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Reflection on the Holy Eucharist

“He that eateth my flesh and

Drinketh my blood abideth in

Me, and I in him”

John VI 57

Jesus could not have possibly give more to us than his Body and Blood. Jesus gives every thing that He has to give by allowing Himself to be nailed to the cross. Through His sacrificial death Jesus cancels the debt of our sins and opens to us the new and everlasting covenant of His love. Jesus gives his life that we might have life and have it to the full.

The sacrificial death that Jesus endured for us upon the cross is perpetuated through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When we participate in the Holy Eucharist, we take our place at the cross, and we experience the greatest love the world has ever known. What is more we have the awesome privilege of receiving into our persons through Holy Communion the very body and blood, soul and divinity of the Lord.

Last supper

Instituted by the Lord at the last supper in anticipation of his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, the Holy Eucharist is our greatest treasure. It is the sacrament through which the Lord Jesus keeps his solemn, promise. “I am with you always, even until the end of the age.”

Jesus clearly intense the phrase “Bread of Life” to have a much more particular meaning. In fact, He identifies the phrase with his flesh, hits corporeal flesh and blood when he says that his flesh will be given for the life of the world, Jesus is referring to His body nailed to the cross, His blood being poured out in the perfect sacrifice of Calvary.

There can be no doubt that these powerful words point both to His sacrificial death and the Holy Eucharist the means by which His sacrifice would be represented on altars around the world until He comes in Glory.

He states, to the multitudes unabashedly that He is the Lord of life, and that those who come to Him in faith life forever. He along can lead us through the valley of the shadow of death into the joys of eternal life. Even if our minds struggle to comprehend this sublime mystery our hearts can say with St. Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go you have the words of eternal life” since, at the heart of our Catholic Faith is the Holy Eucharist.

Every time we participate in the Holy Eucharist we are nourished from the Lords twofold table. We experience the Lords teaching through the table of the Word. We experience the substantial presence of the Lord through the table and alter of His sacrificial banquet. How blessed we are to participate in so great a feast.

The manna in the desert foreshadowed an even more impressive accomplishment greater even than the feeding of the five-thousand by the sea of Galilee. The Lord who once provided food and drink that truly satisfy the hunger of his people, now feeds us with his Body and Blood, the bread of life and the cup of eternal salvation.

Food and drink

The food and drink that truly satisfy the hungry heart. The only food and drink that never leaves us hungry or thirsty again.

Jesus is sometimes depicted as the Holy Pelican (Pelican and Jesus Domine) the birth which wounded his own chest open to feed the young ones with the blood that flowed from its body.

It was Blessed Mother Teresa who said “That the physical hunger of the world would be filled by a few more bowls of rice, but it was far more difficult to fill the world’s spiritual hunger.”

Our hunger will be full satisfied only in eternal life. Until then, we have to reach out to others and build communities of love where justice and kingdom values will prevail. We have to comfort the sorrowful and create goodness in the world. The Eucharist imposes this mission on us. We inherit eternal life as a reward for mutual service resulting from our being nourished by the flesh and blood of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

And if we are thinking of our need of fortitude and of the courage to go on day by day with the work given us, then it is natural that we should think also of this sacrament of the daily bread, the sacrament which is intended precisely to give us the daily renewal of strength for the daily task, and to fill us with the energy, the life and power, which will make us do great things for God. “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life”; tense is the present, you have the life here and now, and so you are filled with power. Et. ambulavit in fortitudine in cibi illius-he walked in the strength, the fortitude, of that food forty days and forty nights unto the mount of God. This greatest of the sacraments is precisely the sacrament to unity.

The family of God is meant to be a unity, but a unity of real living men and women, really bringing something a unique creative gift-to the common life.

But the Mass is also a sacrament, the means whereby this redemptive act is made operative day by day in the world.

St. Thomas Aquinas is honoured as the Doctor of the Eucharist. It is very fitting; and not only because he wrote of this sacrament itself supremely well. The Eucharist is the great restoring power in the world, and for the world: in it all things are made new. It is then the greatest affirmation of the value of created things, of their goodness, for if anything were wholly evil it could not be restored; and so it is the great affirmation also of the unit of all things in that single act of worship and sacrifice which is the Cross. But it is just this that is the essence of St. Thomas’s teaching.

Eucharist

He is the Doctor of the Eucharist, then, because he is the expounder of this great affirmation: all things are good in themselves though evil have damaged and twisted them: all things are renewed and blessed by the presence of the sacrificed Christ in the world, by the power of Christ made operative through the souls and bodies of His faithful who share His life and His love.

But the corollary of this affirmation, the affirmation of the liberty of the glory of the sons of God, is the giving of thanks; and this is what the world Eucharist means, and in this, too, therefore the title is justified. “To them that love God all things work together unto good”; that loving sense of the ceaseless providence of God, the sense that what is His will and therefore must work unto good, and that all our efforts are but part of that all-inclusive love and care so that we, for our part, are free, carefree, if only we do at each present moment the best we can-all this conviction, together with the deep happiness it produces, is in our belief in the Eucharist, and therefore is an essential part of our worship when we worship, as we must, through the Eucharist.

“I draw all things to Myself”; and “behold I make all things new”; that is summary of the doctrine of the Eucharist; and to day that we must share in this double movement is to summarize our part in the doctrine of the Eucharist. If ever it could be said of us that all our words were enlightenment and solace and strength, our touch always a healing touch, our eyes wise and gentle, our whole life an epiphany of the power of love-then it would mean that we had been fully faithful at last to the greatest of all the sacraments, because of us as of Him in whom we live men would be able to say “we have seen their glory; and of their fullness we have all received.”

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote thus:

“......O banquet most precious! O banquet most admirable! O banquet overflowing with every spiritual delicacy! Can anything be more excellent than this repast, in which not the flesh of goats and heifers, as of old, but Christ the true God is given us for nourishment? What more wondrous than this holy sacrament! In it, bread and wine are changed substantially, and under the appearance of a little bread and wine is had Christ Jesus, God and perfect Man. In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul is satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial. Since it was instituted unto the salvation of all, is offered by Holy Church for the living and for the dead, that all may share in its treasures......


Queen of Angels Church, Rawatawatte:

The 48th annual feast

The Queen of Angels Church, Rawatawatte celebrated its 48th annual feast recently. The High Mass was held at 8.30 a.m. by Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Tyronne Perera, assisted by Assistant Priests Rev Fr Prasanna Fernando and Rev Fr Laknath Cooray. The Vespers were sung by Rev Fr Srilal Fonseka.


Queen of Angels Church, Rawatawatte. Picture by Chirantha Amarasinghe

The procession started at 7.30 p.m. with its silvery rays upon the spiritual congregation walking with Our Lady’s statue reciting rosaries and singing of hymns to obtain blessings to the town of Rawatawatte. It went down lane after lane, which was headed by the Legion of Mary Church band and arrived at the church by 10.30 p.m. accepting Our Lady by the pealing of church bells as a wishful thank you for blessing each and every lane and house. As the final event, Rev Fr Laknath Cooray blessed the congregation with the miraculous statue.

The church was decorated beautifully by the youth of the church instructed by Rev Fr Prasanna Fernando.

The sermon delivered on the feast day precisely spoke of value of a mother. The Mother of Jesus has been chosen by God who got conceived without sins. Likewise the congregation was taught to love and respect their mothers. Specially, the sermon proclaimed a mother of a doctor who saves lives of people has to be respected, and also in return these mothers should live to the commands of the Lord.

It was the second successive year of the church web site www.queenofangels.lk which was launched in 2009 going from strength to strength. Statistics show that at least 35,000 people watch this website in a month. Today if you open this website, you will see, that it had changed to a festive manner. Flowers sprinkling on the page and the background hymn by the church choir. Lawrence and his pupils singing the theme hymn of the church feast, ‘Surathavinge Rajiniyeni, Pembara Manieni’. The first page gives a message from the Pope, Archbishop and the Parish Priest conveying his message of a ‘happy feast’ and photographs of the youth getting prepared, cleaning and illuminating the church and the front lawn, pictures of the Vespers and the High Mass. The website was designed by Chirantha Amerasinghe.

It ended up with a variety entertainment staged by the youth of the Parish.


Matara Church feast


St Mary’s statue at Matara Church

The annual festival at St Mary’s Church, Kotuwegoda, Matara, commenced September 2 at 4.30 p.m. with the hoisting of flags. From thence daily prayers were conducted with the participation of Rev Fr Charles Hewawasam (September 3-9).

Festive High Mass will be conducted by Rev Fr Nihal Nanayakkara, Administer, Galle Diocese September 10 at 4 p.m.

The procession carrying the statue of Our Lady of Matara will parade the streets September 11 following evening Mass at 4 p.m.

Ratnapura Bishop Most Rev Cletus Chandrasiri Perera will conduct the evening Mass and festival High Mass on Sunday September 12 at 11 am Holy Mass for those who come late.

Due to repairs on the railway track all train services including special train from Chilaw will terminate at Galle railway station.

It is proposed to arrange a transport service from Galle to Matara to coincide with train arrivals and departures. For the convenience of pilgrims lodging facilities will be available from Friday September 10.

The discussion was held at the church premises with the participation of Matara District Secretary and all the Heads of Government Departments regarding the arrangements for the feast.

Fr Nanayakkara said this is an occasion to sound the world of the value of humanity – much clamoured peace and harmony among races, religions and countries.


In Memoriam:

Revd Fr Mark Perera SJ

Our papers have announced the death of my friend Fr Mark. I first met him when we were both Chaplains at Peradeniya, he at the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy and I at the Sri Lankan National Christian Council Chaplaincy.

Since we were both keen on working together we did work on many fronts. Very specifically in the areas of student activities at Peradeniya.

What comes to my mind as I write this piece of memory of Fr Mark is the stand that we took together when to my mind for the first time in the history of Peradeniya there was a Sinhala, Tamil students clash just before July 1983. Fr Mark was very concerned about preserving the harmony between the two communities at Peradeniya.

When I moved to Pilimatalawa to teach I invited Fr Mark to teach counselling and also counsel the students. Fr Mark will be remembered for many things and none of us can forget his work as a counsellor.

I used to keep in touch with him even after he moved to Lewella where he spent the evening of his life.

At Lewella and from Lewella he used to tell me that under God, despite his confinement to a wheelchair, he was able to help people with problems. Our meetings and telephone conversations always included Fr Mark referring to my late wife and asking about my daughter.

Since it was impossible to get to Kandy because of the Kandy Perahera I could not attend the funeral. However, Fr Mark will be remembered with gratitude and love not only for his counselling but for the Roman Catholic, Anglican dialogue that the two of us had under God in our own style.

I am sure that when the call came Fr Mark would have heard those words “well done good and faithful servant.”

Fr Mark’s family and the Jesuits can certainly be assured of our prayers. May his soul rest in peace and rise in glory! Amen.

Sydney Knight


Genesis of Sick Day at Tewatta

The sick day at the Basilica in Tewatta where the sick and ailing were blessed took place last Sunday with the recitation of the Holy Rosary. This ritual of blessing the sick takes place at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka on the last Sunday of August every year. This is the only Basilica that Sri Lanka has and it has a grand history regarding its outcome. Tracing the genesis of the sick day at the Basilica is interesting as the day is of significance to both Christians and non-Christians as the sick gather in their numbers for the healing service held annually.

The ritual of the blessing of the sick goes back to 1941, when Rev. Fr P Lapriyan was the administrator of the church. But unlike at its beginning, today you find a concourse of devotees of all faiths who gather at the feet of Mother Mary, hoping to be relieved of their sicknesses. The theme this year according to the present administrator Rev Fr Priya Jayamanna was ‘Towards a Eucharistic way of life through Mother Mary’. Also officiating at the ritual this year was Rt Rev Dr Malcolm Ranjith Archbishop of the metropolis, His Excellency Joseph Spiteri the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishops Emeritus Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Fernando and Rt Rev Dr Oswald Gomis, Rt Rev Kinsley Swampillai, Bishop of Trinco/Batticaloa. The healing service was the climax of a series of services that began on Wednesday with a three day Trideum.

At this juncture it would be interesting to trace the genesis of the Basilica, the only such edifice in Buddhist Sri Lanka. Tewatta is a euphemism as the location was a coffee plantation in the days of yore. It was then known as ‘Orange Hill Estate’ but it did not have orange trees either let alone tea. What one finds in plenty there today are rubber trees. All major feasts of Mother Mary are celebrated here and the national shrine is a place of pilgrimage the whole year around. But the sick day is an outstanding event in its calendar due to the concourse of pilgrims mainly the sick who gather at Mary’s feet on the last Sunday in August. How the edifice came to be dedicated to Our Lady of Lanka is another interesting story.

The year was 1939and it was world war II. Sri Lanka being under the sway of the British, was under a threat of Japanese bombing. The Archbishop of the time, Rt Rev Jeane Mary Masson, OMI begged at the feet of Mary, that if the isle was spared from the ravages of war, he would promise to construct a basilica dedicated to Mary. Presto the isle was spared though – the metro area was bombed on Easter Sunday April 5, 1940.

Now it was time for the Bishop to fulfill his promise. He went to the Pontiff of the time, His Holiness Pope Pius XI, and asked for permission to build a basilica to fulfill a promise he had made to the Virgin Mother.



Fr Siri Cooray

Goodbye Fr. Siri Cooray

Called to eternal rest August 28:

“ I have fought a good fight,

I have finished my course,

I have kept the faith”

(2 Timothy 4:7)

 



Ceylon Bible Society celebrates
198th Anniversary

The Ceylon Bible Society celebrated its 198th Anniversary on Sunday August 1 at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07. The celebration took the form of the annual Festival of Choirs. Here Chief Guest Rev Fr Benedict Joseph welcomed by a chorister. Also in the picture are General Secretary Lakshani Fernando and Ceylon Bible Society President Major Douglas Wijesinha.

Festival of Choirs in Colombo

Ceylon Bible Society celebrates 198th Anniversary:

The Ceylon Bible Society celebrated its 198th Anniversary on Sunday August 1 at the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07. The celebration took the form of the annual Festival of Choirs. Here Chief Guest Rev Fr Benedict Joseph welcomed by a chorister. Also in the picture are General Secretary Lakshani Fernando and Ceylon Bible Society President Major Douglas Wijesinha.

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