Archbishop Tartaglia celebrated his first Chrism Mass as Archbishop of Glasgow on Holy Thursday in St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The church was packed out, with members of the congregation finding seats with the choir in the choir loft and others having to stand at the back of the church. The number of concelebrating priests filled the sanctuary and the additional seats placed at the front of the nave. The large numbers reflected a new feeling of anticipation in the air with the election of Pope Francis as well as perhaps a desire to be supportive of their Bishop and priests at a time of difficulty in the church in Scotland.
The music of the Mass was led by the St. Mungo Singers who sang a number of motets in preparation for the beginning of the Mass. As Archbishop Tartaglia,Archbishop Emeritus Conti and priests processed through the Cathedral, they then led the congregation in singing “Christ be our Light”, a hymn whose words are so appropriate for this time “Make us your own, your holy people, light for the world to see”.
In his homily, Archbishop Tartaglia expressed his sense of privilege in celebrating the Chrism Mass with so many, priests and lay, young and old. He acknowledged that emotions were heightened at this sad and difficult time but urged the congregation not to give into feelings of self-pity or anger but to look to the Lord for hope and renewal, forgiveness and peace. He welcomed the large group of students from secondary schools who had come for this special Mass at which their priests renewed their priestly commitment and the oils for the sacraments would be blessed. Addressing the priests, he invited to renew their commitment with faith, trust and humility.
He commented that Pope Francis has caught the imagination of the world and his view of the life of the church is that it is to look to Christ first and foremost, and then outwards to those who are “Christless”. It must go out to those who need evangelising and to the poor and needy of the world in love and compassion. He then invited the congregation to pray for and support their priests, that all would emerge from this time purified and renewed.
There was a feeling of determined affirmation within the congregation as the Mass proceeded, that the Lord could bring good out of the dark, as he had done in the first Holy Week, and people and priests joined wholeheartedly in the celebration.