In the biggest gathering in the diocesan year, Bishop Alan Hopes welcomed clergy and laity from parishes right across the Diocese, with coaches lining the nearby roads.
“The Chrism Mass is a significant moment for us as a Diocese to come together today as we prepare to celebrate the Paschal mystery of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection,” he said.
“In so doing, we renew our unity with each other and with the whole church throughout the world. This unity is clearly expressed by the blessing of the holy oils which will be used across the Diocese in the coming year for baptism and for the anointing of the sick and by the consecration of the sacred oil of chrism which will be used for the celebration of confirmation and ordination to the priesthood.”
In his homily, Bishop Alan spoke about the body of Christ: “As the Church we are called to be nothing less than Christ’s body in the world – we are to be his eyes and ears, his hands and his feet, doing good to our neighbour, serving Him in those who are on the margins of society, those in need, the refugee, the migrant, the stranger.
“Through His Church – through you and me – Jesus Christ continues his work of love, reconciliation and forgiveness throughout the world,” he said.
Addressing the assembled priests and deacons from across the Diocese, Bishop Alan said: “We are called to teach the deep truths of our faith, to hand on the tradition. Our faith must be a living one – lived out of our own encounter with Jesus Christ.
“We are called to celebrate worthily the Mass and the other Sacraments. We touch and handle things unseen – but nevertheless real and sacred – truly profound mysteries. We must never allow then to become a matter of routine.
“We are ordained to serve the Body of Christ, to sustain our people and encourage them in their faith and witness. Always be generous in your service of love for them and for the wider community in which you live,” said Bishop Alan.
The renewal of priestly promises was then followed by the blessing of the three oils. The Oil of Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and a sweet smelling perfume, is consecrated by Bishop Alan to be sent out to all the parishes of the diocese where it will be used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination and for the consecration of churches and altars. The Bishop also blessed two other oils to be sent for use in parishes: the oil used by priests in the sacrament of anointing of the sick and the oil used to strengthen catechumen prior to baptism.
At the end of the Mass, the oils were collected by the seven diocesan Deans for distribution to their parishes.
When the Mass had finished, everyone was invited to have a hot drink and a hot cross bun in the Narthex.
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