Sri Lanka – A Unique Experience

July 30, 2019
Source: fsspx.news

For a priest, Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world. The priory of the Society of Saint Pius X is situated in Negombo town (about 20 miles north of Colombo), one of the most Catholic areas in the country, and this allows the clergy of our society to feel something unique: to experience what it is to live in a Catholic society, a privilege that has almost disappeared from the face of the earth in our day and age. 

While driving north along the western coastline from Colombo (the capital city) one can see holy shrines or statues of saints nearly at every corner of a street. Negombo is very famous for that; there is even a three-meter-high statue of Christ the King right in the Town Hall compound to show that Negombo is a Catholic town. Two years ago, they inaugurated a statue of Our Lady at the top the main clock tower right in the town center with electronic display welcoming the visitors to “Little Rome”, Negombo’s nickname.

During the Christmas season, lovely Nativity scenes are set up on the road by the Catholic residents of Negombo with beautiful statues and artistic decorations.  No one would dare to vandalize such expressions of faith here, unlike in the once-great Catholic countries of Europe.

Although Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country, the Catholic Church is quite respected by the public authorities. This is due to the admirable work the foreign missionaries performed in the past in establishing excellent schools and hospitals and other charitable institutions. Because of that, the Catholic priesthood is held in high esteem.
 

For example, this can be seen in the fact that a Catholic priest is not allowed to queue up in a Government office building or in a bank. He is looked after immediately once he is in. In the bus, if all the seats are taken, someone would immediately give his seat to the priest coming in.

As a priest, you actually experience that Sri Lanka is very special even before coming to the country. For instance, after boarding a plane of the national air carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines, the crew will treat you in a particular way. They would often bring you a drink before take off, even if you are in economy class, and once the meal is about to be served, a nice air hostess would bring your tray before everyone else. Once you have disembarked at the Colombo airport, you won’t queue up at the Immigration counter, as an officer will invite you to have your passport stamped before all other travelers. 

On leaving the country, at the Colombo airport, there are special seats for the clergy (Buddhist and Catholic) and at the gate, a member of staff will invite the priest to board the plane first, with the VIPs, even if he is in economy class.

As another example from a few years ago, when a relic of Saint Anthony of Padua came to Sri Lanka, it was brought by plane aboard a Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft. For the occasion, Sri Lankan Airlines chose Catholics for the pilot and copilot. Moreover, the relic wasn’t put with the luggage but it was given a business class seat. When the relic arrived at the airport, it was welcomed with the same honors as a head of state. Outside the airport, Saint Anthony was placed on an official vehicle escorted to Colombo by the army and the police.  How many countries in this world would act in such a noble manner?

May God bless Sri Lanka and bring her to the Faith!

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