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China, mass ritual, Chinese Catholic, latin mass, Confucius


Confucius’ disciple, Yan Hui, once asked the Master how to become a good person. “Goodness,” the Master said, comes about when “one forms himself according to ritual.” China has never quite lost its Confucian sense of ritual, for ritual is what forms a person in goodness, and in his final exhortation to his inquisitive student, Confucius suggests that ritual forms our vision, our speech, and our actions. Little wonder, then, that when Jesuit missionaries first went to China in the late sixteenth century, one of the aspects of Christianity that attracted Chinese most was the richness of Catholic ritual. Few Roman Catholic adages appeal more to Chinese sensibilities than the axiom, Lex orandi, lex credendi, or “The law of prayer is the law of belief”; the relationship between worship and belief is apparent in a society, such as China, wherein ritual is understood as the foundation of the human person.


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