Monday, December 26, 2005

Midnight Mass in Macau

We got to Midnight Mass a little late, at about 11:35 pm. The church was overflowing, with a crowd crammed in the back. I spotted a space near the rear left of the nave, next to a side altar (with a host of unapologetically Eurpoean-looking saints surrounding an altar with an image of Divine Mercy. By midnight, there was barely any room to stand.

The congregation was largely Chinese, with a smattering of foreigners (several Indians), dressed to the hilt. Several had cameras and were taking pictures as Mass started (but thankfully, stopped after it started). The most annoying thing was (and hardly surprising given their ubiquity in China) the more than occasional cell-phone going off. A lady near us received at least half a dozen text messages during Mass, completely unfazed.

About half-way down the nave on either side, large platforms had been set up with TV cameras, and the whole church was floodlit. Apparently, the Mass is televised.

Mass was celebrated by the Bishop, with several concelebrants, in Cantonese. I peeked over the shoulder of the guy in the pew next to me, to follow along in the trilingual booklet (Cantonese, Portuguese, English) that were in very short supply. The first reading was in Cantonese, the second in Portuguese. The Bishop's homily was in Cantonese, Portuguese and English, relatively short (given the repetition, no doubt): the child that is born brings peace, justice, obedience and truth to a world that sorely needs it.

During the Gloria, a priest processed with altar servers to the creche towards the back of the nave to blace the infant Jesus in it. (Just the recessional, the Bishop processed back there and incensed the creche. The infant was carried out in procession.)

The choir was fantastic: several familiar carols (all in Cantonese), with a Gregorian Kyrie, a really beautiful Alleluia, and Adeste Fideles (in Latin) as the recessional. I didn't recognize the rest of the music.

This is the first time I've been somewhere where the GIRM's suggestion, that the Creed be learnt and prayed in Latin, in a slightly complicated Gregorian melody. It didn't seem like anyone really participated, and I wonder whether this is the best text to start congregational Latin participation.

During the Prayers of the Faithful (and given their strong connection to Macau, and with St. Francis Xavier, one of the patrons of my native land), I prayed especially for the Society of Jesus and all the Jesuits I know.

生 诞 快 乐 Shèng dàn kuài lè! Merry Christmas!

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yaniv said...
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