Friday, 2 January 2009

Beads of hope for 2009

I have never been one for elaborate or fancy Rosary beads rather, following in the tradition of little St. Bernadette, I have had a fairly cheap and cheerful wooden pair from one of billions of tourist shops in Lourdes where they sell hideous cards which sing Ave Maria at you in Italian. This Christmas, among other far less spiritual gifts, I was given a pair of truly beautiful Rosary beads and I have fallen utterly in love with them. The helpful little card which accompanied them tells me "This Rosary is a link of solidarity to the persecuted Chinese Church. Each intricately-detailed bead has been hand-enamelled and polished by Chinese monks." I can't believe that each bead, which is painted with a single rose on a rich blue background has been hand painted (the picture doesn't really do them justice).

They take my breath away, not simply because they are superficially beautiful, but because of what they represent. These beads are the light in the darkness; the proof that no matter how much you try to oppress with violence or cruelty hope springs up in the form of unvanquishable beauty. Each of these roses is a rose of hope, painted out of love for she whose 'immaculate heart will triumph'. China needs our prayers and the protection of Mary for the suffering is grave-that cannot be denied-but Christ is so alive there and the courage of the Christians I am praying for as I pass over each little bead enlightens and humbles me. This is the Church of great faith! May we stand with them in 2009 and not forget their many sacrifices and trials.

Below is a picture of Bishop John Han Dingxiang who was imprisoned for 35 years. This picture shows him holding up his crucifix through the bars which enclosed him. The text below was taken from Aid to the Church in Need where you can read his full story at:

In September 2007, the authorities knew Bishop Han was dying but insisted that nobody from the Church would be present at his bedside.Operating in secret, the authorities had his body cremated within hours of his death and took his remains by night to a public cemetery.His headstone omitted the word ‘Bishop’ from his name.

What could the Beijing authorities possibly have to fear
from a man who preached peace, defended human
dignity, who was loyal to his faith – a man whose
one delight was to paint beautiful Chinese flowers?

But thanks to Bishop John Han Dingxiang remaining true to his beliefs through cruel persecution, the torch of faith is now being passed on to a new generation of Chinese Catholics who are turning to Christ as never before.

One of the faithful we spoke to said: “We are so tired of these difficulties.”

Then, with a smile, he quickly added: “But the sufferings of this time are as nothing compared to the glory of God.”

Bishop Han is just one of many such clergy and faithful incarcerated for their beliefs in a China that claims to uphold religious freedom as an essential principle of government.

As one priest said: “The best thing you can do is to pray.

“Please pray that we won’t lose faith,
that we won’t give up trusting in God.”


Therese said...

I love those rosary beads too. My favourite rosary is one from Australia needs Fatima. It has pearl beads on a gold chain. I really love the look and the feel of the beads in my hand.

SQUELLY said...

That sounds beautiful! Pearls somehow seem just right for Our Lady, especially our Lady of Fatima whose messages about the importance of praying the Rosary are so pure and precious to us all...a real pearl in our world and our Church. I can think of nothing more fitting.

Jennifer said...

It's so wonderful to meet you, Squelly! Thanks for visiting my blog and following along! I can imagine how beautiful your new rosary is, and it gives me goose bumps to read the story behind it. My favorite rosary right now is my JPII rosary. I also have one in honor of St. Therese (my patron saint) and the beads are roses, like yours. It's lovely.
God bless you and keep you, and may He use your space for His glory!


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