Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - "Lord, it is good that we are here!" (Mt 17.4): with this motto, taken from the Gospel account of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Catholic cathedral in Beijing, dedicated to the Holy Savior, hosted on Tuesday, October 4, the celebration of the "Feast of the Elderly". The feast provided an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the bond of love that united so many elderly people to Jesus during the long years of their lives. By a happy coincidence, the feast that Chinese tradition dedicates to the elderly, established from year to year following the lunar calendar, this year coincided with the day on which the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memory of Saint Francis of Assisi. A large group of elderly people who during their long life have generously dedicated their energies to witnessing faith in Jesus to the younger generations and to supporting ecclesial works, took part in the Eucharistic celebration, during which the sacrament of the anointing was also administered. At the end of the liturgy, everyone silently prayed for all the elderly, especially for priests who have left this world due to old age, illness or the pandemic. Fr. Zhao Qinglong, parish priest of the cathedral, thanked the elderly as wonderful and precious companions in the priestly journey of all priests, and in the journey of faith of all the baptized.
After the liturgy, the parish priest and his four vice-parish priests put on their aprons to attend to the elderly gathered at the table for the cutting of the cake and the distribution of flowers and small gifts offered by the parish. The elders expressed their grateful joy by singing sacred hymns and reciting poems of faith. The Bishop of Beijing, Joseph Li Shan, also participated in the moment of fraternal sharing, expressing his immense gratitude for those who in their lives have embraced "the mission of transmitting faith in Christ with their example, with their life of prayer and generous dedication, thus announcing the Gospel for the benefit of the entire community, and especially the youngest". At the end, everyone's voices joined to sing the "Salve Regina" under the vaults of the cathedral.
The Elderly Festival, known as the Chongyang Feast ("Double Nine" Feast), falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In Chinese tradition, the elderly are highly respected as they are the symbol of wisdom, skill, experience, selflessness, authority and love. In its millenary history, Chinese culture dedicates a specific
Feast to the elderly. The Catholic community not only has always preserved this tradition, but exalts it to the fullest by living it and celebrating it in the light of Sacred Scripture: "The father of a just man will exult with glee; he who begets a wise son will have joy in him. Let your father and mother have joy; let her who bore you exult" (Pr 23,24-25). The ecclesial life of all Catholic communities in China treasures the important contribution of the elderly: faithful collaborators of priests and nuns, passionate catechists and volunteers, always available to meet the needs of all. On the occasion of the traditional feast of the elderly, several Catholic communities in mainland China organized numerous initiatives to celebrate the elderly and also to walk the path indicated by the Church in the light of the Bible, which recommends that the faithful respect the elderly . In addition to the material aspects, the Church in China also takes special care of the spiritual life of the elderly. On the feast of the elderly, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is usually administered in parishes, in celebrations in which, over the years, an increasing number of baptized people participate. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 5/10/2022)