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In his homily for the Mass of Holy Chrism, celebrated this year on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 14th September 2020, at Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Vincent  spoke of the unusual circumstances that have made it impossible for a 'great gathering of priests... accompanied by love and prayers given to and for our priests by so many faithful disciples of Jesus'. Yet, despite the lack of this visible sign, 'We are bound together in Christ Jesus by the power of his Holy Spirit' in an 'unbreakable, unshakable bond'.

It is a bond that gives us 'access to the very life of God' and 'to the mercy and forgiveness of God when we repent'. It also gives us 'a purpose and a mission, a share in his mission, which the world cannot find of itself and yet so evidently needs.'

He explained: 'Among the strongest and most powerful ways by which the Lord binds us to himself are the sacraments of the Church. And these Sacred Oils, blessed today, are the most effective and creative signs of that work of salvation.'

Today, he said, 'is our day of rejoicing in the great gifts of the Sacraments. It is a day to remind us all to return to these well-springs of true life, despite our current anxieties, and fears, and the practical difficulties we face.'

It is also 'a special day of joy for all of us privileged to share in this presbyteral ministry of the Lord'. During the Chrism Mass, priests renew their vows to serve the people of God which they first made at their ordination.

The Cardinal then blessed the Holy Oils to be used in the Sacraments throughout the diocese in the coming months, including the Oil of Catechumens used to anoint those who are to be baptised, the Oil of Chrism used to anoint those who are to be confirmed or ordained, and the Oil of Infirmans used to anoint the sick.

The Chrism Mass is ordinarily celebrated during Holy Week, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Usually, most of the priests of the diocese would gather together with the Cardinal and Bishops in the cathedral for the celebration, witnessed by many of the lay faithful who come to pray for their priests. This year, only the deans and the Provost of the Cathedral Chapter joined the Cardinal and Bishops and a small, socially distanced congregation, with all invited to watch the live stream.

Photos: Mazur/