Cardinal O’Malley urges optimism, seeing the good

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley addressed nearly 2,000 religious officials and Catholic students at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Tuesday, urging them to see God in each other and to avoid pessimism, according to prepared remarks.

During the Mass, which is held in preparation for Easter, the cardinal blesses oils to be used for sacraments in the coming year. Religious figures in the Archdiocese of Boston will preside over about 20,000 baptisms, 15,000 confirmations, 15,000 anointings, and nine ordinations in the year ahead.

“It is our priests and bishops and, in some cases, our deacons who will administer these sacraments,” O’Malley said in his homily in Boston’s South End. “Your service, your generosity, your holiness is what brings the sacraments to our people and what makes the sacraments available.”


During this annual gathering, the cardinal and all priests in attendance renew the promises they made when they were ordained, said Terrence Donilon, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston.

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In his homily, O’Malley recounted his own beginnings in the religious vocation.

“When I entered the seminary, I was a nerdy kid, but I wanted to become a spiritual Rambo in the jungles of Papua New Guinea,” he said. “Idealism and sacrifice are attractive to young men.”

O’Malley urged worshipers to keep such idealism in mind as they go forth in their parishes this year. He reminded his audience to make parishes environments of “living communion and participation.”

“The Holy Father urges us to say ‘no to pessimism,’ ” he said. “The Holy Father reminds us: Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand.”


Before blessing the oils, O’Malley paused, taking time to acknowledge Tuesday’s commemoration of the anniversary of the Marathon bombings, Donilon said.

He led his audience in prayer for the victims, and said he was privileged to take part in the morning’s wreath-laying ceremony on Boylston Street.

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera