Sunday, March 01, 2015

Year of the goat begins with ashes

-Photo courtesy: CNN 
The Spring Festival or the Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese people, when all family members get together. The New Year's Eve Reunion Dinner is believed to be the most important meal of the year for Chinese families.  Since this year the New Year’s Eve coincided with Ash Wednesday on 18 February, the blessing and distribution of the Ashes was conducted in the morning while the New Year Eve liturgy was celebrated in the evening in parishes across the diocese of Hong Kong.
Maryknoll Father Tom Peyton,  who has been a huge support for the Claretians in Hong Kong with a goat-doll during the Lunar New Year. 
In view of the New Year’s Eve celebrations Cardinal John Tong Hon had granted dispensation from the obligation of fasting and abstinence normally required on the Ash Wednesday. But the faithful were reminded to engage in some other forms of penance, acts of mercy and charity, in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season of Lent.   
Fr. Edward Yu, Asst. Parish Priest at St. Benedict Church, during the Lunar New Year Eve thanks-giving mass  
In St. Benedict Church, Shatin Wai, Fr. Edward Yu officiated the liturgies of the day. “Our life as Christians invites us to rely on the providential care of God and to overcome the moments of frustrations and failures through reading the Scriptures, constant prayers and singing the glories of God”, Fr. Yu said in his homily during the New Year’s Eve thanksgiving mass. Narrating a number of inspirational stories of people who have overcame traumatic and miserable life situations to become renowned personalities in the history, Fr. Yu said, “Our life needs to be one of thanksgiving for the blessings received, for the Lord makes everything good for us. Take time to be thankful and count on your blessings”.  
Earlier in the day, explaining the significance of the Ash Wednesday, Fr. Yu said “ashes are a sign of repentance. They indicate that we are sorry for our sins and will do penance for them. Ashes also represent death as it is said in the Scriptures: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). “The ashes remind us that we will die one day and have to give an account of our lives to God.  Lent invites us to repent and amend our evil ways, so that dying to sins, we renew our new life in Christ. The season of Lent is the season of spiritual renewal”, he explained in his homily before blessing and distributing the ashes.  
Altar Servers at St. Benedict Church during the Lunar New Year Celebrations 
To begin the New Year with the season of Lent adds a special meaning to the spiritual life of the faithful, as the season of Lent calls for renewal of life, so is the message of the New Year. May our Lenten observances in the New Year of the goat bring us abundance of blessings from God! 

From Taiwan: 

Fr. Arturo adds from Taiwan: Responding to the call of Pope Francis to pray for the persecuted Church, Ruifang Parish in Taipei, Taiwan organised Way of the Cross on the streets leading to the hills of Faailohk Saan (快樂山 - the Hill of Happiness). Our Missionaries Fr. Arturo Morales and Fr. Liju animated the Parishioners who participated in the Way of the Cross with great devotion and passion.
Fr. Arturo, CMF leads the Way of the Cross in Ruifang, Taiwan 

Way of the Cross on the Hill of Happiness - 快樂山

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