‘I am N’
CHARLOTTE — Ongoing persecution of Christians in the Middle East should inspire us to "preach Jesus," Bishop Peter Jugis told his brother priests during the Chrism Mass April 11.
In his Chrism Mass homily directed to more than 90 priests of the Diocese of Charlotte, Bishop Jugis recalled the reality of what it means to be a Christian in our time, especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East who face persecution, even death. Most recently, at least 45 worshippers were killed when two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt were bombed during Palm Sunday liturgies. ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Bishop Jugis recalled efforts among people to show their solidarity with the innocent victims of violence in this war-torn part of the world, and he encouraged the priests to focus persistently on the core message of our faith: "Preach Jesus."
“It’s all about Jesus and the mission of salvation,” he said.
“Soon after ISIS began murdering Christians, wristbands began to be distributed bearing a simple, basic message,” he said. “Written on the wristband is the Arabic letter ‘N,' and the English translation (is) ‘I am N.’ In other words, ‘I am a follower of Jesus the Nazorean.’”
On the reverse side of the wristband, he continued, are the words: "I will not let them serve alone, I will not let them suffer in silence."
“A very simple message: ‘N,' which the Christians of the Middle East proudly proclaim but which ISIS had painted on the doors of the businesses and the homes where Christians reside, (marking them) for elimination.”
“A very simple message, ‘I am N,’ to show solidarity with the persecuted Christians of the Middle East, simply because they profess Jesus,” he said.
He paused, then continued, "Preach Jesus to your parishioners.”
The annual Chrism Mass is an opportunity for the priests of the diocese to concelebrate Mass with their bishop, renew their priestly promises to the Church and assist in the blessing of the oils.
The oils blessed during the chrism Mass are used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick, as well as for ordination of priests and the consecration of churches.
After Mass, deacons divided the blessed oils into smaller oil stocks that will be distributed to all 92 parishes and missions across the diocese for use in sacramental celebrations throughout the upcoming year.
— SueAnn Howell, senior reporter
Bishop Jugis talks about perscution in Middle East
At the Diocese of Charlotte Chrism Mass Bishop Peter Jugis talked about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The Chrism Mass is a gathering of the priests of the diocese as they begin their Holy Week Masses and services in observance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The comment came as the Bishop implored the priests to continually emphasize the central importance of Jesus in salvation.