Pope Francis at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu - Sri Lanka

PF4All the faithful recited the Rosery and Litany in Tamil and Sinhala languages before the arrival of the holy father at the shrine of Our lady of Madhu. Then Papal Anthem was sung as His Holiness Pope Francis arrives to the main portico of the Shrine and welcomed of His holiness Pope together with the Bishops.

After that welcome speech done by the Bishop of Mannar.

Prayer service began by the Holy Father and we listen to the small Scripture Reading taken of Mt 5:4.9-10

"Happy are those who morn; god will comfort them!

Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires;

The kingdom of heaven belongs to them."

Then Holy Father address all the Faithful and said :

“We are in our Mother’s house.

Marian Prayer at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu

madhu1Below the full text of the Pope's Marian Prayer at the Madhu Shrine.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are in our Mother’s house. Here she welcomes us into her home. At this shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, every pilgrim can feel at home, for here Mary brings us into the presence of her Son Jesus. Here Sri Lankans, Tamil and Sinhalese alike, come as members of one family. To Mary they commend their joys and sorrows, their hopes and needs. Here, in her home, they feel safe. They know that God is very near; they feel his love; they know his tender mercy.There are families here today which suffered greatly in the long conflict which tore open the heart of Sri Lanka. Many people, from north and south alike, were killed in the terrible violence and bloodshed of those years. No Sri Lankan can forget the tragic events associated with this very place,

Pope Francis can "push" reconciliation in Sri Lanka

CardPope Francis was scheduled to leave on Monday evening for the 7th Apostolic Trip of his Pontificate.  The first stop of his two-nation journey is Sri Lanka.

Welcoming him will be the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith, and the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena was elected on January 8th, beating incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who held office for nearly 10 years.

“Strange enough, all three Popes who came to Sri Lanka – Pope Paul, Pope John Paul, and Pope Francis – the government that invited is not the government to receive him,” commented Cardinal Ranjith.

The newly elected President has promised to works towards reconciliation on the island, where a decades long civil war ended in 2009.  The predominantly-Buddhist Sinhalese make up about 75% of the population, with predominantly-Hindu Tamils being the largest minority group.  Catholics make up just 6% of the population, and are comprised of both Sinhalese and Tamils.

“I think [Pope Francis’] coming at this time with a new government – the new government has promised to work for reconciliation among the people – and I think his coming right at the beginning of that government, is a good indication that he will be able to give a push to that decision of the new government to work towards a reconciliation between the Sinhalese and the Tamils after the 30-year civil war,” Cardinal Ranjith told Vatican Radio.

The Cardinal also noted the Pope wants to keep things simple, and to have contact with the poor and sick of Sri Lanka.

“We are happy he is taking that attitude,” said Cardinal Ranjith, “because it is I think an example to all of us, especially to us bishops, and Cardinals!”

(from Vatican Radio)

Asia is receptive to Pope Francis

VazThe Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka, Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Van Tot, told Vatican Radio that despite its small Catholic population, the continent is receptive to the message of Pope Francis.

“I think that many people from Asia – China and Vietnam, and Sri Lanka… Japan, Korea – want to follow his teaching, and to build a good society in every country,” he said.

Archbishop Nguyên Van Tot highlighted Wednesday’s scheduled visit to the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, located in the northern of the country, which has a large Tamil population.

The Nuncio said the shrine was a “principal centre” for the whole country: Catholics belonging to the Sinhalese majority visit the shrine, as well as Catholics from the Tamil minority.

“It was not apparitions [which made the shrine famous], but there was a great devotion from the people, and they received many graces,” said Archbishop Nguyên Van Tot.

He added that other religions also appreciate the shrine, and he expects many non-Christians to arrive at Wednesday’s prayer service to “pray with the Holy Father.”

(from Vatican Radio)

The God who walks with us

We’ve got to the Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord, which ends the Christmas period.  

The Baptism of  the Lord inspires in us astonishment for a God that shares everything with us, even our fragility and misery.

Jesus rushes to John’s baptism and he queues like everybody else, he waits his turn to be baptized. He doesn’t need it, there’s no shadow of sin in Him, God’s presence in Him is absolute. Still, He wants to share the intimate need of men for liberation and peace. He

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