My dear Fathers,
Now that we have had our two day study sessions in the month of July on “Amoris Leatitia” namely the Holy Father’s Post synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Family, let us finalize our parish plans based on “Amoris Laetitia” and specially with reference to chapter 6 on “The Pastoral Perspectives” to enrich and build our catholic families. The importance of Family Apostolate has been once again emphasized by the Universal Shepherd by setting up a new Dicastery, which includes family, laity and life with an American Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas as its head. You will find more information about it in the current issue of “Among Ourselves. In this great Jubilee year of mercy we must make every effort with the help of our other pastoral collaborators, such as Religious, and those engaged in the Family Apostolate, in our parishes to visit every family and come to know personally the needs and struggles of our families.
In that connection, I wish to point out that Pope Francis is constantly pleading for an attitudinal change in us, the shepherds of our flock. In the meditations and reflections of the Holy Father, he frequently speaks of the “teachers of the Law” who insisted on the letter of the law to the detriment of fulfilling their fundamental obligations. We can get so engrossed in our celebrations and embellishments of churches and surroundings to such an extent that we neglect our fundamental role of being shepherds. It is therefore, important for us to reflect on our own lives and ministry and engage in genuine soul searching to ensure that while we keep ourselves occupied with so many matters that we do not forget or neglect to nourish our people with the word of God and the Sacraments and go in search of lost ones. We know that it is only by emulating the example of Jesus the supreme High Priest and the Good Shepherd in going into the midst of faithful that we can strengthen them in their faith and Christian living. Every Monthly Recollections should help us to rekindle our faithfulness in this regard.
We rejoice with the Universal Church and specially with the missionaries of Charity, who are engaged in the Apostolate for the poorest of the poor, on the great occasion of the Canonization of their foundress, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, in Rome on the 4th of September. We shall also have a thanksgiving Mass to celebrate this occasion on the 25th of September 2016 at St. Anthony’s Cathedral at 8.30 a.m. There will be also a thanksgiving Mass at Daya Niwasa on 5th September 2016 at 9.30 a.m.
Please note as mentioned in the ORDO , that the National Catechetical Day will be observed on 25th September 2016. It is a good opportunity to appreciate the wonderful work being done by our Catechists throughout the Diocese. On that day every priest in the Diocese together with Religious and lay faithful will offer a Holy Mass for the Benefactors of our Diocese.
During our Monthly Recollection in September our presbyterium will celebrate the silver Jubilee of Priesthood of Fr. Colvin Fernandopulle with a thanksgiving Mass presided over by the jubilarian on the 26th (Monday) September at 6.00 p.m. Please note that the Monthly Recollection in September will be at Monte Fano Retreat House on 26th & 27th September 2016.
Wishing all of you God’s Blessings,
Yours Devotedly in the Lord,
Bishop Vianney Fernando,
Bishop of Kandy
03rd 9.00 a.m – Confirmation Service at Katugastota
05th 9.30 a.m – Holy Mass of thanksgiving at Daya Niwasa for the Canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
10th – Commemoration of Claretians Presence of 25 years in Sri Lanka at Monte Fano
11th 9.00 a.m – Church Feast at Nikewehera
12th 10.00 a.m – Presbyteral Councill meeting at Gatembe
03.00 p.m – Episcopal Councill Meeting at Gatembe
14th 9.00 a.m – Tamil Kalai Vizha at Kandy Convent
16th –21st – with Major Seminarians at Hatton
24th 10.00 a.m – Confirmation Service at Nuware Eliya
25th 08.30 a.m – Thanksgiving Mass for the Canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcultta
at St. Anthony’s Cathedral, Kandy
26th 06.00 p.m – Silver Jubilee celebration of Priesthood of Fr. Colvin Fernandopulle at the Retreat House , Monte Fano
26th- 27th – Clergy Monthly Recollection at Monte Fano
29th 09.00 a.m – Adult Baptisms at the Cathedral
07.00 p.m – Farewell to the minor Seminarians, proceeding to “Daham Sevena” Kalutara
30th 08.30 a.m – Interviews of Minor Seminarians with their Parents.
Programme for September
3rd Year Seminar
Date & Time : 7th September 2016 a 9.00 a.m to 10th September 2016 at 2.00 p. m
Place: Seminar Centre at Kadugannawa
3rd Year Seminar
Date & Time : 28th September 2016 a 9.00 a.m to 1st October 2016 at 2.00 p. m
Place: Seminar Centre at Kadugannawa
NATIONAL CATECHETICAL DAY
25TH SEPTEMBER 2016
CONGRATULATIONS & PRAYERFUL WISHES
Very Rev. Fr. Expeditus Jayakody
The New Rector of the National Seminary
Our Lady of Lanka
Pope Francis : You can’t love your pet more than your neighbor
People in need deserve more love from us than the animals do, Pope Francis has said. In off-the-cuff remarks Saturday, he said: ―How often do we see people greatly attached to cats, to dogs,‖ but fail to ―help their neighbor, their neighbor who is in need… This will not do. ‖The Pope’s catechesis for the Jubilee of Mercy audience discussed the theme of piety and how it shows God’s mercy through compassion for the suffering and afflicted.
―The piety of which we speak is a manifestation of God’s mercy,‖ the Pope told the rain-soaked crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The pontiff explained that piety, or ―pietà‖ – which in Italian can also be translated as compassion, pity, or mercy – should not ―be confused with compassion which we feel for the animals who live with us.‖ ―It happens, in fact, that at times one feels this sentiment toward animals, and remains indifferent to the suffering of one’s brothers and sisters,‖ he added.
The May 14 gathering at the Vatican was the latest in a series of special audiences for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which are being held throughout the year in addition to the weekly general audiences on Wednesdays. The Jubilee of Mercy is an Extraordinary Holy Year that officially commenced December 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. It will close Nov. 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Pope Francis centered Saturday’s catechesis on piety with regard to those ―who need love.‖ Piety is an aspect of mercy, and one of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, he said. As noted in the English language synthesis of the address, the word piety denotes a sense of ―religiosity or devotion,‖ but it also relates to compassion and mercy. The concept of piety existed in the Greco-Roman world, the Pope explained in Italian, where it referred to being submissive toward superiors, such as the gods, one’s parents, the elderly, etc.
―Today, however, we must be careful not to identify piety with that pietism, fairly widespread, which is only a superficial emotion and which offends the dignity of others,‖ he said. The pontiff cited the many instances in the Gospel in which persons who were sick, possessed, in poverty, or otherwise afflicted would call on Jesus to ―Have mercy‖ (―Abbi pietà‖ in Italian).
―Jesus responded to everyone with his gaze of mercy and the comfort of his presence,‖ he said. In asking Jesus for help or mercy, each of these persons demonstrated their faith, referring to him as ―Teacher,‖ ―Son of David,‖ or Lord, the Pope explained.
―They intuited that in him there was something extraordinary, that could help them leave behind the condition of sadness in which they had found themselves. They perceived in him the love of God himself.‖
Jesus, in turn, took pity, and called the suffering and wounded persons ―to have faith in him and in his Word. ‖The pontiff explained that Jesus ―shares the sadness of those he encounters,‖ while at the same time works in them to ―transform them in joy.‖
Pope Francis said ―we too are called to cultivate‖ attitudes of compassion when confronted with situations which shake us from ―the indifference that prevents us from recognizing the needs of our brothers and sisters,‖ and free us from the ―slavery of material goods.‖
He concluded his catechesis by invoking the example of Mary, who ―cares for each of her children and for us believers,‖ and who is ―the icon of piety.‖
A NEW SAINT FOR THE CHURCH
Blessed Mother Teresa
Canonization On 04th September 2016 in Rome
Blessed Mother Teresa Born in 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, Mother Teresa taught in India for 17 years before she experienced her 1946 “call within a call” to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. Her order established a hospice; centers for the blind, aged, and disabled; and a leper colony. In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. She died in September 1997 and was beatified in October 2003. In December 2015, Pope Francis recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing the way for her to be canonized as a saint in 2016.
Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia. The following day, she was baptized as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, were of Albanian descent; her father was an entrepreneur who worked as a construction contractor and a trader of medicines and other goods. The Bojaxhius were a devoutly Catholic family, and Nikola was deeply involved in the local church as well as in city politics as a vocal proponent of Albanian independence.
In 1919, when Agnes was only 8 years old, her father suddenly fell ill and died. While the cause of his death remains unknown, many have speculated that political enemies poisoned him. In the aftermath of her father’s death, Agnes became extraordinarily close to her mother, a pious and compassionate woman who instilled in her daughter a deep commitment to charity.
Although by no means wealthy, Drana Bojaxhiu extended an open invitation to the city’s destitute to dine with her family. “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others,” she counseled her daughter. When Agnes asked who the people eating with them were, her mother uniformly responded, “Some of them are our relations, but all of them are our people.”
Agnes attended a convent-run primary school and then a state-run secondary school. As a girl, she sang in the local Sacred Heart choir and was often asked to sing solos. The congregation made an annual pilgrimage to the Church of the Black Madonna in Letnice, and it was on one such trip at the age of 12 that she first felt a calling to a religious life. Six years later, in 1928, an 18-year-old Agnes Bojaxhiu decided to become a nun and set off for Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin. It was there that she took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
A year later, Sister Mary Teresa traveled on to Darjeeling, India, for the novitiate period; in May 1931, she made her First Profession of Vows. Afterward she was sent to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary’s High School for Girls, a school run by the Loreto Sisters and dedicated to teaching girls from the city’s poorest Bengali families. Sister Teresa learned to speak both Bengali and Hindi fluently as she taught geography and history and dedicated herself to alleviating the girls’ poverty through education.
On May 24, 1937, she took her Final Profession of Vows to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. As was the custom for Loreto nuns, she took on the title of “Mother” upon making her final vows and thus became known as Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa continued to teach at Saint Mary’s, and in 1944 she became the school’s principal. Through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students’ education, she sought to lead them to a life of devotion to Christ. “Give me the strength to be ever the light of their lives, so that I may lead them at last to you,” she wrote in prayer.
A New Calling
However, on September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa experienced a second calling, the “call within a call” that would forever transform her life. She was riding in a train from Calcutta to the Himalayan foothills for a retreat when she said Christ spoke to her and told her to abandon teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta aiding the city’s poorest and sickest people.
But since Mother Teresa had taken a vow of obedience, she could not leave her convent without official permission. After nearly a year and a half of lobbying, in January 1948 she finally received approval to pursue this new calling. That August, donning the blue-and-white sari that she would wear in public for the rest of her life, she left the Loreto convent and wandered out into the city. After six months of basic medical training, she voyaged for the first time into Calcutta’s slums with no more specific a goal than to aid “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.”
The Missionaries of Charity
Mother Teresa quickly translated this somewhat vague calling into concrete actions to help he city’s poor. She began an open-air school and established a home for the dying destitute in a dilapidated building she convinced the city government to donate to her cause. In October 1950, she won canonical recognition for a new congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, which she founded with only a handful of members—most of them former teachers or pupils from St. Mary’s School.
As the ranks of her congregation swelled and donations poured in from around India and across the globe, the scope of Mother Teresa’s charitable activities expanded exponentially. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics.
In 1971, Mother Teresa traveled to New York City to open her first American-based house of charity, and in the summer of 1982, she secretly went to Beirut, Lebanon, where she crossed between Christian East Beirut and Muslim West Beirut to aid children of both faiths. In 1985, Mother Teresa returned to New York and spoke at the 40th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly. While there, she also opened Gift of Love, a home to care for those infected with HIV/AIDS.
International Charity and Recognition
In February 1965, Pope Paul VI bestowed the Decree of Praise upon the Missionaries of Charity, which prompted Mother Teresa to begin expanding internationally. By the time of her death in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4,000—in addition to thousands more lay volunteers—with 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world.
The Decree of Praise was just the beginning, as Mother Teresa received various honors for her tireless and effective charity. She was awarded the Jewel of India, the highest honor bestowed on Indian civilians, as well as the now-defunct Soviet Union’s Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee. And in 1979, Mother Teresa won her highest honor when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work “in bringing help to suffering humanity.”
Despite this widespread praise, Mother Teresa’s life and work have not gone without its controversies. In particular, she has drawn criticism for her vocal endorsement of some of the Catholic Church’s more controversial doctrines, such as opposition to contraception and abortion. “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion,” Mother Teresa said in her 1979 Nobel lecture.
In 1995, she publicly advocated a “no” vote in the Irish referendum to end the country’s constitutional ban on divorce and remarriage. The most scathing criticism of Mother Teresa can be found in Christopher Hitchens’s book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, in which Hitchens argued that Mother Teresa glorified poverty for her own ends and provided a justification for the preservation of institutions and beliefs that sustained widespread poverty.
Death and Legacy
After several years of deteriorating health, in which she suffered from heart, lung and kidney problems, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87. She was beatified in October 2003.
Since her death, Mother Teresa has remained in the public spotlight. In particular, the publication of her private correspondence in 2003 caused a wholesale re-evaluation of her life by revealing the crisis of faith she suffered for most of the last 50 years of her life.
For her unwavering commitment to aiding those most in need, Mother Teresa stands out as one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century. She combined profound empathy and a fervent commitment to her cause with incredible organizational and managerial skills that allowed her to develop a vast and effective international organization of missionaries to help impoverished citizens all across the globe.
However, despite the enormous scale of her charitable activities and the millions of lives she touched, to her dying day she held only the most humble conception of her own achievements. Summing up her life in characteristically self-effacing fashion, Mother Teresa said, “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
On December 17, 2015, Pope Francis issued a decree that recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing the way for her to be canonized as a saint in 2016. The second miracle involved the healing of a man in Santos, Brazil, who was diagnosed with a viral brain infection and lapsed into a coma. His wife, family and friends prayed to Mother Teresa, and when the man was brought to the operating room for emergency surgery, he woke up without pain and cured of his symptoms, according to a statement from the Missionaries of Charity Father. Mother Teresa’s canonization is going to be on the 4th September 2016.
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8th September 2016
The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. A September birth was chosen because the Eastern Church begins its Church year with September. The September 8 date helped determine the date for the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 (nine months earlier).
Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap. This work has no historical value, but it does reflect the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child that will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story (like many biblical counterparts) stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.
St. Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation and asks for an increase of peace. We can see every human birth as a call for new hope in the world. The love of two human beings has joined with God in his creative work. The loving parents have shown hope in a world filled with travail. The new child has the potential to be a channel of God’s love and peace to the world.
This is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.
Birthday celebrations bring happiness to the celebrant as well as to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large. “Today the barren Anna claps her hands for joy, the earth radiates with light, kings sing their happiness, priests enjoy every blessing, the entire universe rejoices, for she who is queen and the Father’s immaculate bride buds forth from the stem of Jesse”
Adapted from Byzantine Daily Worship
After Mother Teresa had inaugurated the AIDS Ward of Asha Daan, the home for the destitute and handicapped in Mumbai, the director of the home told the press reporter. ”For Mother, the person in front of her is the most important .It may be the prime minister or a beggar. She sees God in that person and for the moment he becomes very special.
Said Mother Teresa once:” I know there are thousands and thousands of poor, but I think of only one at a time….What we do is nothing but a drop in the ocean. But if we didn’t do it, the ocean would be one drop less…I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time.
To a statistician, you are a unit in the crowd.
To a postman, you are just an address.
To the politician, you are a voter.
To the revenue department, you are a tax payer.
To the physicist, you are a mathematical formula.
To the chemist, you are a compound of substances.
To the biologist, you are a specimen.
To one cares –you are you
Sent by Fr. Bala Rajendram
A pilgrimage for the poor to close out the Year of Mercy with Pope Francis
Thousands of poor and excluded men and women from across Europe will be given a once in a lifetime opportunity this November: a chance to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy in Rome with Pope Francis.
Around 6,000 people will be sponsored for the Nov. 11-13 pilgrimage to Rome, according to a statement released Monday by the Fratello organization, a French group co-ordinating the event.
“This time of pilgrimage and opportunity to meet Pope Francis will give people from the most vulnerable sections of society, who are often treated as outcasts, a chance to discover that their place is in the heart of God and in the heart of the Church,” the statement reads.
The Fratello organization is dedicated to organizing and hosting events with and for “people in situations of exclusion,” according its website. For this event, it is collaborating with other accredited associations to help make the pilgrimage possible for these vulnerable persons.
Beginning Friday morning, Nov. 11, the three-day event will include a catechesis by Pope Francis, tours of the city, a “Vigil of Mercy,” and finally Mass with the Pope on Sunday, Nov. 13.
The needs of society’s poor and excluded has been a continuous theme for Pope Francis throughout his pontificate.
For instance, in March 2015, the Pope invited 150 homeless people to the Sistine Chapel for dinner and a tour of the Vatican museums. “This is everyone’s house, and your house. The doors are always open for all,” he told them.
More recently, in January 2016, the Roman Pontiff invited some 2,000 poor, homeless, refugees and a group of prisoners to the circus, which was organized specially for them.
In addition, the last three years have seen numerous initiatives for the poor established in the Vatican, including a dormitory for the homeless, and facilities where they can take showers and receive medical treatment.
November’s pilgrimage to Rome for the homeless will be one of the final events of the Jubilee of Mercy, which began Dec. 8, 2015. The Holy Year will close Nov. 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Taken from: catholic news agency
The Miracle of Friendship
A friend is someone we turn to
When our spirits need a lift
A friend is someone we treasure
for our friendship is a gift.
A friend is someone who fills our lives
with beauty, joy, and grace
And makes the world we live in
a better and happier place.
You realize that friendship
is God’s most precious gift!
Send this to all your friends, no matter how often you talk,
or how close you are, and send it to the person who sent it to you!
Let old friends know you haven’t forgotten them,
and tell new friends you never will.
Remember, everyone needs a friend!
Some day you might feel like you have NO FRIENDS at all –
just remember this e-card and take comfort in knowing somebody out there cares about you and always will…
The news of Bishop Farrell’s appointment as head of the new dicastery was announced in an Aug. 17 communiqué from the Vatican and falls less than a month after another American, Greg Burke, stepped in as the new Vatican spokesman and director of the Holy See Press Office.
The appointment was accompanied by the release of the brief motu proprio Sedula Mater (Sedulous Mother), by which Pope Francis formally established the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
In a statement responding to the appointment, Bishop Farrell stated:
―I am extremely humbled that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has selected me to lead this newly formed dicastery. I look forward to being part of the important work of the universal Church in the promotion of the laity and the apostolate of the laity and for the pastoral care of the family, in accordance with the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), and the support of human life.
―While I am grateful for the Holy Father’s confidence in me, I meet this news with mixed emotions.
―Dallas has been my home for 10 years, and, from the beginning, I quickly grew to love the beautiful people and culture here. The strong faith, kindness and generosity of the people in the Diocese of Dallas surpassed all of my expectations. My brother priests were among the first to welcome me, and I am extremely grateful for their collaboration, friendship, wise counsel and prayers. A bishop can get nothing of significance done in a diocese without the hard work and cooperation of the pastors, priests, diocesan staff and people. Together, I believe we have accomplished many goals, and put others in motion, that will continue to build up the Catholic Church in North Texas.
―I cannot express enough my gratitude for all that the priests, staff and people have done and continue to do for me and the Diocese of Dallas. I know our Holy Father is working, as we speak, to find the right man to serve as the new chief shepherd. I am confident that, upon my departure, Bishop Greg Kelly will handle the needs of the diocese in the interim. Please pray for him. I also ask that you please pray for me as I begin this next, unexpected chapter of my priesthood. May God continue to bless the Diocese of Dallas.‖
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington said in a statement, ―The appointment by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, of Bishop Kevin Farrell as the head of the newly created dicastery … is welcome news, given Bishop Farrell’s demonstrated pastoral skills and his recognized administrative abilities.‖
At a time when Pope Francis is placing the role of the laity, the importance of ―a robust, pastoral activity‖ and the support of family and married life at the center of the Church’s attention, ―the leadership that Bishop Farrell brings will be a blessing for all of us,‖ Cardinal Wuerl said.
Bishop Farrell, 68, was born in Dublin and was ordained a priest of the Legionaries of Christ in 1978. He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Washington in 1984 and was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the archdioceseHe continued to serve in that capacity until his 2007 appointment as head of the Diocese of Dallas, which boasts the 10th-largest Catholic population in the United States.
Bishop Farrell holds advanced degrees in philosophy and theology and is fluent in both Spanish and Italian.
Cardinal Wuerl also expressed his joy that the challenge of heading the new department ―has been entrusted to the very competent Bishop Farrell.‖
―Our prayers and best wishes go with Bishop Farrell as he now moves to Rome and his new responsibilities.‖
The establishment of the new dicastery includes the cessation of the Pontifical Councils for the Family and the Laity, whose competences will be transferred to Bishop Farrell’s office.
Alongside the news of Bishop Farrell’s appointment was the announcement that Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, until now president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, will be taking over as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The Pope also appointed Msgr. Pierangelo Sequi, president of the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy in Milan, as the new grand chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family.
A new appointment was not provided Wednesday for Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, a Pole who has been president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity since 2003.
Pope Francis first announced his intention to establish a new Vatican department dedicated to laity, family and life during the October 2015 synod of bishops on the family.
The formal announcement was made by the Vatican June 4, 2016, with the official start date for the new department set for Sept. 1.
According to a set of statutes released with the June 4 announcement, the new department will promote ―the pastoral care of the family, maintain the dignity and basic good of the sacrament of marriage, favor the rights and responsibilities of the Church in civil society.‖
It will also pay special attention to ―the particular mission of the lay faithful to permeate and perfect the order of temporal reality,‖ the statute continues.
With the full implementation of the new department, the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family will be dissolved, and the Pontifical Academy for Life will be connected to the new entity.
The department will be tasked with projects relating to the apostolate of the laity, the institution of marriage and the family within the life of the Church.
It will deal with matters regarding the promotion of life, the apostolate of the laity, the pastoral care and of the family and ―its mission, according to God’s design, to support human life,‖ according to its statutes.
In addition to Bishop Farrell, the heads of the dicastery will include a secretary, who could be a layperson, along with three lay undersecretaries. Members of the department will include laypersons, men and women, celibate and married, working in different fields and coming from different parts of the world.
One of the tasks will be to promote the analysis of doctrine on themes and questions pertaining to laypersons.
The dicastery will also ―establish aggregations of faithful and lay movements, which have and an international character, and will approve their statutes, save the competence of the secretary of state.‖
Another focus will be the ―deepening of the doctrine of the family‖ and promoting it through catechesis, especially with regard to the spirituality of marriage and the family.
Other programs will include formation of engaged couples and young people, supporting adoption and care for the elderly.
In addition, the department will support and coordinate ―initiatives to encourage responsible procreation, as well as for protection of human life from its conception until its natural end, taking into account the needs the person in the different evolutionary phases.‖
These initiatives will include efforts to offer support to women experiencing difficult pregnancies so they do not resort to abortion, as well as programs for post-abortive mothers.
Taken From: Vatican news
Penance is a sacrament of the New Law instituted by Christ in which forgiveness of sins committed after baptism is granted through the priest’s absolution to those who with true sorrow confess their sins and promise to satisfy for the same. It is called a “sacrament” not simply a function or ceremony, because it is an outward sign instituted by Christ to impart grace to the soul. As an outward sign it comprises the actions of the penitent in presenting himself to the priest and accusing himself of his sins, and the actions of the priest in pronouncing absolution and imposing satisfaction. This whole procedure is usually called, from one of its parts, “confession”, and it is said to take place in the “tribunal of penance”, because it is a judicial process in which the penitent is at once the accuser, the person accused, and the witness, while the priest pronounces judgment and sentence. The grace conferred is deliverance from the guilt of sin and, in the case of mortal sin, from its eternal punishment; hence also reconciliation with God, justification. Finally, the confession is made not in the secrecy of the penitent’s heart nor to a layman as friend and advocate, nor to a representative of human authority, but to a duly ordained priest with requisite jurisdiction and with the “power of the keys”, i.e., the power to forgive sins which Christ granted to His Church.
By way of further explanation it is needful to correct certain erroneous views regarding this sacrament which not only misrepresent the actual practice of the Church but also lead to a false interpretation of theological statement and historical evidence. From what has been said it should be clear:
that penance is not a mere human invention devised by the Church to secure power over consciences or to relieve the emotional strain of troubled souls; it is the ordinary means appointed by Christ for the remission of sin. Man indeed is free to obey or disobey, but once he has sinned, he must seek pardon not on conditions of his own choosing but on those which God has determined, and these for the Christian are embodied in the Sacrament of Penance.
No Catholic believes that a priest, simply as an individual man, however pious or learned, has power to forgive sins. This power belongs to God alone; but He can and does exercise it through the ministration of men. Since He has seen fit to exercise it by means of this sacrament, it cannot be said that the Church or the priest interferes between the soul and God; on the contrary, penance is the removal of the one obstacle that keeps the soul away from God.
It is not true that for the Catholic the mere “telling of one’s sins” suffices to obtain their forgiveness. Without sincere sorrow and purpose of amendment, confession avails nothing, the pronouncement of absolution is of no effect, and the guilt of the sinner is greater than before.
While this sacrament as a dispensation of Divine mercy facilitates the pardoning of sin, it by no means renders sin less hateful or its consequences less dreadful to the Christian mind; much less does it imply permission to commit sin in the future. In paying ordinary debts, as e.g., by monthly settlements, the intention of contracting new debts with the same creditor is perfectly legitimate; a similar intention on the part of him who confesses his sins would not only be wrong in itself but would nullify the sacrament and prevent the forgiveness of sins then and there confessed.
Strangely enough, the opposite charge is often heard, viz., that the confession of sin is intolerable and hard and therefore alien to the spirit of Christianity and the loving kindness of its Founder. But this view, in the first place, overlooks the fact that Christ, though merciful, is also just and exacting. Furthermore, however painful or humiliating confession may be, it is but a light penalty for the violation of God’s law. Finally, those who are in earnest about their salvation count no hardship too great whereby they can win back God’s friendship.\
Both these accusations, of too great leniency and too great severity, proceed as a rule from those who have no experience with the sacrament and only the vaguest ideas of what the Church teaches or of the power to forgive sins which the Church received from Christ.
Teaching of the Church
The Council of Trent (1551) declares:
As a means of regaining grace and justice, penance was at all times necessary for those who had defiled their souls with any mortal sin. . . . Before the coming of Christ, penance was not a sacrament, nor is it since His coming a sacrament for those who are not baptized. But the Lord then principally instituted the Sacrament of Penance, when, being raised from the dead, he breathed upon His disciples saying: ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained’ (John 20:22-23). By which action so signal and words so clear the consent of all the Fathers has ever understood that the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the Apostles and to their lawful successors, for the reconciling of the faithful who have fallen after Baptism. (Sess. XIV, c. i)
Farther on the council expressly states that Christ left priests, His own vicars, as judges (praesides et judices), unto whom all the mortal crimes into which the faithful may have fallen should be revealed in order that, in accordance with the power of the keys, they may pronounce the sentence of forgiveness or retention of sins” (Sess. XIV, c. v)
Power to forgive sins
It is noteworthy that the fundamental objection so often urged against the Sacrament of Penance was first thought of by the Scribes when Christ said to the sick man of the palsy: “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” “And there were some of the scribes sitting there, and thinking in their hearts: Why doth this man speak thus? he blasphemeth. Who can forgive sins but God only?” But Jesus seeing their thoughts, said to them: “Which is easier to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, take up thy bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say to thee: Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house” (Mark 2:5-11; Matthew 9:2-7). Christ wrought a miracle to show that He had power to forgive sins and that this power could be exerted not only in heaven but also on earth. This power, moreover, He transmitted to Peter and the other Apostles. To Peter He says: “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). Later He says to all the Apostles: “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). As to the meaning of these texts, it should be noted:
that the “binding” and “loosing” refers not to physical but to spiritual or moral bonds among which sin is certainly included; the more so because
the power here granted is unlimited — “whatsoever you shall bind, . . . whatsoever you shall loose”;
the power is judicial, i.e., the Apostles are authorized to bind and to loose;
whether they bind or loose, their action is ratified in heaven. In healing the palsied man Christ declared that “the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins”; here He promises that what these men, the Apostles, bind or loose on earth, God in heaven will likewise bind or loose. (Cf. also POWER OF THE KEYS.)
Taken From: Catholic News Agency
To be continued……..
04th – Fri – Rev. Fr. Shiwantha Rodrigo
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