Thursday, April 13, 2017


For that dreaded convenience in a world where transportation is quick, comfortable and affordable, the Church nonetheless in many dioceses has corrupted the Liturgies of Holy Week by offering the Chrism Mass on a day that is alien to its purpose.

In our diocese for the convenience of priests, it is celebrated on Holy Tuesday night. But it is actually meant to be celebrated on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral to point out that ON HOLY THURSDAY, NOT HOLY TUESDAY, The Lord Jesus Christ instituted two sacraments and in this order: Holy Orders first (which on Holy Thursday with our bishop, we celebrate as the oils that we use in our ministry are blessed and Chrism consecrated).

Then on Holy Thursday Evening, the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper celebrates the instituion of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the Mass as Sacrifice, which of course needs a bishop or priest and in the EF's Solemn High version, a deacon and subdeacon. Are we going to move it to the morning for early rising priest's and their convenience in the future, or so more people can come, move it to the Sunday following????????

At least the Vatican as far as this year, at least, still keeps Holy Thursday's two Masses on Holy Thursday. Good for them.

Here is Holy Thursday's splendid celebration of the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's with Pope Francis and his homily below the video. The majority of the Mass is in Latin! Why? What is the Holy Father's logic in using Latin for some papal liturgies and Italian for others? For example, last Sunday, Palm Sunday, which would have had a huge international participation of a variety of language groups. the Palm Sunday Papal Mass was entirely in Italian:

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Holy Thursday Chrism Mass

13 April 2017

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18). Jesus, anointed by the Spirit, brings good news to the poor. Everything he proclaims, and we priests too proclaim, is good news. News full of the joy of the Gospel – the joy of those anointed in their sins with the oil of forgiveness and anointed in their charism with the oil of mission, in order to anoint others in turn.

Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible! –, he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer. Like every other missionary disciple, the priest makes the message joyful by his whole being. For as we all know, it is in the little things that joy is best seen and shared: when by taking one small step, we make God’s mercy overflow in situations of desolation; when we decide to pick up the phone and arrange to see someone; when we patiently allow others to take up our time…

The phrase “good news” might appear as just another way of saying “the Gospel”. Yet those words point to something essential: the joy of the Gospel. The Gospel is good news because it is, in essence, a message of joy.

The good news is the precious pearl of which we read in the Gospel. It is not a thing but a mission. This is evident to anyone who has experienced the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing” (Evangelii Gaudium, 10).

The good news is born of Anointing. Jesus’ first “great priestly anointing” took place, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of Mary. The good news of the Annunciation inspired the Virgin Mother to sing her Magnificat. It filled the heart of Joseph, her spouse, with sacred silence, and it made John leap for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, his mother.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to Nazareth and the joy of the Spirit renews that Anointing in the little synagogue of that town: the Spirit descends and is poured out upon him, “anointing him with the oil of gladness” (cf. Ps 45:8).

Good news. A single word – Gospel – that, even as it is spoken, becomes truth, brimming with joy and mercy. We should never attempt to separate these three graces of the Gospel: its truth, which is non-negotiable; its mercy, which is unconditional and offered to all sinners; and its joy, which is personal and open to everyone.

The truth of the good news can never be merely abstract, incapable of taking concrete shape in people’s lives because they feel more comfortable seeing it printed in books.

The mercy of the good news can never be a false commiseration, one that leaves sinners in their misery without holding out a hand to lift them up and help them take a step in the direction of change.

This message can never be gloomy or indifferent, for it expresses a joy that is completely personal. It is “the joy of the Father, who desires that none of his little ones be lost” (Evangelii Gaudium, 237). It is the joy of Jesus, who sees that the poor have the good news preached to them, and that the little ones go out to preach the message in turn (ibid., 5) The joys of the Gospel are special joys. I say “joys” in the plural, for they are many and varied, depending on how the Spirit chooses to communicate them, in every age, to every person and in every culture. They need to be poured into new wineskins, the ones the Lord speaks of in expressing the newness of his message. I would like to share with you, dear priests, dear brothers, three images or icons of those new wineskins in which the good news is kept fresh, without turning sour but being poured out in abundance.

A first icon of the good news would be the stone water jars at the wedding feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:6). In one way, they clearly reflect that perfect vessel which is Our Lady herself, the Virgin Mary. The Gospel tells us that the servants “filled them up to the brim” (Jn 2:7). I can imagine one of those servants looking to Mary to see if that was enough, and Mary signaling to add one more pailful. Mary is the new wineskin brimming with contagious joy. She is “the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286), Our Lady of Prompt Succour, who, after conceiving in her immaculate womb the Word of life, goes out to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth. Her “contagious fullness” helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy. This cannot be, for “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (ibid., 1)

A second icon of the good news is the jug with its wooden ladle that the Samaritan woman carried on her head in the midday sun (cf. Jn 4:5-30). It speaks to us of something crucial: the importance of concrete situations. The Lord, the Source of Living Water, had no means of drawing the water to quench his thirst. So the Samaritan woman drew the water with her jug, and with her ladle she sated the Lord’s thirst. She sated it even more by concretely confessing her sins. By mercifully shaking the vessel of that Samaritan women’s soul, the Holy Spirit overflowed upon all the people of that small town, who asked the Lord to stay with them.

The Lord gave us another new vessel or wineskin full of this “inclusive concreteness” in that Samaritan soul who was Mother Teresa. He called to her and told her: “I am thirsty”. He said: “My child, come, take me to the hovels of the poor. Come, be my light. I cannot do this alone. They do not know me, and that is why they do not love me. Bring me to them”. Mother Teresa, starting with one concrete person, thanks to her smile and her way of touching their wounds, brought the good news to all.

The third icon of the good news is the fathomless vessel of the Lord’s pierced Heart: his utter meekness, humility and poverty which draw all people to himself. From him we have to learn that announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way. Evangelization cannot be presumptuous. The integrity of the truth cannot be rigid. The Spirit proclaims and teaches “the whole truth” (cf. Jn 16:3), and he is not afraid to do this one sip at a time. The Spirit tells us in every situation what we need to say to our enemies (cf. Mt 10:19), and at those times he illumines our every small step forward. This meekness and integrity gives joy to the poor, revives sinners, and grants relief to those oppressed by the devil.

Dear priests, as we contemplate and drink from these three new wineskins, may the good news find in us that “contagious fullness” which Our Lady radiates with her whole being, the “inclusive concreteness” of the story of the Samaritan woman, and the “utter meekness” whereby the Holy Spirit ceaselessly wells up and flows forth from the pierced heart of Jesus our Lord.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, in our diocese which, as you know, covers 37,000 square miles, it is more than a "convenience" to hold the Chrism Mass on Tuesday evening.

And while transportation these days is "quick," not everyone drives as fast as you. The priests who are able to come from the far reaches of our diocese would be hard pressed to make a Chrism Mass on Thursday morning, then return to their far-flung locations for the Mass of the Lord's Supper in the early evening.

This is not "corruption." Recall, you should, the words of the Lord: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Wah, wah wah

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Priests coming a long distance, could easily come in on Spy Wednesday, spy out a luxurious hotel, the bishop could provide a splendid meal at Savannah's finest and a splendid breakfast at 6 AM followed by Mass at 8 AM and we on the road by 11 AM. The Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, unless one has celebrated it on Holy Tuesday should be in the evening, not early afternoon or morning or any other day of the week, it would be silly to do so. Oh, that's why I am ranting and raving about Holy Thursday's Chrism Mass celebrated on Holy Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

A little off the topic but somewhat "days of old" (before the late 1960s), did major league baseball not play games on Good Friday and/or Easter Sunday? I say that in light of the home opener of the Atlanta Braves tomorrow at the new Sun Trust Park in Cobb County...doubtless there will be a huge crowd, but is it asking too much for MLB not to play on Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Certainly we could get by with less than the standard 162 games a year...heck, even the grocery and department stores around here close on Easter! Of course I know our beloved Masters sometimes falls at Easter, but that does not happen every year (the next time is in 2020), and of course there are far fewer golf tournaments than baseball games.

rcg said...

How was it handeled back in the day of horse and buggy?

When I travel to Warner Robins I can make the trip in a little over an hour at McDonald Speed, have my meetings, and return to the airport for dinner. I don't do it every day although we have employees that travel daily from Marietta to WR!

Stephen Conner said...

Having the Chrism Mass other than Holy Thursday morning takes priests away from their parishioners during this very important week. I agree, fully, with Father McDonald on this issue, with no disrespect, whatsoever, to Bishop Hartmayer. The devout faithful, who are able to attend Daily Mass, should have access to the Mass, not a Communion Service, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. It's the final sprint of Lent, so to speak. Hence the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday morning. The presence of our priests is so incredibly important to us lay Catholics, especially on important days in the Church year! I know each priest and parish has their own individual situations, however, I believe our beloved priests should be home to celebrate Holy Mass on weekdays or Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and other major Feast Days of the liturgical year. The weekly off-day excluded. I imagine that hotel rooms or near-by rectory guest rooms could easily be provided for far-traveling priests on Wednesday night of Holy Week. With all due respect, this layperson's point of view.

Anonymous said...

The state's "other diocese" also has its Chrism Mass---or I should say had it---this past Tuesday. Maybe it allows for more time to prepare for the Holy Thursday liturgy; I think up here lunch is served afterward and clergy have a chance to see each other, one of the rare times they get to do it.