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St Richardís Parish was strongly represented at Arundel Cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass on 7th April. The celebration marked the annual renewal of priestly commitment and the blessing of the holy oils that are dispensed to the parishes to be used throughout the year. The bishop was surrounded by his priests and his people as a sign of the unity of the diocese.
Since the consecration of the Sacred Chrism used for ordination and for the consecration of churches is reserved to a bishop, this Mass highlights his ministry and his union with the priests and the faithful. It was of special interest to our candidates for Confirmation, who attended the Mass with Father Kieron.
The three holy oils that are blessed during this Mass are the oil of the catechumens, the oil of the sick and the chrism.
Chrism, which is a mixture of oil of olives and balsam, has been introduced into the functions of the church liturgy, owing to its symbolic significance. Olive oil, being rich and abiding, is fitted to represent the outpouring of sacramental grace; it is perfumed with myrrh, while balsam, which gives forth a fragrant odour, typifies the innate sweetness of Christian virtue.
Anointing with oil is a sacred action with rich roots in our Jewish heritage. The Old Testament is filled with stories of people being anointed with oil. Anointing a person with oil symbolizes being sealed or strengthened by God with special favour. "Christ" (or "Messiah") means "anointed one". Jesus was recognised by his followers as the "anointed one", anointed with oil. The followers of Jesus, therefore, are anointed with oil at key moments in their journey.
During the service, Bishop Kieran Conry first blessed the oil of the sick which is used in the sacrament of anointing to bring comfort and healing, and then the oil of the catechumens which is used to prepare them for baptism.
At his side was the bearer of his crozier, Richard Oliver, from St Richardís.
Lastly, Bishop Kieran prepared, consecrated and blessed the chrism, which is used to anoint the newly baptized, seal candidates for confirmation and anoint the hands of priests at ordination. Chrism is also used to anoint and dedicate new churches and altars.
The Bishop sent a special message to our priests which underlines the importance of the Chrism Mass:
ďThat which you receive today is holy indeed. Like the matter of all sacraments these oils reveal, for those of faith, something of the very nature of God who creates, sustains, renews and transforms even life itself. In the oil of baptism, life in Christ begins and the joy-filled journey of faith moves forward under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the oil of the sick Christ comforts the oppressed, heals the broken hearted and binds up the wounds of those in need. In the Sacred Chrism a royal status is granted to the Christian, who is set apart for the glorious work of the kingdom.
Take care, then, to treasure these precious gifts: they are life, they are truth, they are Christ. Use them reverently, devotedly, lovingly. Let them be evidently what they are: the balm of Christ soothing and healing a needy world. Store them safely and with dignity, that their integrity and meaning may always be respected. Use them generously and with great joy, for they are holy things for the holy people of God and through them his work continues.Ē
The Chrism Mass also acknowledges the ministry of the priesthood instituted by Christ.
On this occasion the Church invited her priests to renew their commitment to priestly life and ministry that they made when they were anointed in the sacrament of Holy Orders. In addition to the renewal of priestly service, the deacons, religious and laity present also expressed their commitment of service to the Church.
The party from St Richardís travelled in a minibus driven by Sylvia Hitchman, our confirmation catechist, with our ten confirmation candidates, of whom three were also serving. They met up with Fr Jonathan Martin, now Director of the Guild of Stephen, and organiser of the Mass, which brought together many of the priests of our Diocese. Afterwards, Father Kieron went out with our party for a pizza meal!
At St Richardís Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, celebrated on Holy Thursday evening, the Parish Community formally received the new holy oils. The oil of the sick was presented by two doctors; Mary Galloway & Dominic Whitehouse; the oil of catechumens was presented by a baptism catechist and an RCIA catechist - Becky Montieth and Adrienne Denyer. Two confirmation candidates presented the Chrism - Joe Hepworth & David Peavot. Mary Downy from the Welfare Group presented the collection for the poor.
The Mass of the Lordís Supper began the very well attended and memorable Easter Triduum.