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Bishop Ma reflects on isolation

HONG KONG (SE): Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin marked 100 days of confinement at Sheshan Seminary on November 3 with a reflective posting on his blogsite, later published by AsiaNews.

He recalls that his father had resisted him when he said that he wanted to enter the seminary and become a priest, because he, his younger brother and his father had all been put in prison by the communist authorities for their Catholic faith during the 1950s.

He said that when he finally did depart for the seminary, his father said to him, “If you are determined to go, do not come back and do not give up when you are halfway through.”

Bishop Ma then notes, “I did not hesitate to answer, of course. I have kept this promise until today. I am going to keep it until the day I grow old, if God wishes me to live to an old age.” He then adds, “This is a very small promise that a son made to his father. Is such a promise the faith of a humble and frail son?”

However, he regrets that he was not with his father when he died, only a few hours after he left to return to the seminary after holidays.

He also recalls that his mother said to him by telephone when he was isolated in hospital by an atypical pneumonia, thought at the time to be SARS, which prevented him from visiting her before she died, “Although the cross God gave us was heavy, we must be able to bear it. The merciful God would no give us a cross that we cannot carry.”

He said that he thought of his parents recently when he was alone in his room. “I felt extremely grateful that they have passed away so early, because they do not have to worry about me. They were honest and sincere all through their lives, but they have suffered one political movement after another. Only people of their generation can truly appreciate the struggles they have gone through.”

He adds, “If they were alive today, I don’t know how nervous and worried about me they would be! Even when Catholics started coming to see me after August, their first words were often, ‘Have you been beaten up?’ and then most likely, ‘you look thin and gaunt’.”

Bishop Ma concludes, “Sometimes, what you experience in a few days, weeks or months can be more than what you have for your whole life. Witnessing the dynamics among people and the vicissitudes, you grow to become mature and you grow to become old gradually.”

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