09/08/2016, 18.29
SRI LANKA
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Tewatte: celebrating the Nativity of Mary, "our guide in sufferings"

by Melani Manel Perera

The faithful filled the shrine from the early hours of the morning. Mass followed the rosary, litanies and novena. In his homily, Fr Priyadharshana mentioned that "we have to ask Our Lady to give us the strength to bear our crosses as she did, without rejecting them."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Catholics from all parts of Sri Lanka flocked today to the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka in Tewatte, north of Colombo, on the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The shrine filled up from the early hours of the morning, and at 9 am community prayers began with the recitation of the rosary, the litanies and the celebration of Mass. Fr Victor Florence Jayammane, administrator of the basilica, Fr Ranjan Priyadharshana and other priests presided the Eucharist.

Mary’s "birthday” was also celebrated with the recitation of the 150th novena. Participants prayed for the Church in Sri Lanka, for men and women religious, the young and the sick. At the end of the novena the faithful received the blessing before a large statue of Our Lady, in front of the altar.

Mary’s life, Fr Priyadharshana said in the homily, "is very similar to our lives. We always experience pain, sadness, and frustration. Our Mother too – despite being the mother of God – faced the same things. Although the angel that day announced she would become the most important woman among women, she had to face the cross and pain. Eventually she received the dead body of Jesus, but she was able to go beyond suffering. "

“We usually ask Mother Mary to remove all our pain, our suffering, our crosses,” said the clergyman. “Instead we should ask her to give us the strength and the patience needed to bear all these crosses as she did, without rejecting them. "

The Basilica of Tewatte, consecrated in 1974, is Sri Lanka’s most important Marian shrine. Even Pope Francis spoke of the Virgin venerated there during the visit of some Sri Lankan faithful to the Vatican.

A married couple from the parish of Wattala (north of Colombo) was also present in the church. "This place has something very special,” they said. “It gives a fullness of love to the mind. For this reason, we are always drawn to come here on Mary’s special occasions."

"I usually come here to pray,” said Ravi Nonis, an elder from Enderamulla parish (near Wattala). “I always get a lot of consolation from Mother Mary. I do not go to Mass regularly, but I come to find Amma (Mother) and I pray the rosary every day and recite a special hymn to Mary. "

After the Mass, the priests and some religious came together to cut Mary’s birthday cake and sing "Happy Birthday" to the Mother of God.

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