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Liturgy arrangements for New Year and Lent

HONG KONG (SE): Special liturgical prayers for a Thanksgiving Mass celebrated on the eve of the Lunar New Year of the Monkey and for the Mass of the Lunar New Year itself, which falls on February 8, have been approved for use by Hong Kong diocese.

Although Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, falls within the three-day New Year holiday celebration on February 10, the diocese has, as is its custom in other years, given a dispensation from the usual discipline of fast and abstinence.

Ashes will be distributed at Masses celebrated in the city. Permission has also been given for ashes to be distributed on the days following Ash Wednesday during a ceremony of the way of the cross.

Although fasting and abstinence from meat are not required on Ash Wednesday in view of the fact that it is a family celebration and time of rejoicing at the coming of a new year, it is recommended that people practice some form of penance or make an effort to share what they have with the poor.

Lent is a time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ at Easter, as well as a time when it is customary to welcome people into the Church who have been preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation; baptism and confirmation.

The First Sunday in Lent has been designated as the day for officially accepting them as candidates for the sacraments of initiation and, as the rite is an ancient one, it may seem quaint, but is an invitation to scrutinise how they are doing and assure them of the support of the community.

Traditionally, the rite has been referred to as The Scrutinies, but today is called the Rite of Election, where the person becomes an elect for baptism. This may also take place on the following Sunday.

Also on February 14, Cardinal Tong will lead a two-hour prayer liturgy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in honour of St. Pio da Pietralcina from 8.00pm, together with a celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation.