After last week’s adventure in the search for church, we remained optimistic about attending the service this week. We got up early, flawlessly handled the taxi directions, and arrived at the church to find the gates open! We were ecstatic.
Once inside, we roamed the grounds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more interesting cultural combination. Having visited the various Chinese historical sites in Beijing earlier this year, we recognized the cultural influence in nearly every aspect of the church as we walked around. See the photo collection below for details.
It was humbling. Here is a religion outlawed by the state being practiced with the same feeling of love, reverence, and respect that we’re familiar with at home, and in such an amazing way. There weren’t many people around, so we took photos of whatever we found. I’m sharing the most beautiful and/or interesting ones here. We took lots of photos though.
We felt like tourists, but knew we were really just experiencing a new version of culture shock. Walking around and seeing all the very familiar symbols, statues, and buildings of our Christian upbringings with very Chinese influences was otherworldly. And we loved it.
Just before 10:30, we made our way to the cathedral itself and sat down. A choir had been practicing. We had read that mass would start at 10:30. Then 10:45 rolled around, and while we were enjoying the choir practice (in Chinese), we had hoped to attend mass. People looked at us and even said “ni hao” but no one tried to talk to us. We found a pamphlet by the entrance (in Chinese) that said the service was at 7:30. A.m. We had missed it again without even knowing it.
It was disappointing, but we were happy to have had the chance to visit the church grounds without any other obligations. Next week we will attend mass. It’ll be an early taxi ride, but we hope to find ourselves in a group of the faithful so we can hear the mass given in English. We will report back next Sunday. Until the, the search for church continues.