BEIJING (SE): The Catholic community in mainland China celebrated the beginning of Lent in communion with the universal Church, paying particular attention to being in tune with the Jubilee of Mercy.
Fides reported that the rite of distribution ashes was marked in Changshu in the diocese of Suzhou, where a 98-year-old priest placed the ashes in the sign of the cross on the foreheads of hundreds of people.
The priest encouraged those present to follow the path of Lent, saying, “Fasting, prayer, works of mercy and the joy of faith are the basic elements of living the spirit of Lent. In this, we can renew ourselves and be converted to God the Father who always welcomes us.”
The parish of St. Anthony in the city of Shenzhen celebrated the rite on the Sunday following Ash Wednesday, February 14, the first Sunday of Lent. The pastor expressed the hope that “the Lord’s mercy reaches the largest possible number of people.”
The cathedral church in Wenzhou began the journey of Lent with a retreat. Over 400 people availed themselves of the Lunar New Year holiday to do a two-day retreat on February 10 and 11, during which they reflected on the letter of Pope Francis invoking the Jubilee of Mercy.
They also studied the pastoral letter of the local bishop, entitled, Living Lent in the Year of Mercy, which encourages people to be the face of the merciful Lord in the community and in society.
In the run up to Lent, the priests of Jiangxi community gathered for a retreat from January 25 to 29 under the theme, Renewed in the Lord to answer the Lord’s call of mercy.