By Tanya Connor
WORCESTER – “We live in a culture that is very short on mercy,” Bishop McManus told the clergy, religious and laity who filled St. Paul Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass Tuesday. Tabloids are plastered with people’s faults, shaming them.
But, the bishop said, our parishes must be places where priests and people repeat Jesus’ words: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, do not sin anymore.” (Jn 8:11)
At the Chrism Mass the bishop recognizes priests celebrating significant jubilees, leads all the priests in recommitting themselves to their ordination promises and blesses or consecrates the oils used for the sacraments.
After the Mass, representatives from parishes and other institutions throughout the diocese pick up the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Holy Chrism which will be used for their people in the year ahead.
Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop McManus were Bishop Reilly, Bishop Rueger, abbots of local monasteries and about 100 priests.
On Ash Wednesday Pope Francis commissioned and sent forth hundreds of priests as “missionaries of mercy” for the Year of Mercy, including three in the Worcester Diocese, Bishop McManus noted.
“It’s very appropriate that we should see all priests as missionaries of mercy,” he added. “Every priest is called to continue the saving mission of Christ” by proclaiming his Gospel and celebrating the sacraments.
In the Chrism Mass Gospel, Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives … and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Lk 4:18-19)
Bishop McManus also talked about sacraments as drawing people to Christ and helping them “encounter the face of mercy.”
The oil of catechumens and sacred chrism are used in the sacrament of baptism, through which a person is freed from original sin, and becomes a member of Christ’s body, the Church, Bishop McManus noted. He said the person receives the commission to introduce others to friendship with Jesus, the Savior. He or she is anointed with chrism because every Christian has a priestly ministry and is called to be an evangelizer.
The bishop said he uses chrism when he confirms youth and ordains priests, and that priests use the oil of the sick to anoint the sick and the dying, praying for their healing or entrance into heaven.
Pope Francis said every Catholic parish should be an oasis of mercy, Bishop McManus noted. Priests are to transform many neighborhoods and streets into such an oasis, where the corporal and spiritual works of mercy abound: the hungry are fed and the spiritually ignorant are taught the faith.
The greatest act of mercy was Jesus going to the cross and being raised from the dead for our redemption, Bishop McManus said. He noted that Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13)