Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Nov
  • 26

Bishop challenges people to share faith

Posted By November 26, 2013 | 1:40 pm | Lead Story #1
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By Tanya Connor

Imagine sharing your faith with someone without faith or church affiliation.
That’s what Bishop McManus asked of nearly 200 people who joined him for the closing of the Year of Faith, which focused on the new evangelization, among other priorities.
The Worcester Diocese closed the universal Year of Faith with Solemn Choral Vespers on Sunday – the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – at St. Paul Cathedral. The feast of Christ the King also closes the liturgical year.
In addition to hymns, Psalms and prayers, the service included the lighting of candles, censing with incense and blessing of musicians.
The paschal candle, a symbol of Christ, light of the world, was carried in procession, and other candles were then lit around the cathedral. Later, three deacons moved through the congregation, then stood around the altar, swinging the thuribles filled with incense. People and things are censed for purification and sanctification. The smoke from the incense symbolizes the prayers of the faithful drifting up to heaven.
Ray Yu, director of sacred music at St. Paul’s, said she requested the first-time blessing of parish musicians from the diocese.
“It’s the Year of Faith,” she explained. “I don’t think people realize all the time, prayers, studies, skills and dedication and discipline” musicians put in. “The Catholic Church has a really, really rich liturgical music tradition, so this is a good opportunity to recognize that this is a spiritual offering.” She noted that children and adults who sing or play instruments stood for Bishop McManus’ blessing.
In his homily, Bishop McManus asked listeners to suppose they brought someone unfamiliar with the faith to the night’s celebration. They might say: “We Catholics are celebrating our belief that Jesus Christ is the king of all creation and that everything that is has been created through this king and is held in existence by this king’s divine power.”
If the stranger asked who Jesus is, the Catholics might point to the crucifix and say: “There is our king, who reigns not from a throne of precious gold, but from the rough wood of the cross. Not only is Jesus the king of the universe; he is also the king of my heart and loves me with a love that knows no boundaries and no end.”
The bishop noted that the day’s Gospel was about the repentant thief asking Jesus, who was called King of the Jews on the cross: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The thief, through faith, was the first person to acknowledge the kingship of Christ, the bishop said. He realized that Christ alone leads to the kingdom of truth, love, holiness, grace, justice and peace.
The Year of Faith saw historic events. He said the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – who called for reflecting on the faith that places us in relationship with God – was an example of his faith and love for the Church. Then came the grace of humble Pope Francis, who brought joy and hope and invited the world to journey to God.
Pope Benedict said being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or lofty idea, but an encounter with a person, Jesus, Bishop McManus said. Pope Francis echoed that in closing the Year of Faith, speaking of the centrality of Christ and saying that when that center is lost, only harm can result.
Bishop McManus told those in attendance he hoped the Year of Faith strengthened and revitalized their faith and helped them place Christ at the center of their lives.