ASIA/SRI LANKA – Day of indigenous clergy and contribution to the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) – “You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth and summoned from its far-off places, You whom I have called my servant, whom I have chosen and will not cast off”: is the theme of the special Day of the indigenous clergy inspired by the Biblical passage of Isaiah (Is 41,9) which, organized by the National Directorate of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Sri Lanka, will be celebrated tomorrow July 25 and intends to raise awareness on vocations to the priesthood and on the formation of young people on their path to priesthood. “You are my servant, chosen”, reads the poster drawn up by the Sri Lankan PMS and spread throughout the dioceses of the country. The faithful, despite the hard times marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, will attend (in a limited number) churches, gathering in prayer for indigenous vocations.
“The Day – explains to Agenzia Fides Fr. Basil R. Fernando, National Director of the PMS in Sri Lanka – will also be the occasion for the special national collection in favor of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle which, among the Pontifical Mission Societies, deals specifically with the life of Seminaries and formators”. “In this way – continues the Director – the whole Church in Sri Lanka intends to contribute to having at heart the formation of the clergy both in our nation, but also in all other countries of the world, with a universal horizon that is always that of the Catholic Church. We live in very difficult times, the wounds of disease, poverty, and indigence are making themselves felt, people suffer from the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic and many families have great difficulties for daily sustenance, today especially in the western part of Sri Lanka. Despite all this, faith pushes us to broaden our gaze, to consider those who suffer throughout the world, to pray and materially help the life of the Church and the formation of the ‘workers of the Lord’s vineyard’. For this reason, the 12 dioceses of the nation, which a month ago received an envelope from all the parishes to donate their offering, will contribute with their heart and with great sacrifice to the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, offering one’s contribution during the Eucharistic celebration tomorrow July 25”. The contributions collected will be destined above all to major and minor Seminaries to help the formation of future priests.
Alongside the collection, special prayers will be recited during mass so that more and more young people will respond to the call of the Lord, to become priests.
The Day of the Indigenous Clergy explicitly refers to the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, founded in France in 1889 thanks to the work of two women, Stephanie and Jean Bigard, with the idea of preparing and contributing materially and spiritually to evangelization, helping to develop in every nation with an indigenous clergy.
According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Catholic Church (2019) in Sri Lanka, out of a population of 21.8 million, Catholics are 1.6 million; there are 953 diocesan Catholic priests, while 580 are those belonging to religious congregations. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/7/2021)

Palm Sunday. March 28 The final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Palm Sunday.

March 28
The final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem* (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday.
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass’s colt (John 12:13-15)!”
The Sunday before Easter Sunday is celebrated as Palm Sunday and the worship services on Palm Sunday include a procession of the faithful carrying palms, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem, in which the faithful in song and gesture imitate the Hebrew children who went to meet the Lord singing “Hosanna.
In the Bible, the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John describe the events.
There is a special entrance at the beginning of each Mass, either simple or solemn. This includes a blessing of the palms and the gospel reading of the entrance into Jerusalem (Mathew: 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:12-16; Luke 19:28-40).
Palm branches are a widely recognized symbol of peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday. The use of a donkey instead of a horse is highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace. A king would have ridden a horse when he was bent on war and ridden a donkey to symbolize his arrival in peace. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem would have thus symbolized his entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.
The faithful have traditionally decorated their houses with the palms from Palm Sunday, and, in many countries, a custom developed of weaving the palms into crosses that were placed on home altars or other places of prayer. Because the palms are blessed, they are appropriately gathered at the church and incinerated to create the ashes that will be used in the following year’s Ash Wednesday observance.
Palm Sunday traditionally has two focal points. One is the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem just days before his arrest, trial and crucifixion. He was greeted with acclaim by residents, who placed branches of palm trees in his path, a sign of respect for an arriving messiah. Within a week, the people of Jerusalem were making a different cry: “Crucify him!”
The other focal point is the reading of the Passion Gospel, the entire story of Jesus’ final hours, beginning with his torment in the Garden of Gethsemane and concluding with his death on the cross and the placing of his body in a tomb. Thus the day usually is known as the Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday reminds us that He is King of our lives and that we need to honor Him as such. Those early disciples sang, hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (St. Matthew 21:9).
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest!”