English Magazine

Mary at Cana prefigures Mary at Calvary

The wedding feast at Cana is not to be understood in isolation. It prefigures the paschal mystery especially the definitive and perfect manifestation of His glory in the resurrection. In the Gospel of St. John not just the resurrection but the entire paschal mystery - the passion, death and resurrection is called our Lord’s exaltation or being “lifted up.” Thus He is manifested as Lord God: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He” (= God, divine) (Jn 8:28). Cana is to be interpreted in the context of our Lord’s “hour,” the hour that had “not yet come”.
The first indication of this key to interpretation occurs in the opening and closing words of the story of Cana.: “and on the third day... He manifested His glory” (John 2:1,11), thus prefiguring the perfect manifestation of His glory in His “hour”. (In the Gospel of John, the first twelve chapters are called “the book of signs” while the rest is called “the book of the hour/ glory.” Thus chapter 13 begins with the hour and the book ends with resurrection in chapters 20-21.) 

 Wine as a symbol of the Holy Spirit

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Mary Exemplar of Our Faith

“Blessed is she who believed” Luke 1/45

Let me begin this reflection on Mary as exemplar of our faith with a story told by Cardinal Suenens. It seems Father Karl Rahner was asked why there has been a decline in devotion to Mary. Father Rahner’s reply was most interesting. He said that all Christians, Catholics and protestants alike, who face the common temptation of turning the central truth of the faith into abstractions and abstractions have no need of mothers” (cf. Cardinal Suenens, “Mary in the World of Today”, L’Osservatore Romano. June 15,1972).

Today we still face the temptation to reduce the faith to a series of abstractions. In teaching, in pastoral practice, in confronting social evils, the Church must be vigilant lest her living Faith be reduced to a mere intellectual or mythical system, to any ideology, to “the spirit of the age”. The sorrowful Mother and the beloved disciple did not come to Golgotha to consider theories about mercy and Redemption:

His Lordship Dr. Marius Peiris
Auxiliary Bishop &
Vicar General

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“Let us give with wisdom to the youth: like good wine that improves with age, let us give the youth the wisdom of our lives”.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, a Jesuit, was elected the 266th Pope on March 3, 2013, and took the name Francis. His election came on the first day of the Conclave on the Conclave’s fifth ballot.

Pope Francis is a priest of holiness and tremendous modesty, a man who until his election, had taken the bus to go for work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums in Argentina. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential concern of the Church.

The people and their bishop

In his first public oration to the crowds at the Loggia of the Basilica he said, “I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome has its Bishop. Thank You”. He went on to say, “And now let us begin this journey: Bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of brotherhood, of love, of trust between us”.

“And now I would like to give you a blessing. But first, I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord that He bless me – the prayer of the people, asking a benediction for their Bishop. Let us say in silence this prayer, over me”.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of goodwill. (Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing ‘Urbi et Orbi’ – To ‘The City and to the World’). 

Sharing wisdom

Pope Francis, in his first meeting with the Cardinals, told them “Courage, dear brothers!

Probably half of us are in our old age. Old age, they say, is the seat of Wisdom. The old ones have the wisdom that they have earned from walking through life, like old Simeon and Anna at the Temple whose wisdom allowed them to recognize Jesus”. 

Let us give with wisdom to the youth: like good wine that improves with age, let us give the youth the wisdom of our lives”. He was addressing the entire College of Cardinals, (in the Clementine Hall), both electors and non-electors.


The Church in today’s world

At a later date, he addressed representatives of the Communications Media in Rome. He said the role of the mass media has expanded immensely in these years, so much so that they are an essential means of informing the world about the events of contemporary history.

Historical events almost always demand a nuanced interpretation which at times can also take into account the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly no more intricate than political or economic events!

But they do have one particular underlying feature: they follow a pattern which does not readily correspond to the “worldly” categories which we are accustomed to, and so it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wider and more varied public.

The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, the Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church’s life and activity. 
Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without Him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist.

We have something in common, the Church exists to communicate precisely this: Truth, Goodness and Beauty “in person”. It should be apparent that all of us are called not to communicate ourselves, but this existential triad made up of truth, beauty and goodness. 

I love all of you very much, I thank you for everything you have done. I pray that your work will always be serene and fruitful, and that you will come to know better the Gospel of Jesus and the rich reality of the Church’s life. I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization. 

Shame and confession

In a homily delivered on April 29, 2013, Pope Francis said the Sacrament of Confession does not work like a dry cleaner, but is a moment in which Jesus imparts His peace. “Jesus in the confessional is not a drycleaner; it is an encounter with Jesus but with this Jesus who waits for us just as we are”, he said.

“We are often ashamed to tell the truth, but shame is a true Christian virtue, and even human.” Pope Francis taught that being ashamed of sins is “not only natural, it’s a virtue that helps prepare us for God’s forgiveness.” 

Gender issues

The media at times tend to distort what the Holy Father says, they twist his words and make them sensational. One clear image that comes to mind is that of the Pope’s conversation with reporters on his flight back to Rome from Rio. The screaming headlines said “Pope Francis: Who Am I to Judge Gays”.

One of their articles had the subtitle, “Pope answers questions on the possibilities of gay and women priests”………..as if there were such possibilities. In fact Pope Francis spoke most clearly and firmly about the possibility of women priests saying, “The church has spoken on this matter. The door is closed”.

When it comes to people with same sex attraction, Pope Francis simply re-affirmed the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that homosexual people are not to be treated badly in any way, but welcomed as all are welcomed. However, homosexual actions remain objectively disordered and sinful.


On Pro-life

On September 20, 2013, Pope Francis addressed a large number of Catholic doctors who attended the Matercare International Conference in Rome. In a clear reference to the contraceptive mentality which is so prevalent in modern society, he quoted the encyclical ‘Caritas in Veritate’. “Openness to life is at the centre of true development”.

He added, “There is no true development without this openness to life. If one loses the personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.”

In relation to abortion, he said, “A widespread mentality of utility, the ‘culture of waste’, which now enslaves the hearts and minds of many, comes at a very high cost: it requires the elimination of human beings, especially those who are physically or socially weaker. Our response to this mentality is a decided and unhesitating ‘yes to life’.

The Pope then quoted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion. “The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some of them are very precious, but life is the fundamental good before all others”.

The Pope added, “Many times, we find ourselves in situations where we see life being devalued. For this reason, in recent years attention to human life in its totality has become a real priority of the Magisterium of the Church, particularly in regard to the most defenceless, that is, the disabled, the sick, the unborn, the child, the elderly, those whose life is most defenceless.

He called on the Catholic doctors and medical services, including hospitals, to be outspoken witnesses for the “culture of life”. 

He said, “being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, for the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognize the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception.

“This is a commitment to the new evangelization that often requires going against the current, paying the cost in person. The Lord counts on you to spread the ‘Gospel of Life”.

Start by giving

At the time of writing, it is some seven months since Pope Francis assumed office. It is near impossible to chronicle all of his sayings, thoughts and reflections. He is a simple man, following the virtues of Christianity. He has an unquenchable thirst for the poor, the marginalized and down trodden.

He was once reported to have asked a person at the confessional, “Do you give alms to the poor, if not, why not ?”.

Let us continue to listen to his words and emulate them.

Victor Melder, Australia


Happy Birthday!


denotes ‘fostering of the faith’

“ I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Welcome to the maiden  publication of Bhakthi Probodhanaya in English. With a history spanning over acentury of nurturing generation upon generation in the Christian faith, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Sri lanka, have launched the English counterpart of their magazine thus filling a longfelt need among its readership.

Bhakthi Probodhanaya has been in the vanguard of shaping and propelling a holistic Christian spirituality. The magazine therefore, focusses on the human being in its social as well as physical environment and the interaction therein, with a strong leaning towards social justice. The articles written by both the religious and the laity are drawn from their relevant field of expertise and reflection and cater to a cross-section of taste and interests. 

Reviving the faith and fervour of Christians, as the name implies, this magazine is particularly oriented to the spiritual wellbeing of the entire family. While buttressing and sustaining the faith of elders, Bhakthi Probodhanaya endeavours to motivate children and young adults to read for spiritual edification, reflect on their own experience and share their interests and insights with peers through the magazine. 

Each issue of the magazine is woven round a theme of topical interest. The unequivocal choice for the very first English issue of Bhakthi Probodhanaya was Mary. It is not the first time Mary has been chosen. Beginning with the Annunciation, to the foot of the Cross and down the ages, Mary has been chosen by God and human beings to be the bearer of Jesus to His Church. Mary is in the very bosom of the Oblates, from whom they derive their Congregational name and vocation. Mary is also the centre of controversy among the many Christian sects. The confluence of liturgical, congregational and doctrinal implications in the choice of theme is indeed opportune.

The pilgrim Church is once again in need of  regeneration. Mired in scandal and obfuscatory teachings, the Church looks to Mary to make her Magnificat its own song, to herald reversals in every sphere of life. The Church looks to Mary at the marriage feast of Cana, for the moral fortitude to initiate and impel efforts of social emancipation and spiritual regeneration. Most importantly, the Church looks to Mary standing at the foot of the Cross, for the faith and courage to endure the desolation, pain and ignominy that attend those efforts, walking in the Way of her Son.

Read, reflect, restore! 

Bakthi Prabodanaya has a record of being the pioneer magazine published in our country........

Bhakthi Prabodanaya has a record of being the pioneer magazine published in our country, Sri Lanka, publishing its first issue in January 1899. It has continued its monthly publication for the past one hundred and fourteen years successfully with the blessings of the Good Lord.

The main features of this magazine are based on the doctrine of the Church, on various aspects of the Christian faith, prayer, morality and ethics. The content also includes a variety of subjects relevant to all the members of the family, especially keeping in mind the interests of the children. Thus it has become a much loved magazine in our Christian homes, all over the country.

Bakthiprabodanaya, is sold at a nominal price as it is financially supported by the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It is highly commendable to note that they are now venturing into publishing the magazine in the English language, bi-monthly, in order to gain a wider readership amongst the faithful and also to commemorate the Marian Year which will commence on 24th November 2013. I am sure that this too would be a success with the help of Our Blessed Mother. While appreciating your efforts to publish this magazine, I wish you all God’s abundant blessings and the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit to continue to spread the Word of God for many more years to come.

Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka
+ His Eminence 

A Dream that the Oblates had...

Publishing Bakthi Prabodanaya in English was a dream that the Oblates had, and I am happy that today, this dream has been realized due to the initiative taken by Fr. Dilan Perera OMI, the present Editor of Bakthi Prabodanaya in Sinhala. 

would like to congratulate those who 
have taken up this challenge along with 
Fr. Dilan and have pledged their support 
to make Bakthi Prabodanaya available to 
the English speaking community. I am 
sure that the readers will appreciate and 
benefit immensely from this endeavour.
The fast changing society of today 
offers us a number of opportunities as 
well as challenges. Bakthi Prabodanaya 
takes up these challenges and responds to 
them from our faith perspective. It also 
highlights the opportunities that are 
offered and encourages the faithful to 
bear witness to the message of Love in 
their daily life. 

Our prayer and wish is that the 
publication of Bakthi Prabodanaya in 
English would capture a wider reader 
base and help English readers to enter 

into a faith journey full of joy and hope.
God bless you !

Very Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva OMI
Provincial Superior
Oblates of Mary Immaculate


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