Sunday, March 01, 2015

Year of the goat begins with ashes

-Photo courtesy: CNN 
The Spring Festival or the Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese people, when all family members get together. The New Year's Eve Reunion Dinner is believed to be the most important meal of the year for Chinese families.  Since this year the New Year’s Eve coincided with Ash Wednesday on 18 February, the blessing and distribution of the Ashes was conducted in the morning while the New Year Eve liturgy was celebrated in the evening in parishes across the diocese of Hong Kong.
Maryknoll Father Tom Peyton,  who has been a huge support for the Claretians in Hong Kong with a goat-doll during the Lunar New Year. 
In view of the New Year’s Eve celebrations Cardinal John Tong Hon had granted dispensation from the obligation of fasting and abstinence normally required on the Ash Wednesday. But the faithful were reminded to engage in some other forms of penance, acts of mercy and charity, in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season of Lent.   
Fr. Edward Yu, Asst. Parish Priest at St. Benedict Church, during the Lunar New Year Eve thanks-giving mass  
In St. Benedict Church, Shatin Wai, Fr. Edward Yu officiated the liturgies of the day. “Our life as Christians invites us to rely on the providential care of God and to overcome the moments of frustrations and failures through reading the Scriptures, constant prayers and singing the glories of God”, Fr. Yu said in his homily during the New Year’s Eve thanksgiving mass. Narrating a number of inspirational stories of people who have overcame traumatic and miserable life situations to become renowned personalities in the history, Fr. Yu said, “Our life needs to be one of thanksgiving for the blessings received, for the Lord makes everything good for us. Take time to be thankful and count on your blessings”.  
Earlier in the day, explaining the significance of the Ash Wednesday, Fr. Yu said “ashes are a sign of repentance. They indicate that we are sorry for our sins and will do penance for them. Ashes also represent death as it is said in the Scriptures: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). “The ashes remind us that we will die one day and have to give an account of our lives to God.  Lent invites us to repent and amend our evil ways, so that dying to sins, we renew our new life in Christ. The season of Lent is the season of spiritual renewal”, he explained in his homily before blessing and distributing the ashes.  
Altar Servers at St. Benedict Church during the Lunar New Year Celebrations 
To begin the New Year with the season of Lent adds a special meaning to the spiritual life of the faithful, as the season of Lent calls for renewal of life, so is the message of the New Year. May our Lenten observances in the New Year of the goat bring us abundance of blessings from God! 

From Taiwan: 

Fr. Arturo adds from Taiwan: Responding to the call of Pope Francis to pray for the persecuted Church, Ruifang Parish in Taipei, Taiwan organised Way of the Cross on the streets leading to the hills of Faailohk Saan (快樂山 - the Hill of Happiness). Our Missionaries Fr. Arturo Morales and Fr. Liju animated the Parishioners who participated in the Way of the Cross with great devotion and passion.
Fr. Arturo, CMF leads the Way of the Cross in Ruifang, Taiwan 

Way of the Cross on the Hill of Happiness - 快樂山

May Your perpetual light shine upon him, Lord

On February 26 our Claretian missionary community of Japan suffered a painful moment in its history: Fr. Jordi Guitart Calafell, cmf, who was the Local Superior of Hirakata Community and Assistant Parish priest of the parish at Hirakata was called to his life in the resurrection on 26 February 2015. Has was 70 years old. Thus, the Delegation of East Asia and the entire congregation painfully accepted his departure to the Father's house due to sudden respiratory failure.

On 1 and 2 March, amid the cold of winter, but with the warmth of a lot of friends, family, and fellow believers, the missionaries in Japan gathered together to give thanks for the life and mission of their brother Jordi, and at the same time to say goodbye to your body. The wake was held on Sunday, 1 March, presided over by the Archbishop of OsakaTomas de Aquino Manyo Maeda and the homily was given by Fr. Masakawa, the first Japanese Claretian missionary - who was student of Fr. Jordi.   Fr. Masakawa, who in his jovial style shared his experience of encounter with the person of Fr. Jordi, leading us to feel him ever closer to our hearts.(February 21st was his birthday).

From the Publications

We are just three months into 2015, but our Editorial team is moving way ahead of us. The Daily Gospel 2016 in Simplified and Traditional Chinese is almost ready for print. Here we have the cover for the Traditional one! Fr. Rossa is busy with the Spanish Bible Diary 2016 as well! All these will be up for grab by late September or early October this year.

Cover for the Chinese Daily Gospel 2016

Claretian Publications also maintains its blogs with the exegesis and reflections on the Sunday Liturgy. The reflections are provided by Fr. Fernando Armellini,  a renowned Italian scripture scholar.
Fr. Fernando Armellini
A team of translators and editors at Claretian Publications translates the Italian scripts into English, Spanish and Chinese for the benefit our valued readers. To enrich yourself with the Word of God, check it out:

Sharing the Joy of the Gospel in the Peripheries...

Deacon Chen from the Mainland China had come across some of books written by Pope Francis, which were translated and published in Chinese by the Claretians. Inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis, Dn. Chen undertook a missionary Journey to a remote village on the mountains in the interior China, where he met a over 90 catholics who were fighting a tough winter in poor living conditions. He lived with them, teaching prayers and sharing with them the stories from the Bible.  
Deacon Chen (Left) with Fr. Jijo and Fr. Rossa in Claretian House, Macau 
In February, Dn Chen visited the Claretian Community in Macau, enriching us with his stories of sharing the Joy of the Gospel in China! Here are some of the stills he left with us:     
Making a living... 

"Let the little Children come to me ... "

"Our Father, who art in heaven..." On the door 

The Pope connection!

Claretian Fr. Gustavo Larrazábal, the Director of Claretian Publications in Argentina, had the opportunity to Publish all the writings of then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. Recently He was in Rome and just had a private meeting with his old friend, now Pope Francis. The conversation lasted 90 minutes... 
Fr. Gustavo Larrazábal, the Director of Claretian Publications in Argentina with Pope Francis 
Fr. Rossa, Director of Claretian Publications, Macau had send a few of our latest titles in Chinese via DHL which Fr. Gustavo handed over to the Pope. Gustavo tells us that the Pope was very pleasantly surprised to see all the Chinese books. The meeting was early in the morning and there was no one else around. So the Pope asked a Swiss guard to take a picture of them! 

Temporary Substitution at Sunday Examiner

Fr. Jose Cherukara will be taking on the position of Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday Examiner while the Columban Father Jim Mulroney goes on extended medical leave.

Fr. Jose arrived in Hong Kong in 2009 and is currently serving at St. Benedict Parish at Shatin Wai as Assistant Parish Priest. He also serves at the Diocesan Youth Commission and is the Chaplain to the Catholic Society of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

Wise guides From West to East

By Father Francisco Carin, C.M.F., the Spanish-born major superior of the East Asia delegation of the Claretian Missionaries.  Originally Published in FEBRUARY 2015 USCATHOLIC.ORG 47 

Matteo Ricci's spirituality of encounter continues to open coors for Christianity today. 
When I arrived in Taiwan 20 years ago to start a Claretian mission, I didn't know much about Matteo Ricci. Sure, I had heard of this Jesuit missionary in some long-forgotten high school history class, but it was only after my arrival that I discovered this fellow European kindred spirit. Matteo Ricci was born on October 6, 1552 in Macerata, Italy. At age 16 he went to Rome to study law, and three years later he joined the Jesuits at the Roman College. There Ricci had three Jesuit mentors: his novice master, Alessandro Valignano, who in 1573 would become responsible for the Jesuit missions in the Far East; Christopher Clavius, a mathematician and leading European astronomer; and Robert Bellarmine, who would later become one of the most prominent cardinals of the Counter-Reformation. Ricci departed for the Far East in 1578, first to Goa, a Portuguese colony in India, where he finished his studies for the priesthood and was ordained in 1581. The following year, at Valignano's request, he sailed on to Macao to assist in the Jesuits' planned mission into mainland China. From Macao, he and his fellow missionary Michele Ruggieri moved into Canton and finally settled in the southern Chinese city of Zhaoqing, where for six years they deepened their studies of the Chinese language and culture. Expelled from there by a new viceroy, Ricci moved his mission to Shaozhou, where he taught mathematics to Chinese scholars, and then to Nanjing, as foreigners were banned from Beijing at the time. Finally, in 1600, he and three Jesuit compan-ions started their travel to Beijing, where Ricci would live from 1601 until his death on May 11, 1610. The permission to reside in Beijing gave Ricci and his companions the stability they needed for their mission work. Ricci used a two-pronged 

approach. First, he devoted himself to the transmis-sion of Western science and technology to win the friendship of curious Chinese scholars. Ricci's accu-rate prediction of eclipses and other astronomical events necessary for the preparation of the impe-rial calendar gave him access to the inner court of Emperor Wanli. He also helped translate Euclid's Elements of Geometry into Chinese and took care of the different gifts—such as mechanical clocks and a clavichord—he had given to the emperor. Finally, with the help of two Chinese collaborators, he pro-duced several versions of his Chinese "Map of the Myriad Countries of the World." Ricci's second approach was the writing of a comprehensive presentation of Catholic doctrine in a language and categories that related well to Chi-nese traditional culture and Confucian classics. 

His one goal was to win the Chinese people—starting with its scholars and ruling class—for the kingdom of God. In recognition of his contributions and in an extraordinary exception to the prevailing law, Emperor Wanli allowed Ricci to be buried in the capital on imperial grounds. Matteo Ricci's spirituality and personality were deeply influenced by the humanist current sweep-ing Europe at the time. The Renaissance opened the eyes of medieval Europe to a new conception of the human being, the universe, and God, all of which led many to think outside the medieval theological box. 

"If you cannot be a friend of yourself, how can you be a friend to another?" —Matteo Ricci (On Friendship, 1595) 

In coming to China, I too have realized that my vision of the human being, the universe, and God is based in a Western paradigm, and that I need to shed that to immerse myself more deeply in the East. I have discovered that contradiction is a necessary fact of life; that God is father and mother, male and female principle, action and inaction, almighty and powerless; and that prayer is not talk-ing with God in many words but opening my inner self in silence to God's presence and absence. In the 17th century, in reaction to the Protes-tant Reformation, the Catholic Church abandoned many of its new endeavors—among them not only the translation of the Bible into modern languages and the dialogue with science, but also the incul-turation and adaptation of the Christian message in non-European cultures. A few decades after Ricci, a dispute over mission-ary methods between the Jesuits on one side and the Dominicans and Franciscans on the other developed into the so-called Chinese Rites Controversy. Rome's ban of traditional Chinese rituals effectively ended the chances of developing a more acculturated form of Catholicism. It was not until 1939 that Pope Pius XII finally revoked the former prohibitions. 

Paco Carin
Matteo Ricci is a good example of a Jesuit spirituality that tries to find and serve God "in all things and above all things." To Ricci, Jesus was not just the majestic judging Christ so common in the late Middle Ages, but also and foremost the Father's "missionary." Jesus walked in the streets of Galilee and Jerusalem teaching the gospel, and he did so within the cultural framework of those who were listening because he was one of them, one of us. This idea of God befriending humanity was evident in Ricci's life. It is his friendship with many Chinese—both poor and simple and rich and sophisticated—that has given him a special place in China's history, including in today's People's Republic of China. Since my arrival in China, most of my friends have been local Chinese, many of them non-Catholic. Ricci lived the fact that Jesus' gospel is a living invitation that has to take root in each culture and therefore needs to get into close dialogue with cultures. Sadly, in today's China we are still only in the beginning stages of developing a truly Chinese theology, but things are changing. In our liturgies, many small adaptations have been introduced to better reflect Asian customs. And in theology, for example, a teaching as fundamental to our faith as the Trinity is now being expressed through the concept of yin and yang, more familiar to the Chinese. Matteo Ricci got me to read and admire the Chinese classics—Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, and many others. Like Ricci, I have also found in them many teachings that are closely related to the gospel. In the Analects, when Confucius is asked for a universal principle that can apply to any situation, he answers: "Don't do to others what you don't want to be done to you." Sounds familiar, doesn't it? If we want people to understand the treasure of the Good News, we have to explain it through words and categories they are familiar with and can under-stand. Before we can do this, we first need to learn from them. This is what Ricci tried to do, and his worldwide recognition today—both within and out-side the Catholic world—is proof of his success. His missionary and intellectual work opened a door for Christianity in China that is again open today. USC