For Release :
Chrism Mass Homily 2005
Sacred Heart Cathedral Basilica
Most Reverend John J. Myers
Archbishop of Newark
My brother Bill, who is a wonderful teacher, has recently taken up the avocation of being a story-teller (although we in the family could have told you that long ago). He has become well known in Central Illinois , to the point that he is especially pleased when I am introduced as his brother.
He speaks of family things and often incorporates slightly augmented or transposed stories of our family and our growing up. We are by no means exceptional. I must say that when he includes me in the stories, somehow the stories become even more exaggerated.
He is finding a phenomenal response to family stories and family values. Whole families sometimes come to hear his renditions. But he is also invited to speak to groups of parents, seniors, and school children.
I think this gives evidence of the stress family members feel today and of the longing people have for strong and stable family life. Values in our society focus on almost absolute individual freedom, often meaning freedom from moral norms. The media cultivates this and promotes an all-pervading materialism. Roles are changing -- sometimes appropriately, sometimes not.
How does a family stay healthy and balanced? I believe it is when spouses understand when commitment to one another is foundational, that it transcends feelings and failures. It is for good times and bad. When parents are not reluctant to embrace their role of leading and serving by example and by their own proper authority, then one finds a healthy family. Standing together for proper values calmly, firmly, securely in communication with one another and with their children, and sometimes in suffering and pain. The home is characterized by mutual love, respect and service, and not by living in anger, bitterness or carping. It is from families such as this that vocations arise.
I believe we see something of that in the Gospel this evening. Jesus returns to His own home area. He echoes the ancient prophet pointing to messianic signs. “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” It is this Jesus to whom we turn -- the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is this Jesus who fulfilled all the prophesies and more -- suffering for us, teaching us, forgiving us, sharing God's life.
It is this Jesus who, with the Father, sends us the Holy Spirit, forming us into the family of God, His holy people, a nation of kings and priests, each possessing dignity because we are children of God.
The Church, which is this family, carries on the mission of Christ through Word and Sacrament and loving service. The oils that are blessed this evening are associated with the Sacraments. They are blessed by diocesan bishops and are intended to serve the sacramental encounter across the Archdiocese throughout the next year.
As a family, we welcome the gifts each of us has and support the roles each has.
In a particular way, priests share in the sanctifying office of the bishop. This Chrism Mass, transferred for pastoral reasons from Holy Thursday to tonight, is intended to underscore that. Possession of freshly consecrated oils is a sign of the union of a priest and a parish with the bishop; and thereby, with the universal Church. I am very grateful for all the priests, and for all parish representatives who have gathered with us this evening. Together we form God's family in this part of Northern New Jersey . Priests offer leadership and service. It is important that we support and affirm one another. We priests need and rely upon your prayers and many kindnesses. Sometimes we need your forgiveness. We freely offer you our prayers and our service which is well intended - if not always all that you deserve.
During this Year of the Eucharist, it is time to turn to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and ask Him to renew us, to make us one in mind and heart. We seek the assistance of Mary, His Mother and ours. As part of the celebration this evening, the Church asks priests to renew their commitment to the priesthood and asks all who are present to witness that renewed commitment so that you may encourage and support us in that. May I ask that the priests now stand.