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Monday, 8 August 2011

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CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES

Encountering Christ through the Word

Community of the Risen Lord is a Sri Lankan religious community under the Catholic Church that develops with the idea of basically searching the exact face of Jesus Christ by reading the original Word of God and through continuous prayer and praising. We introduce this community to Daily News readers for its fervour and for the thousands it attracted within a small space of time

According to the Community of the Risen Lord, it began as a prayer group of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, in the late 1980s at a house down Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 3. And Lalith Perera, at the beginning, was the leader and coordinator of this community with no more than 12 members in it.

Yet gradually their number of members grew into a reasonable degree. Then they had to shift their activities to a convent down Rhineland Place. A few years after, they moved out again from Rhineland Place and started conducting weekly prayer meetings at St. Paul’s Milagiriya Church hall. They, during this time, received the revelation of the four steps. Yet their number of members remained around 300 for some time.

The year 2000 was a significant milestone in the history of this communion. Several of their members attended retreats at the Divine Retreat Center, Porta, Kerala. This has made them experience a conversion with a mighty anointing. God led them to Catholic Priests who had visited the Divine Retreat Center. This made the priest and them working together.

The fulfillment of the promise in Mark 16:20, they have witnessed that God is confirming the preached word with signs and wonders. At Wednesday Prayer meetings, miracles such as healing and conversions started occurring during praise and worship. The four step retreats began to touch lives and they began to witness powerful life changes. The attendance at four step retreats began to multiply in thousands.

The Community of the risen Lord said, “We did not know where the people came from; as we walked in surrender, He found ways and means to attract people to our meetings.”

The successive Wednesday prayer meeting outgrew venues and they ultimately started doing it at the St. Peter’s College Hall. The estimated attendance now is around 3,000. And the Prayer Meeting in Sinhalese at St. Mary’s Church Mabole is massive and proved that this community is having some sort of a deep relation with God. This meeting now attracts around 10,000 people every week. In addition, they conduct several other large scale prayer meetings at outstations such as Negombo, Wennappuwa and Kandy.

Thus the thirst to serve the Lord began. A wide spectrum of ministries sprang up and volunteers came forward to serve continuously. Many professionals, such as managers, accountants and technologists, give of their time and skills to streamline the ministries. The core group meeting now draws an attendance of around 300. The administrative office, ‘Tabor’ at Ishwari Road, is manned by several full timers.

They thus were blessed to witness a huge thirst for God among the catholic clergy in Sri Lanka and other countries as well.

Catholic priests and religious work together with outreach programs made people regularly attend their retreats. They, in April 2007, conducted a retreat for the priests of the Diocese of Kandy and witnessed a mighty anointing of power. They conducted a five day retreat for seminarians as well. Despite the retreat being organized exclusively for the OMI order, seminarians from other orders, made special requests and attended this retreat. Love and the thirst of young men who are about to be ordained Catholic Priests have seen the glory of God. It was an amazing experience of faith. Recently, the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Sri Lanka asked them to coordinate the National Priests’ Retreat for 2007. Around 300 Catholic Priests and 2 Bishops attended. Fr. Augustine Vallooran V.C. from the Divine Retreat Center, preached in this retreat. The Community of the Risen Lord said that those who were present claim that they had a “glimpse of heaven”.

Every week, The Community of the Risen Lord send its teams to several parishes all over the country to conduct programs. Their programs are not restricted to conducting retreats and prayer meetings. Talks and retreats are distributed through Audio Tape, CD, DVD and the Internet. “On our Knees” the book with the word of the Lord compiled of readings for each and everyday being published every month.

The programs such as Monthly Bible Studies, Journey Through the Scriptures, Scriptural Way of the Cross, Visits to Divine Retreat Center, and Tours (combined with a retreat) to the Holy Land also take place.

Witnessing an unprecedented outpouring of grace of the Lord Jesus is the core experience of this communion. Amidst the aftermath of a bloody war, in the midst of the uncertainities of economic turmoil, the Lord is reaching to the people by touching their lives. And yet again confirming that true joy and peace does not lie in favourable circumstances. Simply being in God’s presence and touching His heart in worship will do everything.


Christianity in Sri Lanka in the 5th - 6th century AD

Much respected archaeologist and epigraphist Professor Senarat Paranavitana, in his book ‘The Story of Sigiri’ (published in 1972) categorically states that Christianity prevailed in the Anuradhapura kingdom during the reign of Kings Dhatusena, Kasyapa and Moggallana, who reigned from 459 AD to 512 AD.

In his book he reveals the following:

(1) Dhatusena became the King of Ceylon in 459 AD - (Pg. 13). Dhatusena and his Murunda soldiers came in seventy five ships from the Port of Mangalapura (Mangalore, India) and disembarked at Salavata (Chilaw), and thereafter advanced to the capital city of Anuradhapura - (Pg. 16). (2) The majority of the Murunda soldiers and captains that Dhatusena brought from the Pundra country (India) to wrest Ceylon from the Kalabhra rulers were Christians. These Murunda people had fled their homes in Persia and come to the Pundra country because of the persecution of Christians and Manicheans by the Sessanian kings of Persia - (Pg. 43).

(3) Dhatusena’s sister Samgha was married to the Murunda General, Migara and they lived in the Pallava kingdom (India).

After Migara embraced Christianity his wife too embraced the same religion, and both of them made a great effort to propagate Christianity in the Pallava kingdom - (Pgs 44, 45).

(4) As the king of the Pallava kingdom wanted to get rid of him (even kill him) because of his efforts to propagate Christianity, General Migara and his wife, son and daughter finally settled down in Anuradhapura. Their son, Migara (Junior) married King Dhatusena’s daugher, and their daughter married Prince Kasyapa - (Pgs 45, 46).

(5) During the reign of King Kasyapa, a Shrine dedicated to Christ was built by General Migara (Junior). Christ was referred to as ‘Abhiseka - Jina’. ‘Abhiseka’ is the translation into Pali of the Greek word ‘Christos’, and ‘Jina’ means Conqueror. Therefore, ‘Abhiseka - Jina’ means the Anointed Conqueror - (Pg.94).

(6) When King Kasyapa refused to allow privileges exceeding those enjoyed by the Buddha image at Abhayagiri to the Christian Shrine built by Migara (Junior), he is said to have remarked “We shall know about it in the Kingdom of the Lord.” By the last expression, the Kingdom of Christ appears to have been meant - (Pg. 94).

(7) A great effort was made by General Migara (Junior) for the propagation of Christianity during the reign of King Moggallana.

He was guided by a Christian Priest from Malabar, named Tomasa (Thomas). Highest privileges were given to the Shrine of Christ he built during the reign of King Kasyapa.

In the northern part of the city of Sigiri, he established a monastery called “The Monastery of the twelve principle disciples of Christ” and donated it to the Christian Church. He even set up the Christian emblem on the top of the Sigiri rock - (Pgs 94 and 102). To be continued


‘Integral religious education must be promoted in schools’

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith at Holy Cross College, Kalutara:

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith presided at the Annual Prize Giving of Holy Cross College Kalutara together with Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa on July 21.

Rev. Fr. Camillus Fernando, Rector Holy Cross College, Kalutara, together with the Rev. Fathers of the academic staff welcomed His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and other distinguished guests and accompanied them to main hall escorting the College band. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and the First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa were welcomed by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Rev. Fr. Camillus Fernando and the academic staff during the 2nd session of the Prize Giving. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne and Rector Rev. Fr. Camillus, received the guard of honour of the College Cadet Corps and thereafter second session of the prize giving continued.

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne addressing the gathering praised the contribution made by the Catholic Church in the sphere of education in Sri Lanka and highly appreciated the leadership and guidance of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith for the development of the schools and education in Sri Lanka.

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith addressing the gathering insisted on the integral religious formation of the school and value of learning all three languages in schools and outside in order to build up better relationships among all communities in Sri Lanka.

First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, distributed the awards for the students in who excelled the academic field.


Colombo Oblates commemorate founder’s 150th death anniversary

An aura of reverence pervaded the precincts of Fatima Church, Maradana, on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The occasion was the Solemnity of the 150th. Anniversary of the Heavenly Birth of St. Eugene De Mazenod, the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, was welcomed at the entrance to Fatima Church, and he hoisted the National, Papal and Oblate Flags. The Eucharistic Celebration commenced at 10.00 a.m. presided over by His Eminence, and the concelebrants were His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Norbert Andradi OMI, Bishop of Anuradhapura, and Very Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva OMI, Provincial Superior of Colombo Province.

Archbishops Emeriti, Most Rev. Dr. Nicholas Marcus Fernando and Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis, also graced the occasion.


Nun celebrates golden jubilee

On May 24, 1942, a little angel was born, the fourth in the family of Sembukutti Arachchige Don Hugo Appuhami and Urala Liyanage Don Ann Hamine. In a family of six, Nellie Helen bloomed like a lovely flower. Doing her A/Ls at Holy Cross College, Gampaha, she was encouraged to do higher studies by the then Principal Rev. Sister Euphamia. Thereafter, she was called to the service of the lord on January 4, 1959. She gave her vows as an Apostolic Carmel Nun in 1961 on July 20.

She joined the Colombo University in 1965, to do her degree in Physical Science. In 1969, she returned to where she began the journey and joined the Tutorial Staff of Holy Cross College. She was made the Superior of Lisieux Convent. She became the Principal of Holy Cross College in September 1974. Holy Cross had 835 students and just one building when she first started. She increased this to 3,400 students during 28 long years. Starting as a very young and inexperienced nun, while being the principal, she was supported by Vice Principal Mrs Diana Jayasundara at that time and all senior teachers. Sr. Nellie Helen can be called an educator in its truest and most precious sense. She celebrates her 50th Jubilee in her timeless service as a nun. “We, the students of Sister Nellie and at present the teachers of Holy Cross wish her God’s choicest blessings. Dear Sister, we may not come to you everyday and voice our thoughts, but our hearts beat with gratitude to you, every single time we hear Nathalie, the bell tower chiming in the College, echoing your service and love.

“Dearest Sister, we wish you God’s choicest blessings.....”


BOOK REVIEW

The Duwa Passion Play

Continued from 25.07.2011

They were so disappointed that they could not perform the Duwa Passion Play in 1838 with all the solemnity.

The elders of Duwa wanted to get Jokeenu Mestri to Duwa to repair the statue. As he was too old to travel, Jokeenu Mestri refused to come and instead sent his senior pupil. The pupil re-painted the statue with a mixture of gold. As a result the statue of Christ in Duwa appeared in a special gold tint not found in other statues of Christ. The significant statue of Christ in Duwa attracted more people to the Duwa Passion Play.

In 1939 when Fr Marcelline Jayakody OMI, became the parish priest of Duwa. The Duwa Passion Play was performed with the ages-old statues based on the ‘Dukprapthi Prasangaya’ written by Fr Jacome Gonsalvez. Fr Marcelline Jayakody recasted the Duwa Passion Play based on Dorothy Saeyer’s famous drama ‘Born to be a King’.

Fr Marcelline Jayakody was also bold enough to introduce human actors to all the scenes except for Christ, Mary and St John. He also composed all the hymns in the play, in addition to the traditional Pasan chants.

Since then the fame of Duwa’s colourful Passion Play spread far and wide. The Duwa Passion Play enacted with over 250 actors all drawn from the village hamlet of Duwa, at that time became the greatest Passion show in Asia. It was considered second in the world only the famous Passion Play at Oberamergau in West Germany performed once in a decade.

Bernard Srikantha, managed to get the original script of Fr. Marcelline Jayakody’s Duwa Passion Play. Bernard Srikantha had been an actor of the play enacted by Fr Marcelline Jayakody and an assistant director of the play. He has edited the script of Fr Marcelline Jayakody.

The book is dedicated in memory of the Father and the Mother of Fr Marcelline Jayakody. The book is divided into seven acts and they cover from taking Christ a prisoner and until His death.

It also contains a short biograph of Fr Marcelline Jayakody. This book would be loved by not only those interested in Passion Plays but by all who respect Fr Marcelline Jayakody.


 


The 199th annual meeting of the Ceylon Bible Society was held on Friday, June 24, 2011 at the CBS auditorium. From left are General Secretary Lakshani Fernando, Vice President Sriyangani Fernando, Commissioner Malcolm Induruwage, the Territorial Commander Salvation Army (chief guest), Bishop Emeritus Rt Rev Kenneth Fernando, Maj Douglas Wijesinha, President, Maalika de Silva and Rev Heshan de Silva.


A Jubilee Walk and Fair to mark the 150th jubilee year of St Mary’s Church, Nayakakanda Hendala was attended by a large gathering recently. The Walk and Fair was organized by the Parish Priest Rev Fr Mahendra Gunathilaka, assisted by his assistant priests, societies, sports clubs, schools and organizations connected to the mission. Picture by Nimal Perera


The statue of Mother Carmel in the Chilaw church was conducted in a procession on the streets to invoke blessings on fisherfolk fishing in the deep seas to enable them to net in a bountiful catch. Here Rev Father Pieter Boteju blessing the sea.

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