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A children’s Mass guides them in faith

Active engagement of the young will give them and the Church a brighter future

A children’s Mass guides them in faith
Teresa Wang, Nanchong

June 2, 2011

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"It takes 10 years to plant a tree but 100 years to build a person." This Chinese idiom tells us how difficult it is to mold a person. It also explains to us that human beings and our future are closely related. China celebrated Children's Day yesterday. Many schools held various celebrations for their students. Government officials at all levels also visited primary schools and kindergartens to express their best wishes to the kids. What does this gesture mean? For me, this shows that our political leaders are aware that children are our future and hope. Famous Chinese intellectual Liang Qichao (1873-1929) once remarked: “If the youth are strong, the country will be strong.” Indeed, Chinese history tells us that young people played a pivotal role in social development. Many past social movements were led by young people. It was also because of their wisdom and pioneering spirit, that many of them became heroes of their time. It also shows the importance and necessity of early childhood education. Many of us feel that this is just acquiring knowledge. In fact, it not restricted to this but involves developing morality and ethics. In today’s materialistic world, many people attach great importance to economic status and interests. Many good deeds in the early communist era are strange and inconceivable to some students nowadays. Thus, it is not surprising to hear some people making scornful comments about others who volunteer to serve after disasters. I have even heard a child saying: “I have so much money. I will buy good things and eat well. But I do not care to support them [the victims]." From these words, we can see how important it is to give our children an education and good guidance. For the Church in China, we need young people for its development because it is through them we see hope, vitality and dynamism. To this end, the Church should attach more importance to children's education, and guide them in correct values and faith. However, when we look around our church, there are all too few young people and children, unlike the Protestant Church, where 80 percent of its flock are young people. They have Sunday schools for both the youth and children. One will naturally see hope from these energetic young people. Hong Kong diocese translated a booklet for a children’s Mass in 1983 and revised it in 2002 to give instruction on how to prepare a Mass for children. Children's masses are commonplace in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. In mainland China, however, they are too few and rarely heard. Mainland children usually attend liturgy with their parents and usually become bored after a while. This is because they cannot find “their place” or hear “their language.” The children will then sneak out and play outside the Church while their parents continue to pray. This becomes an unconscious kind of faith education in reverse. Fostering faith education can be done through a children’s Mass and it should be provided in a way that they can understanding and feel a sense of participation. The Church will move forward only by giving correct guidance in our children’s faith. The relationship between human beings and the future in fact means Man can change the future of the world. We hope that our Church can soon spread the Good News throughout the country with young leaders of a new generation. Teresa Wang is a laywoman from Nanchong. She has a master’s degree in Religious Education at Boston College in the United States
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