The Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese took place in St. Andrew’s Cathedral on 5th April. The cathedral was packed for the occasion, with people standing in the aisles and at the back of the building, and some members of the congregation joining the St. Mungo Singers in the choir loft. The sanctuary too was full, with so many priests of the Archdiocese able to be present for the service. The feeling of celebration and community was palpable, and reflected in the singing of the processional hymn “Christ be our Light”.

Archbishop Conti in his homily touched on this theme of unity when, in referring to the blessing of the Holy Oils, he singled out the oil of chrism as a symbol of the bond of unity in faith. In October, on the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Year of Faith will begin which has as its goal the understanding that faith is an encounter with a person – Christ – and the raison d’être of every Christian. There was a need for each of the baptised to live their faith and to enter into dialogue with society. At this time of ever greater disconnect between faith and society, it was easy to lose heart but this was not an option for us, for ours is a religion of hope. There are still the well springs of faith, and we are committed to stand as witnesses to the Risen Christ.

As the service continued with the Renewal of Commitment by the priests, through to the Blessing of the Holy Oils towards the end of the Mass itself, there was much for the congregation to reflect upon in respect of the challenge posed by the Archbishop. The music of the Mass supported and encouraged that reflection, ranging from the lovely Donnelly “Veni, Veni” as the Holy Oils were brought in procession, through the revised settings of the Fitzpatrick Jubilee Mass and the plainsong Agnus Dei XVIII, the Communion hymns “Gifts of Finest Wheat” and “Sacris Solemniis”, to the final hymn “Go Ye Afar” with its very appropriate words, sending everyone out to “witness to My Name”.