The Chrism Mass for Argyll & the Isles Diocese was held on 28 March in St. Columba’s Cathedral, despite the major work underway there. The relative bareness of the sanctuary perhaps helped to focus attention on the liturgy itself. Priests and parishioners from across the Diocese joined Bishop Toal for the Mass, with the music being led by members of the Diocesan Choir under their Director, Fr. Michael Hutson.

The Mass began with the procession of clergy to the sanctuary as the choir led the singing of “Praise to the Holiest”. The singing of the Gloria (in the new setting by Dan Schutte) for the first time since the beginning of Lent reminded everyone that this was a joyful liturgy. The tone of celebration continued with the singing of the Psalm (Ps.66 in a setting by Mgr. Gerry Fitzpatrick), beautifully presented by cantor Marie Keenan from Taynuilt.

In his homily, Bishop Toal focussed this year on the Oil of the Sick. He referred to Pope Benedict’s message for the World Day of the Sick which had drawn attention to the two sacraments of healing – Penance and the Anointing of the Sick – which in turn point towards the Eucharist. Christ desired to heal the sick in both body and spirit.

Bishop Toal with Mgr. MacNeil at the Chrism Mass

Bishop Toal reflected on the words used by the priest in the anointing of the sick and on the words used in the blessing of the Oil of the Sick – beautiful and uplifting words. The sacrament of Penance is also a sacrament of healing, with its invitation to repent and believe the Good News. Both sacraments are completed by the Eucharist. Pointing to the common link in these sacraments – the ministry of the priest – he asked that all present pray for more labourers in the vineyard.

The priests present then renewed their commitment to the service of God’s people, and those present responded with the support of their prayers. The Holy Oils were then brought forward for blessing by the Bishop as the congregation sang the joyful “Hail Redeemer”.

At the end of the Mass, priests and congregation were sent out to the accompaniment of the fitting words of “How lovely on the mountains”. As ever in Oban, they went via the Cathedral Hall where the parish community provided suitable sustenance for them to send them on their way