Each year the arrival of the Lunar New Year is observed with a visit from representatives of the Vietnamese Parish of Our Lady of LaVang to exchange greetings. I am usually blessed to receive spring rolls, a baseket of oriental fruit and spirits (wine).
As I am away this week (on the eve of the New Year of the Water Snake that begins on Sunday, February 10), the delegation visited Fr. Geoffrey Kerslake, EV and me at the Diocesan Centre a week earlier than usual (cf. photo above).
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Here is some information that I was able to glean from the web about the Year of the Snake:
Tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Snake, the sixth sign in the Chinese zodiac.
While many people regard the snake with fear and dread – slimy, poisonous and, influenced by the story of creation in Genesis, the embodiment of evil – in many eastern traditions the snake takes on a more mystical character, revered for its wisdom and astuteness, and even for its positive influence on financial matters.
An old saying goes that having a person born in the year of the Snake in the house will keep starvation at bay. Thus this year is generally seen as a time of prosperity, particularly for us in this side of the world.
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However Catholic Christians relate to these ancestral and cultural traditions. I noted that the Archbishop of Singapore had prepared a message for the Chinese Christians in his diocese (complete with the logo reproduced below). I have adapted it for our Oriental Catholics in the Archdiocese of Ottawa:
As we celebrate the Lunar New Year during this Year of Faith, I would like to express my best wishes to Catholics of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese extraction, that this feast may bring about an increase of faith and love for you and your families.
Faith is an expression of believing in God, even when we do not always understand God’s will in our lives.
To truly live faith-filled lives, we must rediscover a greater understanding of our Catholic faith. It is through a re-evangelization of our own Catholic faith that we can reach out to our family members and to others in our society.
Faith never travels by itself, it is always accompanied by hope and love. By focusing on strengthening our faith this Lunar New Year and the year ahead, we will also increase our hope in attaining heavenly glory, as well as sharing our love with those who most need it.
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Finally, let me note that I will preside at Mass at Sheng Shen [Holy Spirit] Chinese Catholic Church on Sunday and join in the traditional festivities afterwards in the parish hall.