Hundreds join Bishop to celebrate first post-lockdown Chrism Mass

Wednesday 13th April 2022

For the first time in three years, clergy and parishioners filled Salford Cathedral to celebrate the solemn Mass of the Sacred Chrism.

The Mass is one of the most ceremonial and beautiful Masses of the Church’s calendar, and is the celebration in which priests renew their vows of ordination and when the bishop blesses the holy oils.

Three oils are blessed during the Mass, including the oil that is used for anointing the sick, those who are about to be or newly baptised, and the anointing of priests.

Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to celebrate the Chrism Mass to the full since 2019, instead livestreaming the Mass, with minimal representatives of the clergy taking part.

This year, we were delighted to once again see our cathedral filled with hundreds of clergy and parishioners to help us celebrate this most solemn occasion.

Traditionally a celebration of the priesthood, Bishop John addressed the clergy in his homily, paying tribute to the hard work and dedication of our priests during the pandemic but warned that work must still be done to achieve peace and justice in our world.

He said: “Fathers, the first thing I want to do is to thank you again for all that you’ve achieved in the last two years. Who ever talked about a pandemic when we were in seminary? Who ever talked about the possibility of churches being closed down, of sanitizing, of social distancing, wearing masks?

“No-one could have planned it, we didn’t expect it, and we had to be ready for it in a manner of weeks and days. But you achieved so much. You managed to make sure that the sacraments were being offered, that the communities were being bound together. You were taking all sorts of wonderful initiatives in your communities, and as the churches began to open again, they became some of the safest public buildings in the country, because of your kindness, with all your attendants and stewards. And you’ve done great things, thank you so much. Who could have predicted it, but we’ve managed it so well.

“There can be no question of simply reverting to things as they were before.”

“But now we’ve got to look forward haven’t we, and there can be no question of simply reverting to things as they were before, it seems to me that there are four major impacts on us at the moment

“First of all, there’s the Ukrainian crisis. Even if that were to cease today, already, the economic the political the religious implications, the social implications, are going to impacting on Europe and the world for a good long time to come.

“The pandemic may seem now to be waning, but we’ve got to live with the fact, as the medical experts will tell us, that there could be strains in various times and places in the years to come and we’ll have to restrict our freedom accordingly.

“And then we’ve got to get serious and urgent about climate change. The last two IPCC reports have really talked about an urgency that must be responded to now. That’s got to impact on us as well.

“So I think it’s prophetic of Pope Francis to be insisting on a universal synod at this time. How are we to be church in the years to come? What changes do we need to be making to our priorities and for us priests in our ministries, in order to be all that the Spirit is asking us to be in the context of the world in which we live today.

“The Synod gives us the opportunity to listen to everybody. And Pope Francis insists that we must go outside all those people that gather in our churches, Catholics who don’t go to church for whatever reason, lets know the reason, and people of other faiths as well, how can they assist us in knowing what we need to be as church today.

“And that means that we need to have an openness, each and every one of us in the way that we may minister in the future. What differences must we make in the way that we bring the lord to the people placed in our pastoral care. It’s a great challenge, but if we’re listening, if we’re going to make that prayerful journey through the Synod, then I think the Spirit will speak loudly and clearly to us. And let’s remember a Synod is not a discussion its not a debate its not an argument, its not the one with most articulate voice who’s going to win, its not by democratic vote.

“It’s a prayerful listening to what God may be asking of us in this time and in the years to come. Let’s be as generous as we can be. We offered ourselves because we believed we were called by God we offered ourselves to the ministerial priesthood. Let’s see what that ministerial priesthood needs to be in the future.

“And let’s be sure that we throw ourselves into it with that sense that were not doing this on our own. If this is what God wants, he will be providing us with all the energy and the grace and the strength that we need to complete all that he asks of us.

“Every year I find myself now going through that little bit of a journey, with the apostles on Good Friday, how desolate they must have felt. “It’s all over, he’s gone, he’s dead, what do we do now? We’re in fear for our lives: if they could crucify him they could come and arrest us as well”.

“Then we move into that marvelous moment where Jesus says “It’s all been a part of God’s plan – I’m here, I’m risen”, and that they then begin in every way to follow in the way that he leads them, that the Spirit leads them through Pentecost.

“It’s a journey. And that little diocesan prayer which I stumbled across by accident just before I was installed here as your bishop is so important. Stay with us Lord, on our journey.”

Click below to listen to Bishop John’s homily.


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