ASIA/CHINA - Chinese New Year. Christian hope embraces the expectations and sorrows of the "great army of ChunYun"

Friday, 20 January 2023 local churches   sacraments   the elderly   charity   works of mercy   pandemic  

by Marta Zhao
Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - After three years of closures and impediments due to the pandemic, the great "army of ChunYun" has finally returned, the endless crowds of people who travel through China to spend the days of the Chinese New Year with their loved ones. The many internal immigrants who work in the big cities have lowered the shutters of their shops. The factories are closed. Even in Beijing, the streets seem clearer. The coming and going of the "riders" that is part of the daily routine in the great metropolis also seems to have been suspended.
For days, the streets of all Chinese cities have been invaded by decorations, lanterns and colored lights. The whole world - more than in the past - competes to paint everything red, the color of good luck, as if to drive away the darkness, the fear, the painful time of the pandemic. Red festoons with good wishes are hung on the doors of the houses. New Year's Eve dinners, fireworks, red envelopes with money inside to be donated to young and old. Everything seems to be ready for the feast. And at the same time, a veil of sadness hangs over the upcoming holiday. Families hug each other to spend New Year's Day and also to comfort each other. Because everyone has in their hearts the face of a loved relative they have lost in recent times, in the massacre of the elderly that has marked the last wave of the pandemic.
Chinese New Year 2023 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. Lucky, meek and kind animal, according to the Chinese horoscope. People wish each other that the rabbit "brings good luck", that the coming year is one of peace and serenity. And the Catholic Church in China also embraces the sentiments, the sorrows and the expectations of the people, in this festive time, and lives them in the light of faith, hope and charity, gifts that Christ can kindle in the heart of every Christian.
Masses are celebrated on the vigil and thanksgiving liturgies to the Lord on New Year's Day in the parishes. The people of God once again fill churches and chapels, as in normal times in the solemnities of Christmas and Easter.
The pastoral initiatives of the Catholic communities are also reconfigured around the festive season, which is an opportunity to dedicate special attention to the lonely, the elderly and those with difficulties.
The parish of Jiujiang, in the province of Jiangxi, has just concluded a pastoral year dedicated to the Word of God: the parish priest Pang Rui continues to visit families daily, together with the sisters and the staff of the parish center, bringing the sacraments of the Eucharist and the anointing of the sick to the elderly, sick and disabled. Also in Jiangxi, the parish priest Fr Li Jianjun, from Qianshan parish, visits the homes of the elderly to pray with them and bless each family.
In the diocese of Zhengzhou, Henan province, the Charity Group has created small teams of people from different parishes who travel to the most isolated villages and towns in the countryside to visit families in need and bring them spiritual and material help. Priests and lay people from Xingtai, Hebei Province, also visit the elderly, sick and lonely in Zhangzhuang Village and neighboring villages on these days.
They administer sacraments, bring blessings, and distribute charity "red envelopes" to help everyone experience a peaceful Chinese New Year.
Small examples of "ordinary" works of mercy, which at the time of the New Year celebration show in a luminous way how the simplest gestures of Christian charity embrace, with a comforting elective affinity, the traditional Chinese virtues, those that move the respect, love and support for the elderly. (Agenzia Fides, 20/1/2022)