|For Release :
April 10, 2006
Text of Homily by The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark, at the Chrism Mass April 10, 2006 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark
Note to Editors: The Chrism Mass of the Archdiocese of Newark is held every year on the Monday of Holy Week. During this Mass, the Archbishop sanctifies oils used for the liturgical anointings of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing..."
We are an anointed people. Revelation indicates to us that we have been made a holy nation, a nation of priests, to give glory and praise to our God and Father. We do not make ourselves a nation of priests. We have been made such. It is God's action that makes us who we are and what we are, both in Creation and in the new Creation.
Priesthood implies offering something. It is closely related to Jesus' total self offering given in love in which he embraced the Father's will unto death. It is related to His "Self-surrender" in faith, in letting go of His own will to embrace that of the Father.
The Holy Spirit acts to conform us to Christ so that we can put on "the mind and heart" of Christ. The Holy Spirit makes our faith possible. The Holy Spirit makes possible our sharing in the Holy Eucharist and all the sacraments.
The Holy Eucharist is the action of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit acts in our midst to make it possible. For some, the Sacred Liturgy, especially Holy Mass, is an action of the assembly. This is largely incorrect, although the assembly is very much involved. It is an action of the Holy Spirit, which joins us to the action of Jesus Christ.
The priest "In persona Christi Capitis," -- in the person of Christ as Head of the Church. The priest is conformed by a special grace in the Sacrament of Holy Orders to proclaim the Word of God, to sanctify the people and to govern and lead the people of the Church. This is not in virtue of the personal goodness or power held by the priest, but because Jesus intends to continue His service in the Church.
The priest is not to lord it over people, but to be their Shepherd/Servant. He is to reflect the Lord's humility by personally allowing the Spirit of God to work as He wills.
The oils which are blessed this evening are the fruit of the earth. They speak of an intimate connection with creation itself; God really works through the Sacraments with which the Holy Oils are intimately connected.
The oils are blessed at this Mass, which is traditionally referred to as the Chrism Mass. In the Middle Ages, for a priest to possess the freshly blessed oils was the equivalent of having faculties. It was a sign that the priest was in communion with the diocesan bishop and with the universal Church through him. They are a sign that a priest is in good standing and is representing the Church, not himself.
At the Chrism Mass as it is celebrated today, priests have the opportunity to renew their commitment to priestly service. Shortly I will ask the priests to do just that.
I want to first take this opportunity to thank each of you, the men of this fine presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Newark. I know you work hard, and I appreciate your goodness and generosity. We are not perfect men, but the desire to serve and lead the people of God to holiness of life makes a great difference in the lives of many and in our world. With my brother bishops, I offer a heartfelt thank you for your service.
As you renew your commitment, be conscious of the role that the Blessed Virgin Mary has played throughout the life of the Church. She is Mother of us all. She is the Mother of priests. She intercedes for us that all of us and each of us may together be a Holy Nation, a People set apart for the praise, glory and adoration of our God.