ASIA/MONGOLIA - For the Lunar Year celebration, Lenten penance postponed

Wednesday, 1 March 2017 lent   evangelization   festivity   inculturation   local churches   peace  

Ulaanbaatar (Agenzia Fides) - "Tsagaan Sar", which literally means "White Moon", rich in symbolism and rituals that take place in families, such as a thorough cleaning of the house, wishes pronounced by the elders, prayers for a good omen, is one of the most important events for all Mongols across the country. The Mongolian population celebrates it in coincidence with the Lunar New Year, from February 27 to March 1, 2017.
As Fides learns, the community of about a thousand baptized in Mongolia, fully integrated in the local culture, take this celebration incorporating it in the liturgy and giving it a new meaning: in the early hours of February 27 a special Eucharist, at the dawn of the new year was celebrated in Catholic churches in Mongolia, in order to entrust God the lives of all and pray for the nation. For the traditional greetings and best wishes Apostolic Prefect Wenceslao Padilla issued a message for the new year, in which he states: "As the White Moon celebration marks the beginning of spring and is considered a new beginning, we pray for peace and for the welfare of the nation. May the blessings of God descend on the Mongolian people on this special day".
In 2017, the celebration of the Lunar New Year also coincides with the beginning of Lent, which starts on March 1 with Ash Wednesday. For this reason the Mongolian Church has officially decided to postpone the imposition of ashes to the first Sunday of Lent and Bishop Padilla has issued a special dispensation from Lenten fasting and abstinence, since the population traditionally eats a large amount of meat during the days of the feast.
The faithful of Mongolia, who attended morning Mass, at sunrise, appreciated this way of inculturation: "I appreciate the fact that the Catholic liturgy blends together with our traditions", said to Fides Teresa, a parishioner of St. Mary's church in Ulaanbaatar.
"We celebrate the Lunar New Year. As Christians we know that God is the source of all blessings, and Jesus is the sun that never sets. Let us walk towards Him. Let us pray that his blessings descend on all of us in the course of this new year", said father Mbumba Prosper, in Mongolia, Congolese missionary in his homily during the New Year's Mass in the Divine Mercy church in Erdenet. (PA-MP) (Agenzia Fides 01/03/2017)