At the annual celebration of the Chrism Mass, August 20, Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown reminded clergy that it is through the anointing of the Holy Oils that they are called to be agents of healing, reconciliation, and trust.
He said while some elements of brokenness and debilitation have crept into the faith communities, they need to apply the oil afresh.
“As we bless and consecrate our oils, we are called to renewal and to be sent to be a life-giving presence in the world today,” Bishop Alleyne told clergy gathered at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam.
The special liturgy is usually the largest, official gathering of clergy in any diocese throughout the year. During the Mass, the Bishop blesses the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and consecrates the Sacred Chrism for use in parishes during the upcoming year. Usually celebrated in the Diocese on the Tuesday of Holy Week, it had to be postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Because the Diocese did not gather during Holy Week to celebrate the Chrism Mass, the Oils from last year continued to be used to offer grace and consolation to those in need.
The Bishop told the congregation that the oils are symbolic of the life of the community, represent and remind of our identity as God’s children, and our call to live in harmony as the body of Christ.
Referencing the text from the first reading, Isaiah 61:1, Bishop Alleyne outlined that in the time of Isaiah the people of Israel were facing very difficult circumstances, they were exiled, they were separated from their land and from their God and they were devastated.
“In that reality the prophet does not lament and give up, rather he speaks about the Spirit and anointing that will bring good news, relief, healing and the heralding of a new era,” Bishop Alleyne said, according to a Catholic Standard report.
Addressing those present—who were observing COVID-19 protocols—Bishop Alleyne spoke about the importance of the celebration.
“As Jesus cites the text from Isaiah, He says, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen’.” He said there were harsh realities in Jesus’ time: Roman domination, neglect of the poor and vulnerable, rejection of the sick, condemnation of the innocent etc. Jesus aligns His mission with that of Isaiah, not to become victim of these harsh circumstances, but rather to be a presence, marked by the Spirit and anointing, that would bring hope, new life, and freedom.
“What are the signs of our own time?” the Bishop asked.
He highlighted that the present pandemic has caused persons to live in uncertainty and fear. For example, he said, the extent of violence in the daily function of society, the number of displaced and migrants in Guyana and the world over.
“We could become disheartened; we could become defiant; we could rebel. We could let this determine our lives but as people who are Spirit filled and anointed, who are baptised and confirmed, we are sent, sent to be bearers of life and good news.”
He recognised in these COVID times that the Diocese has shared faith in new and creative and expansive ways.
The Bishop mentioned that the Youth Office held Bible seminars and Bible Quizzes using the available technology. These, he said, are examples of fulfilling today the text of Isaiah and the words of Jesus to bring life, healing, new sight, and freedom.