In his Chrism Mass homily, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin reflected on the challenges of family life, and the ‘irreplaceable role of families in our understanding of ministry’. The Chrism Mass was celebrated today, Holy Thursday, 29 March, at 10.30am in Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin.
The Chrism Mass is held during Holy Week in every Catholic diocese. During this Mass, the priests, deacons and representatives of the entire diocesan community gather around their bishop, who blesses the Holy Oils for use in the coming year. These are: Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and Sacred Chrism.
In his homily, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said, “This is a unique celebration. We gather around the table of the Lord to celebrate the Eucharist as a diocesan community. We have priests and lay representatives of every parish community, of every type of ministry or service, gathered with the Bishop around the Lord’s Table. I thank all of you for being here and I thank you and the communities you represent for your daily commitment to the life of the Church of Jesus Christ in this diocese. It is good to gather together to celebrate the Eucharist.’
He continued, ‘This Mass is a particular moment in which we celebrate priestly ministry and the fellowship of priests. It is good to be together as we renew our commitment to our calling and to our mission within the Church. The priest is called from among the baptised to a unique ministry, but it always a ministry of service and fidelity to the word of God, to the celebration of the Eucharist and to the pastoral care of God’s people.
‘All ministry of the Church is a ministry of service that must be exercised in such a way as to reflect the caring work of Jesus Christ in our midst. That special care of Jesus is witnessed also in the third oil we bless, the oil of the sick, used in the sacrament that brings comfort support and hope to those who are at the weakest moments in their life.’
‘The oil of the sick is a reminder of the special place of cherishing life in the ministry of the Church. Every human life is precious at any moment in its existence and no matter what condition in which it may find itself. The Church is pro-life and its pro-life message is not simply an occasional political platform but something deeper and irreplaceable. Every human life is created in the image of God. No one is excluded from God’s loving care and from the care of the believers in Jesus Christ.
Archbishop Martin went on to say, ‘This year we will celebrate the World Meeting of Families with the presence of Pope Francis. Why a World Meeting for Families? Let me share some reflections with you. The World Meeting is not just a five-day event but a moment in which we focus of the mission of families within the Church and society. In families, life and faith and love are celebrated and lived in an integrated way.’
‘Family life is not easy. Families are under enormous challenge. There is a sense in which the struggle of families is central to understanding many of the social challenges of life today: families struggle financially; they grapple with uncertainty about the values of society; refugees long to be reunited with their families or are struggling to keep their families together. Many more families are homeless, but in the face of indignity they still keep heroically alive their love as spouses and their love or their children.
I am really saddened by the fact that in the Capuchin Day Centre for the homeless they have had to open a special section where homeless families can share a meal together. These are parents and their children without a home who are, thank God, offered the possibility of being together to share – what we all wish to do – a family meal.’
He continued, ‘The failures of the Church in the past and the present very often struck at the lives of families. I have heard the cry of parents who experienced the pain of one or other family member having been abused and many were not listened to. Women who found themselves as single parents were often taken away from their children and at times children were left without knowing that they belonged to a family and had brothers and sisters. Where the church failed families and children then the Church failed Jesus himself.
‘Families vary. It is hard today to socially define what we call “the traditional family”. Every family has its own personal story and its own personal history. They are all different. Children are brought up in different settings, by married couples, by grandparents, by single parents, by non-married couples, by separated couples, by gay and lesbian couples. This is a statement of fact not of ideology. The Church must work to help that all these children are loved and are introduced to an appreciation of the Gospel of love.’
Archbishop Martin said, ‘Family is central to the lives of all and also to the care and ministry of the Church. As a Church in this diocese, we have to rediscover the irreplaceable role of families in our understanding of ministry. Parents have inalienable rights regarding the education of their children. As Church communities we need to find structures of dialogue with parents on this issue.
‘There is no ideal family but there is an ideal of family that springs from the teaching of Jesus. We have great families and we have families that fail. Here today we gather together. We do not put any of us under the microscope of where we are in our search for perfection. We are all sinners on a constant path of conversion. We learn to work together and support each other, to pray for each other.’
Archbishop Martin concluded, ‘I know just how much the laymen and women of this diocese appreciate and support the work of their priests. I know how priests seek to support families in their difficult challenges and how they learn from the goodness and generosity of families. “
‘Family is about love and none us can claim that our love does not need constant purification. Together let us allow the powerful love of Jesus take hold of us in our imperfection.
‘We place the World Meeting of Families under the protection of the Mary and of the Holy Family of Nazareth. We pray that the Church will become more visibly the community that witnesses to the care of Jesus and which enables every family to realise its dream for fulfilment and the healthy growth of children.’
The full text of Archbishop Martin’s homily can be found on www.catholicbishops.ie
Tomorrow 30 March, Good Friday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will lead the Way of the Cross through Dublin’s Phoenix Park beginning at noon at the Wellington Monument and ending at the Papal Cross.
Later that evening, Archbishop Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson will lead a silent procession on Good Friday evening at 7.15pm, leaving from Christchurch Cathedral onto St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral carrying the Cross of the Taize (of the ecumenical monastic community).
For full details of Holy Week and Easter liturgies in the Archdiocese of Dublin, please see http://www.dublindiocese.ie/holy-week-easter-in-parishes/.