His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, The Archbishop of Colombo, addressing children at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka in Tewatte, reminded the children that they not only have an earthly mother but also a loving and caring Spiritual Mother. The dialogue-homily of His Eminence was a novel feature at the 67th Archdiocesan Children’s Day Celebration, held last Saturday March 7th 2015.
In answer to a question posed by a child who came up on stage during the homily, asked “Your Eminence, what message can we take home to our parents from the Children’s Day at Tewatte?,” His Eminence said, “My dear children, when you go home today, I want you to tell your parents that you have a Spiritual Mother, who loves and cares for you. She is none other than the Mother of Jesus.” The theme of Children’s Day was ‘A joyful child in a Christian family is with Mother Mary’.
Addressing the large gathering of children, His Eminence explained to the young ones, “Just as you talk freely with your own mothers when you come home from school and relate all what happened that day or break the good news of your examination results or other achievements in school, so too, you must talk to your Spiritual Mother, Mary and tell her all that you do or want to do or anything that bothers you. Being a loving and caring Mother, she will listen to your prayers.”
Concluding his dialogue homily during the Holy Eucharist His Eminence wanted the children to make a solemn promise to their Spiritual Mother. Those who promised to call their parents daily to recite the rosary were asked to demonstrate their willingness to do so, by a show of hands and all hands went up and one could only pray and hope that these children will keep their solemn promise and more importantly that their parents will take a lesson from their innocent children, who are now confident that they indeed have a Spiritual Mother who loves and cares for them. His Eminence went on to explain to them that it was at the foot of the cross on Calvary, when Mary the Mother of Jesus and the Apostle John, stood beside in great sorrow, Jesus said to His mother “Behold your son” and asked Mary to take John as her own son. To John, Jesus said “Behold your Mother” and asked John to take Mary as his own mother and from that day onwards Mary stayed with John. Since then, Mary has become our mother, Mary is your mother.
His Eminence said to them that the way to talk to our Spiritual Mother is through the recitation of the Holy Rosary. “That is why it is important for us to recite the Rosary everyday with your earthly mother and secondly you have a Spiritual Mother, in heaven. The dialogue homilies between students and Concelebrant Bishops in trilingual format was part of the novelty introduced at this year’s Archdiocesan Children’s Day. Several thousands of children from Sunday Schools and Colleges and Convents in the Archdiocese flock to Tewatta to spend the day at the feet of Blessed Mother in prayer.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who graced the occasion as the Chief Celebrant and the Auxiliary Bishops of Colombo, Their Lordships Bishop Dr. Maxwell Silva and Bishop Emmanuel Fernando were seen mingling freely with the children after the Holy Mass, talking to many of them and inquiring about their spiritual welfare and answering questions. This was yet another welcome feature of Children’s Day this year. Children rushed towards their Bishops with glee and flocked around talking, laughing and enjoying the company of their shepherds. Perhaps this welcome gesture on the part of the Bishops was undoubtedly an inspiration of our Holy Father Pope Francis whose love for children and his humility before humankind, be they big or small, has captured the hearts of one and all.
The day’s proceedings commenced with the recitation of the Holy Rosary by the children in all three languages, at the site of the Old Grotto followed by a colourful procession to the Basilica Shrine, carrying the beautifully decorated statue of our Blessed Mother. The children carrying colourful banners depicting the theme of the day and proudly bearing their Sunday School or college flags marched in the procession, singing hymns. On arriving at the venue of the Eucharistic Celebration, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith was accorded a warm welcome by the students, who presented a sheaf of beetle and worshipped their elders, in keeping with the custom of our motherland.
A banner competition was also held at the conclusion of the day’s proceedings and prizes were awarded to the best three banners which depicted the theme of the day. ( Report from Trevor Ludawyke )