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Chrism Mass

posted on 03 April 2007

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has celebrated the annual Chrism Mass on Tuesday 3rd April 2007 at Westminster Cathedral in the presence of the priests of the Diocese of Westminster.

The full text of the Homily given by the Cardinal can be found below.

'I hope that not too many of you take an interest in reading my public engagements in the Catholic Press.  For this week the person collecting them on behalf of the newspapers clearly misheard about todays Mass as the details of my diary were dictated to her over the phone.  In the Catholic Papers you will read that instead of celebrating the Chrism Mass I am said to be celebrating the Prison Mass!  Well I hope that none of you feel that you have come here under duress!'

'Indeed we are here, my Brothers and Sisters, for one of the most precious ceremonies in the Churchs life.  In this Celebration we cannot but be touched by something of the Beauty and the Majesty and the Mystery of the Sacred Liturgy.' 

'The Mystery of the Holy Eucharist the Mass is celebrated day by day, week by week, year by year in all the parishes of the Diocese.  But in a particular way in this celebration we witness something of its immense dignity and power.  This year our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has given us a beautiful reflection on the Great Mystery of the Eucharist.  His Exhortation on the Eucharist, which the Pope calls The Sacrament of Charity, reminds us that in this wonderful Sacrament the Lord meets us and becomes our companion along the way.  Each of us is created in Gods image and likeness; yet in the Eucharist the God who created us becomes our food, satisfying our hunger for truth and for freedom.'  

'It is not my task this morning to develop all the good things the Holy Father says concerning the Liturgy of the Word and how it should be celebrated.  Nor of the importance of the Homily and how carefully it should be prepared, based on an adequate knowledge of Sacred Scripture.   And there is, of course, a reminder that the Eucharistic Prayer is the centre and summit of the entire celebration.  In it the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated and that they become Christs Body and Blood so that the Spotless Victim can be received in Communion for the salvation of those who partake of Him.'

'But it seems to me that a key to what the Holy Father is doing in his Exhortation is to give us a direction aimed at renewing our commitment and our devotion to the Eucharist.  For in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus speaks to our thirsting, pilgrim hearts, our hearts yearning for the source of life, our hearts longing for truth (par2).  The Holy Father reminds us that we can only celebrate the Eucharist worthily if we enter into it in a spirit of conversion which marks the whole of our lives.  The proper disposition to celebrate the Eucharist is through personal recollection and silence.  The Pope reminds us also that there should be a fast for a time before coming to Mass, as also at times, and where necessary, a celebration of sacramental confession.'

'In the Eucharist we meet the Living Jesus, the Lord of our lives, who wishes to bring us into greater life.  We cannot participate in the Mass if we approach He who is at the centre of it, superficially, casually, without an examination of our inner life.'  

'To you, my dear People of God, may I echo these stirring words of Pope Benedict?  May I remind you that the Holy Eucharist is the place where we experience something of the newness of our Christian life?   It nourishes and increases all that we have already received in our Baptism.  We experience in a real way our communion with Christ and strive to respond more faithfully to that call to holiness which is at the root of our lives.   I pray that the Holy Eucharist will have an ever deeper effect on your daily life, making you witnesses to Jesus by your example.  Whatever your personal situation - whether as single people, or as families, or as someone living the Consecrated life - all should draw inspiration and strength from this extraordinary and wonderful sacrament of love. '

'Dear Brother-Priests, in a few moments time you will make your promises before me.  They are a reminder of the day of your ordination.  Through them you renew your own dedication to Christ.'

'One of the questions I ask you is if you are resolved to be faithful ministers of the mysteries of God, to celebrate the Eucharist and the other liturgical services with sincere devotion.   In his exhortation, Pope Benedict reminds us priests and Bishops that we alone preside over the entire Eucharistic celebration from the initial greeting to the final blessing.   By virtue of the Holy Orders you have received you represent Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church and, in a specific way, also the Church herself.   You do this in communion with the Bishop who, as the General Instruction of the Missal says, is the chief steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to his care. '

'Dear Fathers, do you remember the words spoken by the Bishop when you were ordained?   Receive the offering of the holy people to be offered to God.  Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lords Cross.   In a very real way, a priests life, in which he ministers to his people in a spirit of love, mirrors the Holy Eucharist.  Our spiritual life united to Jesus on the Cross - will enable us to enter more deeply into communion with Jesus and to let ourselves be possessed by Gods love.   It is the Mass which helps us be more like Christ and strengthens us in our vocation to love.  Through our celebration of the Mass we bear witness to His love at all times, even in the darkest and most difficult times.  In the Mass Christ offers himself for the salvation of all; through our offering with Him we are able to imitate his total sacrifice in our own lives.

'Todays Mass fills me with a particular joy because it is a sign of the communion of all the Priests with their Bishop.   I want to thank all of the priests here today for all that you do in pastoral service of your brothers and sisters in the parishes of our Diocese.   The Holy Father says to us that there is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ.  There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.'

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posted on 03 April 2007

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