‘The Chrism Mass is my favourite moment in our year,’ His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols told priests of the diocese at the Chrism Mass celebrated at Westminster Cathedral on 27th March 2018.
‘I am always deeply touched by the support and love for the priests that is so evident today,’ he added, referencing the many lay people who were attending the Mass in support of the clergy.
The Cardinal began by asking the congregation to think of the flow of water, comparing the river of life as referenced in Ezekial and the Book of Revelation to the flow of grace from the wound in the side of Christ that ‘Through his death on the cross…the transforming action of the Holy Spirit, flows into our troubled world and into our troubled hearts’.
He went on to explain how we see this river of grace in the liturgy, ‘we must see with the eyes of faith and listen with the ears of a disciple’ that the words and actions used during the mass are the ‘means that God chooses to use to bring about this river of grace’ because in Mass ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is great coming together of the human and the divine that that produces a unique synergy, a radically different source of power and change.’
The Holy Oils which are brought up and blessed during the Chrism Mass are another way in which the river of grace flows ‘today this oil flows, as it were, from the very side of Christ into every parish, every home, every family and into every place of illness’. The Oil of the Sick was presented by representatives of the medical profession; the Oil of Catechumens by two catechumens preparing for Baptism at Easter; and the Oil of Chrism by a Confirmation candidate and a Deacon preparing for Ordination to the priesthood.
The Chrism Mass also offers priests a chance to renew the promises of their ordination day. In his homily, Cardinal Vincent drew attention to the combination of the word and action of an ordained priest or bishop, that combined with the Holy Oils, ‘unlock for us the saving power of God, enabling the 'water of life' to flow into our lives, bringing its healing and renewing in us the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit.’
He continued to give thanks for all the priests of the Diocese, saying:
‘I thank God for every pair of anointed hands, which will administer these oils in the year ahead. I thank God for the heart of every priest in this Diocese, a heart which has been dedicated to this service of grace and which today seeks to be renewed in its purity of intention and largeness of compassion.
‘I thank every one of you today. Thank you for your innate goodness, for your effort when tired and for your patience when over-stretched, not least by me and my immediate colleagues. Thank you for sustaining your clear identity of a priest of Jesus Christ, witnessing to him, through your faithfulness and perseverance. I thank God for you all.’
Concelebrating the Mass were Auxiliary Bishops John Sherrington, Nicholas Hudson, Paul McAleenan, and John Wilson and Bishop Emeritus of Menvia Mark Jabalé.
Many of the faithful had come from every part of the diocese to pray for and with their priests, filling the cathedral to capacity.
The full text of the Cardinal's homily can be found here.
Photos from the Mass can be seen here.