Thursday, March 21, 2013

Diocese of Cheyenne Chrism Mass

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending the Diocese of Cheyenne's Chrism Mass, where the sacred oils for the following year are consecrated and all the priests renew their vows. Bishop Etienne's whole homily is worth reading, but his words to the priests particularly struck me:
"My brother priests, in a few moments, I will ask you to renew your own priestly promises. We are privileged to receive this anointing of Christ in three separate moments of our life; Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. With this privilege comes great responsibility to more fully “be” the person of Christ. As priests, we stand in the person of Christ. Our ministry is to be the expressed intimacy and love of the Beloved for his spouse, the Church. Our celibacy is the key to our intimacy with Christ, so that our love for His Bride may be fully and only his love lived through us.

As priests, we are to share intimately in the paschal mystery. We are to become friends not only of Jesus, but also of his cross. The cross is the key to an open heart. Anyone marked by and for Christ through his anointing will experience the cross and the wounds of love. The question for us as his ministers is: Do these wounds create in us resentment or greater love? Do the wounds created by the sacrifice and generosity required of a true shepherd in the heart of Christ harden our hearts, or serve as entry points to better understand Him who chose us and sends us in his name? Do we take our hardships to Christ asking him to remove them, or to teach us through them? Do we ask that our will be done, or his? In short, is the priesthood we live ‘mine’ or ‘his’?"
And then, his simple summary of our need for the Church, addressed to the whole congregation:
"If we want eternal life, and we do, then we need Christ. And if we want Christ, and we do, then we need his Church."
It doesn't get much simpler than that. Christ is present in the Church He established, and in the Sacraments He entrusted to Her. Through them, we find eternal life.

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