Holy Father Pope Francis, in his apostolic journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan, addressing to Irina a Georgian wife and mother said, “Marriage is the most beautiful thing that God has created.” A married couple reflects God’s love and His image because they become one flesh. The book of Genesis presents, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female”(Gen1:27). “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen 2:24)”.
The Chinese Valentine’s Day is a time for couples to express their love, which usually includes an array of exchange of gifts and gestures. Couples spend quality time together, enjoy a delicious meal, exchange valuable gifts, go to cinema, etc. This Festival brings an air of romanticism in the streets of China, with couples gazing into the night sky in search of the stars Vega and Altair. Traditionally, women also pray to Zhinü for wisdom, a good husband, and a happy life.
In Hong Kong we are surrounded by various government restrictions, due to the ongoing pandemic-fourth lock down. But the words of our Constitutions (25) continued to echo in us, “We are open to the new initiatives and new presences, which are clear expressions in diverse context, of our desire to reach out to the most distant frontiers,” due to which we welcomed whole heartedly the invitation of Rev. Fr. Jojo Peter Ancheril, Claretian Missionary Fathers (CMF), an assistant Parish Priest of Mary Help of Christians Church, Tai O, Island, to animate the couples’ gathered on Chinese Valentine’s day, which was on the 15 day and the last day of Chinese New Year according to Lunar Calendar.
It was a God given possibility for us to organise the day for ten couples, who had come to visit Tai O island. To our surprise the couples were hailing from different nationalities such as Chinese-Italians, Chinese-Philippines, Chinese-Indians, Chinese-Canadians and they belonged to different religions as well. Our animation began at 17.30 hrs, on 26 February, with the welcome address by Fr. Jojo Peter Ancheril.
Since all the participants were not Catholics, we chose a common topic LOVE based on Scripture 1 Cor 13:4-8. Sr. Sophia Rani concretely placed before them the importance of love, which must exist between the couples. She shared a story of a couple’s long journey, which highlighted the theme that the difficult and painful moments of the journey must be written on a sand- to be forgotten easily while the happiest and joyful moments must be written on a rock- to be remembered forever.
Various activities were also the part of the animation, through which the important aspect of family life such as listening to each other, trusting each other, understanding each other and having patience with each other were highlighted. Mutual love and respect, sacrificial life, caring and loving beyond time and space, were also given importance through different games that were played. It was a great chance for them to recall something that they admire in each other and to appreciate and to express their gratitude to each other. They were happy to relive their first encounter through the exchange of roses as a symbol of love. Most of them were moved into tears, to see their past journey made in fidelity, with many ups and downs.
We ever remain grateful to the Lord for the opportunity given to us. Four of us namely: Srs. Carmela Pamei, Sophia Rani, Anitha Eddula and Pavani Mathangi take this as a privileged moment given by God, to rejuvenate the fire of love amidst couples and many others who participated in the gathering. The program concluded with the priestly blessing and a fellowship meal.
Sr. Pavani Mathangi,