Shanghai (AsiaNews) -"Lord, today is the last day of the Lunar New Year in 2013. Thank you Lord for the countless graces in the past year. Please lead us with peace and joy to leap into the new year," says Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin of Shanghai in his weibo, miniblog in China, this morning of Jan. 30, the eve of Lunar New Year, which is the Year of Horse.
Over the past year, Bishop Ma has been restricted in his activities.
In his prayer today, Bishop Ma quoted Jesus' words to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25).
Bishop Ma's supporters responded by sending him Chinese New Year greetings.
In mainland China, parish priests are now busy preparing for faith formation programs for Catholics who worked or studied afar would return home once a year.
In Xianxian (Cangzhou) diocese, about 50 Catholics who have returned home for their New Year vacation jointly repaired a road happily in their neighborhood amid a chilling weather on Jan. 25, according to a report in Faith Press.
Chinese Catholics are greeting each other in chat groups, by phones and at gatherings "Peace at Year of the Horse" (馬年平安) and many wishes. A Catholic said he hoped Bishop Thaddeus Ma will be freed in the coming year. "Ma" literally means "horse".
Today, Jan 30, in Shjiazhuang-based Faith Press website, an article by Zhang Guanglai thanked God for the past year as China was changing and for a stable relation between China and the Vatican, and he looked forward to the new year.
Reviewing the year 2013, Zhang praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's "reforms" on anti-corruptions, and the "humility" of the emeritus Pope Benedict XVI who broke the Church's thousand years' tradition to retire and keep praying with us silently. Zhang appreciated Pope Francis' "freshness" for his love for the poor and living a simple life.
In his article, Zhang "remembers" several elderly bishops who passed away in 2013, who were of Ningxia, Shandong, Shanghai and Hebei. He recalled the Catholics in different parts of China were filled with "enthusiasm" to support the Year of Faith during which they studied hard Bible, catechism and Church teaching.
The writer Zhang looked forward to the 2014, and prayed for the Chinese leaders' wisdom and strength and justice be shown among the Chinese people. He also prays for good health of Pope Benedict XVI and the incumbent Pope Francis.
(Photo: picture published by Msgr. Ma, the text reads "We thank God for the graces of 2013, we look forward with confidence to the new year)