ASIA/VIETNAM - "Do not be afraid": Catholic communities celebrate Vietnamese New Year

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - "Do not be afraid! Let us trust in God, hope will bring peace to every family, despite the difficulties of our social situation", said Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Nga of Da Nang, in the homily for the Vietnamese New Year in the first morning mass of the new year. As Fides learned, the bishop hopes that "Jesus' call, 'Do not be afraid', will resound in every heart, in every home, in every family, throughout the country", wishing the faithful all the best and a year full of God's grace. The Bishop of the Diocese of Ha, Msgr. Tinh Louis Nguyen Anh Tuan, told the faithful: "The Year of the Tiger will bring us joy, peace and prosperity. The Covid-19 pandemic is making life difficult, but signs of hope are increasing. The joy is still greater when the people of God are united and love one another, becoming witnesses of the Gospel and of God's love for people".
In the pastoral letter for the New Year, Bishop Mathew Nguyen Van Khoi, at the head of the diocese of Qui Nhon, writes: "The new time that God is giving us is the year of the Tiger symbolizes strength, majesty and freedom. We hope that God will give people the strength to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic and eliminate all phobias and fears in their hearts. As Catholics, we must seek to strengthen our faith, including through prayer. We are called to bear witness to faith in our daily lives, despite the difficulties and challenges, both with words and with our lives. In this year of the Tiger, we are called to live the Gospel, so that the light of God's faith and love may spread around us".
The festival of Tet, the Lunar New Year - the largest festival of the Vietnamese people, handed down in the country's tradition since ancient times, also has deep religious significance for Vietnamese Catholics (about 9 million believers out of a population of 97 million, in a Buddhist-majority country). According to tradition, in the 4 days of the Feast of the Tet, the Church of Vietnam celebrates 4 different masses, one for each day, for 4 consecutive days. The first "New Year's Mass" is celebrated on the night of the last day of the previous lunar year, and is a Mass of thanksgiving to God for the past year, for the gifts and graces received. Then, on the morning of the first day of the Lunar New Year, a Holy Mass is celebrated to pray especially for peace in the family and in the country. At the end of this celebration, each family will receive a quote from the Gospel written in beautiful calligraphy in the traditional Tet style. This Gospel quote is solemnly hung in the home and serves as a reference and guide for the whole family in the new year. The next day, on the second day of New Year's celebrations, the Eucharist is dedicated to prayer for the living or deceased ancestors. In this mass, the focus is on the older people of the community: they are accompanied by their relatives and given a special welcome, and the parish priest and the entire community give them special thanks and honor. Finally, on the third day of the New Year, Holy Mass contains an intention to pray for the work of each person and each family, asking for prosperity according to the request that "daily bread" should never be lacking. (AD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 1/2/2022)