The Catholic Community of the Archdiocese of Beijing celebrates not only the reopening of the church after six months of closure due to government anti-Covid regulations, but also the sacraments of Christian initiation of 101 catechumens, mostly adults. Before dawn on July 16, the day of reopening, the faithful, both young and old, were waiting outside the gate, rejoicing at being able to resume their spiritual, liturgical and pastoral activities in the presence of their beloved community. The first stop, as always, was prayer in front of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and finally in front of the altar to give thanks to the Lord for this moment.
The Cathedral complex, with the church, the courtyard and the sacristy were again filled with prayers, spiritual songs, smiles and even the “noise” of the children. At five o’clock in the afternoon of July 16, the participants in the catechism course were baptized and received the other sacraments of Christian initiation, Confirmation and First Communion, from Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing.
The emotion and joy was seen on their faces and those of the community, but also on those of the catechists, priests, nuns and lay catechists who accompanied them on their journey of faith during the pandemic.
Referring to Psalm 126 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (cf. 126, 6),
Msgr. Li encouraged those present to keep this wonderful experience. “Through baptism you are children of light, through confirmation you are sent by Christ”. And “baptism is not a mere ritual, but an interior conversion. Live an authentic life of faith now, put on a new spirit and a new identity, which is Christian … you shall be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, incarnating Christ and bearing witness to our Lord with love and works”.
The parish priest of the Cathedral, Fr. Joseph Zhao, thanked all those who had followed the long journey of faith and asked everyone to continue to protect these “new seedlings” of the community so that they can grow together in the Church on the path of synodality. With the reopening, the Cathedral resumed its normal liturgical and pastoral activities.