The upcoming Lunar New Year festival is an ideal time to foster family values, says Archbishop Thien
Tan Sa Chau Church in Ho Chi Minh City is decorated with red lanterns, colorful flowers and models of traditional houses to welcome the Tet festival. (Photo courtesy of Martino Hoang Vu's Facebook)
Catholics in Vietnam's capital are being encouraged to pray for Covid-19 victims and foster family values when they celebrate the coming national Tet or Lunar New Year festival.
Archbishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hanoi said the days of transition from the old year to the new are a time for reflection and thanksgiving. Catholics should give heartfelt thanks to God in all circumstances despite having just gone through a difficult year affected by the pandemic.
He said faith in God assures them that suffering will pass, fear will be no more and grace and joy will fill the hearts of those who love others.
Archbishop Thien said a peaceful new year is the fervent wish of all people. In his message for the 2022 World Day of Peace, Pope Francis pointed out three ways to build lasting peace: dialogue between generations, education and work.
The prelate said all people are called to read the signs of the times in the eyes of faith, to listen to the cries of those who are suffering from material, moral and spiritual difficulties, and the cries of the earth that is constantly begging for justice and peace.
"We especially remember the sick, the lonely, the unemployed, the homeless, and migrant brothers and sisters who could not afford to return to their homes for family reunions during the Tet holidays," he said in a pastoral letter.
Christians must be the forerunners in forgiveness and reconciliation, willing to help others live with dignity
The Tet festival to celebrate the Year of the Tiger runs from Feb. 1-4.
Noting that humanity needs solidarity, sympathy and sharing more than ever during this challenging pandemic, Archbishop Thien said: “Christians must be the forerunners in forgiveness and reconciliation, willing to help others live with dignity, and know how to open eyes to recognize the poor as Christ to feed and clothe them, to open their hearts to accept and listen to one another, open arms to help and walk together, and to open their hearts to take and ease their neighbors' pain.”
The 61-year-old prelate said it is from such a compassionate heart that the sprouts of joy and hope are watered, and spring will bloom in people's hearts.
Noting the traditional Tet festival is an occasion for family reunions, he called on young people to spend time being with, listen and talk to their grandparents and parents because "young people need the wisdom and experience of the elderly, while those who are older need the support, affection, creativity and dynamism of the young.”
He said youth are the spring of the Church and the nation. Spring is more prosperous when young people have a sense of studying and working with compassion, animation and, above all, a spirit of responsibility. To have such people, the role of education is essential.
"I would like to invite parish priests, catechists and, above all, parents to pay attention to providing faith education for children, helping them not only know but also meet and bring God into their hearts so that they can promote Christian values in everyday life,” Archbishop Thien said.
He said the young generation needs to be taught to pray, live tolerantly and respect human dignity. It is in families and parishes that young people learn to be in communion and live their vocation to be human.
Bishop Peter Huynh Van Hai, head of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, said the Tet festival is also a time of filial affection that is traditionally considered as a moral standard for children in the family.
Let us offer to the Lord of Spring our beloved homeland of Vietnam, appealing to him to lead us through this dangerous pandemic soon
Bishop Hai called on Catholic students throughout Vietnam to "always be filial to your grandparents and parents, and you will be filled with heady joys in your daily life."
The bishop of Vinh Long urged students to gratefully thank God for the old year that has passed in his providence and to look forward to a new year in hope and trust in him in spite of difficulties and anxieties caused by the pandemic.
He asked them to pray for those who succumbed to Covid, for children orphaned by the prolong pandemic, and for people who became unemployed and are placed in a difficult situation.
"Let us offer to the Lord of Spring our beloved homeland of Vietnam, appealing to him to lead us through this dangerous pandemic soon,” the prelate said in a Tet message published on Jan. 25.
As part of an effort at inculturation, the Church in Vietnam observes Tet's first day for the peace and prosperity of the nation, the second day for ancestors and the third day for jobs.
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