Bishop Mark celebrated the Chrism Mass on April 10 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. The Bishop blessed the oils that will be used in parishes in the coming year. During the Liturgy, priests of the Diocese reaffirm their commitment to priestly service. The Bishop offered a special message to the priests in his homily.
The following is an excerpt:
“In what ways is my priestly ministry a fragrant anointing of the people I serve?”
I want everyone here to pay attention to this question and a few thoughts of Pope Francis from that Chrism Mass three years ago because he is very clear that this question has implications for everyone and not just the priests.
Pope Francis observes that there are three significant features of our priestly joy.
First, it is a joy which anoints us. He reminds us that this joy penetrated deep within our hearts when we were anointed down to our very bones at the time of ordination. This joy, our joy of the priesthood is the echo of this anointing which is like a wellspring that never runs dry.
Second, it is an imperishable joy. Pope Francis reminds us that no one can take away or increase this unfailing joy that is a gift from God at ordination. Not even sin or life’s troubles can remove it, and even if it feels like it has been diminished, it always remains intact and it can be renewed, just as we are doing today in this Chrism Mass.
Third, it is a missionary joy, which spreads and attracts others. Most especially, Pope Francis says that this missionary joy of the priesthood starts backwards. It starts with those who are the farthest from us and from the Church, perhaps people like Henry who wasn’t on the pastor’s regular list for home visits.
Pope Francis observes that the anointing we received at ordination is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people: for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelizing them.
The joy of being anointed with the oil of gladness of the Lord Jesus Christ is a gift for each one of us who have been called to share in his holy priesthood. It is a gift that is supposed to be re-gifted.
It is a gift that should remind us to ask during our daily examination of conscience: “In what ways is my priestly ministry a fragrant anointing of the people I serve?”
Click below to read the Bishop’s entire Chrism Mass homily.