Catholic Free Press

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  • Apr
  • 17

Bishop praises priests for being ‘spiritual medics’

Posted By April 17, 2014 | 12:06 pm | Lead Story #2

By Tanya Connor

Priests are “spiritual medics” who meet, greet and embrace the people and gently lead them into the “field hospital” to be healed, Bishop McManus said.
He was referring to Pope Francis’ statement that the Church is not an elite country club intended for a select few, but more like a field hospital where the wounded can find healing and comfort.
Preaching at the chrism Mass Tuesday at St. Paul Cathedral, the bishop said that two liturgical actions performed there would symbolically reinforce the image of the Church as a field hospital. He would bless the oils used for the sacraments and the priests would renew their priestly promises to serve as pastors and doctors of souls. He also had jubilarians stand for recognition of significant anniversaries of ordination.
Through baptism a person is freed from original sin, which needs to be forgiven to establish “our personal relationship with God in Christ both for time and eternity,” Bishop McManus said. Also through baptism, individuals become members of Christ’s Body, the Church – that field hospital where the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, sustains them on their pilgrimage to heaven.
In the sacrament of baptism, the oil of catechumens and sacred chrism are used “as a means of healing us and rooting us deeply in the new life of Christ,” the bishop said.
The oil of the sick is used to anoint the ill and strengthen those weighed down by old age and infirmity, he said. He said it is a comfort to patients who have a serious disease or anxiety about an operation, and that faith leads them to believe they will be healed and strengthened.
Because the Church is a field hospital, it is imperative that priests bring this comfort to those who long for such an encounter with the Divine Physician, Bishop McManus said.
When ordained a priest, a man prostrates himself, expressing his willingness to surrender himself totally to the service of God’s people, Bishop McManus said. Then the bishop anoints his hands with sacred chrism, empowering him to offer Mass for the spiritual well-being of the living and the dead.
The priest is configured to Christ, who gave himself on the altar of the Cross “so that you and I might have life and have it in abundance,” the bishop said. “You and I” address the priest, “Father.”
In talking about the priests’ service, Bishop McManus paused and was silent. When he continued, he sounded a bit choked up with emotion.
He told listeners to “pray for them, support them, love them and to allow them to enter into your lives” so they can bring God’s healing.