Archbishop Cushley has warmly thanked clergy and lay people for helping get churches reopened so people can return to Jesus in the Eucharist.
He made the comments at the annual Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh tonight (Tuesday 22 June).
The annual celebration sees the Archbishop consecrate the Sacred Chrism and bless the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick which are used by. Priests of the Archdiocese also gather renew the promises they made at their ordination to serve God and His people.
He said: "This moment affords me a chance to thank warmly our clergy and our people, many hundreds of them, who work hard every day to get our churches open, and to make them safe and welcoming places for all who come to church.
"I’d also like to thank all who have worked to put holy Mass online, and to prepare worship materials, especially for our children, to nourish people’s faith and to bring the Church into people’s lives, despite the difficulties.
As I said in my recent letter to you all, let’s do everything we can to make the life of our churches something attractive, something beautiful, something that makes people want to come to Mass, because it lifts everyone’s minds and hearts to God. Let our celebration of the Eucharist be something that helps us live lives that give glory to God and that enrich us all spiritually on our earthly pilgrimage.
Read the Archbishop's homily below. All images Benedicta Yi Xin.
Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley, Chrism Mass, 22 June 2021
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to the Chrism Mass in this, the Year of Grace 2021.
As many of you will have noted, this is the first time that the clergy of the diocese have been able to gather in reasonable safety since the first lockdown last year. Our last Mass together in any significant numbers was the funeral after the sudden death of Mgr Brian Halloran. Others of our number have also since returned to the Lord, the late Fr Tommy Greenan, Fr Hugh Purcell, Mgr Tony Duffy and Fr John Scally. Their passing has of course been marked in various places and ways already, but it is only right to name them here again today, at this first gathering of us, their brother priests, since March last year, in thanks for all that they did to serve God and his people. May they rest in peace, along with all the faithful departed that we have lost in these difficult and strange times.
Gathering for worship
Reflecting upon what is truly essential in life of the Church, as we have been obliged to do in these last eighteen months, it has struck me how some of the simplest things that we do are among the most important ones. One of them is the act of gathering as one people to worship God. This action, taken simply at the human level, is something that I for one have learned to appreciate again. We all know of its importance in principle, theologically, but when it is suddenly taken from us, as it was by Covid restrictions, we begin to realise, as has probably never occurred in living memory, the need for it as well as the simple beauty of it. Like our rediscovery, in its absence, of the precious nature of our relation to our loved ones, the relationship to each one of us here is something that we ought to appreciate, to renew and to build up afresh. We are all of us, after all, God’s children: we know that “in our heads”, but let us learn again to be brothers and sisters in our hearts, and in all charity to each other. Let us learn again to appreciate this vocation, this bond among us, and turn whatever feelings of loss we have had through Covid, to good account.
The bishop and clergy gather tonight, with a part of God’s people here present, to consecrate the holy oils. Not for nothing does the sacred Chrism give its name to this Mass, as the Chrism, in particular, is set aside for the most solemn consecration of people, of places and of things in this year of grace.
Tonight priests from across the diocese gather for the annual Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral. Archbishop Cushley will consecrate/bless the holy oils that will be used in the Archdiocese and clergy will renew the promises they made at their ordination to serve God/His people. pic.twitter.com/41Izpevhh6
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) June 22, 2021
And I am struck afresh by the importance of this moment as an act by the bishop together with all the priests in the diocese. Let us appreciate again these important and sacred moments that help us consecrate the whole year’s activity to God. Let us appreciate them again, in a way that perhaps we took a little for granted in the past. As a recent sign of that sanctification, and the work of the Spirit among us, I was very grateful to the priests for helping me confirm our young people in these days, something complicated by Covid. I also look forward to seeing the return of many other activities in our parishes soon.
This moment also affords me a chance to thank warmly our clergy and our people, many hundreds of them, who work hard every day to get our churches open, and to make them safe and welcoming places for all who come to church. I’d also like to thank all who have worked to put holy Mass online, and to prepare worship materials, especially for our children, to nourish people’s faith and to bring the Church into people’s lives, despite the difficulties. As I said in my recent letter to you all, let’s do everything we can to make the life of our churches something attractive, something beautiful, something that makes people want to come to Mass, because it lifts everyone’s minds and hearts to God. Let our celebration of the Eucharist be something that helps us live lives that give glory to God and that enrich us all spiritually on our earthly pilgrimage.
40 Hours Devotion
The upset in regular church attendance that I’ve just described is one of the reasons that I have decided to give fresh momentum to the 40 Hours Devotion. I would like it to be a means of giving us a renewed sense of the importance of the Mass and of the presence of the living Lord in our midst. From Advent onwards, therefore, we will have in place a timetable of the 40 Hours Devotion, celebrated in each of our parishes. I hope everyone will do what they can to facilitate, welcome and promote this devotion, especially among the young.
In this context, I’m also pleased to draw attention to the diplomas, courses and initiatives of our Catechetical Commission and of the degrees now being offered through Gillis by St Mary’s University, London. The cooperation with St Mary’s gives us a wonderful new opportunity to promote Catholic university-level education, on the ground, here in Scotland, for the first time in decades. This is something to be welcomed warmly, and I hope that everyone will support this initiative, as well as the local ones of our Catechetical Commission, to promote a deeper love of our Lord and of our faith.
I would also like to encourage everyone to be imaginative in reaching out to people who are suffering socially, economically and mentally, especially our young people, through the impact of the pandemic and the consequences of government policy and its application. Too many young people, especially young men, are suffering mentally and emotionally in a way quite unknown in living memory. Let us not only take note, but find ways to assist and support all those who find themselves troubled in mind or spirit.
Looking ahead, we need to move from defending ourselves from Covid, and move towards a more kerygmatic and missionary way of preaching the Gospel. We will start work soon on giving our people the means to give a convincing, joyful and ready explanation of the reasons for our Christian hope, before a world that is often indifferent or hostile to Christ’s love for all people. I hope to return to this question in the not-too-distant future.
Before I conclude, I’d like to mention four of our number who are celebrating 25 years in the priesthood: Alex Davie, Andrew Kingham and John McInnes Two of our number are also retiring shortly: Provost Hugh White and Canon Michael Johnston. We also have one new deacon, Josh Moir, and we will shortly have two ordinations to the priesthood, of Bobby Taylor and Martin Eckersley. Our gratitude, prayers and good wishes accompany you all! May the Lord bless you abundantly.
In need of God's Grace
Finally, let’s not forget that the Chrism Mass is an opportunity for the clergy to renew their promises before you, and for us to ask for your prayers and support. This brief rite is placed here every year to remind us here that we once promised solemnly to serve the Lord, and all of you, with our whole lives. We are also however, fallible and sinful, and in need of God’s grace, as well as your prayerful support, to live up to our solemn commitments and undertakings. So, please pray for us and support us, helping us to be the priests, and deacons too, that we wished to be and that we promised to be on the day of our ordination.
Although we are willing to serve, we are weak and sinful. Pray for us, that we may serve the Lord more worthily, and by doing so, serve all of you in the coming year, as we ought.
Thank you, and God bless you!