Cardinal Vincent celebrated the Chrism Mass for the diocese at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday 22 March. The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus, the Most Reverend Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio, Auxiliary Bishops John Sherrington, Nicholas Hudson, Paul McAleenan and John Wilson and priests of the diocese, with deacons, seminarians and parishioners.
Cardinal Vincent began his homily by thanking priests, who renewed their priestly promises at the Mass, for their ‘generous service’ and prayed that ‘many more men will respond to the call of the Lord and give their lives in his service in the ordained priesthood’.
He went on to explain that during Holy Week Jesus is ‘lifted up before you’, and told priests, ‘This is our task: to lift up Jesus before others, in our words, our action, our responses, our expressions.’
Reflecting on the Year of Mercy and the renewed eagerness for receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Cardinal said, ‘Every time we priests hear a confession, we are lifting up Jesus before the penitent, holding him there so that he can welcome, forgive, encourage and restore everyone who comes to meet him.’
Priests are also ‘privileged to lift Jesus up before the people’ at the elevation at the consecration in Mass, and, at the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday, Jesus is elevated before us on the Cross. The Cardinal continued, ‘Yes, the Jesus lifted up before us is God's judgement on our world, a judgement not of condemnation but of endless mercy and love. How fitting then at the last elevation of every Mass we priests are privileged to say: “Behold, the Lamb of God! Behold him who takes away the sins of the world!”’
The Chrism Mass sees the blessing of the three Holy Oils: the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil for the Sick and the Oil of Chrism which are used during the Sacraments. The blessing of the Holy Oils is one of the most ancient ceremonies in the Church. It is always celebrated in the Cathedral by the bishop, surrounded by the priests, deacons, religious and lay people from his diocese.