January 2016

Bishop’s Monthly Letter

My dear Fathers, Let me wish you and all the religious and the faithful in our diocese a very happy New Year full of God’s blessings! May the year that we have begun, be one filled with peace, joy and unity for our beloved country!!! For us Catholics, this year is very significant, as we have already begun the Great Jubilee of Mercy. Having presided over two ceremonies of opening the Holy Door in two places of the diocese, the fervour and enthusiasm of the people seem obvious, and already many are approaching the clergy to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This year, therefore, can truly be a grace-filled one for all of us. To be merciful as the Father is not easy. It is demanding and challenging. But the Holy Father exhorts us to make it a programme of life, rich with joy and peace. In order to fulfil the obligation of being merciful in all our relationships, we must listen to God’s voice – Lk. 6:27. We cannot listen to His voice without re-discovering the value of silence and meditation. The way of mercy has to become a way of life for us.The Church is called to be merciful. Therefore, her language, her gestures must reflect Mercy,so as to touch the hearts of all people. It is essential that we, as shepherds of our flock, be determined to set the first example. The Holy Father urges us to make Mercy the very fundamental attitude and value of the Church’s life. Therefore, all of her pastoral activity shall be based on the tenderness of Jesus. In all our homilies this year, we shall carefully look up for themes to link the fundamental teachings of the Lord on Mercy. The Holy Year of Mercy is a challenge to us and all to strata of the Church to return to the basics and bear weaknesses of our brothers and sisters in compassionate love. Let us therefore, propose to our faithful the theme of mercy over and over again, with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral activity in our homilies, and exhortations at meetings. I wish to make a correction in what I said in the Dec.2015 issue of Among Ourselves regarding the faculties to absolve reserved sins by all priests. This faculty is still not extended to all priests. Therefore, please refer to the Bishop to obtain authority to absolve reserved sins, such as Abortion. Fr. Giuseppe Jasso of Mercogliano, Italy, will be with us for a few days in the month of January this year. He will be accompanied by Msgr. Angelo Scerpacerca of the Pontifical Council for the Family. They are coming to lay the foundation stone for the model Montessori school to be built at Cholankande, Nawalapitiya, where the Sisters of the Daughters of the Holy Eucharist are conducting such a school. Fr. Giuseppe also wishes to meet all the children who are in the “Distant adoption scheme”. As Fr. Giuseppe may not be able to visit us in the future considering his age and condition of health, let us welcome him with love and joy to express our gratitude for helping us with the education of hundreds of children over the past several years. We are organising two gatherings of the children in two places, namely at Cholankande on the 15th January 2016 at 4.00 pm and in Kandy on the 16th January 2016 at 9.30 am. I have appointed two committees to organise the gathering of children at Cholankanda on the 15th Jan. and 16th in Kandy. Fr. Desmond Perera and the team will organise the event at Kandy Convent on the 16th at 09.30 am and Fr. Newman Pieris and his team will organise the Cholankanda gathering of children on the 15th at 04.00 pm. I would therefore, urge all our clergy to collaborate with the organisers to ensure that these two events will be something to remember for Don Giuseppe and all of us. Details will be notified shortly. This year, we shall be celebrating the Feast of our beloved apostle, St. Joseph Vaz, at the parish level. For the Cathedral celebration on the 17th January 2016 at 8.30 am, I wish to invite as many faithful as possible from the neighbouring parishes, as it is the thanksgiving Holy Mass for the Canonisation which we had been anxiously awaiting and praying for. The permanent exhibition at my former office in Gatambe, has been already inaugurated. I wish to invite you to encourage the faithful and the religious to visit the same and give comments in view of improvements. Jerome of the Clergy House will be happy to show any group the exhibition including the Power-point presentation on the life and ministry of St. Joseph Vaz. Jerome has been trained for this task and he has the Key to the Exhibition Room. Let us celebrate the First Feast of St. Joseph Vaz, after the Canonisation, with due preparation with a three-day Novena prior to the Feast.
Let us pray for one another in this Year of Great Jubilee of Mercy. With prayerful wishes,
Bishop Vianney Fernando,
Bishop of Kandy.
Among Ourselves, January 2016 Page 03
January – 25th & 26th June – 27th & 28th
February – 22nd & 23rd August – 01st – 06th
March – 21st & 22nd (Clergy Annual Retreat)
(Chrism Mass on the 21st at 5.00 pm) September – 26th & 27th
April – 25th & 26th October – 24th & 25th
May – 30th & 31st November – 28th & 29th


JUSTICE FOR RITA AFTER 14 YEARS… A LANDMARK JUDGEMENT… In the rape case of Jesudasan Rita, the two accused Piyal Nalaka and Thuwanan Rameez were sentenced to 23 years rigorous imprisonment by the Nuwara Elia high court judge yesterday the 28th December 2015. The judge ordered 05 years rigorous imprisonment and 3000 rupees fine for abduction, if default another 06 months of rigorous imprisonment. 18 years rigorous imprisonment for Rape and Rupees two hundred thousand each to be paid to Rita as compensation, in default three years of rigorous imprisonment. The judgement was delivered yesterday as the last judgement of the high court judge Hon. Lalith Ekanayake as the Nuwara Eliya high court judge who is scheduled to sit as the Appeal Court Judge in Kegalle from January 2016. The high court judge explained in detail, the reasons for the undue delay of this Rape case and said that this case is being monitored locally and internationally and criticized but he said that he is not hurt, nor the judgement was influenced by any party. He said that the criticism is good to avoid undue delay in cases but also explained certain practical difficulties in the judicial system. The judge thanked the lawyers and the staff and said Good bye to Nuwara Eliya high court and said that it was his last day and last case in high court. The first accused, Piyal Nalaka collapsed while the judgement was delivered and later almost carried him to the cell by the prison officers, while Rameez walked to the cell as if he knew his fate. We were reminded how Rita fainted while being cross examined almost 07 days and how she dragged herself with pain, as if she was carrying the cross and reached the police station after being raped and dropped by the way side on the 12th August 2001 being a year 10 school girl. Rita (17) abducted and raped on the 12th August 2001while she was returning home after mass and Sunday’s school at St Patrick’s church Talawakelle by Piyal Nalaka andRameez. We salute Rita for her perseverance, courage, honesty, consistency and integrity and thank the Bishop, Priests, the Religious, Lawyers, the HRO staff, the members of the support group and all those who journeyed with her during the past 14 years. The case was called before 09 judges in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya high courts and prosecution was led by 16 State counsels and more than 20 lawyers appearing on the interest of the victim. The non-summary trial went on from 2001 to 2004 at the Nuwara Eliya magistrate court for which Rita appeared for 21 sittings. The District Court Case will be called on the 03rd February 2016 and Rita is re-called to give evidence. Sent by: Fr Nandana Manatunga
Among Ourselves, January 2016 Page 09
What does the coach do? He trains his team before the match. He is there during the match. He is there during the struggle of his team. He encourages, gives directions He may shout at them, but only for their own good. On the other hand, the referee expects you to know the rules of the game and just obey. He is not concerned about the results of the game. For him, a good team is that which has obeyed the rules blindly and thus given him less trouble. Whereas, the coach is concerned with the quality of the game. Do you feel your God is a referee who just wants you to obey the rules, and blow whistle you try out your freedom? He produces a yellow card when you falter. And, when he fed up with you, show you a red card and throws you out of the game? Or a coach who understands the feelings of the members and knows each one’s talents and skills well.
How do I relate to God? As to a referee, with fear, hiding, arguing, constantly defending myself, or to a coach, ready to learn- with respect mixed with admiration, obeying because it is good for me. It is good for the team. Do I realize that God does not give the same rules to everyone equally, but treats every one according to his own needs and circumstances? In the parable of the sower, all seeds don’t produce the same results, yet they are good. In the parable of the workers in the vineyard all have not worked the same number of hours, yet they are all rewarded. Same in the case of talents.
 He who kills time commits suicide. (Fred Beck )
 He who neglects the present moment throws away all he has. (Schiller)
 Time deals gently with those who take gently. (Anatole France)
 One always has time enough if one will apply it. (Goethe)
 Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away. (Ben Hecht)
 Time must always ultimately teach. (Hilaire Belloc)
 It is the wisest who grieve most at loss of time. (Danta)
 Time hath a taming hand. (Cardinal Newman)
 The enemy is glad to make you lose time when he cannot make you lose eternity. (St. Francis de Sales)
 Time –that which man is always trying to kill, but which ends in killing him. (Herbert Spencer)
 Come what may, time and hour run through the roughest day. (Shakespeare)
 The great rule of moral conduct is, next to God, respect time. (Lavater)
 You will find rest from vain fancies if you do every act in life as though it were your last. (Marcus Aurelias)
Sent by Fr. Bala Rajendram
A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in Church.
Suddenly the red sanctuary lamp caught his eyes.
Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said: “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go?”
Among Ourselves, January 2016 Page 08
Be God centred at all times…
See and find God in all things…
And all things in God…
We know that in all things
God works for our good
with those who love him – Rom. 8:28
 MESSAGE OF MR ANTOINE LEIRIS ON THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE This is the moving message Mr Antoine Leiris wrote in his Face Book after the death of his wife Helene Muyal-Leiris, who was one of the victims of the Paris tragedy. May she and all the victims Rest in Peace. “Friday night, you took an exceptional life – the love of my life, the mother of my son – but you will not have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart. So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost. I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access. We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melville who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”
Among Ourselves, January 2016 Page 05
The first ordinary Jubilee was proclaimed in 1300 by Pope Boniface VII. Throughout the world, there was great suffering, caused by wars and diseases; the people had a great desire to return to a more holy way of living. So Christians determined to walk to Rome, to pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and to receive the pope’s blessing, in order to obtain the grace and strength to carry on. They came in their thousands at Christmas in 1299. Because of their great number, the pope, full of admiration for their faith, proclaimed a “year of forgiveness of all sins.” A similar year was to be held in the future, every hundred years.
During the Avignon Papacy (1305-1377), there were many requests for the second Jubilee to be held in 1350 instead of 1400. Clement VI gave his consent and set a period of fifty years between Jubilees. Later, Pope Urban VI decided to reduce the period to thirty-three years, in memory of the earthly life of Jesus. But it was in 1425, and not in 1433, that Pope Martin V proclaimed the holy Year 1425 with two novelties: a special commemorative Jubilee Medal and the opening of a Holy Door in the Cathedral of Saint John Lateran.
In 1470, Pope Paul II fixed the Jubilee for every twenty-five years. The next Holy Year, 1475, was proclaimed by Sixtus IV, who for the occasion ordered the building of the Sistine Chapel and the Sixtus Bridge over the Tiber (both named after him).
In 1500, Pope Alexander VI announced that the Doors in the four major basilicas would be opened, and that he himself would open the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s. During the Jubilee 1750, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XIV, Saint Leonardo da Porto Maurizio set up fourteen stations of the Cross inside the ruins of the Coliseum.
In 1950, just a few years after World War II, Pope Pius XII called the Holy Year. It was during this year—on November 1, 1950—that the pope defined the Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as a dogma of the Catholic faith. The Jubilee was called in 1975 by Pope Paul VI with two main themes for reflection and action: renewal and reconciliation. For the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II called Christians to create a new culture of international solidarity and cooperation.
– From the Vatican website
02nd – Sat – Rev. Fr. Gabriel Gunasekaran
06th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Locksley Peiris
13th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Prasanna Warnakulasuriya
16th – Sat – Rev. Fr. Anton Gavaskaer
– Rev. Bro. Lionel Perera, OSB
17th – Sun – Rev. Fr. Lalith Thushara Amerasinghe
20th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Nilanka Dias
21st – Thu – Rev. Fr. Timothy Gnanapragasam
25th – Mon – Rev. Fr. B. L. D. Paul
26th – Tue – Rev. Fr. Ignatius Samarakoon
11th – Mon – Rev. Fr. D. Soosainathan, OSB
15th – Fri – Rev. Fr. Niroshana de Zoysa
– Rev. Fr. Gabriel Gunasekaran
19th – Tue – Rev. Fr. Roy Clarence
– Rev. Fr. Nilanka Dias
– Rev. Fr. Christy Paul
20th – Wed – Rev. Fr. John Winston
26th – Tue – Rev. Fr. Valentine Ekanayake, OSB
07th – Thu – Rev. Fr. Anselm Weerasinghe, OSB
08th – Fri – Rev. Fr. T. D. Manuel
11th – Mon – Rev. Fr. Marius Fernandez, OSB
19th – Tue – Rev. Fr. Joseph Rodrigo
20th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Gregory Pheobus, OSB
22nd – Fri – Rev. Fr. F. M. Gunatillake
Among Ourselves, January 2016 Page 10
I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective… We want to live this Jubilee Year in light of the Lord’s words: Merciful like the Father… I present, therefore, this Extraordinary Jubilee Year dedicated to living out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us… In this Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the Word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love.
– Misericordiae Vultus 3, 13, 25
In the Roman Catholic tradition, a Holy Year, or Jubilee, is a great religious event. It is a year of forgiveness of sins, of reconciliation between adversaries, of conversion and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and consequently of solidarity, hope, justice, commitment to serve God with joy, in peace with our brothers and sisters. A Jubilee year is above all a year of Christ, who brings life and grace to humanity.
The origin of the Christian Jubilee goes back to the Old Testament. The Law of Moses prescribed a special year for the Jewish people: You shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim the liberty throughout the land, to all its inhabitants; it all be a jubilee for you when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family.
This fiftieth year is to be a jubilee year for you: you will not sow, you will not harvest the un-gathered corn, you will not gather the untrimmed vine. The jubilee is to be a holy thing to you, you will eat what comes from the fields (Lv 25:1012). This year was announced with a goat’s-horn trumpet, called Yobel in Hebrew—the origin of the word “jubilee”. The celebration of this year also included the restitution of land to the original owners, the remission of debts, the liberation of slaves, and the land being left fallow. In’ the New Testament, Jesus presents himself as the One who brings the old Jubilee to completion, because he has come to preach the year of the Lord’s favour (Is 61:2).
The Jubilee is called Holy Year, not only because it begins, is marked, and ends with solemn holy acts, but also because its purpose is to encourage holiness of life. It is convoked to strengthen faith, to encourage works of charity and brotherly communion within the Church and in society, and to call Christians to be more sincere and coherent in their faith in Christ.
A Jubilee can be “ordinary” if it falls after the set period of years, and “extraordinary” when it is proclaimed for some outstanding event. There have been twenty-six “ordinary” Holy Years so far. “Extraordinary” Jubilees began in the 16th century, and they can vary in length from a few days to a year. There were two extraordinary Jubilees last century: 1933, proclaimed by Pope Pius XI to mark the 1,900th anniversary of Redemption, and 1983, proclaimed by Pope John Paul II to mark 1,950 years since the Redemption carried out by Christ through his Death and Resurrection in the year 33.
Jubilee also entails the granting of indulgences. This practice will acquire an even more important meaning in the Holy Year of Mercy. God’s forgiveness knows no bounds…. The mercy of God…becomes indulgence on the part of the Father who, through…his Church, reaches the pardoned sinner and frees him from every residue left by the consequences of sin…. Let us live this Jubilee intensely, begging the Father to forgive our sins and to bathe us in his merciful “indulgence.”
– Misericordiae Vultus 22
The celebration of the jubilee year is not only an extraordinary occasion for benefiting from the great gift of indulgences which the Lord gives us through the Church, but it is also a fitting opportunity to call the catechesis on indulgences to the attention of the faithful. The Apostolic Penitentiary is therefore publishing this sacred notice for the benefit of all who will be making Jubilee visits.
Among Ourselves, January 2016 Page 06
1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (Can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”
2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the per-formance of certain prescribed works (nn. 8, 9, 10 indicate those specific to the Holy Year).
3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
 have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; — have sacramentally confessed their sins;
 receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the in-dulgence only Holy Communion is required);
 pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about twenty) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.
6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.
Having fulfilled the necessary conditions in nn. 3-4, the faithful may gain the Jubilee indulgence by performing one of the following works, listed here below in three categories:
8. Works of piety or religion
 Either make a pious pilgrimage to a Jubilee shrine or place—in Rome, to one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas (Saint Peter, Saint John Lateran, Saint Mary Major, or Saint Paul), or to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, the Basilica of Saint Laurence in Campo Verano, the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, or one of the Christian Catacombs—and participate there in Holy Mass or another liturgical celebration (Lauds or Vespers) or some pious exercise (the stations of the cross, the rosary, the recitation of the Akathistos hymn, etc.);
 or make a pious visit, as a group or individually, to one of these same Jubilee places, and there spend some time in Eucharistic adoration and pious meditations, ending with the Our Father, the profession of faith in any approved form, and prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
9. Works of mercy or charity
 Either visit for a suitable time their brothers or sisters in need or in difficulty (the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly living alone, the handicapped, etc.), as if making a pilgrimage to Christ present in them;
 or support by a significant contribution works of a religious or social nature (for the benefit of abandoned chil-dren, young people in trouble, the elderly in need, foreigners in various countries seeking better living conditions);
 or devote a suitable part of personal free time to activities benefiting the community or other similar forms of personal sacrifice.
10. Acts of penance
For at least one whole day
 Either abstain from unnecessary consumption (smoking, alcohol, etc.); — or fast,
 or abstain from meat (or other food according to the specific norms of the Bishops’ Conferences), and do-nate a proportionate sum of money to the poor.