Chrism Mass - Be young with the Holy Spirit!


28 March 2018 General Interest

It was a beautiful celebration of the Chrism Mass last night in a packed house at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara, with Bishop Peter A Comensoli and all the Clergy of the Diocese of Broken Bay.

The Holy Oils, Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick were blessed by Bishop Peter and the Oil of Chrism was consecrated. The Oils were then given to representatives from each of the 26 parishes in the Diocese of Broken Bay to take back to their parishes to be used throughout the year for baptisms, confirmations and anointing of the sick, to name a few.

In his homily, Bishop Peter said in this Year of Youth that we should all "be young with the Holy Spirit". He thanked the lay faithful of the Diocese for coming to his favourite Mass of the year.

The priests of the Diocese renewed their Priestly Promises they made at the time of their Ordination, as part of the Mass.

 Bishop Peter's Homily

Liturgical prayers tend to have a pattern to them. First, there is a declaration addressed to God, often linked to Christ’s mission. Then, there is the activating part of the prayer that’s doing all the work. Finally, there is an ‘implications’ clause, expressing the desired effect. When I come to consecrate the Oil of Chrism later in this evening’s Mass, the prayer follows this pattern of declaration; activation; implication. We will first hear of the place of oil in the history of salvation; then there is the actual blessing of the oil; and finally, there will be words about the role that Chrism has in our life of faith.

Of course, it is the activating part that really matters. It is where God goes to work. It goes like this: “Lord: Be pleased to sanctify with your blessing this oil in its richness, and to pour into it the strength of the Holy Spirit, with the powerful working of your Christ.” So, we learn that the sanctifying of the oil sets it apart for sacred uses, which strengthens the anointed with the Holy Spirit, who reflects the powerful effects of Christ’s saving work on the cross.

Christ himself told us of the purpose of having this strengthening of the Holy Spirit poured into us, when he quoted from Isaiah at the beginning of his mission. “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor … and to give them for ashes a garland; for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise.” This is the gift given to all the Baptised, and strengthened at Confirmation. Through the prayer of consecration, Chrism becomes for us God’s symbol of a Christian’s life: joyful, not dreary; gladdened, not overcome; praise-worthy, not downcast.

Our young people seem instinctively filled with these Godly signs of a true Christian. Despite the debilitating and fragmenting culture life throws at them, our younger generation – when allowed – can offer such a wonderful expression of a joyfully gladdened praise in God. We elder Christians would do well to turn to them for a reminder of how we are meant to look as Christ’s anointed: young, in the strength of the Holy Spirit!

Brothers, you who have been chrismated to act on God’s behalf among his people: you and I have had the strengthening of the Holy Spirit poured into us in a unique way. We were anointed with this oil of God’s gladness; we are now clothed with the garland of Christ’s joy; we have been designated in the Spirit as the servants of the servants of praise. Brothers, each one of us is sacramentally strengthened through the powerful working of Christ.

On this night when we humbly renew our priestly promises, let us recall our sacramental anointing. While at times each of us may feel covered in ash, or morning the loss of our youthful energy, or despondent about our present circumstances, nonetheless, our sacramental strengthening is fully present to us now. So, where might we find a garland of joy in our lives, and in the lives of those we serve? Where are there the signs of gladness for us to treasure, and for those we serve? And where is the liveliness of praise emanating from us, and from those we serve? May the Holy Spirit, who has poured into us his joy, gladness and praise, strengthened us in offering these gifts to God’s people.

I am confident that the activating words of the Chrism blessing will hold us all in good stead as the Church in Australia commences a synodal journey of faith this year. This journey will be one of walking together with God to discover the future he desires for us. But this national journey is also a local one. As the local Church of Broken Bay, how can we attentively listen to the Holy Spirit speaking into us? How might we discern with Christ the future ahead for us. These are good questions to ask as we begin to move towards a national assembly of God’s faithful in Australia in 2020, called a Plenary Council.

However, our first task is always one of prayer: that joy, gladness and praise are powerfully activated in us all, as we begin our local conversations later in the year. So, on this night when our local Church of Broken Bay gathers with the Lord, let me adapt the Chrism blessing and offer it as our common prayer tonight: “Lord, be pleased to sanctify us, the lay and ordained faithful of the Diocese of Broken Bay, with your blessing, and pour into us the strength of the Holy Spirit, with the powerful working of your Christ.” Amen.

Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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