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Bumper crowd for Ash Wednesday

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : St. Joseph’s in Central reported bumper crowds for Ash Wednesday, which fell on the last day of the Lunar New Year holiday period, February 13.

Thousands of Filipinos took advantage of the once-in-a-while opportunity to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday.


When Ash Wednesday falls during the New Year holidays, it is a custom for the diocese to absolve people from the obligation to fast and abstain from meat, because it is an important time for family gatherings in Chinese culture.


It is also custom to transfer the distribution of ashes to the following Wednesday, consequently, only a few parishes actually mark the feast on the day itself.


St. Joseph’s had to make last minute adjustments to its timetable, adding a Mass in the grounds in order to accommodate the overflow crowds of all nationalities that arrived from early morning until evening.


Observing the traditional discipline of Lent is becoming more problematic in modern city life. Apart from the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, Father Conegundo Garganta, from the Commission on Youth of the Philippine bishops’ conference, pointed out that this Lent coincides with school and university graduation, as well as clashing with many fiestas and holiday periods.


However, he is still encouraging people to observe the discipline of Lent, as he pointed out that some sort of special act of self-denial is always possible.


Luis Cardinal Tagle, from Manila, reminded people that Lent is meant to be an opportunity to fast, not to diet. He said that it is important to remember that fasting has a community aspect, not just a personal one.


Father Garganta is suggesting that any money saved through going without something that we really enjoy should be shared with the community in some way or other.


He called on people to remember that Lent is a time both for fasting and giving alms to the poor.


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