November 2016

Bishop ’s Monthly Letter

My dear Fathers,
The great Jubilee Year of Mercy will be concluded on the 20th November 2016 on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the Universal King. We have so much to thank God, for the inspiration of Pope Francis in declaring the Year of Mercy. In his own words it is not on a sudden impulse that the universal shepherd declared a Year of Mercy. Throughout his Priestly and Episcopal life, the Pope had been deeply inspired by the theme of Divine Mercy. Already in the first few months of his pontificate the Holy Father indicated that the Church needs to show her maternal face to humanity that is wounded. Therefore, the Church “ does not wait for the wounded to knock on the door, She looks for them on the streets, She gathers them in, she embraces them, She makes them feel loved”. The Pope, therefore says “the Church is a field hospital, where treatment is given above all to those who are mostly wounded. A Church that warms the peoples’ hearts with its closeness and nearness“.
We thank God for thousands of faithful who made a genuine effort to accept the merciful embrace of the Father by a good confession and walking through the Holy Doors in different places of our Diocese. I wish to thank all of you, my dear brother Priests, for your enthusiasm and zeal in organizing yourselves, to hear confessions whenever parishes organized pilgrimages to the different Holy Doors in our Diocese.
With the conclusion of the great Jubilee Year of Mercy, we cannot allow this great reality of God’s boundless mercy, to be forgotten as has happened with many other Holy years, that were declared in the past. If mercy is the Name of God, then we as men of God would have to imbibe the same quality of being merciful men both in the confessional as well as in our day to day ministry. As confessors we are called upon to be generous in offering forgiveness when there is some sign of repentance. Once again it is our beloved Holy Father who affirmed that “the medicine is there, the healing is there- if only we take a small step towards God or even just the desire to take that step”. We are therefore called upon as God’s Priests and messengers of mercy to align ourselves with the merciful heart of God and have nothing untried in reaching out to sinners. Let us therefore, resolve never to overlook the possibility, no matter how small, in attempting to give the gift of forgiveness to our faithful. Let us heed the fervent appeal of Pope Francis who says “God awaits us with open arms, we need only take a step towards him like the prodigal son”.
There is a major event that would take place from the 28th November to the 4th December in Sri Lanka, namely the 11th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. It will be held in Negambo. This is the first time that a plenary assembly of FABC is being held in our country.The Catholic Bishops” Conference of Sri Lanka has been requested to host the assembly. The theme will be ‘ The Catholic Family: Domestic Church of the poor on a mission of mercy”. All the Cardinals of Asia and representative of 17 Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Asia will participate. It is an important moment in the life of the FABC. The Papal envoy for the FABC will be Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of India. We as a Diocese offer our prayerful wishes for the success of the 11th Plenary Assembly of FABC being held on our own soil.
Please read carefully the notes given in the ORDO for the Season of Advent which is due to begin on the 27th of November this year. Advent is a time of preparation for the beautiful feast of Christmas as well as a time for reflection and prayer in our preparation for the 2nd coming of Christ.
Wishing all of you God’s abundant blessings as we conclude the Jubilee Year of Mercy and a grace-filled Season of Advent.
Yours devotedly in the Lord,
Bishop Vianney Fernando,
Bishop of Kandy
Bishop ’s Monthly Letter
Among Ourselves, November 2016
Bishop’s Engagements in September
Bishop’s Engagements in November
1st 11.30 a.m – Holy Mass at Home for the Elders – St. Sylvester’s College Founder’s Day
5th 10.00 a.m – Confirmation Service at Bogawantalawa
6th 11.00 a.m – Blessing of Renovated Mahaiyawa Chapel and Our Lady’s Feast
7th 05.00 p.m – Holy Mass at Nuwara Eliya
9th 06.00 p.m – Thanksgiving Mass for the 90th Birthday of Mrs. Agnas Manatunga
13th – Feast of St. Martin of Tours at Devalegema
16th-19th – CBCSL meeting in Colombo
20th 08.30 a.m – Closing Mass of the Holy Door of the Year of Mercy at St. Anthony’s Cathedral – Kandy
21st-22nd – Clergy Monthly Recollection – Monte Fano
23rd 08.30 a.m – Holy Mass of Thanksgiving at Kandy Convent
26th 05.00 p.m – Christmas Programme at Good Shepherd Convent – Kandy
28th Nov– 4th Dec – Plenary Assembly of FABC in Negombo
Frs. Roshan Dilrukshan
Jayanath Perera
Anton Gavasker
Dilan Perera
John Stephen
Catechetical programme for the month of November
Bishop’s Test (3 Vicariates)
Date ; 27th of November 2016
Medium ; Sinhala, English & Tamil
Ongoing Formation (Kandy Vicariate)
Date & Time ; 12th of November 2016 at 8.30 am to 2.00 pm
Place ; St. Anthony’s Cathedral, Kandy
Medium ; Sinhala & Tamil
National Catechists’ Exam- Kandy Vicariate
Date & Time ; 19th of November 2016 at 8.30 am to 4.00 pm
Place ; St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota
National Catechists’ Exam – Matale Vicariate
Date & Time ; 19th of November 2016 at 8.30 am to 4.00 pm
Place ; St. Agnes Convent, Matale
National Catechists’ Exam – Nuwara Eliya Vicariate
Date & Time ; 19th of November 2016 at 8.30 am to 4.00 pm
Place ; St. Patrick’s College, Talawakelle
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 coordinating 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
Year of Mercy
08.12.2015 – 20.11.2016
Closing Ceremony of the
Date : 20th November 2016
Time : 8.15 a.m
Place : St. Anthony’s Cathedral, Kandy
His Lordship Bishop Vianney Fernando
1. St. Xavier’s Church– Nuwara Eliya by Very Rev. Fr. Milroy Fonseka
2. Holy Cross Church– Hatton by Very Rev. Fr. Milroy Fonseka
(Vicar General of our Diocese)
3. St. Anthony’s Shrine – Wahakotte by Rev. Fr. Nandane Manatunga (Vicar Foren – Matale Deanary)
Solemnity of all Saints
All Saints’ Day is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church celebrated annually on November 1. The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. It should not be confused with All Souls’ Day, which is observed on November 2, and is dedicated to those who have died and not yet reached heaven. Although millions, or even billions of people may already be saints, All Saints’ Day observances tend to focus on known saints –that is those recognized in the canon of the saints by the Catholic Church.
All Saints’ Day is also commemorated by members of the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as some protestant churches, such as Anglican, Lutheran and Anglican churches.Generally, All Saints’ Day is a Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, meaning all Catholics are required to attend Mass on that day, unless they have an excellent excuse, such as serious illness. Today, All Saints’ Day is still a holy day of obligation, but only when it falls on a Sunday. Other countries have different rules according to their national bishop’s conferences. The bishops of each conference have the authority to amend the rules surrounding the obligation of the day.
All Saints’ Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Parthenon at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls’ Day, which follows All Saints.
The choice of the day may have been intended to co-opt the pagan holiday “Feast of the Lamures,” a day which pagans used to placate the restless spirits of the dead.
The holy day was eventually established on November 1 by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eighth century as a day dedicated to the saints and their relics. The May 13 celebration was subsequently abandoned.
In Ireland, the Church celebrated All Saints’ Day on April 20, to avoid associating the day with the traditional harvest festivals and pagan feasts associated with Samhain, celebrated at the same time. Following the establishment of the Frankish Empire, and following the reign of Charlemagne, the holy day, which was already celebrated on November 1, became a holy day of obligation by decree of Pope Gregory IV and Louis the Pious, who was king over a portion of Charlemagne’s former empire.
Following the Protestant Reformation, many Protestants retained the holy day, although they dismissed the need to pray for the dead. Instead, the day has been used to commemorate those who have recently died, usually in the past year, and to remember the examples of those who lived holy lives.
The Catholic practice however, celebrates all those who have entered heaven, including saints who are recognized by the Church and those who are not.
Holy day customs vary around the world. In the United States, the day before is Halloween and is usually celebrated by dressing in costumes with themes of death commonly associated. Children go door-to-door in costume, trick-or-treating, that is soliciting candy from their neighbors. The holiday has lost much of its connection to its religious origins.
Although nearly everyone celebrates Halloween for the fun of the secular holiday, the following religious solemnity, is not widely practiced or acknowledged by most Americans unless they are Catholic.
In other countries, such as Portugal, Spain and Mexico, traditional practices include performance of the play, “Don Juan Tenorio” and offerings made to the dead. All Saints’ Say occurs on the same day as the Mexican “Dide los Innocentes” a day dedicated to deceased children.
Across much of Europe, the day is commemorated with offerings of flowers left on the graves of the dead. In Eastern Europe, candles are lit on graves instead of offerings of flowers. In some places, such as the Philippines, graves can be painted and repaired by family members. Many of these practices blur the
Among Ourselves, November 2016
These celebrations often blur the distinction between All Saints’ Day, which is properly dedicated to those who are in heaven, and All Souls’ Day, on which prayers are offered for all those who have died, but have not yet reached heaven.
It is important to remember these basic facts:
Halloween is a secular holiday that comes the night before All Saints’ Day.
All Saints’ Day is on November 1, and it is a Holy Day of Obligation.
All Souls’ Day in on November 2, and it is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation.
The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that has spread in popularity into parts of the United States and across Latin America. It is celebrated from October 31 through November 2, to coincide with both the American tradition and the Catholic holy days. Those three days are dedicated to all of the dead.
Commemoration of all the departed souls in the month of November
All Souls Day is a holy day set aside for honoring the dead. The day is primarily celebrated in the Catholic Church, but it is also celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church and a few o
ther denominations of Christianity. The Anglican church is the largest protestant church to celebrate the holy day. Most protestant denominations do not recognize the holiday and disagree with the theology behind it.
According to Catholic belief, the soul of a person who dies can go to one of three places. The first is heaven, where a person who dies in a state of perfect grace and communion with God goes. The second is hell, where those who die in a state of mortal sin are naturally condemned by their choice. The intermediate option is purgatory, which is thought to be where most people, free of mortal sin, but still in a state of lesser (venial) sin, must go.
Purgatory is necessary so that souls can be cleansed and perfected before they enter into heaven. There is scriptural basis for this belief. The primary reference is in 2 Maccabees, 12:26 and 12:32. “Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out… Thus made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin.”
Additional references are found in Zechariah, Sirach, and the Gospel of Matthew. Jewish tradition also reinforces this belief as well as the tradition and teaching of the Church, which has been affirmed throughout history.
Consistent with these teachings and traditions, Catholics believe that through the prayers of the faithful on Earth, the dead are cleansed of their sins so they may enter into heaven.
The belief in purgatory has not been without controversy. Certainly, some flagrant abuses of the doctrine were used to raise money for the Church during the renaissance. Famously, Martin Luther argued with the monk, Johan Tetzel, over the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were sold as spiritual pardons to the poor and applied to the souls of the dead (or the living) to get people into heaven. The abuse of indulgences and the blatant, sometimes fraudulent practice of selling indulgences for money, led to Luther’s protest.
When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he omitted the seven books of the canon which refer to prayers for the dead. He then introduced the heretical belief that people are simply saved, or not, and argued that there is no need to pray for the dead to get them into heaven.
The Church reeled from Luther’s accusation, and reformed its practice of selling indulgences. However, it reemphasized the Biblical and traditional practice of praying for the departed and the importance of such prayers.
All Souls Day is celebrated in much of the western world on November 2. Other rites have their own celebrations. The Eastern Orthodox Church has several such days throughout the year, mostly on Saturdays. All Souls Day is not a holy day of obligation. It should not be confused with All Saints’ Day,
Pope Francis names 17 new cardinals,
including Chicago’s Cupich and Indianapolis’ Tobin Joshua J. McElwee
Pope Francis has again chosen to diversify representation in the most select body of Roman Catholic prelates, announcing Sunday that he will be creating 17 new cardinals from 11 different countries — with eleven also coming from places never before included in the elite group.
Among those Francis has chosen for the role are also three U.S. bishops: Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, and the newly appointed Vatican official Bishop Kevin Farrell.Francis made the announcement of the new cardinals, expected in recent weeks, during his weekly Sunday address following the noon-time Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square. Cardinals, sometimes known as the “princes of the church” and for their red vestments, are usually senior Catholic prelates who serve either as archbishops in the world’s largest dioceses or in the Vatican’s central bureaucracy. Their principal role is to gather in secret conclave after the death or resignation of a pope to elect his successor.Of the 17 cardinals Francis named Sunday, 13 are under the age of 80, at which point cardinals can no longer vote in conclave. While historically cardinals have come from certain larger cities known for their Catholic populations or global importance, Francis has sought to diversify representation in the group — choosing men from places long underrepresented or even not represented in the College of Cardinals.Of Francis’ 17 choices Sunday, four come from Europe, three from the U.S., three from Latin America, two from Africa, two from wider Asia, two from island nations, and one currently represents the church in the Middle East. Eleven come from places that have never had a cardinal, including new cardinal electors: Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic; Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela; and, Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico. Two come from island nations not before represented, cardinal electors Bishop Maurice Piat of Mauritius’ Port Louis and Archbishop John Ribat of Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby. Francis also named as a cardinal the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, in Syria: Italian Archbishop Mario Zenari, saying in his remarks naming the cardinals that the country is “beloved and tormented.” The pontiff’s naming of three new U.S. cardinals comes at a significant time for the American church, as the U.S. bishops will be meeting in Baltimore for their annual assembly Nov. 14-17. During the meeting they will be electing new officers, following the conclusion of the current officers’ three year terms.Francis appointed Cupich to Chicago in September 2014. The native Nebraskan had previously served as the bishop of Spokane, Washington. Tobin is a Redemptorist who previously served as the secretary for the Vatican’s religious congregation before being appointed to Indianapolis by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. Indianapolis has also never been represented in the College of Cardinals. Farrell, born in Ireland, had been serving as the bishop of Dallas until August, when Francis appointed him to lead the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.In naming the three Americans as cardinals, Francis skipped over two U.S. cities normally represented in the College of Cardinals: Philadelphia and Los Angeles.The pope will elevate the new cardinals at a formal ceremony at the Vatican, known as a consistory, on Nov. 19, the vigil of the conclusion of the Jubilee year for mercy on Nov. 20. Francis will then celebrate the concluding Mass of the
Announcing the names of the new cardinals in remarks after his Angelus prayer Sunday, the pontiff said the group “expresses the universality of the church, which proclaims and witnesses to the Gospel of the Good News of the Mercy of God in every corner of the earth.” The remaining new cardinals under the age of 80 are: 1 Madrid, Spain Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra; 2 Brasilia, Brazil Archbishop Sergio da Rocha, and; 3 Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium Archbishop Jozef De Kesel. The four over the age of 80, all coming from places never before represented in the College, are: 1 Retired Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez; 2 Retired Novara, Italy Bishop Renato Corti; 3 Retired Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho Bishop Sebastian Koto Khoarai, and; 4 Fr. Ernest Simoni, a priest of the archdiocese of Shkodër-Pult in Albania. November’s consistory will be Francis’ third, following his creation of 20 cardinals in February 2015 and 19 in February 2014. After the upcoming consistory, Francis will have named 44 of 123 cardinals able to vote in a papal conclave. Francis spoke about his thought process in choosing new cardinals during a press conference on the papal flight back to Rome from Azerbaijan Oct. 2, saying his main concern was to have a balance of representation from around the world. The pope said his criteria for choosing cardinals is having some “from everywhere” so “you see in the College of Cardinals the universality of the church,” the pope said then. “The list is long but there are only 13 spots,” he said. “You have to think about having a balance.”
From: National Catholic Reporter
Church Clarifies Teaching on Cremation
An Instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding burial of the dead and conservation of ashes in case of cremation, entitled Ad resurgendum cum Christo was presented today in the Holy See Press Office, by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; its Consultor Father Angel Rodriguez Luno and Father Serge Thomas Bonino, O.P. Secretary of the International Theological Commission.
Cardinal Müller said that, because cremation is becoming more widespread, it will be considered as an ordinary practice. This development, he noted, is accompanied by another phenomenon: “the conservation of the ashes in a domestic environment, their conservation in commemorative memory or their dispersion in nature.”
Therefore, the specific issue of this document refers to the conservation of the ashes, without forgetting that “the Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom be kept of burying the bodies of the deceased,” although cremation “is not prohibited unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian Doctrine.”
In fact, a canonical normative on the preservation of the ashes did not exist; therefore, some Episcopal Conferences requested the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for guidelines on how and where the funerary urn should be kept, he said.
Cardinal Müller reiterated: “the Church continues to recommend insistently that the bodies of the deceased be buried in a cemetery or other sacred place.” Moreover, burial “is the most fitting way to express faith and hope in bodily resurrection.”
He acknowledged that there can be legitimate reasons to choose cremation, but the ashes must normally be kept in a sacred place, namely, in a cemetery or sacred place; it is necessary to avoid pantheistic or naturalistic ambiguities; therefore, the dispersion of ashes in the air, on the earth, in water or other way, or to convert the ashes into commemorative memories is not permitted.”
With this new Instruction, noted the Cardinal, we wish to contribute “so that Christian faithful have an ulterior awareness of their dignity.” He concluded by reminding that it is necessary to “evangelize the meaning of death in the light of faith in the Risen Christ.”
Responding to ZENIT, Father Bonino pointed out that the process of cremation is not natural as burial is, because technology intervenes. “It is a process in which man attempts to have control over life and death.” It has something of the brutal, because it destroys the body immediately without giving close individuals the possibility of engaging in the process of acceptance over time, as in a sort of privatization of death.
Father Bonino also pointed out that in the newly published Instruction, the first part on the burial of the deceased must not be forgotten and that the intention was to “reiterate the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for preferring the burial of bodies,” which the Church “recommends insistently.”
Father Rodriguez Luno added that the document reflects the Church’s care so that the bodies of the faithful deceased “inspire respect and charity and can express appropriately the Christian meaning of death and hope in the resurrection of the body.”
Taken From:

There isn’t a phone app for love and happiness
Freedom does not come from things we possess or from doing whatever we want, Pope Francis said Sunday in his homily for the Jubilee for boys and girls. Rather, true freedom and happiness can only be found in the love of Jesus. “Your happiness has no price,” the Pope said during Mass in St. Peter’s Square. “It cannot be bought: it is not an app that you can download on your phones nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love.”
“That is because love is a free gift which calls for an open heart,” he said. “It is a noble responsibility which is life-long; it is a daily task for those who can achieve great dreams!”Francis challenged the young teens to not “be content with mediocrity,” or believe those who equate importance with the sort of toughness shown by heroes in films, or by wearing the “latest fashions.”
“Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions.”Delivering his homily to the over 90,000 people overflowing the Square, Pope Francis assured the teens that, because of their friendship with Christ, they are never alone.
“Even if you disappoint him and walk away from him, Jesus continues to want the best for you and to remain close to you; he believes in you even more than you believe in yourself.”“The biggest threat to growing up well comes from thinking that no one cares about us, from feeling that we are all alone,” he said. “The Lord, on the other hand, is always with you and he is happy to be with you.” Moreover, Jesus calls young people to follow him, just as he did the first disciples, the Pope added. “Jesus is waiting patiently for you. He awaits your response. He is waiting for you to say ‘yes’.”
The Jubilee for boys and girls, geared specifically towards young teenagers, is the latest initiative for the Holy Year of Mercy, which began on December 8. The three-day event started Saturday with the sacrament of reconciliation in St. Peter’s Square – where Pope Francis himself heard confessions — followed by a youth rally in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.
In his homily, Pope Francis stressed that love is the “Christian’s identity card,” and is “the only valid ‘document’ identifying us as Christians.”“If this card expires and is not constantly renewed, we stop being witnesses of the Master,” he said.Those who wish to be Jesus’ disciples, to be “his faithful friends,” and to “experience his love,” must learn how to love from him.Going off the cuff, the Pope said that Jesus’ “true friends” stand out because theirs is a “genuine love that shines forth in their way of life,” through “real actions.”“Those who are not real and genuine and who speak of love are like characters is a soap opera, some fake love story,” he said.“Before all else, love is beautiful, it is the path to happiness,” Pope Francis said, but he warned that this path is also demanding and “requires effort.”
The Pope gave the example of everyone who has given us a gift, invested time, and sacrificed for our sake. He cited in particular the sacrifices made by the parents and group leaders who organized the pilgrimages to Rome for this weekend’s Jubilee for boys and girls.“To love means to give, not only something material, but also something of one’s self: one’s own time, one’s friendship, one’s own abilities.”Addressing the teens present at the Mass, Francis acknowledged their “growing desire to demonstrate and receive affection.”
“The Lord, if you let him teach you, will show you how to make tenderness and affection even more beautiful,” the Pope said. Moreover, this love is not possessive, but allows the other person freedom. “There is no true love that is not free!” he said in unscripted remarks.
Today’s “consumerist culture” reinforces the temptation to “’have to have’ what we find pleasing,” the Pope said. “Yet when we hold on too tightly to something, it fades, it dies, and then we feel confused, empty inside.”“The Lord, if you listen to his voice, will reveal to you the secret of love.
Among Ourselves, November 2016
It is caring for others, respecting them, protecting them and waiting for them.”Pope Francis acknowledged the teenagers “great longing for freedom,” but warned that freedom does not mean “doing whatever you want.” This interpretation of freedom “makes us self-centred and aloof, and it prevents us from being open and sincere friends.” “Instead, freedom is the gift of being able to choose the good,” he said. “The free person is the one who chooses what is good, what is pleasing to God, even if it requires effort.”
Pope Francis stressed that love is more than a “sweet poem” we study and memorize, but a “life choice” which must be practiced. “Love is nurtured by trust, respect and forgiveness,” he said, adding that we grow in love through Jesus, who “gives us himself in the Mass, he offers us forgives and peace in Confession. There we learn to receive his love, to make it ours and to give it to the world.” “And when loving seems hard, when it is difficult to say no to something wrong, look up at Jesus on the cross, embrace the cross and don’t ever let go of his hand. He will point you ever higher, and pick you up whenever you fall.” “Throughout life we will fall many times, because we are sinners, we are weak,” the Pope said, again going off script. “But there is always the hand of God who picks us up, who raises us up. Jesus wants us to be up on our feet!”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by speaking about the capability of young people towards “acts of great friendship and goodness,” and challenged them to live their “youth and all its gifts to the fullest and without fear of hard work.” “Be like sporting champions, who attain high goals by quiet daily effort and practice,” and whose daily routine consists of the works of mercy. “Enthusiastically practice them, so as to be champions in life, champions of life! In this way you will be recognized as disciples of Jesus.”
Towards the end of Mass, Pope Francis delivered his Regina Caeli address, during which he praised the youth for their “joyful and boisterous witness,” encouraging them to “go forward with courage. ”The Pope also remembered Saturday’s beatification in Burgos, Spain of the priest Valentín Palencia Marquina who, along with four others, were martyred for their faith during the Spanish Civil War. “We praise the Lord for these courageous witnesses and to beseech their intercession to free the world from all violence,” he said.
Pope Francis also expressed his concern for bishops, priests and religious – Catholic and Orthodox alike — who have been kidnapped in Syria. He prayed that God in his mercy would touch the “hearts of the kidnappers,” and release “our brothers and sisters” back to their communities. Leading into the Marian prayer, he asked everyone to pray for these, and all victims of kidnapping through the world. After reciting the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis once again addressed the young people in the crowd. “You have celebrated the Jubilee (for boys and girls): Now back home with the joy of your Christian identity. Standing, head held high, and with your ID card in your hands and in your heart!”
From: Vatican News
The Advent wreath is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent. It is typically a circular candle holder that holds five candles. During the season of Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday until all of the candles, including the fifth candle, are lit on Christmas Day. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Most Advent wreaths use three colors of candles – purple, pink, and white. However, some may use blue in place of the purple.
The Sacrament of Penance
Continuation of the same article of last month……….
Belief and practice of the early Church
Among the modernistic propositions condemned by Pius X in the Decree “Lamentabili sane” (3 July, 1907) are the following:
“In the primitive Church there was no concept of the reconciliation of the Christian sinner by the authority of the Church, but the Church by very slow degrees only grew accustomed to this concept. Moreover, even after penance came to be recognized as an institution of the Church, it was not called by the name of sacrament, because it was regarded as an odious sacrament.” (46)
“The Lord’s words: ‘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), in no way refer to the Sacrament of Penance, whatever the Fathers of Trent may have been pleased to assert.” (47)
According to the Council of Trent, the consensus of all the Fathers always understood that by the words of Christ just cited, the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the Apostles and their lawful successors (Sess. XIV, c. i). It is therefore Catholic doctrine that the Church from the earliest times believed in the power to forgive sins as granted by Christ to the Apostles. Such a belief in fact was clearly inculcated by the words with which Christ granted the power, and it would have been inexplicable to the early Christians if any one who professed faith in Christ had questioned the existence of that power in the Church. But if, contrariwise, we suppose that no such belief existed from the beginning, we encounter a still greater difficulty: the first mention of that power would have been regarded as an innovation both needless and intolerable; it would have shown little practical wisdom on the part of those who were endeavouring to draw men to Christ; and it would have raised a protest or led to a schism which would certainly have gone on record as plainly at least as did early divisions on matters of less importance. But no such record is found; even those who sought to limit the power itself presupposed its existence, and their very attempt at limitation put them in opposition to the prevalent Catholic belief.
Turning now to evidence of a positive sort, we have to note that the statements of any Father or orthodox ecclesiastical writer regarding penance present not merely his own personal view, but the commonly accepted belief; and furthermore that the belief which they record was no novelty at the time, but was the traditional doctrine handed down by the regular teaching of the Church and embodied in her practice. In other words, each witness speaks for a past that reaches back to the beginning, even when he does not expressly appeal to tradition.
St. Augustine (d. 430) warns the faithful: “Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God has power to forgive all sins” (De agon. Christ., iii).
St. Ambrose (d. 397) rebukes the Novatianists who “professed to show reverence for the Lord by reserving to Him alone the power of forgiving sins. Greater wrong could not be done than what they do in seeking to rescind His commands and fling back the office He bestowed. . . . The Church obeys Him in both respects, by binding sin and by loosing it; for the Lord willed that for both the power should be equal” (On Penance I.2.6).
Again he teaches that this power was to be a function of the priesthood. “It seemed impossible that sins should be forgiven through penance; Christ granted this (power) to the Apostles and from the Apostles it has been transmitted to the office of priests” (On Penance II.2.12).
The power to forgive extends to all sins: “God makes no distinction; He promised mercy to all and to His priests He granted the authority to pardon without any exception” (On Penance I.3.10).Against the same heretics St. Pacian, Bishop of Barcelona (d. 390), wrote to Sympronianus, one of their leaders: “This (forgiving sins), you say, only God can do. Quite true: but what He does through His priests is the doing of His own power” (Ep. I ad Sympron., 6 in P.L., XIII, 1057)
In the East during the same period we have the testimony of St. Cyril of Alexandria (d. 447): “Men filled with the spirit of God (i.e. priests) forgive sins in two ways, either by admitting to baptism those who are worthy or by pardoning the penitent children of the Church” (In Joan., 1, 12 in P.G., LXXIV, 722).
St. John Chrysostom (d. 407) after declaring that neither angels nor archangels have received such power, and after showing that earthly rulers can bind only the bodies of men, declares that the priest’s power of forgiving sins “penetrates to the soul and reaches up to heaven”. Wherefore, he concludes, “it were manifest folly to condemn so great a power without which we can neither obtain heaven nor come to the fulfillment of the promises. . . . Not only when they (the priests) regenerate us (baptism), but also after our new birth, they can forgive us our sins” (On the Priesthood III.5 sq.).
St. Athanasius (d. 373): “As the man whom the priest baptizes is enlightened by the grace of the Holy Ghost, so does he who in penance confesses his sins, receive through the priest forgiveness in virtue of the grace of Christ” (Frag. contra Novat. in P.G., XXVI, 1315).
These extracts show that the Fathers recognized in penance a power and a utility quite distinct from that of baptism. Repeatedly they compare in figurative language the two means of obtaining pardon; or regarding baptism as spiritual birth, they describe penance as the remedy for the ills of the soul contracted after that birth. But a more important fact is that both in the West and in the East, the Fathers constantly appeal to the words of Christ and given them the same interpretation that was given eleven centuries later by the Council of Trent. In this respect they simply echoed the teachings of the earlier Fathers who had defended Catholic doctrine against the heretics of the third and second centuries.
Thus St. Cyprian in his “De lapsis” (A.D. 251) rebukes those who had fallen away in time of persecution, but he also exhorts them to penance: “Let each confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession can be received, while satisfaction and the forgiveness granted by the priests is acceptable to God” (c. xxix). (See LAPSI.) The heretic Novatian, on the contrary, asserted that “it is unlawful to admit apostates to the communion of the Church; their forgiveness must be left with God who alone can grant it” (Socrates, Church History V.28). Novatian and his party did not at first deny the power of the Church to absolve from sin; they affirmed that apostasy placed the sinner beyond the reach of that power — an error which was condemned by a synod at Rome in 251 (See NOVATIANISM.)
The distinction between sins that could be forgiven and others that could not, originated in the latter half of the second century as the doctrine of the Montanists, and especially of Tertullian. While still a Catholic, Tertullian wrote (A.D. 200-6) his “De poenitentia” in which he distinguishes two kinds of penance, one as a preparation for baptism, the other to obtain forgiveness of certain grievous sins committed after baptism, i.e., apostasy, murder, and adultery. For these, however, he allows only one forgiveness: “Foreseeing these poisons of the Evil One, God, although the gate of forgiveness has been shut and fastened up with the bar of baptism, has permitted it still to stand somewhat open. In the vestibule He has stationed a second repentance for opening to such as knock; but now once for all, because now for the second time; but never more, because the last time it had been in vain. . . .
However, if any do incur the debt of a second repentance, his spirit is not to be forthwith cut down and undermined by despair. Let it be irksome to sin again, but let it not be irksome to repent again; let it be irksome to imperil oneself again, but let no one be ashamed to be set free again. Repeated sickness must have repeated medicine” (On Penance 7). Tertullian does not deny that the Church can forgive sins; he warns sinners against relapse, yet exhorts them to repent in case they should fall. His attitude at the time was not surprising, since in the early days the sins above mentioned were severely dealt with; this was done for disciplinary reasons, not because the Church lacked power to forgive.
Taken From: Catholic News Agency
To be continued……..
01st – TUE – Rev. Fr. Anthony Cross Xavier
05th – SAT – Rev. Fr. Edwin Rodrigo
20th – SUN – Rev. Fr. Emil Joseph, OSB
25th – FRI – Rev. Fr. Ivan Jayasundera
03rd – Tue – Rev. Fr. Denis Kulatillake
04th – Wed – Rev. Fr. T. D. Manuel
06th – Fri – Rev. Fr. Marius Fernandez, OSB
11th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Joseph Rodrigo
20th – Fri – Rev. Fr. Percy Lal Rodrigo
24th – Tue – Rev. Fr. D. N. Lima, OSB
– Rev. Fr. D. Heliams, OSB
Let us remember and pray for all the deceased Bishops, Priests and Religious who toiled hard for the growth of our Diocese, in our daily Prayers and Holy Masses.
May their souls rest in peace………………