Happy Chinese New Year!

Humankind is expressed in many different cultures.

The Faith of the Catholic Church is also expressed in many different cultures, different forms, different rites. And since the Lunar New Year (aka: Chinese New Year, Tết, and Spring Festival) is today, I thought to share a few photos (from a photographer by the name of Tommy Chiu) of a beautifully expressed Taiwanese-Chinese Catholic Church, in the fullness of religious freedom (click the photos to zoom in!):

[The view from the street! Notice how warm it looks... lush plants, subtropical... definitely not amidst polar vortex.]

[The view from the street! Notice how warm it all looks… lush plants, subtropical… definitely not amidst polar vortex.]

[Look! There's a mural! You can tell by the clouds this ain't Medieval or European or American or anything like that. Betcha neva seen Jesus look like that before!]

[Look! There’s a mural! You can tell by the clouds this ain’t Medieval or European or American or anything like that. Betcha neva seen Jesus look like that before!]

[But we all know the real razzle-dazzle of a reverently raised Catholic church is inside! I mean, Benedict XVI did say that stained windows look dark and dreary outside, but from within... BAM!]

[But we all know the real razzle-dazzle of a reverently raised Catholic church is inside! I mean, Benedict XVI did say that stained windows look dark and dreary outside, but from within… BAM!]

[The ceiling! There ain't an inch untouched by brush in this church! That's what I'm talkin bout! The beauty of God moves us to create beauty!]

[The ceiling! There ain’t an inch untouched by brush in this church! That’s what I’m talkin bout! The beauty of God moves us to create beauty!]

Now there’s a lot going on up here, but let me tell you about one thing: the golden dragons. In Chinese culture, a dragon is not some wicked serpent of fire-breathing tendencies. Instead, Chinese dragons are benevolent, wise, generous, and celestial, yet also powerful and terrifying. In a word: angelic! I believe that us Chinese would have represented the angels in Heaven as dragon-like, not human-like (as the Western cultures have beautifully done, however).

[Here we are, gazing up as we move through the nave.]

[Here we are, gazing up with childlike wonder as we move through the nave.]

Notice the Christian symbols in all the circular frames on the ceiling? Also, the icons of the Stations of the Cross lining the wall, just below the windows?

[Red columns support the ceiling here, probably columns of wood since Traditional Chinese architecture for sacred spaces tended toward precious woods (like teak) rather than precious stones.]

[Red columns support the ceiling here, probably columns of wood since Traditional Chinese architecture for sacred spaces tended toward precious woods (like teak) rather than precious stones.]

[Looking up at the sanctuary, we see a Chinese depiction of the Holy Trinity: God the Father in the center, God the Son (left), and God the Holy Spirit (right).]

[Looking up at the sanctuary, we see a Chinese depiction of the Holy Trinity: God the Father in the center, God the Son (left), and God the Holy Spirit (right).]

The Son (Jesus Christ) is holding a lamb, the Holy Spirit has a dove, and I actually can’t tell what the Father is holding in this icon. We also can see images of the Communion of Saints all surrounding the Trinity (One God of Three Persons) in a cloud of witnesses. I even think I see Adam and Eve, on the right, dressed in fig leaves.

[Peering up, we notice the doves descending, a sign of the Holy Spirit's descent upon Christ at His Baptism, and at our baptism.]

[Peering up, we notice the doves descending, a sign of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Christ at His Baptism, and at our baptism.]

[The fresco here, right above and behind a very Chinese tabernacle, illustrates the Last Supper.]

[The fresco here, right above and behind a very Chinese tabernacle, illustrates the Last Supper. Can you tell Jesus and His Apostles are using chopsticks?]

[Then of course, we tun around and see what's behind us: a mural of God in Creation-mode, among other stories and saints.]

[Then of course, we tun around and see what’s behind us: a mural of God in Creation-mode, among other stories and saints.]

You can see the Seven Days of Creation account here, one “day” represented in each circle. The 8th and 9th Stations of the Cross are also visible: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (left) and Jesus falls the third time (right). Along the bottom, we see various saints.

[A close up of the mural's left. Notice the Genesis story in the circles.]

[A close up of the mural’s left. Notice the Genesis story in the circles.]

[And here's a close up of the mural's right. See the dinosaurs? See Adam and Eve?]

[And here’s a close up of the mural’s right. See the dinosaurs? See Adam and Eve?]

[And before you leave, make sure to stop by the shrine of our Lady: Mary the Mother of God. Baby Jesus is in there, too!]

[And before you leave, make sure to stop by the shrine of our Lady: Mary the Mother of God. Baby Jesus is in there, too!]

Chinese Miraculous MedalOh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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