We started the month of February with an extension of the Movement Control Order (“MCO”) till 18 February 2021 and this will coincide and affect two important celebrations this month, Chinese New Year (CNY) which falls on Friday, 12 February, marking the Lunar Year of the Ox and Ash Wednesday, which falls on 17 February.
Last year CNY was celebrated on a rather grand scale, with elaborate decorations, reunions and gatherings with family and friends, extravagant fire fireworks, and angpaus for the young ones. This year however, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to settle for an unprecedented low-key celebration. Many will not be able to return home to celebrate with parents and other family members as travel restrictions including interstate travel, have been imposed.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. Due to the extension of the MCO, we will not have Masses nor the imposition of the blessed ash at Church. However, Parishioners of St Joseph’s will receive the blessed ash through your respective BEC leaders. Further information on this will be given next week. Despite having no Mass during this time, I would like to strongly encourage Parishioners to observe the fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, at home with the family.
Many of us still remember this time last year, soon after the observation of Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday of Lent 2020, Churches in the KL Archdiocese suspended Masses due to the pandemic. A year later, COVID-19 still continues to disrupt our lives – physically, emotionally, economically and spiritually. Online platforms have become a new normal for meetings, gatherings and prayer sessions – especially during celebrations, and many of us have adapted to and accepted this reality.
As a community, we have been very patient and cautious as we avoid taking chances or risks in order to keep safe from this deadly virus. I am grateful to the ministries in our Parish for coordinating formations, events and activities online – keeping the faith alive and active, and keeping us connected to the Church. The Parish Integral of Human Development Ministry (PIHDM) continues to give the necessary and needful assistance to the underprivileged within our community and support to those who require physical and spiritual assistance.
Over the past year, many weddings and infant baptisms as well as Confirmation and the First Holy Communion Sacraments have been postponed. I hope that once the MCO is lifted we can start planning the resumption of these celebrations once again. However, until then, I am unable to make any promises or confirm any dates for these Sacraments.
In the meantime, I would like to wish all our Parishioners celebrating Chinese New Year a blessed and prosperous Year of the Ox. Let us all pray for peace, solidarity and harmony in our nation, and let us always live our lives as testimony to the love and peace of Christ. “A blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you,” (Deuteronomy 23:5).
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy