During Lent, Vietnamese Catholics have the opportunity to participate in numerous liturgical celebrations, community encounters, and social activities in their local communities: just before Lent, the restrictions and distancing rules to contain the Covid-19 pandemic as a whole have been lifted and almost completely abolished, reports Fides News Agency. As a result, citizens are free to travel and gather in the churches. All of the country’s dioceses have abolished daily online worship services and asked parishioners to attend liturgical celebrations in person. On Sundays, service will continue to be broadcast from the cathedral of each diocese for the sick and elderly who cannot attend church. The resumption of activities of Christian life “in presence” has been warmly welcomed by the faithful across the country, who are attending the celebrations in large numbers.
In recent days, Catholics throughout Vietnam have been fasting and praying, particularly in communion with the universal Church, to ask for peace in Ukraine.Bishop Alphonso Nguyen Huu Long of Vinh, in his Lenten Pastoral Letter, expressed his deep joy at seeing the churches full of believers again: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused great damage in the last two years in the world and even the Communion of men with God and among men, themselves is threatened. Believers have long been prevented from accessing the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We must be vigilant to avoid falling into a similar situation again. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has made people distrust each other for fear of contagion: they have become indifferent to one another and have lost fellowship and affection for one another”. Lent, he continues, “is an appropriate time for conversion, that is, returning to our Lord and renewing our intimate relationship with God”. Catholics are called to listen to the word of the Lord, to pray, to do penance, and to be reconciled with God and their neighbor, emphasized Bishop Cosma Dat of Bac Ninh in his pastoral letter to the faithful: “Lent is more important than ever a favorable opportunity for Christians to renounce their ego, to listen to the word of God and to meditate, to fast and to do works of charity” to “let the old man die in order to rise again together with Christ and announce the Good News of his resurrection”.
In the pastoral letter to God’s people, Bishop Dominic Hoang Minh Tien, who recently took office in the Diocese of Hung Hoa, writes: “All believers are called to bear a fervent witness to Jesus Christ in today’s world, building a solid community in faith, zealous in the liturgy, concerned with love and works of charity, a community passionate about evangelization”. And continues: “To fulfill this mission, each of us must renew our lives, sanctify ourselves, our families and our communities. During this holy Lent, it is necessary to dedicate the hours of family prayer, the time of catechesis, the charitable works and to maintain the daily celebration of the Eucharist”.