Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Of ashes and being more Chinese than the Chinese

Today the Universal Church celebrates Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent. But the Malaysian Bishops, in a bid to be more Chinese than the Chinese bishops of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, have decided to postpone the imposition of ashes to February 15th and the obligation of fasting and abstinence as well.

I remember that 3 years ago, Ash Wednesday actually fell on the 1st Day of the lunar New Year and the people still came. No protests at all as they understood the meaning of being Catholic and the meaning of Lent.


In a multi-cultural and multi-racial Church, which has many Indian and Eurasian Catholics, this is highly inappropriate. Why not simply have the imposition of ashes today and have another ceremony after Mass on the weekend for those who can't make it today for whatever reason, which is the usual practice. Why deprive Catholics of other races the chance to start Lent liturgically? Why can't mature Catholics be given the choice? I am of course pro-choice =) Just have it and let them decide if they want to come. What's the problem with that? Why be so dictatorial and impose this choice on Catholics of all communities?

And why postpone it for 10 days? Power should not have been given to the conferences to decide this. They have proven again and again, in many countries, that they can't wield such authority properly. Power should be re-centralized in Rome, to maintain uniformity and unity in the Catholic Church.

I can understand the transferring of the obligation of fasting and abstinence as many Chinese Catholics have non-Catholic relatives and friends. Pastoral reasons and all that. But moving the imposition of ashes so far away is rubbish.

6 comments:

Mark said...

I can understand your anger; personally, I would not even transfer the obligations around fasting. Here, in the UK, you never see Moslems moving the dates of Ramadan.

Do the Malaysian Bishops actually have the power to move Ash Wednesday to this degree? I thought it was generally only if feasts collided, or if you wanted to shove something to a Sunday (like Corpus Christi...*rolls eyes*).

Andrew said...

Well, Rome has allowed them to transfer the obligation of fasting and abstinence. My trouble is with the moving of the imposition of ashes which is unprecedented.

MrSmith said...

Off Topic, but I thought you'd like to know you're being tagged with the Bloggers of the World award meme thingy.

justin said...

I completely disagree with the transferrance of fasting either. If Lent calls for sacrifice - then there actually needs to be a sacrifice, is my understanding. Otherwise, where's the sacrifice if all we do is just transfer it to the most opportune available day.

I understand the need to 'show face' and all to members of our family who are not Catholics - but I think this could have been an excellent catechetical opportunity to teach us that the Church is bigger than ethnic divisions, that our solidarity, first of all with our Holy Father, and secondly with other Christians around the world, in using this day for penitence in reparation for our sins and those of the whole world, is more important than the celebration of a festival that has no Christian roots.

In other words the Bishops should be teaching us that our loyalty to God and the Holy Father outweighs our loyalty to Caesar, Chin Shih Huang Ti, or anyone else even our ancestors.

Deo Juvante said...

In Singapore, the fast was held on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and lasted till the afternoon of Ash Wednesday. Ashes were imposed over these 2 days.

Personally, I thought that this was a good move.

I don't think we were given a dispensation to eat meat this coming Friday (2nd day of the CNY) too.

God bless.

Andrew said...

Justin, I second that but would not make a fuss if the abstinence were transferred (not cancelled). I would just observe it on the actual day.

Paul, like I said, I really think our bishops are trying to be more Chinese than the Chinese. There's more I can tell you about this.