Cardinal Zen: Latin Mass nourishes persecuted Chinese Catholics

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CEBU City, Jan. 29, 2016 – Delegates to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) flocked to the beautiful chapel of Asilo de la Milagrosa on Jan. 26 to assist at the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) offered by Hong Kong Bishop Emeritus Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-Kiun, who remembered how the Latin Mass was a source of strength for persecuted Catholics in China.

Joseph Cardinal Zen offers the Traditional Latin Mass at Asilo de la Milagrosa in Cebu. (Photo: Maurice Almadrones)

“The Mass offered in this fashion nourished our faith, nourished our vocation. And so many people in my native town Shanghai were fortified … by receiving the faith from this Mass, and during the time of persecution, they were so strong,” said the prelate, an outspoken critic of Beijing’s tight grip on Chinese Catholics.

Communist rule

Zen, recalled how the “Tridentine” Mass had nourished the faith of his compatriots amid upheaval in China. Zen, 85, was among those who fled Communist rule in the mainland for Hong Kong, where he joined the Salesians.

He nonetheless praised the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council which allowed the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular languages, now called the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. He also thanked the Pope for allowing the continued use of the Extraordinary Form.

“It’s good that the Church promoted the liturgical reform, especially because the people don’t understand Latin. So it’s good to use their own language. But then it’s still good to carry on this tradition (TLM). So we are very thankful to the Pope who granted this,” he said.

‘Sense of mystery’

The TLM inspires a “sense of adoration” and keeps the Eucharist’s “sense of mystery,” said Zen. Zen offered the Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament in what has been called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite with a number of priests in coro or choir dress, including Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo of the Diocese of Cubao and Fr. Joseph Skelton of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.

Latin is no longer the lingua franca, acknowledged Zen. “But the whole ceremony inspires majesty, solemnity.”

“In this way of saying the Mass, you don’t even hear the priest pronouncing the words. But you know what this means, because so many times, we hear, we pray … So we understand what is going on,” he added.

Through an announcement at the IEC Pavilion, congress delegates were invited to the Mass organized by Societas Ecclesia Dei Sancti Ioseph (Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph)-Una Voce Philippines. (Felipe Francisco / CBCP News)

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