Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Chongyang – Double Nine Festival
Our good friend, Fr. Michael Saso,
a prolific author of books about Asian culture,
explains it to us:
“In China and most of Asia, old folk's day is the Double-Nine festival
on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month…
The 9/9 festival celebrates the ageing; the ‘flowers that bloom in autumn.’
This festival has been observed since the beginning
of Imperial China (around 200 to 0 BC).”
This year it was celebrated on October 19.
The first week of October a group of Claretian editors gathered in Poland. We were representatives from Spain, Brazil, Argentina, India, Sri Lanka, Poland, United States, Russia, the Philippines and Rome and we spent 4 days sharing, evaluating and projecting our work as publishers.
Representatives from book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world come to the Frankfurt Book Fair in order to negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees. The fair takes place every October. It is claimed to be the biggest in the world, and for five days more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and more than 286,000 visitors take part.
Claretian editors have been participating in this important fair for the last 23 years. It is an excellent opportunity to buy and sell rights and be in personal contact with our publishing partners abroad.
A Filipino charismatic community invited me to attend their prayer meeting last Saturday evening (October 27). Most of them work until 9 pm or even beyond, especially those who have to go from one part-time job to another, so they come to the “house church” for their prayer meeting after 10 pm. While waiting, those who come early pray the rosary. The prayer meeting begins at 10:30 pm with praise songs followed by contrition, thanksgiving, gospel reading, sharing, supplication and concluding prayer and song. The prayer meeting finishes at around midnight, when they serve some food as midnight snack, just like the “nochebuena” on Christmas eve.
Being with the Filipinos, who gather to pray until late at night every Saturday, brought me back to the beginning of our mission in Macau when Fr. Arnold Aberlardo and Br. Rey Alcantara first came here in May 1993. As the Filipinos work the whole day and even at night, the only time to meet them is after their work. So Arnold and Rey then formed prayer communities where the Filipinos could come and gather to pray together and share their faith experiences until early morning. It was like back to the time of the first Christian communities. Rey and I continued this work during the time we were in Macau from 1993 to 2004. We accompanied the Filipino migrant workers here, as we ourselves worked full time and prayed with them at night.
So that night I came home at 1 am, sleepy but inspired by the devotion of these overseas Filipino workers who pray, sing and dance to God while the world spends the night watching TV, playing mahjong, or singing karaoke, or simply enjoying a good night’s rest.
Hundreds of thousands flock to the casinos but only very few go to the charitable institutions in Macau. If we are to experience the beauty of Macau we also need to visit our less fortunate brothers and sisters here, who are psychologically and physically challenged. What is my attitude to them and do I have time to be with them? Or am I too busy with the world around me? These are some of the questions I asked myself when Fr. Peter and I visited some charitable institutions in Macau.
and the Cantonese Challenge
When the Superior General appointed me to Macau he wrote to me, “The first and most important thing is to respect and love the people to whom you have been sent: appreciate their culture, learn their language, and share their joys and struggles.” With this in mind I began to learn Cantonese at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The language study in the Chinese University is something unique. We are 20 students from 13 countries and with different cultural backgrounds. It gives us ample opportunity to learn not only this different language, but also the culture and way of life of the Cantonese Chinese. It is really an enriching experience even as it helps us to be open to other culture and people.
Cantonese is quite difficult to learn, but also very interesting. We had a practical learning experience near a market this first week of October. We were divided into five groups and were asked to buy fruits worth US$3.00. Some of us spoke in Cantonese well and bought some fruits. Some were not precise with their pronunciation and tones, and were chased away from the shops. This experience taught us how important the pronunciation and tones in Cantonese are, which vary the meanings of the words.
Fr. Jojo started celebrating Mass in Cantonese on Claretian Mission Sunday, October 28, 2007. Congratulations, Jojo!
Meanwhile our veteran Fr. Peter Chao is attending a Chinese parish in Macau and celebrating the Mass in Mandarin… like a mustard seed we do our small part in building the Kingdom. And we can say that our community now covers Macau, Zhuhai (China) and Hong Kong.
Can you help?