The Archdiocese celebrated its Chrism Mass in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on Holy Thursday. The church was packed out for the service, with some of the congregation joining the St. Mungo Singers in the choir loft and others standing at the back of the church. Main celebrant Archbishop Tartaglia was joined by Archbishop Emeritus Conti and a large number of priests of the diocese who filled the sanctuary and overflowed into the front seats of the church. There were also representatives from various secondary and primary schools present.
The choir sang a number of motets before the Mass began to provide a prayerful atmosphere in the crowded church. Then they led the congregation in the singing of the popular and appropriate hymn “Lord, You have come to the seashore”, as the clergy processed to the sanctuary.
In his homily, Archbishop Tartaglia welcomed everyone, particularly the young people and the Knights of St.Columba. He drew attention to the theme of the Mass, expressed in the readings – that of anointing. The passage from Isaiah had been taken to refer to the Messiah. What Jesus did next in the Gospel passage was unexpected. The people listening to him in Nazareth had known him and his family since his boyhood but his next words were tantamount to claiming that he was the Messiah. Jesus had indeed been anointed at his Baptism for his mission of salvation. In the Mass, anointing will be in the air as the sacred oils will be blessed and consecrated.
The reading from the Apocalypse is in turn being fulfilled today as we listen as we are ourselves a kingly and priestly people. This is not an abstract idea, the Archbishop said, for ordinary people are the best examples of Christians as doing God’s will is in their DNA, as it were, through baptism. In the same way, ordination stamps the priesthood in the DNA of the ordained ministers who will spend their lives in the service of their people, and today they would renew their promises and commitment Archbishop Tartaglia took the opportunity to encourage vocations to the priesthood. He finished with thanks on his own behalf and on behalf of the people of the Archdiocese to the priests of the Archdiocese for their service.
The music of the Mass added much to the celebration, ranging from the plainsong Gloria and Pater Noster through Noel Donnelly’s setting of Psalm 88 and the chanting of the Gospel (clearly and effectively proclaimed by Deacon Kevin Kelly) to modern scripture based hymns (“I am the Vine” and “Gifts of Finest Wheat”). The Mass setting was Gerry Fitzpatrick’s Jubilee Mass, and the final hymn was Pam Murray’s “Go Spread My Word”, a fitting missionary hymn for a “kingly, priestly people”.