During the liturgy, Bishop Bill prayed, “We beseech you, almighty God, that those you renew by your Sacraments may merit to become the pleasing fragrance of Christ.”
The annual Chrism Mass, celebrated in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle on the Tuesday of Holy Week, is really ‘all about the oils’. Members of the assembly presented to Bishop Bill the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of Chrism in gorgeous silver vessels. They were blessed before the diocesan community, including most members of the presbyterate, and taken to parishes to be utilised on sacramental occasions.
Bishop Bill in his homily highlighted the priestly nature of the People of God and exhorted his assembly, “We need to tell our stories, to say the light – the life – hasn’t gone out of the church.”
In doing so, “We stand before God for those who perhaps will not do so for themselves.”
He particularly reminded his hearers that the stories of the priests who have served us well and faithfully should not be forgotten, sharing the story of a priest he had known who was still visiting the sick in his nineties!
Bishop Bill lauded the people exhibiting the signs of practical Christianity – visiting the sick, teaching the faith, working for justice, bringing cheerfulness and hope, wanting to ‘do the right thing’ ‒ and acknowledged that those before him were these people.
Lively singing, led by the cathedral choir and musicians with Anne Millard Daugherty conducting, enhanced the liturgy and an energetic and joyful spirit pervaded the celebration.
While Good Friday looms, there was, as the reading from Isaiah proclaimed, “for ashes, a garland, for mourning robe, the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise.”
After Mass there was time for sharing stories, as Bishop Bill had suggested.
Easter days provide an opportunity to reflect on the words of the post-Communion hymn:
Your Spirit, O God, is upon me,
You have anointed me.