02/16/2007, 00.00
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Celebratiing the Year of the Pig in church as well

The New Year is traditionally a family affair, but also entails taking part in religious ceremonies. Many bishops express their best wishes to the faithful, asking them to make Tet a day of prayer.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews/EDA) – Vietnam tomorrow will celebrate Dinh Hoi, the Year of the Pig, a day earlier than Chinese New Year. Traditionally, it is a family affair that brings together relatives from far and wide to recreate the Hô, the extended family.

None of Vietnam’s major religion has remained indifferent to what has become the country’s main annual event. In addition to family rituals, the Vietnamese of every religious persuasion will gather in their respective places of worship, whether pagodas, churches, temples, shrines of every faith.

The Catholic Church is no different. Indeed it has incorporated in its liturgy the rites and meanings of Tet celebrations, the beginning of the Lunar New Year.

Interviewed by a journalist from Radio Free Asia, a resident of Tân Dinh neighbourhood in Ho Chi Minh City said he only performed ancestor worship. During Tet celebrations, he plans to visit the Vinh Nghiem pagoda in his neighbourhood.

In the same neighbourhood, Tan Dunh church will welcome many worshippers. Crowded during the Christmas season, it will see the faithful come in droves to mark the end of the Year of the Dog and the beginning of the Year of the Pig.

Just about everywhere in the country, Catholics will meet for the special mass that will mark the beginning of the lunar year.

In most dioceses, bishops have already greeted the faithful, often in brief pastoral letters. All of them have highlighted that hopes for the New Year depend on God’s mercy and called on the faithful to make New Year Day a day of prayer.

Mgr Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, cardinal of Saigon, suggested that prayers should be dedicated to priests, that they may be faithful and living witness according to the Eucharist they celebrate and the Word of God which they transmit.

In his greeting message, Mgr Ngo Qiang Kiet, archbishop of Hanoi, listed God’s gifts from the previous year, starting with the recovery of Card Pham Dinh Tung who was thought to be on the verge of death. He hopes that in the coming year the faithful will tread the path of love and service to God.

Mgr Nguyên Chi Linh, bishop of Thanh Hoa, thanked his parishioners for their help and called on them to pray for the diocese. He stressed that some of its needs have not yet been satisfied. For instance, the Bishops’ Residence needs repairs and a new pilgrimage centre must be built in Cua Bang, where Alexander of Rhodes, one of the fathers of evangelisation in the country, landed.

Finally, Mgr Nguyen Soan, bishop of Quy Nhon, focused on the symbolism of the pig, an animal whose death is useful for people, suggesting people meditate on the mystery of redemption.

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