Bishop Fisher welcomes diocesan priests to chrism Mass
The Diocese of Buffalo observed one of its most solemn and special Masses of the year with the celebration of the Chrism Mass Tuesday evening at St. Joseph Cathedral. Bishop Michael W. Fisher served as principal celebrant and homilist with a host of diocesan priests as designated concelebrants of the Mass. Father Seán Paul Fleming, cathedral rector, served as master of ceremonies.
In his homily, following a welcome of all his brother priests including retired Bishop Richard J. Malone, deacons and religious to the Chrism Mass, Bishop Fisher also thanked all attendees from throughout the diocese in attendance.
He explained that the celebration is so special because of the blessing of oils that will be used throughout the liturgical year and that is an opportunity for the priests to renew “our bonds of priesthood and our bonds with one another.”
“We seek renewal, and we are in renewal,” Bishop Fisher explained. “We are here together to find out our own renewal, our renewal with the Lord. In blessing the oil, we ask God to refresh the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and the ordination of priests and bishops.”
“In renewal of our priestly promises, priests also dedicate ourselves anew to ministry and take a fresh look on how we serve our people, our parishes, and our diocese. We also look to our faithful people who support us with their thoughts and prayers.”
The bishop extended special prayers to priests who were not present at the Chrism Mass including the sick and infirmed, those who are troubled and those who were unable to attend.
The bishop continued his message to the clergy that the Gospel reminds us that we are to love unconditionally and that we are loved by God unconditionally. We are free to put ourselves in service in the bond of fraternity and priesthood for the good of our people who are called to part of God’s kingdom.
One overriding emotion in our hearts as we reflect is our call to service and our call of love of God, Bishop Fisher added.
He called his fellow priests to be heralds of the message of unfailing love in a world that needs hope and needs that message of love more than ever.
Bonded together by the Lord Himself in His ministry, in joyful faith we need to keep our eyes on Him, so that we can see beyond the tensions, the disagreements, the stressors in our daily life of our ministry so often bring us.
“Jesus said to us … ‘Come to Me you who are labored and are burdened … I will give you rest, oh yes.’
“Sometimes we are burdened in our ministry, but that also is the experience of every parent, of every youngster, of every priest, and not to mention every bishop.
“On the theme of living the joy of faith, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus and often our biggest burden is our lack of love, the distances that grow between us or the sense of loneliness in which we carry out our ministry. But Jesus knows that and promises to be with us always and that our joy will be complete, and I will give you rest so that joy will be complete. God will walk with us with whatever we have to face.
“Today, we renew our priestly promises to Him and in consequence we make promises to each other, we promise to be present, and attentive beyond the circles of friendships. And it is that same joy that springs up in the heart of each of us because we love the same Lord and want to serve him and his people as we have been called to do. This is our common bond.
The bishop continued that Pope Francis consistently offers advice on three magic words as the antidote to our, at times, troublesome days.
Find a prominent place in our vocabulary as ministers of the Lord, he said. Daily doses of these words will of themselves break down the grip of isolation and self-absorption that we all experience. The words are simple … please, thank you, and I’m sorry.
Following the bishop’s homily, the collection of priests participated in the Renewal of Priestly Promises that involves a question and answer response format. The Mass continued with the Procession with the Oil and Gifts. The blessing of the three oils used throughout the diocese include the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and the Oil for the Sacred Chrism. These oils express the vital link of each sacrament to the priesthood, especially the high priesthood of the bishop, the center and sign of unity of each diocese. The bishop ceremoniously breathes three times into the casks to symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit.