'That afternoon (2/22), I went to the parish of St. James the Great for a Mass with the Chinese Catholic Community for the celebration of Chinese New Year.' Pilot photo/CardinalSeansBlog.org
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Last Friday, I had one of my periodic meetings with a group of our seminarians. In addition to the meetings I have with all the seminarians together, on occasion I have been holding these gatherings by class, because it provides the opportunity to have more interaction with the men. This group was mainly those in First Theology. As always, they came for Evening Prayer and dinner followed by a very nice conversation.
Rite of Election
Sunday, was scheduled to be the Rite of Election here at the cathedral. However, because of the incredible amount of snow that has turned many of the streets of the South End into one-way streets with no parking -- and our parking lot being out of commission because of construction -- we decided to assign the Rite of Election to parishes this year. Despite having cancelled the rite, we have invited all our new Catholics to gather with us at the cathedral for the Vigil of Pentecost, because it is important for them to see that they are joining, not just a parish community, but the universal Church. It is also helpful for them to see that they are not alone in their decision to join the Church, and that there are hundreds of other people in the archdiocese who are on this same journey. And, of course, all of us accompany them on this journey. As I often say, Lent for us is a baptismal retreat and the Rite of Election is a very strong reminder of that. On Holy Saturday all Catholics will be invited to renew their baptismal vows as we bless the Easter water. It will be a great joy to celebrate the Easter sacraments with our new Catholics.
Mass with the Chinese Catholic community
That afternoon (2/22), I went to the parish of St. James the Great for a Mass with the Chinese Catholic Community for the celebration of Chinese New Year. The Chinese and many other Asian cultures follow the lunar calendar, and this year the new year fell on the First Sunday of Lent. As many of you know, each year in the Chinese calendar has an animal associated with it, according to a 12 year zodiac cycle. This year is the Year of the Sheep so, in my reflection, I shared with the people that while the Gregorian calendar does not have animals associated with it the way the Chinese calendar does, we do use animal symbolism in the Church...
The lamb, however, is a very biblical symbol. So I took them through the Old Testament, beginning with Abel's sacrifice of the lamb that was acceptable to God, then Abraham and the Paschal Lamb of the Exodus. In the New Testament, of course, John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. And then there is the Seder meal of the Last Supper and the fact that in St. John's Gospel, it says that in not breaking Jesus's legs, the centurion fulfilled the Scripture that "Not a bone of it [the Pascal Lamb] will be broken." All of these things remind us of the symbolism of the lamb and, in fact, in the Mass we refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God six times. So, I told the people, even though we may be celebrating the Year of the Sheep, we are all followers of the Lamb of God and are saved by his light.
After the Mass they had a great celebration, including a lion dance. They presented me with a cabbage, which I am sure will bring me great good luck during this year!