March 26, 2013 // Uncategorized

Recalling a love for the poor at Chrism Masses

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blesses the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and consecrated the Holy Chrism oil during the Chrism Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend on Monday, March 25.

By Tim Johnson

FORT WAYNE — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ushered in Holy Week with a Mass Palm Sunday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and celebration of Chrism Masses in both South Bend and Fort Wayne.

At the Chrism Mass, celebrated Monday in South Bend, and Tuesday in Fort Wayne, the bishop spoke of the renewed hope, in the last few weeks, for the New Evangelization.

“Our new Holy Father chose the name of the poor and humble saint of Assisi, St. Francis, the one called by Jesus to rebuild His Church,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In these past 11 or 12 days, we have all learned of Pope Francis’ simplicity of life as archbishop of Buenos Aires, as well as of his love and compassion for the poor of his former archdiocese.”

Thinking of the poor, the pope thought of Francis of Assisi, the saint of poverty and peace. Pope Francis told journalists that he thought: “How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!” And so he chose the name “Francis.”

Bishop Rhoades noted, “The Lord, through Pope Francis, is calling us to follow Christ on the path of the Gospel, to be detached from earthly goods and generous in sharing these goods with others.”

Speaking of the renewed hope for the Church, a renewed hope for the New Evangelization, Bishop Rhoades said, “But we must keep in mind that any genuine renewal requires conversion, as happened in the life of Francis of Assisi.”

“Any true renewal of the Church can be set in motion only through its members, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity truly living as the community of God’s poor,” Bishop Rhoades added. “This does not mean purely material poverty. It means that we are a people who trust in God’s goodness, who seek first the kingdom of God, who find our true treasure in God and not in the things of this world.”

“The truly poor Church is a humble community, animated by the goodness of Christ to serve others in self-giving love,” he said.

The New Evangelization calls “all of us to listen anew to the word of God, to be deepened in our faith in Christ, which invigorates us and ignites within us and within the whole Church the dynamism needed for the New Evangelization,” Bishop Rhoades said.

At the Chrism Mass, rich in meaning, priests publicly renew their promises and manifest their communion with the bishop.

Bishop Rhoades said, “To be authentic witnesses and ministers of the Gospel, we must strive to make the Church ‘the home of the poor.’”

He said this begins with simplicity of life, interior detachment from wealth and possessions. It involves personal generosity toward those in need.

“We have heard often about the Church’s preferential option for the poor,” Bishop Rhoades said. “This must not be a mere platitude or slogan. It is something that must be lived and practiced. We must renounce all greed and reject whatever appears to be luxurious, living a simple life-style. If we are to preach Good News to the poor, we must first cultivate within ourselves the Gospel spirit of poverty, translated into our own sharing with those in need.”

He recalled how the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches “the Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, His brethren.”

At the Mass, Bishop Rhoades blessed the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and consecrated the Holy Chrism oil.

Palms were distributed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Palm Sunday, March 24.

On Sunday, Bishop Rhoades celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass began with a procession of the faithful gathering for a blessing of palms on the plaza area on the cathedral.

Bishop Rhoades recalled in his homily how Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, a young donkey. Bishop Rhoades spoke of the significance of this and how it related to the Old Testament prophecy in the book of Zechariah that a king would come to Jerusalem, humbling riding a colt, to establish a dominion of peace.

“By acting out Zechariah’s prophecy, Jesus wants to convey that He is entering Jerusalem as a king, but a king who is not establishing his reign by force of arms,” Bishop Rhoades said. “He enters Jerusalem as a king who brings peace.”

The people, he said, recognized Jesus’ kingship. “On this day, as we begin Holy Week, we also profess the Kingship of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Rhoades said.

He added, “Our Christian life is truly an ascent, a climb, so to speak, to the true heights of being human. Jesus walks before us towards the heights. He shows us the way. He is the way. He leads us to the healthy air of the heights, to what is great and pure. “

“Rather than floundering in the depths of sin and falsehood and self-centeredness, when we follow Jesus, we are led to truth and goodness and life,” Bishop Rhoades said, “He leads us to love. He leads us to the Father. He leads us to the definitive Jerusalem, to salvation, to perfect happiness.”

Bishop Rhoades encouraged the faithful to participate in the liturgies of Holy Week, to “to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection through prayer.”


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