In 2008, Ash Wednesday which begins Lent falls on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Lent is a season of penance while Chinese New Year is a time of feasting. Notwithstanding this, both occasions share one common element: a sharing of blessings in love. On Chinese New Year, members of a family get together for a reunion dinner and visit relatives and friends. Ang pows are given to the young, unmarried and the old as an expression of blessing – a sharing of the blessings received. All these gestures are marked with love. Lent is also characterised by love – love that moves one to think of neighbour, especially the poor and the needy. In fact, apart from the idea of penance, fasting is also directed towards charity – what has been saved through fasting is given to the poor and the needy.
Sharing of blessings is such an important part of life. Gifts received are meant to be shared: “Give, and there will gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back” (Lk 6:38).
This spiral of receiving and giving is founded on love – love of God and love of neighbour.
The Catholic Welfare Services works very closely with St Vincent de Paul’s Society to look after a good number of poor and needy people in our midst. They need financial support for this good cause. I am confident that many who have been supporting them will continue to do so. I hope that many more will join these generous benefactors. I pray that the Chinese New Year spirit of sharing will boost this Lenten appeal and Lent will make the Chinese New Year celebration much more meaningful and fulfilling. God bless one and all.
Archbishop John Ha
Archbishop of Kuching