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Monday, June 24, 2013

Mass

On the second Sunday we finally had a plan in place to go to an actual Catholic Mass. After discovering that the German cathedral was “closed for reservations” for the third year in a row, we were all concerned we would be unable to discover another Catholic church. Rob, our TA student who had already been to Qingdao and was in two cohorts above us, spent the entire week figuring out how we would be able to go to Mass. He eventually discovered a small church an unknown distance away on bus that we would try out that morning. What time it began was a mystery, so we agreed to begin our journey early in the day.

We all rose at six and headed to the bus stop around six forty-five. Arriving there at seven, we boarded the 227 bus and began the long journey to the church. After reading the readings in English on our phones, we prepared for Mass by saying a group rosary and kept going towards our unknown destination. After about an hour, Robb noticed the correct bus stop and told us to get off the bus.

Our bus stop was in a very poor neighborhood of Qingdao, but not an especially dangerous one. The buildings were evidently low-income, but any evidence of crime or destruction was absent. We began walking along a path that Robb’s military mind followed precisely. After another twenty minutes, we reached our destination still unsure of when the Mass actually began.

The church lied hidden between the backs of multiple buildings in a small courtyard adorned with a few trees. When we arrived, we realized we arrived late, as the readings had already begun to take place. Regardless of us being in the back, people began turning around to look at us, with man going so far as to “leave for the restroom” in order to snap a few photographs of us. After the readings, and a long detailed homily (with me very confused due to my as-of-then, complete lack of knowledge on Chinese religious words), the congregation began to sing many different detailed songs and chants. It became evident that everything from the Nicene Creed to the Our Father was sung. This beautiful chant with their almost haunting melodies proved especially moving and made this small building in the middle of the big city even more homely.

When Mass ended, we met most of the congregation and exchanged numbers with a priest and deacon. Afterwards, we got onto the bus again and headed towards a lunch destination where we could feast. We stumbled upon a Korean restaurant entitled, in English, “Korean Restaurant.” Inside the ambiance was fantastic, and the food was delicious. Furthermore, the restaurant provided free wifi, which allowed for checking the internet after more than four days without it.


We returned afterwards and began the day with studying and preparing for the coming week. 

While this happened the evening before Mass, well two evenings before, ascending the large structure we had found previously on our first adventure turned out extra rewarding as we discovered an additional two stories worth of climbing via exterior ladders. While some of my classmates had too much of a healthy fear of heights to surmount these obstacles, getting to the top provided a most spectacular view of the city. 
Moreover, we also found a hollowed out interior that we descended into in order to explore. This new area was quite peaceful and allowed for cacophonous echoes whenever voices escalated.

And as we began our descent, we realized daylight would be nice with the treacherous ladders. Luckily, I captured a shot of the sunset right before reaching the bottom.

Hidden away in an unforgotten corner of a poor neighborhood in Qingdao, this church was particularly beautiful, especially with the lovely voices of the congregation, which either sung or chanted everything save the readings and homily.

The interior of the church. Note: the responsorial psalm can be  seen on the blackboard.

Returning home, we couldn't help but notice the delectable advertisement for peas, red beans, and whit-stuff ice cream.

1 comment:

  1. Y'all are awesome! Good on you for keeping the faith. Also, make sure you get a chance to try green tea ice cream while you're there. It's awesome!

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