Honorary degree awarded by SHU
Most Reverend Savio Hon Tai-Fai delivered his conferral speech after being awarded a doctorate in theology on Friday.
The Reverend’s speech, titled “Love and Wisdom: Cardinal Constantini’s Experience in China,” highlighted the life of Monsignor Celso Benigno Luigi Constantini of Italy and his dedication to the evangelization of China and the adaptation of its culture into European Catholicism.
Tai-Fai’s address referenced one of Constantini’s experiences at Yuanmingyuan Park, or the “garden of perfect splendor” in Beijing.
“Many leaves have fallen, others are about to fall,” Tai-Fai said, referencing the Cardinal. “As the guardian, I have also decided to pick some dry leaves up. The leaves are no longer valid, but still may contain some hidden, useful wisdom.”
In his description of Yuanmingyuan Park, Constantini spoke of four fallen leaves in the garden that caught his interest. These leaves comprise the four F’s: formation of the people, fostering religious arts, friendship with all and faith in God that Constantini believed were necessary factors of evangelization.
Tai-Fai’s speech focused on Constantini’s implementation of each of the four F’s in his own life and quest for evangelization in China.
Constantini used the first F, formation of the people, to elevate the status of the Chinese people and clergy.
“Constantini was deeply saddened by the fact that the Chinese people suffered unequal treatment,” Tai-Fai said, “(Constantini was) dauntlessly ready to act.”
Throughout his life, Constantini cared for the wounded and encouraged his missionaries to offer social services to the oppressed.
Constantini’s high regard for friendship makes his ideals comparable to those of Matteo Ricci who in 1595, wrote a book about friendship titled “On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince.”
The last of the four Fs, the main goal of any evangelization mission, is instilling in people a true faith in God.
Throughout his life, Constantini persistently tried to strengthen his own faith. His elevated interest in other cultures allowed him to gain knowledge far beyond many holy figures of his time.
At the close of his speech, Tai-Fai spoke again about Yuanmingyuan Park, referencing Constantini’s experience there.
“As the sun set, light golden reflections were seen on the autumn leaves of the trees,” he said. “Many other leaves had fallen to the ground, covering it as if it were a soft, yellow carpet.”
Tai-Fai said the golden gleam Constantini referenced is meant to represent Christ’s light and wisdom in every single dry leaf or past experience one’s life brings.
“Evangelization is like weaving a soft, yellow carpet with one’s own life upon which people can walk towards the immortal perfect splendor of Christ,” Tai-Fai said.
Lindsay Ireland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.