"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)


St. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, SJ: “My Life Is An Extended Mass”

Second Saint of Chile
Today we commemorate the life of St. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, SJ of Chile. His life brings a sober ring as regards the true meaning of holy anointing as explained by Pope Francis during his first Chrism Mass in 2013. I quote,
... God’s “anointed ones”... the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God’s faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed... A fine image of this “being for” others can be found in the Psalm: “It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe” (Ps 133:2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe... 
When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction,” they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord... 
To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples–future priests–see or understand: on the “existential outskirts,” they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.
This mantra appears to be the guiding star for the Chilean’s saintly life: ser otro Cristo, “to be another Christ.” He had a soft spot for all the people that Jesus loved namely the abandoned and left behind in the fringes of society. Pope Benedict XVI said of Father Hurtado: “The objective of his life was to be another Christ. He experienced the pain of others as his own, and this propelled him toward a greater dedication to the poor.” His writings reveal how the Mass became such a passionate moment in his daily life and the culmination of Christ's sacrificial love. In a reflection titled “My Life Is an Extended Mass,” he claims that, in addition to offering Jesus’ body as a sacrifice to God the Father at the eucharistic table, we also enjoin “our personal immolations, offering our work and difficulties... participating personally in the victimhood of Jesus Christ.” His deep sense of service, activism and selfless witnessing flowed from such intimate spiritual life–a serious sense of Christ’s being with the poor. On October 19, 1944 he created the Hogar de Cristo (Home of Christ), a Chilean public charity. He would say: “Christ doesn’t have a home! Don’t we want to give him one?” These words are the sign that Father Hurtado's anointing has flowed down to the edges of his robe.

During his beatification, St. Pope John Paul II said, “Can the Spirit raise up apostles of the stature of Father Hurtado in these our days as well, men who show the vitality of the church by their self-sacrificing witness.” Pope Francis, like his predecessors, a Latin American Jesuit like Father Hurtado, makes the same clarion call to all who acknowledge themselves as pastors to accompany the poor both personally and structurally. "This is a clear test," the Pope says, "when our people are anointed with the oil of gladness." The priest's anointing must serve like a leaven and libation for human sufferings especially of the poor. This is what he offers to God in every Mass in order to be transfigured. Thus, like Father Hurtado, we are called to be another Christpoor with Christ's poor and suffering with Christ's suffering with them. Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

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