Homily of Bishop Guy Desrochers for the Chrism Mass

Given at the Cathedral in Pembroke, Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Homily of Bishop Guy Desrochers for the Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass is one of the most beautiful and meaningful liturgies that we celebrate during Holy Week, and I would add perhaps throughout the whole year. Why is that so? It is because the entire assembly of the People of God join and unite in holy reverence and thanksgiving for the gift of priesthood.

When I say priesthood, I speak first of the priests who gather at the Cathedral in large numbers to renew publicly their solemn promises. During this heartfelt moment, before the almighty, loving, and merciful Father, they will reaffirm their pledge to remain faithful to the Church of Christ, to their Bishop and to serve you faithfully, dear people of God. They will do this by re-consecrating themselves to teach, govern and sanctify the Spouse of Christ. Always remember that you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you personally must consider yourselves as Jesus’ spouse, whom he will love to the very end, not only to the moment of your death, but forever and ever.

So today, during our grand celebration, you, the members of our spiritual family, will hear those whom God himself has chosen from among you to become his ambassadors on earth as they re-affirm their devoted service to God and to you. They serve God and you through their ministry, their prayers, their entire consecrated lives, and with the profound desire to love and serve you selflessly, in order to bring you ever closer to God. God, our beloved Father and Creator, has chosen you to become his adopted children in Christ, even “before the foundation of the world”, says the Apostle Paul.

That is why priests from every diocese in the world do their very best to attend this beautiful local liturgy, where the Bishop also asks the Holy Spirit to sanctify the oils that will be used to consecrate and anoint some of you, to cure your bodies and souls when you feel weak or when your life is threatened, to baptize children or adults, and to sustain and strengthen the hearts and spirits of the catechumens who are preparing to receive holy baptism during the Easter Vigil.

The word “Chrism” from the Ancient Greek “Khrîsma” means “anointing”, “unction”. This is the very name that we give to Jesus when we call him Christ, the Anointed One that the Holy Spirit has penetrated with the Spirit of gladness, the Spirit of Holiness that he truly wants to share with his beloved brothers and sisters whom he has joined together as the family of God.

I did say earlier in my homily that when I speak of priesthood, I first speak of your brother priests whom God has chosen to love and to serve you. But one of the great legacies that we have received from the Second Vatican Council is that from the very day of our baptism, we have been introduced into the very heart of Christ, the anointed One of God.

The same Spirit of God has anointed all of us, to the point that the priest or deacon affirms to the person, child or adult, that he or she has now become a full member of the Church, the Spouse of Christ. As soon as we receive the anointing from the priest or deacon, the Chrism penetrates from the exterior of our body into the center of our hearts. The one who presides the liturgy of baptism then pronounces these mysterious words: “You are now Priest, Prophet and King.” The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit then begins in the heart of the newly baptized and will continue until the departing of his or her soul from this earth.

Rejoice with all of us, dear people of God. I speak to you, my brother priests and deacons who are my first collaborators, who work tirelessly and lovingly every day of your consecrated lives to bring all sheep, especially the lost and rejected ones, back into the fold of the one and only divine Shepherd, our beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I speak to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, those of you who have become religious with public or private vows to honour God and to serve his people with such devotion. And finally, I speak to all of you, dear friends. You who have been baptized and now participate in the same outpouring of the Spirit of gladness, the same Spirit that anointed our Saviour from the moment he was conceived in his Immaculate Mother’s womb: rejoice with your spiritual family today, dear friends: develop and apply the many talents that God has given you: the talents that you see and those you do not yet see, either because of misplaced humility, of unintentional ignorance or perhaps because you are timid or hesitate because of shyness. Share them with your brothers and sisters in need so that one day you can hear the Lord say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Mt 25: 21)

Do not be afraid to reach out to those who have strayed from the Church of Christ. Dare to invite them to a prayer group, to a Bible study group or other similar and revitalizing programs. To all of you who are baptized, you, the anointed ones of God, please collaborate with us in the multiform mission that Christ is asking us to continue till the end of time.

May good Saint Joseph, protector and guardian of the family of God, instill in your heart an ardent and zealous spirit to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord by your words, your actions and by your way of life. And may Our Blessed and Holy Mother Mary grant you to continue the mission that Christ has confided to all of us. May we accomplish this supernatural task with divine love, humility, simplicity and perseverance, despite the many obstacles or hardships that could surge because of the envy of the Evil One. Amen.

+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.
Bishop of Pembroke

Read: Statement of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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