The first Diocesan service since the re-opening of the Cathedral took place on Holy Thursday, with the celebration of the Chrism Mass. The Cathedral was packed, with people standing at the back and around the sides, and some of the congregation getting a closer acquaintance with the choir in the choir loft than they might have wished.
Before the start of the Mass, as the clergy of the Archdiocese gathered in the Diocesan Offices, the St. Mungo Singers sang choral motets, including Jesu Rex Admirabilis, O Bone Jesu, Sacris Solemniis, and Veni Sancte Spiritus, to help create a prayerful atmosphere. As the procession of clergy began, the choir then led the congregation in the joyful singing of “Christ be our Light”. The gentle penitential Litany of Praise which followed contrasted effectively with this and with the Dunkeld Gloria. In the Litany of the Word, Gerry Fitzpatrick’s setting of Psalm 88 was sung by Catriona Glen.
Archbishop Conti began his homily by referring to the Pope’s words to priests at Bellahouston, and to the example of St. John Ogilvie who had been executed for saying the Mass and bringing the sacraments to his people. The decree of Vatican II on the priesthood had stressed the need for priests, but it had also reminded us that all the faithful have a share in the priesthood by their baptism. While priests have a ministerial role, they are not separated from the people but are for the people and their service. He paid particular tribute to the service of those priests who work in areas of deprivation or in the ecumenical field.
The homily was followed by the Renewal of Commitment to Priestly Service by the priests present. The Holy Oils were then brought up in procession with the gifts of bread and wine for the Eucharist, to be blessed later in the Mass. Reflecting the solemnity of the occasion, the Preface was sung, followed by the Schubert Sanctus and Memorial Acclamation, the Doxology and Great Amen.
At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Conti thanked everyone who had helped to make the liturgy so meaningful, particularly the oil-bearers whose task was quite demanding, the students from local schools and the choir. Then the congregation and clergy left the Cathedral, appropriately exhorted by the Recessional Hymn to “Go Spread my Word”.