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MSB bishops give Catholics dispensation from abstinence for first day of Chinese New Year

The presenters – children, youth, adults – in varied traditional attire bring the gifts forward to the altar at the Presentation of Gifts, 16 Feb 2018, SHC.

KOTA KINABALU –  The Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have decided to give dispensation to all Catholics from abstinence on Friday, 16 Feb 2018, in view of the festive season of Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year is a time of rejoicing with family members, loved ones and friends as they usher in the new year according to the Chinese custom.

This decision was made during the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei (CBCMSB) in January.

This year the first day of Chinese New Year fell on the Friday after Ash Wednesday (Feb 14), the third day of Lent.

Consequently, the atmosphere was a bit subdued during the CNY Mass celebrated at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Feb 16. The Gloria was omitted.

As in past years, there was the usual drum display by five drummers: Frankie Wong, 14, and his brother Brian, 12;  Jessica Liew, 12; Megan Sham, 19; and Betty Kong, 19.

Among the appreciative thousand over faithful were Archbishop John Wong, Abp Emeritus John Lee, Fathers Paul Lo, Max Hontor, Joshua Liew, Joseph Fung sj, and the religious sisters.

In his homily, Abp Wong related salvation history to the LNY celebration theme, urging everyone to seek first the Kingdom of God before anything else, and to have that sense of loyalty and faithfulness to God which a dog (being the Year of the Earth Dog) has toward its owner.

At the presentation of gifts, 17 presenters brought candles, flowers, fruits, vegetables, sticky rice cake, kuazi, money, bread and wine to the altar.

After Communion Prayer, Abp Wong blessed 10 big baskets of mandarin oranges to be distributed to the faithful after Mass.

The Chinese rite of bowing three times before the altar (representing God) by all, to the concelebrants by the faithful, and to each other took place before the final blessing and dismissal.

As part of their appreciation tradition, the Chinese community gave ang pows to the clergy and religious present.

After the distribution of oranges, many of the faithful and clergy adjourned to the front of the parish centre for the lion dance performances by the You Yi Troupe.

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