It was good to see St. Andrew’s Cathedral crowded for the Chrism Mass, with some of the overflow of the congregation coming up to the choir loft for the service. The Diocesan Choir (the St. Mungo Singers) and instrumentalists Clare O’Neill and Noel Donnelly provided gathering music as people filled the church. Then the service began with the singing of “Lord, you have come to the seashore” as the clergy processed through the Cathedral to the sanctuary.
In his homily, Archbishop Tartaglia welcomed everyone to the service, with particular mention for representatives of a number of schools, including St.Mary’s and St. Martin’s Primary School Vale of Leven, Notre Dame Secondary, St. Andrew’s Secondary and Turnbull High, and representatives of the various religious congregations and of the Knights of St.Columba.
He described it as a special moment for him to see so many present, and to have so many of the Diocese’s priests there to renew their priestly commitment to serve the Church. It would, he suggested, take many of them back to the day of their ordination. He invited the congregation to take this opportunity to pray for new priests, saying that priests are not for themselves but “for Christ and for you”.
This renewal of commitment was the first aspect of the Chrism Mass. The second thing which characterised the Chrism Mass, said the Archbishop, was the blessing of the oils which happens in Holy Week when we remember the Passion and the Resurrection of the Lord, from which all the sacraments come. They are directed to our deepest spiritual needs, and give us faith, thanksgiving, consolation and joy.
Archbishop Tartaglia finished by reflecting that the link between these two aspects of the Chrism Mass is the fact that priests carry out their service through the use of the holy oils. This is a privilege and a joy and he asked the congregation to pray for their priests.
The Renewal of Commitment followed the homily and it was an affecting ritual to see and hear the priests restating their commitment and to hear the congregation responding in turn with their prayers for their pastors.
The oils which were to be blessed were then brought up in procession to the sanctuary with the bread and wine for the Mass and were blessed for use in the Archdiocese over the coming year, as the choir led the singing of Noel Donnelly’s hymn invoking the Holy Spirit “Veni. Veni, Sancte Spiritus”.
The Mass ended with a joyful hymn, the Canticle from the Letter to the Colossians “Let’s Give Thanks to God our Father”, reminding us that this Mass is a joyful note in Holy Week, lightening the growing darkness of the season.