The Chinese community celebrates Chinese New Year (CNY) this year on a low-key basis, with a limited number of family members present, in accordance with the guidelines set by the government due to the current Covid 19 pandemic. This year, we celebrate the Lunar Year of the Ox, which is second animal in the Chinese zodiac. According to folklore, those born in the Year of the Ox are hard-working, sincere and resilient. However, whenever I think about the oxen, I reminisce about my childhood days of cutting fresh grass for my cows, bathing and milking them by hand, as well as cleaning up cow patties!
It is still fresh in my mind how we celebrated Chinese New Year in previous years. Even though we only have about 15 Chinese families in our Parish, our annual CNY Thanksgiving Mass was well-received by all Parishioners and celebrated with much festivity and revelry. We distributed oranges and angpow packets to everyone present, and after Mass, everyone would gather at the Church courtyard to watch the lion dance. On behalf the Parish of St. Joseph, Sentul – my best wishes for a prosperous Lunar New Year. Stay safe and healthy always – gōng xǐ fā cái and xīn nián kuài lè.
In a few days, we will be entering into the season of Lent. It is a time that invites all of us to reflect on repentance or conversion (metonia). For the next five weeks, the Church strongly encourages us to prepare for the Paschal Mystery celebration through our personal examination and reflection, and practice the Lenten observances of prayer, penance and almsgiving, as we deepen our love for one another and God.
This 40-day Lenten journey gives us the opportunity to deepen our spiritual relationship with God and with our fellow brothers and sisters. Perhaps some of you may want to focus on a word or phrase from the daily reading and endeavour to write a spiritual journal. It may be a challenge at first – to reflect and put those thoughts into words and pen those words onto paper – but I believe that as you listen to His voice, the Holy Spirit will guide your spiritual journey. Whenever time permits, engage yourself by listening to spiritual talks, reading spiritual materials and attending Mass online. The Holy Spirit will lead you on a true journey of conversion when you encounter Christ through His living word and through spiritual communion.
As preparation during this Lenten season, we could closely follow the seven virtues of St Joseph and learn from him. Those virtues, as stated in his Apostolic Letter – WITH A FATHER’S HEART (Patris Corde) are – a beloved Father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a working father, a courageous father and a father in the shadows. Each day, try to discover these virtues within us and follow them in our lives, particularly during this season of Lent. We return to God “with all our hearts” (Joel 2:12) and grow in filial friendship with God.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy