February 4, 2024

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we gather this weekend for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are reminded by the Gospel of the profound example set by Jesus (cf. Mk 1:29-39). Amidst a day filled with teaching and healing, the Lord still found solitude for prayer and communion with God the Father. This powerful moment in Scripture highlights the essence of our faith journey: seeking a deeper connection with God and nurturing our relationships with others, even in our busiest times.

This message of spiritual connection and strengthening our communal bonds resonates deeply as we approach the Lunar New Year on February 10, 2024. Celebrated by millions of Asians around the world, including our Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and other Oriental brothers and sisters, this festive occasion symbolizes a time of joy, thanksgiving, and family reunion. As we welcome the Year of the Dragon, an emblem of wisdom, strength, and fortune, let us be inspired to infuse these virtues into our spiritual and communal lives.

I am delighted to extend heartfelt New Year wishes to all. We eagerly anticipate celebrating with a Solemn Mass of Peace in English and Vietnamese next Sunday, February 11, at 3 PM. Our church will be adorned with cherry blossoms and spring flowers, reflecting the vibrant spirit of Asian cultures. This celebration will incorporate cherished traditions such as the Remembrance of Ancestors, the distribution of New Year Blessing Parchments, and the Blessing of Elders and Families, each embodying the values of respect, gratitude, and community central to both our faith and cultural heritage.

The Lunar New Year traditions are a beautiful tapestry of family, culture, and values for our Vietnamese brothers and sisters. Typically, families gather at their ancestral homes to celebrate. They engage in ceremonies honoring their ancestors and elders, reinforcing the bonds of respect and gratitude. Children and grandchildren express their wishes for happiness, longevity, and prosperity to their elders, receiving blessings and “lucky envelopes” in return.

For Catholic Christians, the Lunar New Year celebration is also a poignant time for reflection and interior renewal. Just as Jesus in the Gospel withdrew to pray and reconnect with the Father, the New Year offers us a sacred opportunity to reflect on our relationship with God and our loved ones. It’s a time to embrace forgiveness, set aside past grievances, and commit to living more fully in God’s love, wisdom and harmony.

In the spirit of the Year of the Dragon, let us challenge ourselves to embody the virtues it represents. May we harness the dragon’s wisdom to deepen our understanding of God’s Word, its strength to bear our trials with grace, and its auspicious nature to spread blessings within our community. As we exchange traditional greetings and best wishes, let our actions and words be a testament to our commitment to live in harmony with God’s teachings and to cherish the relationships He has graced us with.

May this Lunar New Year be a time of abundant blessings, joy, and peace for you and your loved ones. You are all in my special prayers and will be remembered at the altar during this festive season.

Wishing you a blessed New Year filled with the peace and love of Christ.

Happy New Year / “Chuc Mung Nam Moi”,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham