400 priests renew vows at chrism Mass

SOUTH END -- Like Jesus, priests are called to be suffering servants, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley told hundreds of priests at the Archdiocese of Boston’s annual chrism Mass on April 3.

Over 400 priests renewed their vows and the commitment to their vocation at the Mass during which the cardinal blesses the oils to be used for confirmation, ordination and anointing of the sick in the coming year.

Joining the cardinal at the Mass were regional Bishops Emilio Allué, John Dooher, Walter Edyvean, Robert Hennessey and Francis Irwin as well as retired regional Bishop John P. Boles. Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios was also present.

Cardinal O’Malley began the homily by greeting Metropolitan Methodios and thanking him for attending the Mass. The cardinal mentioned that he would be attending the Easter Vigil Mass at the Greek Orthodox church. The tradition of visits during Holy Week is a sign that both communities seek to work toward unity, he said.

The cardinal went on to speak about Christ, the suffering servant, who invites His disciples to follow Him. Two of the disciples mistakenly seek to be the first, and Christ explains that His followers must be servants and will drink from His chalice. The disciples quickly agreed to do so, not understanding that it was the cup of suffering to which Jesus referred, he said.

Like Jesus’ disciples, priests answer the call to follow Christ without fully understanding where He will lead them, he said.

“We had no idea that we were being called to be priests in the most challenging time in the history of the Church in our country,” he said.

Cardinal O’Malley recalled a terrible hurricane that struck the West Indies when he served there. The hurricane flattened most of the churches, schools and rectories. The people survived on coconut milk and peanut butter. They were without water, phones or electricity for six months, he said.

“‘What can be worse than all this,’ I thought at the time. Now I just say, ‘Give me a good hurricane any day,’” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

The cardinal encouraged the priests gathered in the cathedral to conform their lives to the mystery of the cross and not fear suffering.

“Fear of the cross is what makes us mediocre,” he said.

The only thing a priest should fear is not loving enough, not loving as Christ loved, he added.

“Let us never forget Jesus’ words. ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many.’ In giving your lives you are part of that ransom,” he said.

Following the homily, the priests renewed their commitment to priestly service.