CHINA – A group of Catholics from Kuching was in China over the Easter Triduum (20-22 March) and participated in Good Friday service in St Anthony’s Church, ShenZhen and Easter Vigil in Sacred Heart Cathedral, GuangZhou. The short write-up below gives some of the differences between the Easter Triduum services there and in Malaysia.
When the group arrived for the Good Friday service, they found that the Blessed Sacrament was in exposition on the temporary Table of Repose which was located in the front of the Church near the entrance under a large canopy. Presumably the exposition had continued since the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. A number of the faithful were in attendance.
The service began at 3pm with the Stations of the Cross followed by the normal Good Friday Service, with the priest wearing red vestments. The veneration of the Cross was a time-consuming process as there was only one cross. Besides, many of the faithful kissed all the wounds of Christ.
Just prior to the distribution of Holy Communion, the priest brought the consecrated hosts from the temporary tabernacle placed behind the Table of Repose in procession under a canopy like the one usually used for Corpus Christi procession. At the end of the service, a temporary purple curtain was drawn so that the sanctuary was closed off.
The Easter Vigil in GuangZhou began with the lighting of the Easter fire outside the Cathedral. The lights of the Cathedral were kept off until the New Testament reading. As the Gloria was sung and the bells rung, the lights were turned on and flowers placed on the altar.
About 70 catechumens were baptised during the Mass. The baptism by pouring of water was held near the entrance of the Cathedral. It was administered by a Deacon.
After all were baptised, the newly baptised were given the light from the Easter candle and then led in procession into the Cathedral by the Deacon carrying the Easter candle to the applauding welcome of the congregation.
The renewal of baptismal promises by the faithful was skipped but the people were sprinkled with holy water, after which confirmation of the newly baptised took place. The newly baptised then sang a hymn together affirming their new-found faith, before the Liturgy of the Eucharist commenced.
After the final blessing, a representative of the newly baptised gave a sharing on their journey of faith.
The whole service, which lasted two and a half hours, was prayerfully filled with beautiful hymns set in distinctly Chinese tunes.
Some members of the Kuching group also attended the English Easter Sunday Mass which is usually celebrated at 3.30pm. To the surprise of the group, over 90% of the 1,500-2,000 people present were Africans with the balance being Filipinos.
During the offertory procession, the Africans brought up bags of rice, toilet paper, crates of Coca-Cola, and live chickens. Apparently, they had bought these items as offerings which the priest would use at his discretion, including distributing to the poor and needy.
Chan Lek Lim