Annual Chrism Mass
Yesterday, the annual Chrism Mass was celebrated in our Diocese, where the three oils used for anointing throughout the year were blessed and consecrated. These oils are used for anointing those preparing for Baptism, anointing those who receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit during the Sacrament of Confirmation, anointing the hands of priests, the head of Bishops, and the consecration of altars, and anointing those in preparation for death and seeking healing.
Scriptures are filled with examples of anointing—anointing for ruling, for ministry, for service, for dying. Such as,
“If one of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” ~ James 5:14
We forget sometimes that the power of healing comes not only with the anointing with oil, but it comes also with the “anointing” of presence, of a gentle touch, of a friendly word, of a contagious smile.
The Chrism Mass is also a time for priests in the presence of the bishop and the faithful to renew their commitment to the ministry to which they were ordained. Both diocesan and religious priests who reside and/or minister in the Diocese took part. As part of the rite of renewal, I also ask those present to pray for me, that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me.
During my homily, I shared these words about the priesthood,
“The strongest sign of a healthy spiritual life for a priest ’is service, spending your entire life at the service of others, reserving nothing for yourself’” (Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda).
That is hard to hear, but it is the truth.
“A priest is called above all to cultivate this closeness, this intimacy with God, and from this relationship, he will be able to draw all the strength needed for his ministry. Our relationship with God is, so to speak, what “grafts” us to him and makes us fruitful. Without a meaningful relationship with the Lord, our ministry will prove fruitless” (Pope Francis to Priests in Rome Feb 2022).
We have to recognize the tension we face, and this is not easy. We are pulled in one direction by our human condition and sinful tendency and, at the same time, are called, urged, attracted, and committed to the sublime, the pure, and the holy. We constantly feel this tension. Or, as the story goes: There are two wolves fighting inside each of us. One is a peaceful, gentle, and loving wolf. The other is a violent, brutal, arrogant, selfish wolf. And the question is: Who wins the fight? The one we feed. Which one will you feed? Gratefully, if we surrender that choice to God, we will always feed the one that leads us closer to Him. We merely must say, Here I am, Lord, I come to do you will.
The Chrism Mass, in its entirety, can be viewed here.
2022 Easter Message
Dear Friends in Christ,
“Yes, Christ my hope is arisen…” With these powerful words sung in the Easter Sequence at Mass, we proclaim the Good News of Easter: that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who took up His cross and died for our salvation, has been raised from the dead. This is, indeed, the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118).
We have reached this most joyful celebration after the hardship of Lent and in the midst of a waning—we pray—two-year-long pandemic that has impacted all our lives. We have made the sacrifices; we have endured the losses; we have lived the sorrow. And now, with the Risen Jesus, let us put aside our worries and fears, living as St. Paul reminds us, with “no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Phil: 4:4-6).
Now at Easter, in the Resurrection of Jesus, we find our true hope and joy. In his suffering, Jesus was not defeated but proved victorious. God raised Him to new life, turning darkness to light, despair to hope, and suffering to glory.
This verse sung in the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil reminds us that we all share in the joy of the Resurrection:
Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.
Jesus, raised from the dead just as He promised, offers salvation to all who follow Him. This victory is our hope and joy at Easter. We are called to embrace and live in this joy. Spring forth in this hope, and as Pope Francis encourages, “The Lord asks us from His cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognize and foster the grace that lives within us. Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.” (Pope Francis – Prayer Service, March 27, 2020)
Budding trees, emerging perennials, and greening lawns are sure signs of spring. And just as nature is renewed each spring, so too should we renew our lives at Easter. Let us work to let go of any sinful ways, of old grudges that separate us from loved ones, of an apathetic faith. Let us make Jesus the center of our lives and reflect that in our interactions with all whom we encounter.
Easter Mass Schedule
This year, I will celebrate the Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16; as well as the 10:30 a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday (also at St. Mary’s Cathedral). I am also the celebrant of the Television Mass on Easter, which will expand to a full-hour and air at a special time, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., on Channel 6.
Please be assured of my blessings for you and your family, and may we experience the peace of the risen Christ in our hearts.
My prayers and best wishes for a blessed Easter to all of you.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha