Happy New Year 2008 in Ethiopia!

By Makeda Yohannes in Ethiopia

On  the occasion of the Ethiopian New Year 2008, this Saturday 12 September, the Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel has given his New Year message and blessing through the Ethiopian media.

The Ethiopian calendar follows the Julian calendar of 25 BC by the Emperor Augustus of Rome with a start date of 29 August J.C., thus establishing the New Year on this day. The date marks the approximate end of the "rainy season". It has also been associated traditionally with the return of the Queen of Sheba to Ethiopia following her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem round about 980 BC.

In his New Year message and blessings to Ethiopians, Cardinal Berhaneyesus calls on the faithful to pray for all families. The Cardinal has said that the universal Church is currently preparing for the upcoming Synod on the Family and the Catholic Church in Ethiopia is praying for all families in preparation for the Synod.

“The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church remain the same always. Our Church gives special attention to families as family is the foundation of society and of the Church. A marriage is between a man and a woman (Mt. 19: 4-6). It is a Sacrament and as such in a Catholic marriage, there is no divorce,” he said.

Cardinal Berhaneyesus, explained that a family can remain strong by praying together. “This does not mean that there are no problems in marriages, couples go through many challenges in their married lives thus we must pray for Christian families who are facing problems that the Lord may bless them and have Mercy on them.”

In his message the Cardinal also stressed the importance of peace for the development and prosperity of a nation. “Co-existing peacefully with all neighbouring countries is a benefit for all of us. Thus I ask that we continue our efforts of peace building and pray that Jesus Christ, the King of Peace, may bless us and our neighbouring countries with His peace,” the Cardinal said.

According to the Ethiopian calendar the year 2007 is ending and 2008 is about to begin, Cardinal Berhaneyesus, said that “when a year ends and a new one begins we must always remember that we live in God’s gift of Mercy; when we live in the world that He has created for us and a new year He has given us, we must grow more spiritually and need to live as His faithful children.”

The Cardinal has advised that it is important for all people to make proper use of the time given by God, “In our family and professional life we must fulfill our responsibility devotedly and with thoughtfulness. It is important to be happy with the time God has given us, and to put Him first before all our activities asking Him to bless all our activities and New Year resolutions,” the Cardinal has guided.