I am now in Macau until November 18 since I do not teach at the National Seminary in Beijing for 5 weeks to give way to our visiting teachers from October 15 to November 20. I also make use of this time to observe English classes at the Inter-University Institute of Macau as part of my MATESOL. It feels good to be back to my adopted hometown and to be with my Claretian brothers here.
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.