In my past entries in “Shepherd of Fort Worth”, on the occasion of the lunar New Year, I had written about my experiences of these celebrations in the Diocese of Fort Worth. I was blessed to celebrate the lunar New Year here in the Diocese of Orange with four celebrations:
- At St. Barbara’s parish
- At the Vietnamese Catholic Center
- With the Chinese Catholic community at St. Justin Martyr parish in Anaheim, and
- With the Vietnamese community of Women religious whose name is “Lovers of the Holy Cross”.
Each of these celebrations was a time of faith, culture and reflection. As I understand it, the beginning of the lunar New Year is a three day celebration. The number three very evident in ritual and prayer, reflecting, as it was explained to me, similarities to the Holy Trinity. The second day of the New Year celebration takes time to honor one’s ancestors, and this is not unlike our celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day, and our reflections on the Communion of the Saints. I prayed with the community on Sunday morning at the Vietnamese Catholic Center, and in the afternoon at St. Justin Martyr in the prayer which remembered our ancestors. This is the year of the Snake. Each year has its own animal as a symbol, and for each year there are positive and negative aspects to be aware of. I thank all who helped prepare these days of celebration and prayer at all of the communities. I am very grateful for their invitations and look forward to returning again. I was especially moved by the gift of the framed Calligraphy of “God is love” in Chinese and my name, which was done by Mr. Chen.