 made their Communion.

    One can only wonder how many EMHC’s this required!”

    Is this a philosophical poser, like How Many Angels can Dance on the Head of a Pin?

    Or, more likely, that however many were needed, they were all culled from an AARP tour group with comfortable sneakers who just happened to pass by on their way to the Great Wall.

  7. Lydia says:

    You are right, Father. Sometimes I need to be reminded of the great Gift we have received in the mass. It’s easy to get bogged down with the frustration of having to teach our four children the faith over and against what is said during mass, and I don’t want them to miss the supernatural events because the natural are so obnoxious. Thank you.

  8. Thanks, Father! Amen indeed.

    Henry Edwards, I know from reading here that you are reasonable and well-intentioned and don’t have a problem distinguishing between Father Z.’s “Father doesn’t wiggle his little finger at the same point in my St. Joseph’s Daily Missal like old Fr. Ralph did back at St. Ipsydipsy” etc issues and real ones (EMHCs, e.g.) but some people seem honestly unable to do that, which is going to be a serious problem when the eventual MP is published. I can’t figure out why this is; maybe not having been in the pews until after ’75 has something to do with it.

  9. woodyjones says:

    Noted: it was the Old Mass that they expected and he said for them.

  10. Stephen Morgan says:

    I suspect that there were no EMHCs and the Fr Bernard just stuck at it until the people were fed.

  11. Sean says:

    The Church is always best under pressure. With no time to squander on justice and peace workshops, ecumenism with local heretics and the like. Just sacraments.

  12. Nick says:

    They had a movie on EWTN a few months ago about the Catholics in China. It broke my heart to see these Catholics go week after week WITHOUT a priest in town! Sunday after sunday they would ALL crowd the church and just sit an pray! A priest could only come by about 1-2 times per year IF they were lucky!

    Thanks Fr Z for reminding me about this, I forgot about that EWTN documentary and for the last few months I have been critical and dare I say ungrateful about what masses are available where I live. On one hand I cant stand the disrespectful masses but on the other hand thank God I can at least attend them and confession!

    Its a good reminder how we have to be grateful for what we do have.