St. Anthony's feast celebrated in Padua
St. Anthony of Padua
Get ready for the second war which is the restoring of the dignity
and harmony among all men and women through reconciliation, love and
peace", says Archbishop Most. Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith at Padua.
The first of May has been, for the past 10 years, a special day for
all the Sri Lankan migrants working in Italy as it has been the day on
which all of them gather at Padua. This year too, around 15,000 Sri
Lankans gathered to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, one of
the most popular saints in Sri Lanka and the world over. St. Anthony was
born in Lisbon in 1195 and died on the 13th of June 1231 in Padua,
The entire world calls St. Anthony its own, but his home city of
Lisbon, Portugal, delights to name him its most saintly native son. St.
Anthony is considered to be the protector of souls in purgatory,
propitiator of happy marriages, defender of animals, defender of lost
property, and many other miraculous configurations of popular
imagination. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on May 30th, 1232.
The celebration on the 1st of May was organized by Rev. Fr. Neville
Joe Perera, the National Coordinator of the Italian Bishops' Conference
for the Sri Lankan migrants. Organizing such a feast is not an easy task
since it is now considered the biggest and the grandest Sri Lankan
gathering of any nature outside Sri Lanka.
The main event was the Eucharistic celebration held in the main
Basilica, built in the form of a Latin cross and immersed in
semi-darkness, giving a harmonious blend of the imposing power of
Romanesque architecture and soaring Gothic style.
One of the most treasured relics of the Basilica is the incorruptible
tongue of the Saint (the instrument with which he had glorified God and
sanctified His people), which is preserved in a splendid reliquary made
by the goldsmith Giuliano of Firenze. The Most Rev. Archbishop Malcolm
Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the
Discipline of the Sacraments was the main celebrant, while Most Rev. Dr.
Valence Mendis, the President of the Commission for Migrants of the Sri
Lankan Bishops' Conference and Monsignor Gian Romano, the National
Director for Migrants of the Italian Bishops' Conference concelebrated
together with nearly 30 priests from Sri Lanka and Italy. The Mass was
celebrated and hymns were sung in both languages, Sinhala and Tamil,
giving a national flavour to the whole service.
In his homily, preached in both Sinhala and Italian, His Grace the
Archbishop explained the meaning of the universal call to holiness, a
much spoken topic within the Church. "Holiness" the archbishop said "is
the highest calling. All other things, however important and noble they
might seem to be, must lead us and inspire us to this call to holiness
which is fundamental to our catholic identity and vocation. Moreover,
whatever we say or do must reflect this most noble vocation, which is
the call to holiness."
He went on to explain as to how the very meaning of the word
'Catholic' (which is the same as the universality of the Church) is
expressed and realized in the multitude of Her saints drawn from people
of all walks of life. According to His Grace the Archbishop, this
diversity is shown by having saints of various nationalities and
cultures. In their numbers there are white saints and black saints,
those who were rich and poor.
Even those in various crafts and professions like the saints,
politicians, lawyers and ordinary labourers, priests and religious, and
saints who were lay men and women, are all represented within this
galaxy of the saints of the Catholic Church.
The archbishop said that much effort is called upon on being faithful
in this task since man is often faced with all types of challenges and
Therefore, he called upon the Sri Lankan migrants to be wise in all
what they choose for themselves. "Another aspect of this universal call
to holiness", the Archbishop went on to explain, "is the challenge of
accepting each other as brothers and sisters of the same Lord.
In the Church there are no strangers and no one is excluded from Her
because in Her All have a place to stay. Hence our task as Christians is
to rise above all forms of differences and divisions that fall short of
our Catholic identity and calling."
Reconciliation and love
Most. Rev. Dr. Malcolm Ranjith
delivering the homily
Referring to the situation which is prevailing in the country, the
Archbishop said that the war is not the only solution to this crisis.
"Now that the war is coming to an end, there is yet another war, a war
after the war for which we have to prepare ourselves and which is far
more difficult than the war which preceded it.
That is the war of restoring the dignity among all men and women of
one Mother Lanka through building harmony and peace through
reconciliation and love," His Grace the Archbishop stated.
He also noted that finally, true and lasting peace could only be
achieved through respecting the diversity of all men and women of our
country, restoring their dignity and building bridges of reconciliation
According to him this is the greatest difficulty and the challenge
which we must face in the future. The sermon in Tamil, which expressed
the same sentiments, was delivered by Bishop, Most. Rev. Dr. Valence
After mass, the relic of the Saint was taken in procession along the
main road leading to the Basilica by the Sri Lankans. This was a
traditional Sri Lankan procession which included Kandyan dancers. His
Grace Archbishop Malcolm blessed the congregation with the sacred relic
of the Saint bringing this memorable event to a close.
After this, everyone enjoyed the rest of the day in the company of
friends and relatives as it was a welcome break from the tight schedule
of work and labour.
It was with one wish and prayer that all Sri Lankans left the sacred
place and that too, to come again next year and thank St. Anthony for
the miracle of finding the brotherhood and harmony which was lost in Sri
Lanka some 30 years ago.
Fr. Shamindra Jayawardena OSB,
Hiking in the footsteps of Jesus
American Linda Halel strains under the weight of her backpack but
says she has gained spiritual strength walking in the footsteps of
Jesus, Bible in hand and a smile on her face.
"This has taken my faith to a new level," she says as she recounts
the past few days she spent walking from village to village along the
rugged landscape of Israel's Galilee region where Jesus did much of his
Hikers climb down Mount Arbel in the
Lower Galilee near the city of Tiberias on April 25. A
65-kilometre (41-mile) route is taking hikers from Jesus
Christís boyhood town of Nazareth to the Mount of Beatitudes
where he is believed to have delivered his seminal Sermon on
the Mount. The Jesus Trail, a three- to four-day journey, is
seen as an opportunity for Christians to feel connected to
their faith and the life of Jesus. AFP
"I know I am walking where Himself and the apostles walked," she says
as she looks down from the dramatic clifftop of Mount Arbel to the Sea
of Galilee on whose waters Christ is said to have walked.
Halel, 43, is hiking the new Jesus Trail, a 65-kilometre (41-mile)
route from Jesus's boyhood town of Nazareth to the Mount of Beatitudes
where he is believed to have delivered his seminal Sermon on the Mount.
David Landis, a 26-year web designer from Philadelphia, hopes Pope
Benedict XVI's May 14 visit to Nazareth will help promote the route he
developed with Israeli Maoz Inon, a fellow trekking enthusiast about one
The two used satellite maps to find a way to walk from one religious
site to another along existing footpaths and dirt roads.
Together with the Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature, they
have put markers along the trail, and hikers can download the GPS
coordinates from their website (www.jesustrail.com.)
Landis sees the three- to four-day journey as an opportunity for
Christians to feel connected to their faith and the life of Jesus, but
insists it is not designed just for the faithful.
In fact, he says, many non-Christians have done the hike just to
enjoy the walk and see the historical sites along the route..
Jesus spent a lot of time walking
For Landis, who lives in Nazareth, the trail is not just about hiking
in the footsteps of Jesus, but also about walking as he did, connecting
with people along the way.
"Jesus spent a lot of time walking and meeting people. We hope people
on the trail will do the same," says Landis, a soft-spoken Mennonite who
has hiked hundreds of kilometres in dozens of countries around the
The first day of the trek takes hikers to the Arab town of Cana, the
supposed site at which Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast,
and a popular spot for Christian couples to renew their vows.
On a recent Saturday, middle-aged Filipino couples stood before a
priest at the Cana Roman Catholic Wedding Church again pledging their
undying love, and later holding up a certificate for the cameras of
their fellow pilgrims. "That alone was worth our trip," Citas Magbopoy
says, beaming after she renewed her vows. "It's always been my dream to
visit the places where Jesus lived, where it all started."
On the street outside, a group of hymn-singing faithful march in
procession past posters welcoming the pope to the Holy Land and souvenir
stores that sell bottles of Cana Wedding Wine.
Another highlight of the trek is the hill known as the Horns of
Hittin, the site of an 1187 battle when the Muslim armies under Saladin
defeated the Crusaders, opening their way for the reconquest of
From the top, hikers get their first views of the Sea of Galilee, a
freshwater lake along whose shores Jesus is said to have performed
several miracles, including multiplying a few fishes and loaves of bread
into enough to feed a multitude.
In early spring, before the rainless days that turn the earth brown,
fields teem with daisies, yellow wildflowers, bright red poppies and
"Jesus spent a lot of time walking. He noticed the birds, the
flowers, the scenery, as we can see from his parables," says Landis,
pointing to the peaceful landscape..
I've received blessings along the way
Below the Horns of Hittin, nestled between the hills, the large
mosque-like Nebi Shueib compound houses the traditional tomb of Jethro,
father-in-law of Moses. MOUNT ARBEL, Israel, AFP
Literature and Christian life
The traditional song 'Ahasa-Polowa' composed by Rev. Gonsalves,
Writer and Musician in the 17th century proclaims that the skies
(Heaven) are free as the earth which emphasises for the buds of
spiritual thoughts, to liberate our minds crowded with various thoughts
as described in the commencement of the song. Rev. Gonsalves came here
at the invitation of Rev. Joseph Vas to do some literal translations and
writing. The development of printing techniques during the Dutch made
way for the revival of major religions.
Sky and the earth
"The sky and the earth is supposed to be free," as described in the
song 'The Poet' calls us to think how one could be accountable to his
Creator (God) for his lifetime deeds at the last day of judgement. This
is the message that is relevant to most people in our times of worldly
life today. It was so as it was in the beginnings of mankind. People
rush behind Moha and Thanha and face Dukka or Sorrow which is eternal
and binding. He also emphasises the need for Dana to act as positive
action to achieve the greatness of heavenly happiness. Dana is
prescribed as a means of liberation of the soul or consciousness and
making the mind free in the performance of meritorious acts. Buddhism
teaches Dana, Seela and Samadhi as the way to the liberation of the
self. There is no happiness than to offer arms to the less fortunate
that will bring consolation at the jaws of Hell which is brought out in
the second sonnet.
Love and compassion
It also emphasise the hopelessness one could have the mastering all
sciences and disciplines without understanding love and the compassion
of the Divine. One may have all the riches in the worldly possessions,
but at the time of death like Christ one should not possess anything not
even the clothes one wears. When Christ was put to death on the Cross He
was almost naked and even his red cloak, what the mother would have
given him was even auctioned for 30 pieces of gold by the Roman army
He did not even have a permanent home or a pillow to his head, not
even slippers for his foot or food to eat. All these were provided on
his way in the mission.
Today people who have wealth give pain to others and have pleasure in
robbing others' possessions and proclaim that they are victorious in the
strategies for existence in the worldly systems. People by various
schemey methods pull out the weak out of their habitations and homes and
boast that they have achieved in the worldly. They have destroyed the
clean atmosphere what was inherited by them by the Creator for
generations by emitting gases to the sky and bring untold misery to life
and plant. This is the main root cause of the present climate change.
The poet has warned those engaged in such worldly actions and warn
painful death which is final to them.
In Ahasa Polawa - II the second part of the song, the priest writer
condemns the lusty society greed for wealth which brings sorrow and even
death. One may have upstair houses, barns of cattle and poultry, tanks,
the canals which are the symbols of wealth in the 17th century during
the period the writer lived among the Canadian peasantry. These
principles of the accumulation of wealth are somewhat even relevant even
today. Then the poem contemplates on the Pilikul Bhavana on the
hopelessness of artificial fashions and lifestyles of modern way of
life. One penny allocated to helping someone brings eternal rest than
all these fantacies could bring the happiness what man can achieve.
Everything will be relinquished into the earth, dusty and decay.
Kindness and charity
The poem preached Anitya and Dukka to the sinners. All the efforts to
accumulate wealth in protective bonds will decay and perish unless
deposits of kindness and charity which can guarantee high interest in
the heavens, describe the song.
The literal message is that one must be poor at heart to receive the
greatness of the Divine which is reachable to anyone who has a free mind
ready to unite with the Divine at the shortest possible notice.
The poem sounds on the greatness of simple living of the man some
2,000 years ago in Israel called Jesus. He did not have personal
security or golden deposits in banks. He had no private media agency to
database his stories. They were heard on the way and later others wrote
what he preached. It is timely that the contribution of the late Rev.
Gonsalves who made a lasting contribution in putting the teachings of
Christianity into compendium of poems and songs which needs serious
research by the academics as Professor Sunil Ariyaratne once observed in
a lecture attending a Catholic literary festival in Colombo.
Promise from the Word of God
To live under the Direction of God, you must understand your place in
You are special to Jesus. He died to save you. His death on the Cross
was not easy. He sacrificed His position and stepped down and not only
that He was willing to suffer immensely in order to redeem you from the
clutches of sin and second death this would have destroyed you
A priest is blessed by Pope Benedict
XVI during his consecration in a mass at St Peterís Basilica
at the Vatican on May 3. AFP
Instead, He gave you an eternal place in heaven in His presence, as
His child. If you really grasp the truth of this matter, you will
constantly praise Jesus and be so grateful for this wonderful gift. When
your spiritual eyes are opened to see and understand the salvation plan,
then, whatever you are undergoing in this life becomes bearable. In fact
with the help of the Holy Spirit one can even be joyful in the
circumstances, as the promise from the Word of God is that -
'All things will work together for good to those who love God.'
If you really understand how precious you are to Jesus your life on
this earth does not take importance over, as you know there are better
things to follow and thereby you are able to give the right priorities
to the right things. This is very important to receive the peace that
Jesus has to offer you.
Life is full of choices to a Christian. We must constantly discard
the natural from the spiritual. We must learn to look at every situation
through the eyes of God, as God is a spirit we must learn to think on a
spiritual level, this very often means we have to trust in things we
cannot see and act through faith.
Faith is a very important ingredient for our spiritual life to be
Faith will have to be exhibited when God asks us to do something and
when our common sense screams at us in disbelief. 'are you crazy to
behave like this?'
The most obvious lessons on faith are seen when we read about Noah -
God asks him to build this huge ark during clear nights and sun shinery
days pending a great flood.
Did you know that Noah did not even know or had seen the rain come
down as during his period, the word of God informs us in Genesis 2:5-6 -
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth and every
Herb of the field before it grew for the Lord God had not caused it to
rain upon the earth and there was not a man to till the ground.
But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of
Genesis 7:11 & 12
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life .... the same day were all
the fountains of the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were
opened. And the rain was upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.
Unquestioningly Noah obeys God and I am sure you will agree that this
required tremendous Faith on his part. He not only understood the power
of God but believed in Him although many things spoke against in the
natural realm - the weather at the time - the method by which the ark
was to operate - if he had stopped to listen to the message from the
natural realm he could not have performed what God instructed him to do.
Noah desired to live under the direction of God and he fully
understood his place in Him.
Our Loving Heavenly Father, I thank you so much that I am recognised
by you as a child of God. Thank you Jesus for all the suffering that you
underwent to save me and to bring me to this position. Let me never
forget this and help me to get my priorities right and make the right
choices. Father I want so much to discern the natural from the spiritual
so that I will receive this wonderful knowledge as to my place in you
and the true peace you have promised to impart to your children will be
mine. I come to you Jehovah Shaloam, The God of Peace, to receive this
promise in Jesus name. Amen.