Happy [Asian] New Year!

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Last Saturday we celebrated the lunar New Year with our Asian sisters (and brothers!).  In Asian culture, the New Year is similar to Thanksgiving Day for Americans.  It is a ten-day celebration filled with food, games and gifts, honoring the past year and all our loved ones who have gone before us, as well as a time to look forward to fresh beginnings and what the coming year might bring.  Our community has sisters from Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines, but we were all excited to celebrate with them!

We had a special dish laid out for breakfast this morning after Office – Bánh Chưng, a cake of sticky rice filled with mung bean paste and pork.  To go with it, we had coffee brought back from Vietnam for us from one of our Vietnamese brothers. 

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For dinner, we had Bánh Xèo, or as some of us call it, “sizzle dish”.  It’s a kind of Vietnamese crepe that includes pork and shrimp.  The crepe is then cut into strips and rolled in a lettuce leaf with shredded carrots, fresh cilantro and slightly sweet, salty, spicy thin sauce.  For dessert, we enjoyed Chè Khoai Môn, a warm pudding made with tapioca pearls, taro root and coconut milk.

But our big celebration was after Vespers, when we enjoyed a supper party in our community room.  We were treated to a dish our community has not had before – Bún Bò Huế, a spicy noodle soup from the central region of Vietnam.  Of course, a traditional Vietnamese toast, conversation, games and sharing were the highlight of the festivities.

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And this is one of the wonderful, beautiful things about community life.  To share and learn from one another and the diversity that we each bring into the monastery is a joy and our unity is enriched by it, like the multi-facets of a gemstone that makes the whole sparkle so that it radiates the light that much more brilliantly.  One of the traditions for the New Year is to honor the past and those to whom we are indebted for our lives, to ask forgiveness for our failings, and to humbly request health and blessing for the coming year.  We now share with you our community’s prayer for this Asian New Year.

Almighty God, holy Trinity and undivided Unity, we give thanks to you for your power and tender providence, your justice and compassion, your discipline and love.  We are grateful for the gift of life you have bestowed upon us and sustained in us this past year to this day.  Trusting only in your infinite mercy, we humbly pray for forgiveness of our sins, the grace to follow you with greater humility, obedience and unity, and the gift of final perseverance in this life that we may enjoy eternal happiness with you and all the saints and angels in the life to come.

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We give thanks for our parents, grandparents all our ancestors, and our Dominican Sisters and Brothers who have gone before us, natural and spiritual, and for their lives, sacrifices, teachings and example.  We ask for forgiveness of any ingratitude and lack of honor we may have shown them.  For those who are deceased, we ask Lord that you look with favor upon them and grant them eternal rest.  For those who are yet living, we pray, Lord, that you bless and protect them with your loving providence, that they may continue to grow in light and wisdom until such day when you call them to their eternal home.

We give thanks for our brothers and sisters, natural and spiritual, and for their encouragement and companionship on life’s journey.  We ask forgiveness for any lack of kindness or respect toward them on our part.  Through your grace, Lord, as we grow closer to you, may we also grow in unity of mind and heart with each other.

We give thanks, Lord, for our benefactors and friends, for their generosity and trust.  We ask forgiveness for any lack of gratitude on our part for the blessing of their presence in our lives.  Look with favor upon them, Lord, and keep them close to You in the coming year.

We give thanks, Lord, in faith and hope for those to enter our Order and in particular our community, as younger sisters and brothers.  We pray that you would set our hearts on fire with love for You and for them, that as we receive from you mercy, joy and consolation, we would share generously with them; fill this house to overflowing with holy and fervent vocations, we pray, for the glory of your all holy Name and for the salvation of souls.

We make our request to You through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.