For the last thirty years I have attended the annual Mass of Chrism at the Cathedral Church of my Diocese in one of the UK’s major cities.
A Diocese is the area of jurisdiction afforded to a Bishop and at the Mass of Chrism, which usually takes place on the Wednesday evening of Holy Week, the priests of the Diocese, along with faithful and religious gather for this special Mass.
I am always very moved by the procession of the priests into the cathedral, all of whom have been ordained or are deacons about to be ordained, followed by their Bishop, their spiritual pastor who is in communion through the Roman Catholic faith which they all profess, with the Pope.
At the Mass of Chrism the Holy Oil of Catechumens; the Holy Oil of the Sick; and the Holy Oil of Chrism are presented to the bishop who blesses and prays over them and actually breathes into the vessel holding the Holy Oil of Chrism. these oils are then taken back in small vessels by the priests to their own parishes.
The Bishop addresses his priests and encourages them in their vocation and reminds them of the importance of placing their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ at the centre of their ministry.
Priests are not administrators or social workers, they are pastors at the heart of their spiritual communities on which they confer the sacraments using the Holy Oils distributed at the Mass of Chrism, and preside over the Mass for the faithful on a daily basis nourishing them with the Body and Blood of Christ.
I wanted to say in this blog, that although I recognise that the church has been badly damaged by scandals of abuse which I utterly condemn, the vast majority of priests deserve and have my deepest respect and love.
I am married and I have the love of my wife which holds us in a special bond of unity, and priests who currently are not married, are part of a much bigger network of fraternal love which I greatly admire and respect.
As I looked at the Bishop on Wednesday stood at his seat (cathedra), wearing his mitre and holding his crozier and surrounded to left and right by his diocesan priests I got a very strong sense of the Last Supper when Jesus Christ, presided over what for Catholics has become the first Mass, surrounded by his disciples.
The Mass of Chrism is a wonderful start for me to the annual Holy Week Services and I encourage all Catholics to make an attempt in future years to attend one of them.
My next blog will be: Understanding my Anger