Here is the Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley from the Chrism Mass held at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh, on Tuesday night (26 March).

 My dear brother deacons and priests, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

A very warm welcome to the Chrism Mass.

This celebration is always one that manages both to distinguish us in our various roles and to unite us around our one High Priest, Jesus Christ.

It is a moment for reflection upon how we first embraced our Catholic faith; how far we have come on our journey; and how well we have fulfilled the duties that we freely assumed along the way, both clergy and laity alike.

We all have distinctive roles to fulfil; yet, we are all heirs to the same life of grace, Jews and Greeks, men and women, young and old, slaves and free.

Each of us plays a modest part in the Mystical Body of Christ, but unless we do so with simplicity and in God’s grace, we will not fare well, and those around us will not fare well.

So, at the Chrism Mass, as we look at who we are, as the Church of Christ in Edinburgh, in one way today is a time for taking stock, for an examen of how we walked together in the arc of the last year.

One significant thing that has occurred for the whole Church has been precisely on this subject: how we translate believing into living, how our living has its impact upon those around us, whether Catholics or not, how we listen to each other, and how we learn from each other, and always in union with the living Lord.

The Synod

I say this, because this last element has become one of the key elements of the Synod that took place last October, and that will meet a second time this October.

The Synod is one which has been convoked by the Holy Father to examine the idea of Synodality, a concept that, although using old language, is actually one that is comparatively recent, by one account, coined in French as recently as in 1996.

Pope Francis, the Cardinals he has placed in charge of the process, and the Synod itself have endeavoured to explore this concept.

Synod is a familiar concept, but Synodality is something yet to be clearly defined.

It comes from Greek and its components essentially mean “Walking together”.

I was at a meeting last week in Rome and this was emphasised again.

The Holy Father has encouraged us all to walk together, and to do so by listening to each other.

There may be other elements that will emerge from the term, as time goes by and as the second Synod meets this autumn, but for now, it seems that the greatest emphasis has been on learning to listen again: to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to listen to each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Listening is something that we all think we are good at, but of course, that is not always true.

That we should be learning to listen to each other again is certainly to be welcomed, given how frayed tempers seem to have become in recent times, especially in the light of the consequences of Covid and attitudes that we now need surely to unlearn.

We need to unlearn being impatient, short-tempered, easily angered.

Mental health and wellness referrals have risen dramatically across the country, and it appears to be attributable, in part at least, to the fallout from the Covid crisis.

The Synod then, happens, providentially to fall at a moment when we need to learn to listen again, and again to be brothers and sisters to each other.

It is an opportunity to look back and see how much we need it, and to look forward to what may come next.

Let’s all pray that the Synod may lead to a better understanding and a better living out of who we are, as the People of God, in communion with each other, in communion with our sister churches, and in communion with the Successor of Peter in the See of Rome.

Priest & Deacons

In the meantime, I’d like to add a short word to our priests and deacons.

My dear brothers, today we reflect upon our own promises, and commit ourselves anew, as servants and leaders of our people.

Deacons are usually called to more service, while priests are usually more called to leadership, but servant leadership characterizes both orders.

Both Peter and Paul write eloquently of hope, and hope is something that we all need to keep our faith alive in joyful service.

Paul writes that Faith, Hope and Love are the three great Christian virtues, and Peter urges us to be ready to give reasons for our hope.

This evening, I would like to encourage you to reflect on your own hopes.

In Peter and Paul’s world, the ancient world, hope was not what we think of today.

Hope wasn’t always something positive, as it is in English. Elpis, the Greek word here, can also mean expectation and even foreboding.

In the pagan world, hope was often just a step away from despair and the fear of what is to come, something that can stalk us, especially if we find ourselves living alone.

But in Romans (5:5), Paul takes hope, and says that we have a hope that does not change, that does not deceive, that is not a step away from despair.

And that hope is Jesus Christ. 

Paul says that we sometimes we suffer, but suffering and difficulties produce endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

That hope will not put us to shame or mislead or deceive us, because it a hope that comes through the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, poured into our hearts.

This is true for all of us who have received God’s Holy Spirit.

But it is especially true of you here who are in holy orders.

You have been given a unique gift of God’s Holy Spirit, living within you, and it will accompany you through all your sufferings and bring you hope.

That hope is Jesus Christ, who dies for us even if we are ungodly and unworthy.

Let Jesus, the one certain Hope, give you courage and joy and confidence.

May you continue to be the willing servants of the Lord that, with great heart, you promised to be on the day of your Ordination.

Every blessing to you and your people for the upcoming celebrations of the Triduum.

Thank you for listening, and God bless all of you abundantly, especially in these days.