Help the vulnerable, distribute rations for COVID hit this Christmas - Cardinal

Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has invited Catholics to look for the Child of Bethlehem among those afflicted by the COVID-19 in the country.

Issuing his Pastoral letter instructing Catholics on how they should celebrate Christmas this year under the trying conditions of the devastating Coronavirus pandemic, the Cardinal said: “We cannot celebrate Christmas with joy when lots of our fellow human beings suffer deprivation and poverty, insecurity and fear. At this time so specifically Christmas should lead us to a deep desire to find the Child of Bethlehem among all those who have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 nightmare,”Cardinal Ranjith says in his Pastoral Letter to His flock in the Archdiocese of Colombo.

Underscoring the fact that “Christmas is not just the celebration with its liturgical and religious trappings, nor the external manifestations of joy and festivity with gifts, decorations, memorabilia, etc”, His Eminence in His Pastoral Letter points out that “it is deeply spiritual and transformative event”.

The Archbishop Cardinal Ranjith, as the Chief Pastor, addressing His flock in His Letter says: “Everyone is encouraged to cut down as much as possible on external signs of celebration but make Christmas an occasion to pray for one another, especially the afflicted ones and to organise campaigns of material assistance to those especially in lockdown zones, Homes for

Elders, for Children’s Homes and other such institutions that care for others. I encourage all Parish Fathers to organize the distribution of dry rations on Christmas day to families that have no means of a regular income”.

While stressing the importance of family level celebrations, the Cardinal invites everyone to be mindful of those families around their neighbourhood who immensely suffer lack of basic needs. “Family-level celebrations are encouraged but always keeping in mind the families of neighbours who suffer want and hunger,” the letter said.

The Letter also draws the attention of the Heads of the State and calls upon those responsible to cut down money spent on external decoration and divert that money to those severely afflicted.

“We would like to request the Government to cut down on all external decorations, ceremonies for Christmas and to allocate those funds for the care of those in the lockdown zones, especially by providing them with dry rations for their subsistence.”

His Eminence has also called upon His flock to pray to the Blessed Mother for Maternal protection. “ It is important to pray for all those afflicted by this pandemic and to plead especially with the Blessed Mother who stands closely near the manger by her Divine Son and St. Joseph, to bless and protect all human beings from this disaster.”

The Pastoral Letter ends wishing everyone a joyful Christmas, “if it is celebrated faithfully, which means, more as a moment of profound interior conversion to God and a spirit of welcome into the manger of our hearts to the babe of Bethlehem, especially identified in the poor it would help us to fill our souls with divine joy, a joy that cannot be found in any simple merrymaking and external joy.

“May this Christmas be a humble and deeply spiritual search for that joy, a joy that comes from giving rather than taking, from loving rather than being loved, from believing rather than being with a heart that is filled with uncertainties and doubts, from sharing rather than hoarding and from serving rather than lording. May your Christmas be filled with such joy!”

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