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Catholic publication spreads message of peace

Booklet presents non-traditional biblical message

  • ucanews.com reporter, Chilaw
  • Sri Lanka
  • January 19, 2012
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Catholic faithful in Sri Lanka are marking a milestone for a publication that they say has enhanced their faith and helped spread the message of the Gospels.

Using the writings and reflections of ordinary laypeople, the Sudathum Gamana (Walk in the Spirit) bulletin, published by the Catholic Renewal Movement, directs readers to change their society and move it towards communion with God.

The bulletin, which began publication 25 years ago and will this year mark its 300th edition, is rooted in the promotion of love between all people, respect for the environment, the support of human rights, discouraging drug use and social reconciliation, among other messages.

“It is not just a booklet that provides daily Bible readings and reflections. It helps the reader to understand his or her responsibilities towards society and God. It calls for social action,” said Nihal Fernando, a member of the Catholic Renewal Movement.

He added that the booklet also raises awareness of citizens’ rights and duties in a democratic society.

“The booklet reaches places like the Middle East, Australia and countries in Europe where Catholic Renewal Movement communities are,” he said.

Fernando said demand for the booklet, which sells for 12 rupees (about US$0.10) and is published in Sinhala, Tamil and English, has been brisk, with the number of monthly copies published expected to double from its current press run of 30,000.

The publication has also helped young people engage with the message of scripture, says 26-year-old Jeewani Dias from the Archdiocese of Colombo.

“Usually youngsters don’t read the Bible, let alone reflect on it,” she said.

“In this respect the Sudathum Gamana is doing a great service. I have friends who start the day by reading it first. I know people who have got inspiration through the booklet to give up bad habits, like drinking, smoking and drugs.”

Sudesh Chamara, 19, from Negombo in Colombo archdiocese, says it is challenging to interest young people in the Bible.

“You just can’t expect boys and girls to read the Bible or attend Church services regularly, as they are more attached to the internet, Facebook and Skype,” he said.

“So the booklet can be very handy to keep them informed about religion. I know people who carry the booklet in their handbags and traveling bags to read it on public buses, trains and at their places of work.”

Offering more than just far-fetched theological teachings the booklet, says Francis Paul from the coastal diocese of Chilaw, offers practical guidelines for daily living.

“We just don’t write them,” said Paul, who has contributed to Sudathum Gamana for nearly 20 years.

“We get the daily Bible readings well in advance. We read them, pray over them, discuss them with others, and then only write the reflections. That’s why I think the booklet appeals to people.”

The booklet’s mission fits nicely with the archdiocese’s designation of 2012 as the “Year of the Word of God.”

Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith praised the work of Sudathum Gamana in a message included in the most recent edition.

“At a time when the need for people living the fullness of Christian life is becoming vital, the role played by the booklet in moving towards this goal is indeed praiseworthy.”
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