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Our Lady of Sheshan, Help of Christians - Shanghai: Photo by Peter Potrowl

Today, particularly in Australia and in China, Catholic Christians are celebrating

OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS. Please pray especially for Chinese Christians (and Chinese peoples of other faiths as well) who are still suffering for their beliefs in what had become for a while a more-tolerant society.

A report in "The Guardian" last October highlighted how China’s Communist party is intensifying religious persecution as Christianity’s popularity grows. A new state translation of the Bible will establish a ‘correct understanding’ of the text in line with the "ideals" of the Communist Party in China.

“Ten years ago, we used to be able to say the party was not really interested in what people believed internally,” said Eva Pils, a professor of law at King’s College London, focusing on human rights. “Xi Jinping’s response is much more invasive and it is in some ways returning to Mao-era attempts to control hearts and minds.”

Bibles, sales of which have always been controlled in China, are no longer available for purchase online, a loophole that had existed for years. In December, Christmas celebrations were banned in several schools and cities across China.

As China experienced an explosion in the number of religious believers, the government has grown wary of Christianity and Islam in particular, with their overseas links.

In Xinjiang, a surveillance and internment system has been built for as many as two million Muslims to be "re-educated". Xi has called for the country to guard against “infiltration” through religion and extremist ideology.

Uighur men in a "re-education camp" in Xinjiang province

As of 2018, the government has implemented sweeping rules on religious practices, adding more requirements for religious groups and barring unapproved organisations from engaging in any religious activity. But the campaign is not just about managing behaviour. One of the goals of a government work plan for “promoting Chinese Christianity” between 2018 and 2022 is “thought reform”. The plan calls for “retranslating and annotating” the Bible, to find commonalities with socialism and establish a “correct understanding” of the text.

Catholics wait to take communion at Palm Sunday mass in a ‘house church’ near Shijiazhuang. Photo- Kevin Frayer

✠ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


and offer to the Lord what lies ahead of you today…

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen.


….for Christians and people of other faiths in China;

and to pray with you for particular individuals,

especially for those who do not know her Son.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trails, continue to believe, to hope, to love.

May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,

and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,

offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.

Pray with us for people of faith

in China.

Hail, Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with thee,

blessed art thou among women,

and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

pray for us sinners, now,

and at the hour of our death.


…and may there be peace within me….

The Universal Prayer for Peace - Satish Kumar

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe, Peace, Peace, Peace….. (a time for silent prayer)

Reading: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope:

my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning.” (Psalm 130: 5-6)

God’s name is holy; from one generation to another

He shows mercy to those who honour him.

He has stretched out his mighty arm

and scattered the proud in their plans.

He has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things.

He has sent the rich away empty-handed.

He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors,

and has come to the help of those who listen to Him.

Magnificat (Iona)

Mary speaks of a time when all will enjoy the good things given by God.” so says the radical South American theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez. “We will miss the meaning of the text with attempts to tone down what Mary’s song tells us about the preferential love of God for the lowly and the abused."

Mary, no longer just a silent figure in the nativity scene, has become the focal point for many Christians to try our best to follow Christ in actively looking for true justice to come to fruition.

The economic and political world-view of many Western non-Catholics has led to a silencing of Mary and of God’s dream for the world. But now it is not only Catholics but other Christians who acknowledge how she is helping us to trust that the eventual upending of present global systems will be good news.

Disturbing God,

you identify with the weak and powerless,

and surprise us as we seek to do your will.

Help us to find true hope in the now of our action

rather than in the distant future of our longing. Joy Tetley.

PRAYING IN THE PANDEMIC – thank you, Kathryn L. for this prayer

May we who are merely inconvenienced,

remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors,

remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home,

remember those who must choose

between preserving their health or paying their rent.

May we who have the flexibility

to care for our children when their schools close,

remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips,

remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home,

remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country,

let us choose love.

During this time

when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,

let us yet find ways to be

the loving embrace of God to our neighbours. Amen.

Jesus prayed to his Father for the coming of God’s Kingdom.

With Him we say:

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name;

Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory;

for ever and ever. Amen.


Good caring presence within us, around us, and above us;

Hold us in a sense of mystery and wonder.

Let the fullness of your goodness be within us and around us.

Let all the world know your ways of caring and generosity.

May we find we have all we need to meet each day

without undue anxiety.

Overlook our many stupidities,

and help us to release everyone from their stupidities.

May we know we are accepted.

Strengthen us that we will reach out to the best,

always with the faith to rise above the ugly realities of our existence.

And we celebrate the gifts you have given us:

the rich kingdom of life’s possibilities,

the power to do good and the triumphs of good,

and the moments when we have seen

the glory and wonder of everything.

You are life’s richness.

You are life’s power.

You are life’s ultimate meaning.

Always. And for everyone.

And for ever more. Amen. (F. Macnab)

Let us bless the Lord;

and may the souls of the faithful departed,

through the mercy of God, ✠ rest in peace and rise in glory.

As Jesus left His followers, they returned to The Upper Room in Jerusalem with Mary His Mother, to devote themselves in prayer. They did this for the next nine days;

and on the tenth day they experienced empowerment to do what Jesus asked of them. The name of this time of prayer, “NOVENA”, is derived from the Latin “Novem” – nine. We wait in prayer in these days leading to Pentecost to pray for the world in the grip of this pandemic, and to discover how best we can serve in the light of it.

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