“The Monastery Will Be a Chinese House”: The Inculturation of the Church in China from the Perspective of the History of Catholic Monasticism
The history of the Christian monastic presence in China between the nineteenth and the twentieth century offers a peculiar, even if still neglected or undervalued, perspective on the process of inculturation of the Catholic Church in China in history. Reviewing some pages of this history through the lens of inculturation would offer stimulating insights from the past of the Catholic Church in China to the contemporary Chinese Catholic Church.In China like elsewhere, the monastic life has been and should be an essential part of the life of the Church and participates in its mission of evangelization. The inseparability of monastic life and the mission of the Church has been reiterated and developed in the years following Vatican II, with emphasis on community life as the specific form of monastic witness. Contemplation and mission are inseparable. In this perspective, monasteries are both places of contemplation and places of activity and of mission, not in the sense that they allow themselves to become involved in the pastoral activities of the Church, but in the sense that they are places in which prayer is at the core of the Christian life and in which silence and listening offer a pedagogy to those who seek regeneration or who want to explore their own interior world.