|Jili paozhi 祭禮泡製 / Xia Madiya zhu 夏瑪第亞著.|
JapSin I, (38/42) 39/4
Jili paozhi 祭禮泡製.
By Mathias Xia 夏瑪第亞.
Manuscript, Twelve folios. One volume. Chinese bamboo paper. 24 x 14 cm.
The cover bears the title and a Latin inscription: “De ritibus Çi, ex libro Li Ki, Auctore Hia Siam Cum seu Hia Mathia.”Mathias Xia (cf. Jap-Sin I, 39/1) compiled this book from different chapters of the Liji 禮記: Quli pian 曲禮篇, Tan’gong pian 檀弓篇, Wangzhi pian 王制篇, Liqi pian 禮器篇, Jiaote sheng 郊特牲, Jiyi 祭義, Jitong 祭統, Fangji 坊記 and Pin[g]yi 聘義.
Most of his explanations are based on the annotations of Chen Hao 陳澔 (1261–1341) and usually come after the annotations. His personal comments are based on the outlook of a Christian. The thorny problem of the “Chinese Rites” had already cropped up. The author speaks both as a Chinese and as a Christian and tries to cover the natural as well as the supernatural plane. He speaks without reservation and often shows a good understanding of the problems.
According to Xia the honor paid to ancestors among the Chinese is not a sacrifice but rather an expression of filial piety, which is in accord with the natural law. If the missioners try to forbid the practice, this will go against Chinese tradition and will make the Chinese think that the missioners are against the natural law. As a result they may not accept from them what is supernatural (cf. folio 1a–b). We quote a few of Hsia’s comments.
From this passage it is clear that the Chinese rites conform to natural law and agree with the law of the supernatural. The first three of the Ten Commandments teach us to be at peace with Him and the remaining seven teach us to be at peace with our neighbour. This begins with filial piety, to honor one’s parents. The ancient emperors of China, being enlightened by God, taught their subjects to be at peace with their neighbor and they insisted that, to begin with, they should be at peace with their parents . . . (f. 5b–6a).
Those who honor their parents should not be blamed as usurpers of God’s right. What the natural law regards as right often agrees with the supernatural. Supernatural law tells us to love God; natural law tells us to love our parents. The supernatural law tells us to honor God, the natural law tells us to honor our parents
. . . (f. 6b).
. . . Jesus foresaw that the Jews would accuse him as a violator of their religion. He therefore observed the law of Moses. He foresaw the accusation of forbidding others to pay tax to Caesar, he made the declaration that what belongs to Caesar should be rendered to Caesar. . . . If we wish to avoid false accusations we should understand the Chinese traditions from the view point of natural law. And, to be able to do this we must read Chinese books widely, since in them we can find out the natural law. We can never find out the natural law among the Chinese unless we study Chinese writings, and we cannot preach the supernatural in China, unless we understand thoroughly what the Chinese hold on the natural law. If we wish to preach to Chinese scholars by quoting copiously from the ancient writings of China as a proof of what we preach, we must be able to tell the sources of our quotations. The Chinese scholars then will be convinced and will show confidence in us. On the contrary, if we fail to quote Chinese writings in full detail in order to convince them, then, no matter what we say, they will not be convinced. Even if we try to tell them about supernatural mysteries they will not be ready to accept. Perhaps externally, they will pretend to agree, but in our absence they will do the opposite. [Hence, we repeat] we must study Chinese writings widely, if we wish to open the minds of the Chinese (f. 8a–9a).
If we wish to judge Chinese things clearly, we must go through Chinese writings carefully, just as a magistrate who is hearing a law suit must read carefully the writings of the accuser and the accused. It would be impossible [for him] to decide who was right and who was wrong unless he has gone through the papers of both sides. In the same manner, we cannot decide the right and wrong of Chinese things without going through Chinese writings.Cf. Courant 7157: 禮記祭禮泡製 Li ki tsi li phao tchi. Notes sur les sacrifices d’après les Li ki. Cet ouvrage, incomplet, avait été rédigé à Kien-tcheou par Hsia Ma-ti-ya pour aider le P. Greslon dans ses travaux; écrit en 1698. 14 feuillets. Grand in–8. Manuscrit. 1 vol. cartonnage.
The Chinese writings are the papers of accusation. An upright magistrate when he decides a criminal case makes sure that the innocent comes out free. How much more does this apply to a preacher of God’s holy religion. How can he arraign the innocent with false accusations? We must not try to excuse ourselves by saying that it is not necessary to study the Chinese writings, as they are of no importance. The Pharisees neglected the study of the ancient scriptures. As a result, they failed to grasp the mystery of the Incarnation. The three kings, on the other hand, living in the country of Bo’erxiya 百爾西亞 (Persia) studied books other than the Jewish religion and nevertheless they came to know that Our Lord Jesus had been born. God had enlightened the minds of pagans in pagan regions. These people had prophesied [the apparition] of the new star and this account was recorded in their ancient writings. God is everywhere. Who can tell for certain that there are no accounts of supernatural mysteries in the ancient Chinese writings? How can we explain the passage in the Zhouli 周禮 in which the victory over the devil by the [Holy] Cross is prophesied? (f. 10a–b).
Source: Albert Chan, SJ, Chinese Books and Documents in the Jesuit Archives in Rome, pp. 41-43.