Hundreds gathered on Tuesday evening at St Patrick’s Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass. The Chrism Mass is traditionally held during Holy Week and is a significant moment in the life of the local church.
At the Mass, the people of God come together as priests renew their priestly promises and the local bishop blesses and consecrates the sacred oils used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders. These oils are then distributed and used in every parish in the archdiocese, signifying the Lord's healing presence and the life-giving gift of the Holy Spirit among the people.
In his homily, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli reflected on Jesus' proclamation in the synagogue where, in the midst of the local Rabbi, synagogue officials and learned men of the Law, Jesus read the Prophecy of Isaiah and proclaimed, "This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.”
'The text of Isaiah is, as we know, addressed to specific people: the poor and imprisoned; the blind and downtrodden; the broken and grief-stricken. Were these people inside the synagogue that day? More likely not,' said Archbishop Comensoli.
'Obviously, those in prison would not – could not – have been there. No woman – no mother with her daughters – would have been permitted in the synagogue that day. The ritually unclean – the diseased, the disabled, the mentally ill, the stranger – would not have had access through the front door.
'It would seem, then, that Jesus may not have been looking at those inside the synagogue that day. His eyes and his attention were more likely directed towards those outside, those who could not come in. In other words, Jesus was speaking to those still to be invited to the table of the Lord. It was to these he had been anointed and sent to proclaim good news, liberty, sight, and favour in God’s eyes.'
'As we renew our priestly promises as ministers of Jesus Christ, it is our calling to adjust our sight so as to better focus on this Gospel mission. To look out towards those left out; to the poor and imprisoned; the blind and downtrodden; the broken and grief-stricken of our time and place; and to go out to them, who God wishes to offer a seat inside his kingdom. To have been anointed and sent for this task is to configure our lives for this work.
'To my sisters and brothers in the domestic priesthood of Baptism, might each of you find yourselves directed to this calling at home, among your neighbours, and in society. The sacred oils to be blessed and consecrated this evening point to the sacrificial love for others which is the calling of all God’s faithful ...
'You, too, have been anointed and sent for this mission within the domestic settings you find yourselves. It is yours to live.'
As part of the gathering, Archbishop Comensoli blessed and commissioned the Plenary Council delegates for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. It was the first time the delegates had been able to gather in the presence of the wider Melbourne community since churches reopened. The delegates will join others from around Australia for the first Plenary Council gathering in October.
'Know that what we are asking of you is part of everyone’s journey of discernment for a more hope-filled Church,' Archbishop Comensoli said to the delegates. 'Be confident that we are grateful for your willingness to represent our community at the Plenary Council.'
Following the Mass, local clergy expressed their gratitude for being able to gather with the wider community after such a difficult year.
'Having gathered with so many priests and representatives of the wider archdiocese is for me a sign of solidarity and hope,' said Fr Steven Rigo, Parish Priest of St Mary's in Greensborough. 'Especially as we try to reimagine how to be Church in the future.'
Fr Andrew Jekot, from St Mary of the Cross, Mordialloc and Aspendale Parish, said he was overjoyed at renewing his commitment to the priesthood in the presence of so many.
'Having missed out last year on the opportunity that I have been part of for 23 years, my heart was full of joy to be able to gather at the Chrism Mass with fellow clergy and the people of God to renew my commitment to the priesthood,' he said. 'Receiving the newly blessed oils that will bring God’s blessing to so many, I look forward to continuing my ministry bringing forth those blessings to many people as parishioners bless me with their presence.'
Melbourne Catholic27 February 2024
Justin McLellan (CNS)26 February 2024