14-2-2010, fist day of the lunar New Year.
My lunar new year starts not at 12:01 after midnight but only when I attended the Thanksgiving Mass.
New year is not a new year until I have offered thanks and received blessing from God - the creator of universe, heaven and earth, sun and moon, all creatures and plants – The Father. Thanks giving Mass is the source of all blessings and beginnings.
After many years of attending Chinese New Year Masses in Johor Baru, we decided to attend Mass at our home parish in Kajang this year.
Fr. George Harrison, the Mandarin speaking priest, led the people of God in giving thanks to God the almighty for the past year and pray for continue blessings in the coming new year of Tiger.
After Mass, Fr. George led the people in honoring our ancestor at an altar set up by the side of the main altar. To my own understanding, it was not only my ancestor, not only Chinese ancestor, but also Indian, Jews or Gentiles, OUR common ancestor.
Following Chinese custom, the following were offered:
-- Flowers and wine --> symbolized our love and utmost respect to our ancestor,
-- Candles --> reminding us that our ancestor’s good example, hard work and sacrifices are the light that show us the way for us to follow,
-- Joss sticks (smoke) --> were used to mark our longing to God to hear our prayer. (same meaning of incensing during Mass)
The ceremony contained no element of worship but was an act of utmost respect and honour steeped with Chinese tradition and custom. Pope Pius XXII in 1939 had approved the ancestral veneration during Mass and found Chinese culture of veneration in the church not superstition. (Catholics honour their ancestor in every Mass)
Fr. George later gave out blessed oranges and Ang Pow to the parishioners.
A new year began …..
"Ancestor of all generation & origin"