Bishop’s Monthly Letter
My dear Fathers,
With just hardly two months for the conclusion of the Great Jubilee Year of Mercy, we need to expedite our programs of inviting all our faithful to accept God’s merciful and unfathomable, forgiving love. If “ Mercy”, according to our Universal Shepherd, is the Name of God, in our own lives and in the lives of our faithful and religious, we must experience our heavenly Father’s merciful love. It is heartening to note that most of our Parishes have already organized pilgrimages to the Holy Doors that we have opened in the Diocese. Recently in one parish on a working day 1400 of our faithful made the pilgrimage to the Holy Door at Nuwara Eliya, and several Priests were available for confessions, as many of our faithful wanted to confess before going through the Holy Door. I wish to thank all of you who are generously helping one another, to be available to hear confessions, and thus enable our faithful to receive the abundant graces of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and also to receive plenary indulgences.
This year, in the month of October, we also celebrate the Centenary of the apparitions of our Blessed Mother to three children namely ( Blessed) Jacinta Marto,(Blessed) Francisco Marto and Lucia Dos Santos who later became a Religious Sister. The relevance of the message of Fatima is yet valid. Between the 13th of May and 13th of October the Virgin Mary appeared six times to these three children. We all know that Fatima is one of the most visited Shrines in the world and the apparitions of Mother Mary have been recognized by the Church. The message of Fatima is a call to conversion. Over and over again our Blessed Mother appealed to these children to tell the world which is beset with consumerism, materialism and secularism and a sub-culture replete with sex, to pray and repent. We need to proclaim to our faithful the message of conversion that our Blessed Mother gave. She asked the little shepherds to “Pray, Pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them”.
2016 marks also the 300th anniversary of the apostle of the Rosary of the consecration to Jesus through Mary namely Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort . We all know that he has a beautiful book “ Treaties on true Devotion to Mary”. It is from this book which is a classic of Marian devotion that Pope St. John Paul II took his episcopal motto “ Totus Tuus ego sum.Omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio Te in mea Omnia”( I am all yours, and everything I have is yours. Be my guide in all).
Let us therefore, follow Pope Saint John Paul II in consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary in the beautiful month of October. Let us also encourage our people to be faithful to the practice of reciting the Rosary as families.
Wishing all of you God’s abundant blessings!
Yours Devotedly in the Lord,
Bishop Vianney Fernando.
Bishop of Kandy
Bishop’s Engagements in October
1st 10.00 am – Golden Jubilee of a Religious Sister in Wahakotte
2nd 09.00 am – Patronal Feast of Peradeniya: St. Theresa of Child Jesus
4th 10.30 am – Feast of St. Francis of Assisi—CMSF Brothers at Matale
8th 09.00 am – Confirmation Service at St. Anthony’s Cathedral, Kandy.
06.30 pm – The Annual Teachers’ Day Dinner Night at St. Anthony’s College Kandy
9th 10.30 am – Blessing of the Reconstructed Church at Bowalawatte( Gatembe)
13th 09.30 am – Caritas—Sri Lanka Board Meeting
15th 10.30 am – The Golden Jubilee of a Religious Sister in Panadura
16th 08.30 am – The Golden Jubilee of Rev. Fr. Leopold Ratnesekara OMI at St. Anthony’s Church, Batagama
21st 07.30 pm – Addressing the Pre– Cana Trainer Couples at Ampitiya
22nd 10.00 pm – Kandy Diocesan Pastoral Council Meeting at Gatembe
24th 03.30 pm – Formation Committee Meeting at Lewella
24th—25th – Clergy Monthly Recollection, Lewella
Programme for the Month of October 2016
G. C. E. (O/L) Seminar – Kandy Vicariate
Date & Time ; 8th of October 2016 at 8.30 am to 4.00 pm
Place ; St. Mary’s Church, Gatambe
Medium ; Sinhala & Tamil
G. C. E. (O/L) Seminar – Matale Vicariate
Date & Time ; 8th of October 2016 at 8.30 am to 4.00 pm
Place ; St. Mary’s Church, Gatambe
Medium ; Tamil
Catechists Revision Exam- Kandy Vicariate
Date & Time ; 22nd of October 2016 at 8.30
Place ; Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy
Catechists Revision Exam- Matale Vicariate
Date & Time ; 22nd of October 2016 at 8.30
Place ; St. Agnes Convent, Matale
Catechists Revision Exam- Nuwara Eliya Vicariate
Date & Time ; 22nd of October 2016 at 8.30
Place ; St. Patrick’s College, Talawakelle
His Lordship has appointed Rev. Fr. Mathew as the New Coordinator of Laity and Family Apostolates for Nuwara Eliya Region
Diocesan Director: Rev. Fr. Nayagam Roy Clarence
Matale Vicariate: Rev. Fr. Harsha Nilanka Dias
Hatton Region: Rev. Fr. Roshan Claude Almeida
Pope Francis: Don’t use God to defend your own interests
By Hannah Brockhaus
On7th Sep 2016, Pope Francis warned against making Jesus into the person we want him to be, and thus creating obstacles to a true relationship with Christ and his mercy.
“The admonition of Jesus is always present: even today man constructs images of God that prevent him from enjoying his real presence,” the Pope said during the general audience Sept. 7.
“Some carve out a ‘do it yourself’ faith that reduces God in the limited space of their own desires and their own beliefs. But this faith is not conversion to the Lord that is revealed, in fact, it prevents him from arousing our life and our conscience.”
In his catechesis, Pope Francis named several different ways in which people create false images of God, such as those who invoke his name in defense of their own interests, or in the interest of hatred and violence, or those who deny Christ’s divinity, considering him just a good ethical teacher and leader.
“For still others God is just a psychological refuge,” Francis said, “where he is reassurance in difficult times: it is a faith turned in on itself, impervious to the power of merciful love of Jesus which pushes brothers.”
Pope Francis also mentioned those who he said “stifle faith” by making it entirely about their personal, intimate relationship with Jesus while ignoring the missionary aspect of the Church, “capable of transforming the world and history.”
Continuing his theme of discussing mercy, Pope Francis spoke about the difference between the justice John the Baptist expected the Messiah to wield and the mercy which Jesus actually practiced, a mercy which was the manifestation of God’s justice.
Pointing to the Gospel of Matthew, the Pope said Jesus responded to John the Baptist’s question of whether or not he was the Messiah with, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.”
“The blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, regain their dignity and are no longer excluded for their disease, the dead return to life, while the poor have the good news,” Francis said. “And this becomes the summary action of Jesus, who in this way makes visible and tangible the act of God.”
“The message that the Church receives from this account of the life of Christ is very clear. God did not send his Son into the world to punish sinners, nor to destroy the wicked,” he continued. “They are instead addressed the invitation to conversion so that, seeing the signs of divine goodness, they can find their way back.”
The Pope concluded his catechesis by urging those present to not place themselves above the mercy of Christ by believing in a false image of the Messiah.
“We Christians believe in the God of Jesus Christ, and our desire is to grow in the living experience of the mystery of love,” he said. “We commit ourselves, therefore, to not place any obstacle in the way of the action of the merciful Father, but we ask the gift of a great faith to become ourselves signs and instruments of mercy.”
Taken From : Catholic News Agency
THE MESSAGE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA
Between May 13 and October 13, the Virgin Mary appeared six times in Fatima, Portugal, to three little shepherds: Jacinta Marto, aged 7, her brother Francisco, aged 9, and their cousin Lucia Dos Santos, aged 10. As Our Lady had predicted, the first two died very young: Jacinta in 1920 at the age of 9, and Francisco in 1919, at the age of 11. As for Lucia, the Virgin Mary had told her that she would have to stay “a little longer” on earth: she became a Carmelite nun and died at the age of 97 on January 13, 2005.
Fatima has become one of the most visited shrines in the world, and the Apparitions of Mary there have been officially recognized by the Church: Pope Paul VI went to Fatima in 1967, and Benedict XVI in 2010. St. John Paul II went three times – the first time in 1982, to thank the Virgin of Fatima for having saved him during the attempt on his life in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981 – and the last time on May 13, 2000, for the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, which made them the youngest blessed in the Church. Here are excerpts from St. John Paul ll’s homily on this occasion:
“According to the divine plan, ‘a woman clothed with the sun’ (RV 12: 1) came down from heaven to this earth to visit the privileged children of the Father. She speaks to them with a mother’s voice and heart: she asks them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, saying that she was ready to lead them safely to God.
“Another portent appeared in Heaven; behold, a great red dragon’ (Rv 12: 3). These words……. make us think of the great struggle between good and evil, showing how, when man puts God aside, he cannot achieve happiness, but ends up destroying himself.
“How many victims there have been throughout the last century of the second millennium! We remember the horrors of the First and Second World Wars and the other wars in so many parts of the world, the concentration and extermination camps, the gulags, ethnic cleansings and persecutions, terrorism, kidnappings, drugs, the attacks on unborn life and the family.
“ The message of Fatima is a call to conversion, alerting humanity to have nothing to do with the ‘dragon’ whose’ tail swept down a third of the stars of Heaven, and cast them to the earth’ (Rv 12: 4, which means that one – third of the angels in Heaven followed Lucifer in his rebellion and fall). Man’s final goal is Heaven, his true home, where the heavenly Father awaits everyone with his merciful love.
“In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came here to Fatima to ask men and women ‘to stop offending God, Our Lord, who is already very offended’. It is a mother’s sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake. For this reason she asks the little shepherds: ‘Pray, pray much and make sacrifices for sinners; many souls go to hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them’.
“Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell during the Apparition of July 13 that neither mortification nor penance seemed too great to save sinners. Dear boys and girls, Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for sinners. Ask your parents and teachers to enroll you in the “school” of Our Lady, so that she can teach you to be like the little shepherds, who tried to do whatever she asked them. I tell you that “one makes more progress in a short time of submission and dependence on Mary than during entire years of personal initiatives, relying on oneself alone” (St Louis de Montfort, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, n. 155). This was how the little shepherds became saints so quickly…….. Devoting themselves with total generosity to the direction of such a good Teacher, Jacinta and Francisco soon reached the heights of perfection.”
What is the message of Fatima? Prayer, penance and conversion. In 1917, the Virgin Mary gave a secret to the three shepherds; Sister Lucia unveiled the first two parts in her memoirs in 1941, and the third part of the secret was unveiled at Fatima on May 13, 2000, on the occasion of the beatification ceremony. Here is what Sister Lucia wrote about the first two parts.
The vision of hell
“The secret is made up of three distinct parts, two of which I am now going to reveal. The first part is the vision of hell. Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human from, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. the demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to Heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
“We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly: ‘You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, known that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, it will spread its errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world;.”
On May 13, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily during the Mass celebrated at the Shrine of Fatima:
“We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete….. In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: ‘Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?’….
“May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the Apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mart, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Taken From: MICHAEL Journal (May/June/July 2016)
October: Month of the Holy Rosary
The month of October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. This is primarily due to the fact that the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7th. It was instituted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in gratitude for the protection that she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the faithful.
The practice of dedicating the entire month of October to the Holy Rosary developed toward the end of the last century. Pope Leo XIII ( papacy: 1878-1903 ) strongly promoted the increase of devotion to the Blessed Mother by encouraging the constant use of the Rosary. The Rosary is primarily a scriptural prayer. This can be summarized by the traditional phrase used by Pope Pius XII (papacy: 1939-1958) that the Rosary is ” a compendium of the entire Gospel”. The Rosary draws its mysteries from the New Testament and is centered on the great events of the Incarnation and Redemption.
In this month of October, let us consider this beautiful prayer of the Rosary as a means that we too can use in order to draw closer to Jesus and Mary by meditating on the great mysteries of our salvation.
Sent by Fr. Bala Rajendram
Mother Teresa Looked at Families Through God’s Eyes
During the years I lived and worked with Mother Teresa’s Sisters in shelters in the roughest of America’s neighborhoods, it was truly a moving experience to watch her words and message come alive before me. Day by day at the shelters, the poorest of the poor were treated with grace and dignity; children without hope were given a shred of it; and the Holy Mass was offered in a way that made Christ painfully real.
Now that I live in a remodeled rectory on the serene prairie of North Dakota and spend my days mothering my three little ones, it’s equally touching to see the spirit of Mother Teresa bloom in our family and beyond. Not only was Mother Teresa a phenomenal advocate for the poor, but she also had a passion for building up families. Not many people know about the “gems” that came out of her mouth when she spoke of the beauty of family life. Even though she didn’t have to clean up after an ornery husband, go through labor pains, beg God’s mercy for her teenage children or worry about what she was going to wear each day, her union with Our Lord was so profound that she was capable of comprehending His plans for family life even though she wasn’t living it.
Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace prize, established hundreds of Missionaries of Charity homes all over the world to care for the dying, the sick, orphaned children, lepers, the aged and the disabled, and is now to be a canonized Saint, understood the intricate mystery of familial love. She comprehended that to love one’s family members was magnanimous, and that it comes far above the call to love non-family members, even though there is often less glamor involved in doing so.
Mother once said, “Love begins at home. If you really want to be God’s love in the world of today, begin to be God’s love in your own home first. And then you will become the sunshine of God’s love to everyone you meet.”
One of my favorite stories Mother used to tell was about a little child in India who the Sisters came to know. This child spent its days under a tree with its mother, because they had no money or means to live in a home. The Sisters offered to let the child live in their shelter, so that he would have toys, good food, clean clothes, baths, etc. However, soon after the child came to live with the Sisters, he was found to be missing. Distressed, the Sisters came to look for him, only to find him living back under the tree with his mother. The message is this: children need their mothers. They long for their mothers with a deep yearning, and are normally only at peace when they can be close to them. They will even endure great sacrifices just to be close to them. Where mother is, there is home – even if it’s under a tree, at the mercy of the elements of nature. Although Mother Teresa bore no physical children, her extraordinary union with Christ led her to be the spiritual mother of countless children. She was immensely maternal in character; maternal in a sincere way, born from the purity of God’s own love. She had a keen understanding about what motherhood was all about, and once said, “Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others.”
One time when I was working at the shelter, I was helping the Sisters take care of a child whose mother was a prostitute and had borne children with many different men. The mother was so disoriented that she wouldn’t change the toddler’s diaper for days at a time. As disheartening as it was to see how she treated her children, the Sisters prayed for a change of heart for the mother, over and over, and worked with her, teaching her about the little details of caring for a child. They had such joy and compassion and took the mother and child into the shelter and cared for them the best that they could. Little by little, I believe they helped win the mother over towards being a kinder mother. If they had condemned the mother, perhaps the child would have wound up in much worse situation.
Impressively, Mother Teresa wasn’t just a brand-name of “pro-life.” She was relentlessly pro-life to the core, and proved it time and time again, such as by her strong words in front of Clinton and Gore at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. She also knew how to relate the respect for life to the prosperity of the family:
“God has made you and made me for greater things: to love and be loved. We are not just a number in the world – that’s why it is so wonderful to recognize the presence of that unborn child, the gift of God. The greatest gift of God to a family is the child because it is the fruit of love… That is why as soon as a child is born, we give it a name, the name God has called from all eternity to love and to be loved… the most beautiful creation of God’s love, the gift of God.”
She also wasn’t afraid to “tell it like it is” when it comes to the teachings of Mother Church, which are always aimed at our greater good:
“We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion. The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once, one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other, and what this poor person said is very true.”
Last but certainly not least, Mother knew that all good works – including the stellar achievement of raising up a Christian family – must be founded upon the wellspring of prayer. “The coming of Jesus at Christmas completed the Holy Family,” she said. “We must bring that presence of God into our families. And how do we do that? By praying. The family that prays together stays together, and if you stay together, you will love one another. If you pray your heart will become clean, and a clean heart can see God.”
During my years with the Sisters, I spent many mornings with them visiting the homes of the sick and the poor, urging their families to pray the Rosary together. Mother Teresa knew that if she could just get a family to lift their souls up to God together, a victory would be won, for now and for eternity.
As we approach the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, let us hear her voice resounding in our hearts, as well as within the walls of our homes, our “domestic churches.” She has volumes to speak to us as husbands, wives, parents, and even children – let’s let her.
Taken From: zenith.org
Pope offers pizza lunch to 1,500 poor after Mother Teresa canonization
On the occasion of the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope Francis has decided to offer a pizza lunch to 1,500 poor and needy people cared for by the Missionaries of Charity throughout Italy.
According to a Sept. 4 communiqué from the Vatican, the guests are “are poor and needy people, above all from the dormitories of the Sisters of Mother Teresa and come from all over Italy,” including Milan, Bologna, Florence, Naples and from all the houses in Rome.
They traveled on different buses overnight to make it to the canonization Mass for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now called Kolkata, and sat in a reserved section near the statue of St. Peter at the front of the square called the “Reparto San Pietro.”
After the Mass, the guests headed to the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, to eat a lunch consisting of Neapolitan-style pizza.
The lunch was served by some 250 of Mother Teresa’s sisters, as well as 50 Brothers from the male branch of the congregation and some volunteers.
With such a high number of people invited to the lunch, the pizza was prepared by a staff of nearly 20 people who brought three of their own mobile ovens to cook in.
Mother Teresa was canonized by Pope Francis Sept. 4 in St. Peter’s Square as the conclusion of a special Sept. 2-4 jubilee for workers and volunteers of mercy, which is part of his wider Jubilee of Mercy.
HONESTY THAT PAID
At the point of death a man, Tom Smith, called his children and after praying for them, he advised them to follow his footsteps so that they can have peace of mind in all that they do. The youngest child, Immaculate, a female, looked at others and yelled, “Daddy, its unfortunate you are dying without a penny in your bank account, personally, I can’t emulate you. Other father’s that you tag as being corrupt, thieves of public funds left houses and properties for their children; even this house we live in is a rented apartment, sorry, i can’t emulate you, just go, let’s chart our own course, let’s paddle our own canoe.” Few moments later, their father gave up the spirit. Three years later, Immaculate went for an interview in a multinational company. The interview panel had already penciled down a candidate for the highly coveted post but wanted to complete the formality of interviewing all applicants on the list. As soon as Immaculate sat before the interview panel, the Chairman of the committee asked, “Which Smith is yours” and Immaculate replied, “I am Immaculate Smith. My Dad Tom Smith is now late he died a poor man…” But the Chairman cuts in, “O my God, you are Tom Smith’s daughter? ” He turned to other members and said “This Smith man was the one that signed my membership form into the Institute of Chartered Administrators and his recommendation earned me where I am today. He did all these free. I didn’t even know his address, he never knew me from Adam. He just did it for me.” He turned to Immaculate, I have no question for you, consider yourself as having gotten this job, resume tomorrow, your letter will be waiting for you. Immaculate Smith became the Corporate Affairs Manager of the company with two cars, one official and one for private use, attached to the office, with a duplex and two drivers and a salary of £100,000 per month excluding allowances and other costs when she traveled outside England. After two years of working in the company, the Group Managing Director of the company came from America to announce his intention to resign and needed a replacement. A personality with high integrity was sought after, again the company’s Consultant nominated Immaculate Smith. In an interview, she was asked the secret of her success and the sudden sky rocketing profile and in tears, she replied, my Daddy paved these ways for me. It was after he died that I knew that he was financially poor but strikingly rich in integrity, discipline and honesty. She was asked again, why she is weeping since she is no longer a kid as to miss her dad still after a long time. She replied, “At the point of death, I insulted my dad for being an honest man of integrity. I hope he will forgive me in his grave now. I didn’t work for all these, he did it for me to just walk in. So finally she was asked, ” Will you follow your father’s foot steps as he requested? And her simple answer was, “l now adore the man, I have a big picture of him in my living room and at the entrance of my house. He deserves whatever I have after God. Are you like Tom Smith? Integrity, discipline, self control and fear of God makes man wealthy, not the fat bank account. Sent by Fr .Nandana Manatunga
Preaching It happens more often than we care to admit. It leaves the congregation confused, frustrated and angry. While it may feel good to the preacher to “Tell it like it is” or to “Straighten the Church out”, it is both harmful to the congregation and can be detrimental to the confidence the church has in their Pastor.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Fr Anthony Tamel of Oak Creek, Fr Tamel parish Priest of a large church of over 1,000 people.
We were discussing leadership. “Do you know the best way to lead people, Jim?” Frr Tamel asked me. Without waiting for my response he reached into the top drawer of his desk and pulled out a long piece of string. He then dropped it into a pile on the center of his desk. “Say this is the congregation you lead… how do you straighten them out?” He asked me.” “Try straightening it by pushing it with your fingers.” So I tried and at best, I still had a string that was not very straight.
“So if this is the church you are leading Jim, can you say that pushing them around as you did this string is the best way to lead them or straighten them out? “ He asked. “I’m not sure exactly.” I answered.” He then took one finger and touched one end of the string and began pulling it across the desk. The string immediately became very straight. “You see what I am doing with this string Jim?” Fr Tamel asked. “I am leading it by my own example instead of pushing it. And do you see what it is doing? It is following me and in the process, it is becoming straight.
This is how a Priest or Preacher should lead his church. You cannot push your church and get the results you desire to see. You have to lead them gently.”
Having said that, consider your preaching of late.
Have you had the proper amount of time to prepare an encouraging and inspiring message? Or have you been “shooting from the hip?”
Do you feel that you have prayerfully sought the Lord for an uplifting message that is taking your church to a higher level? Or have your messages sounded more like complaints that may have discouraged or disheartened many of your congregants?
If the latter is true in either of these questions, it may be that your sermon preparation is lacking. It sounds like you may be sounding off at the things in the church that may be “bothering” you instead of using the great patience and careful instruction that 2 Timothy 4:2 speaks of.
2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
10 years ago, the church I pastored did not have the financial or people resources to allow me to be a paid . Because of that, I worked a full time job. I also did most of the labor around the church. We even ran a daycare to help support the finances of the church. We didn’t mind any of this, as it was the “Calling” that the Lord had given us and we were happy to do whatever He called us to do.
However, I found myself in trouble many times when it came to sermon preparation for the Sunday service. Even finding the time to put together a well thought out Bible Study for the midweek service was seldom a possibility.
To further exasperate this “Time” problem, I found that the “shooting from the hip” style of preaching that I was becoming accustomed to was not helping the church move forward. In fact, it was hurting it. I liked it quite honestly, because I could simply preach, “Whatever was in my heart”. However, looking back, what was in my heart was not always the needful thing for the church to hear. What was “in my heart” much of the time were complaints to the congregation for their lack of support and willingness to help us raise up a church. Although I was right in everything I said to them, I know now that the way that it was presented was not correct.
I should have used “careful instruction” as 2 Timothy commands, instead of “from the hip” preaching. I should have led the congregation instead of using God’s Word to try to push them into doing what they did not want to do.In short, I know now that my lack of time to prepare a well-crafted message was causing me to be mean to the church I pastored. How I wish I could take back some of the things I said “the wrong way”.
Planning your preaching will help you to …
Your goal should always be to “PLAN WITH SPONTANEITY.” Realizing that if God moves in, the plan moves out for the time being!
Proverbs 21:5 (TM) Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind.
Sent by Fr Nandana Manatunga
REV. FR. D. MELLITUS XAVIER O.S.B
Twenty Two long years have gone by since the demise of a PLANTATION BOY who offered himself to be a monk and Priest in the Sylvestro Benedictine congregation to serve later as a missionary among the Tea Plantation sector of the Central Province for fifty years. Should he come back to the plantation people today, he may not recognize the rugged roads or path ways that he trod along the tea bushes to meet his flock. Because during the past 22 years the roads are all done up, people themselves have modernized their way of life with supersonic technological systems, WI FI computers, and all the other possible improvements. Their life has changed; their educational and life patterns have taken a different stance. The whole Plantation world has taken a different outlook for they are no more the poor ―COOLIES‖. The people may not understand or recognize this missionary monk. The missionaries of the present days also have different approaches towards the plantation workers. Some think that they are the same old ―COOLIES‖ and that they have to be treated differently [rather harass them or treat them as uneducated people]. This is why some of the missionaries are facing untold difficulties in the hands of the plantation workers, even today.
Twenty Two years ago on the 6th of May 1994, Father Mellitus Xavier OSB was laid to rest in the monastery gardens at Monte Fano Ampitiya. Father was an all-rounder when he studied at St. Anthony‘s College in Kandy. Soon after his secondary education in St. Anthony‘s he joined the Sylvestro-Benedictine monks and pursued his priestly studies at the present National Seminary in Kandy, formally known as the Papal Seminary. As he had shown interest to work in the missionary field, he was sent to the plantation sector. In the years gone by, the Sylvestro Benedictine monks were sent either to St. Anthony‘s College or to the missionary field. According to records found in the Bishop‘s house in Kandy, Fr. Xavier had ministered in almost all the parishes of the Central Province and even in the diocese of Badulla.
He was a monk priest who was sought after by his superiors or even the Bishop of Kandy at that time for his counsel. He was in the council of the Bishop or among the senate of priests and also in the council of the Conventual Prior of Sri Lanka. Even though he was out in the missionary field he would not miss any monastic functions or meetings. Thus he was conscious of his responsibilities both as a monk and a missionary serving in the diocese under a diocesan bishop.
Father Xavier was always conscious of his people, the poor oppressed plantation workers. He wanted to liberate them both internally and externally. Thus his dream was that someday the plantation workers will be a ‗free people‘, who can think and act as free people. Should Father Xavier be reborn among the plantation workers, he would see the change in their life.
There are many young people who were nurtured by him to think as a missionary to serve in the plantation sector. They bear witness to that missionary monk who paved the way for them to dedicate their lives as missionaries. Today they minister in the Church as lay leaders or Priests and Religious.
He would always love to play or watch a game of Cricket or soccer and enjoy it with his colleagues or other friends. He liked to go on hikes with his batch mates – Bishop Leo Nanayakkara OSB, Fr. Aiden de Silva OSB, Fr. Thomas de Zilva OSB and Fr. Ildefonsus Robinson OSB, to name a few. I am aware of this because they used to visit our estate where my Dad was working. At times I too used to join them
However towards the end of his missionary life, he was ill and had to take medical treatment and was forced to retire from active apostolic life. The Superiors made him to join the community in the different monasteries where he gave a helping hand to the other monks. By the end of October he was losing his memory and speech and was called to take rest in Monte Fano Ampitiya. His last function was the funeral of his sister – Pauline [my mother], on the 10th January 1994. Soon after that he was admitted to the hospital in Colombo as he had a minor stroke. To every one‘s dismay, the doctors pronounced that he had cancer in the brain. After undergoing various medical treatments, the doctors found it futile to continue as his condition was bad. He was then transferred to a private nursing home in Kandy where he breathed his last on the 6th May 1994. He was the third in his family to die of cancer – his mother and sister.
A few days before he was confined to bed he sent me a very short letter to Rome, in which he wrote, ―All my blessings are for the success of your studies for the good of our people here in Sri Lanka.‖
Many remember the missionary monk who laid down his total life for the plantation workers of Sri Lanka. His life is truly an example for all the present missionaries who spend their time and energy for the plantation workers. They cannot be treated or considered as uneducated or uncivilized people of the yester years. They have advanced in many an area and have to be recognized as people who can think and act.
Thank you dear Fr. Xavier for the in-put you did for our plantation workers. Those who know you, are very grateful to you. Their children and grandchildren do not know you but the aroma of fragrance of your life smells all around the plantation field. Dear Father, from heaven you would see the many young plantation priests and religious and lay leaders who have offered themselves to serve as missionaries. They are trained and educated in many fields. Pray for us dear Father that all may be able to take Jesus in the breaking of the Word and Bread.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him; and may his soul rest in peace.
Sent by :Fr. Clement Gnanapragasam OSB- Monte Fano, Ampitiya
The Sacrament of Penance
Continuation of the same article of last month……….
He prefaces this grant of power by declaring that the mission of the Apostles is similar to that which He had received from the Father and which He had fulfilled: “As the Father hath sent me”. Now it is beyond doubt that He came into the world to destroy sin and that on various occasions He explicitly forgave sin (Matthew 9:2-8; Luke 5:20; 7:47; Revelation 1:5), hence the forgiving of sin is to be included in the mission of the Apostles.
Christ not only declared that sins were forgiven, but really and actually forgave them; hence, the Apostles are empowered not merely to announce to the sinner that his sins are forgiven but to grant him forgiveness—”whose sins you shall forgive”. If their power were limited to the declaration “God pardons you”, they would need a special revelation in each case to make the declaration valid.
The power is twofold — to forgive or to retain, i.e., the Apostles are not told to grant or withhold forgiveness non discriminately; they must act judicially, forgiving or retaining according as the sinner deserves.
The exercise of this power in either form (forgiving or retaining) is not restricted: no distinction is made or even suggested between one kind of sin and another, or between one class of sinners and all the rest: Christ simply says “whose sins”.
The sentence pronounced by the Apostles (remission or retention) is also God’s sentence — “they are forgiven . . . they are retained”.
I t is therefore clear from the words of Christ that the Apostles had power to forgive sins. But this was not a personal prerogative that was to erase at their death; it was granted to them in their official capacity and hence as a permanent institution in the Church — no less permanent than the mission to teach and baptize all nations. Christ foresaw that even those who received faith and baptism, whether during the lifetime of the Apostles or later, would fall into sin and therefore would need forgiveness in order to be saved. He must, then, have intended that the power to forgive should be transmitted from the Apostles to their successors and be used as long as there would be sinners in the Church, and that means to the end of time. It is true that in baptism also sins are forgiven, but this does not warrant the view that the power to forgive is simply the power to baptize. In the first place, as appears from the texts cited above, the power to forgive is also the power to retain; its exercise involves a judicial action. But no such action is implied in the commission to baptize (Matthew 28:18-20); in fact, as the Council of Trent affirms, the Church does not pass judgment on those who are not yet members of the Church, and membership is obtained through baptism. Furthermore, baptism, because it is a new birth, cannot be repeated, whereas the power to forgive sins (penance) is to be used as often as the sinner may need it. Hence the condemnation, by the same Council, of any one “who, confounding the sacraments, should say that baptism itself is the Sacrament of Penance, as though these two sacraments were not distinct and as though penance were not rightly called the second plank after shipwreck” (Sess. XIV, can. 2 de sac. poen.).
These pronouncements were directed against the Protestant teaching which held that penance was merely a sort of repeated baptism; and as baptism effected no real forgiveness of sin but only an external covering over of sin through faith alone, the same, it was alleged, must be the case with penance. This, then, as a sacrament is superfluous; absolution is only a declaration that sin is forgiven through faith, and satisfaction is needless because Christ has satisfied once for all men. This was the first sweeping and radical denial of the Sacrament of Penance. Some of the earlier sects had claimed that only priests in the state of grace could validly absolve, but they had not denied the existence of the power to forgive. During all the preceding centuries, Catholic belief in this power had been so clear and strong that in order to set it aside Protestantism was obliged to strike at the very constitution of the Church and reject the whole content of Tradition.
Taken From: Catholic News Agency
To be continued……..
05th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Niroshana de Zoysa
10th – Mon – Rev. Fr. Desmond Perera
20th – Thu – Very Rev. Fr. Milroy Fonseka
24th Mon – Rev. Fr. Marian Anthony, sss
26th – Wed – Rev. Fr. Christy Paul
31st – Mon – Rev. Fr. A. Mathew
02nd -Sun – Rev. Fr. Cecil Xavier
– Rev. Fr. M. Charles
11th -Tue – Rev.Fr.ShansanaWasara Samarasinghe, OSB
14th -Fri – Very Rev. Fr. Milroy Fonseka
28th -Fri – Rev. Fr. Prasanna Warnakulasuriya
14th -Fri – Rev. Fr. Augustine Biochi OSB
17th -Mon – Rev. Fr. Sylvester Thamel OSB
21st – Fri – Rev. Fr. O.J.B. Fernando, OSB
Your generous Contribution………………..
On the Feast Day St. Anne’s Church, Hewaheta,
the Vicar General Very Rev. Fr. Milroy Fonseka blessed the Site for the Hall of Mercy. Since the parishioners are very poor any contribution towards this project is most welcome. For further details contact Rev. Fr. Alvin Peter Fernando, the Parish Priest firstname.lastname@example.org; (077-3725181)