MASS OF THE HOLY OILS
On this very special day in the Church’s calendar, all the priests of the Archdiocese of Bombay came together with their Bishops to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Oils and renew their commitment to serve. It was an enthralling spectacle to see the priests walk solemnly in procession to take their place in the Cathedral as the bells pealed out their joy and the choir took over from them in glorious praise, ‘I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the people; I will sing praises to you among the nations…’.
At the commencement of the Eucharist, His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, extended a very warm and personal welcome to all who were attending the Mass at the Presbyterium of the Archdiocese of Bombay, especially the Provincials of the Religious Orders of Men in the Archdiocese and the Bishops Emeriti Bosco Penha and Agnelo Gracias. He emphasised that the Priests were present to receive the Lord, hear His word, greet Him and reinforce their unity, their enthusiasm for the priesthood, and the ministry.
In his homily, His Eminence referred to the readings which related to the priesthood: the first reading from Isaiah spoke of the Spirit of the Lord being on the anointed one; the second from Revelation spoke of the kingdom of priests who proclaim the one true God, and the Gospel of Luke was about Jesus the High Priest whose priesthood all priests share. Listening to the readings helps to reflect on the priesthood and the mission received to be the bridge between God and man, to transform the world. The Cardinal then indicated that this would be an opportune time to reflect on the priests’ ministry in the parish and the challenges being faced as they fulfill their responsibilities and make the presence of Jesus felt.
The CCBI, when studying the needs of the Church, realised that faith formation was the greatest need. It is necessary to ensure that parishes are ‘truly believing communities’ where the faith is known and understood. Parish Councils should examine what could be done to increase the faith of our youth. We need to utilise the many opportunities in our parishes and deaneries to implement ways for better faith formation.
His Eminence emphasised that we are a worshipping community, praying to God together every Sunday and that is why it is so important that we re-vitalize our faith. In the Archdiocese of Bombay, this year, we are trying to focus on the liturgy, this being the Year of the Liturgy, to see what initiatives we can take to make it more vibrant, to ensure that the Eucharist is truly a God experience – an encounter with Jesus. We need to foster understanding and participation. When people return from Mass on Sundays, they should feel that they have met the Lord, have heard Him and are burning with the desire to give Him to others – this is the mark of an authentic worshipping community.
We know that Jesus taught us that we are not just believers and worshippers – we have to reach out to others in service, sensitivity and caring. Pope Francis has reiterated this time and again. This is why every parish should have at least one project for the poor so that more and more, we become a serving community where faith and worship is shown as Mother Teresa has said, “Where there is love, there is service; where there is faith, there is love”. A heart that has been touched by Christ cannot be insensitive to the needs of others.
St John Paul II spoke of a ‘new evangelisation’ – a message that has been reinforced by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis – renewed ardour, new methods, new message. The Good News that we have been given is not kept just for ourselves but is meant to be shared with others. Evangelisation means a variety of things; it means making the Gospel present. Taking care of the environment, eradicating corruption are also ways of evangelisation. We have the gift of Social Media – we use this to spread the Good News, the Gospel message and values to transform society. The Church should not remain in ‘maintenance mode’; it should be in ‘mission’ mode – going out and transforming the world. We must continuously re-focus our goals, re-focus our structures and re-examine our methods.
His Eminence invited all the priests to fill their hearts with that same enthusiasm that they had when they were first ordained priests and wanted to go and transform the world. He wished that this Mass would once again light the fire so that joyfully and courageously, with prudence and grace, all would go out and spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord, He concluded the homily with thanks for all that our priests do for the Archdiocese.
The holy oils were blessed, during the Eucharist, for use during the liturgical year, in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Order and Anointing of the Sick.
At the conclusion of the Holy Mass, His Eminence, once again, thanked everyone for their participation and contribution.
And these words rendered so evocatively, as the Recessional, by the Cathedral Choir, resounded in everyone’s hearts: Forever I will sing of the goodness of the Lord!