Thursday, April 17, 2014


This is the Holy Father's homily for the Chrism Mass (the prepared text, not any off-the-cuff remarks:

Pope Francis: Chrism Mass homily

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Chrism Mass of the Rome diocese on Holy Thursday morning, in St. Peter's Basilica. The Chrism Mass is the traditional liturgy, during the course of which the oils to be used in the sacraments of initiation, Holy Orders and healing throughout the coming year are blessed. It is also a particularly profound moment of unity among the clergy of the diocese together with the bishop. The theme of the Holy Father's homily was the joy of priestly service. Below, please find the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks.


“Anointed with the oil of gladness”

Dear Brother Priests,

In the eternal “today” of Holy Thursday, when Christ showed his love for us to the end (cf. Jn 13:1), we recall the happy day of the institution of the priesthood, as well as the day of our own priestly ordination. The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest. Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God: that faithful people from which he is called to be anointed and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.

Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. Priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, and the Lord wishes the joy of this Love to be “ours” and to be “complete” (Jn 15:11). I like to reflect on joy by contemplating Our Lady, for Mary, the “Mother of the living Gospel, is a wellspring of joy for God’s little ones” (Evangelii Gaudium, 288). I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men. The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more “little” than a priest left to his own devices; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother: I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness (cf. Lk 1:48). And in that littleness we find our joy.

For me, there are three significant features of our priestly joy. It is a joy which anoints us (not one which “greases” us, making us unctuous, sumptuous and presumptuous), it is a joy which is imperishable and it is a missionary joy which spreads and attracts, starting backwards – with those farthest away from us.

A joy which anoints us. In a word: it has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally. The signs of the ordination liturgy speak to us of the Church’s maternal desire to pass on and share with others all that the Lord has given us: the laying on of hands, the anointing with sacred chrism, the clothing with sacred vestments, the first consecration which immediately follows… Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest. We are anointed down to our very bones… and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.

An imperishable joy. The fullness of the Gift, which no one can take away or increase, is an unfailing source of joy: an imperishable joy which the Lord has promised no one can take from us (Jn 16:22). It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy remains ever timely: I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands (cf. 2 Tim 1:6).

A missionary joy. I would like especially to share with you and to stress this third feature: priestly joy is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy. Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people: for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelizing them.

And since this joy is one which only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock (for even in the silence of his prayer, the shepherd who worships the Father is with his sheep), it is a “guarded joy”, watched over by the flock itself. Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to “guard” that joy; they are able to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy.

A “guarded joy”: one guarded by the flock but also guarded by three sisters who surround it, tend it and defend it: sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to poverty. The priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people. He doesn’t need to try to create it for himself. We know that our people are very generous in thanking priests for their slightest blessing and especially for the sacraments. Many people, in speaking of the crisis of priestly identity, fail to realize that identity presupposes belonging. There is no identity – and consequently joy of life – without an active and unwavering sense of belonging to God’s faithful people (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 268). The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than “exit” signs, signs that say: exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you, for your people will make you feel and taste who you are, what your name is, what your identity is, and they will make you rejoice in that hundredfold which the Lord has promised to those who serve him. Unless you “exit” from yourself, the oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful. Going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty.

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to fidelity. Not primarily in the sense that we are all “immaculate” (would that by God’s grace we were!), for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church. Here fruitfulness is key. The spiritual children which the Lord gives each priest, the children he has baptized, the families he has blessed and helped on their way, the sick he has comforted, the young people he catechizes and helps to grow, the poor he assists… all these are the “Bride” whom he rejoices to treat as his supreme and only love and to whom he is constantly faithful. It is the living Church, with a first name and a last name, which the priest shepherds in his parish or in the mission entrusted to him. That mission brings him joy whenever he is faithful to it, whenever he does all that he has to do and lets go of everything that he has to let go of, as long as he stands firm amid the flock which the Lord has entrusted to him: Feed my sheep (cf. Jn 21:16,17).

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to obedience. An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience: the parish to which I am sent, my ministerial assignments, my particular work … but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood. It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can, following the example of “Our Lady of Promptness” (cf. Lk 1:39, meta spoudes), who hastens to serve Elizabeth her kinswoman and is concerned for the kitchen of Cana when the wine runs out. The availability of her priests makes the Church a house with open doors, a refuge for sinners, a home for people living on the streets, a place of loving care for the sick, a camp for the young, a classroom for catechizing children about to make their First Communion… Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen (ob-audire) and feels a loving mandate from Christ who sends him to relieve that need with mercy or to encourage those good desires with resourceful charity.

All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world: it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus, the one Good Shepherd who, with deep compassion for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd, wants to associate many others to his ministry, so as himself to remain with us and to work, in the person of his priests, for the good of his people.

On this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to enable many young people to discover that burning zeal which joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.

On this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to preserve the joy sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world, to spend themselves fully in the midst of God's faithful people, rejoicing as they prepare their first homily, their first Mass, their first Baptism, their first confession… It is the joy of being able to share with wonder, and for the first time as God’s anointed, the treasure of the Gospel and to feel the faithful people anointing you again and in yet another way: by their requests, by bowing their heads for your blessing, by taking your hands, by bringing you their children, by pleading for their sick… Preserve, Lord, in your young priests the joy of going forth, of doing everything as if for the first time, the joy of spending their lives fully for you.

On this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to confirm the priestly joy of those who have already ministered for some years. The joy which, without leaving their eyes, is also found on the shoulders of those who bear the burden of the ministry, those priests who, having experienced the labours of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves: “get a second wind”, as the athletes say. Lord, preserve the depth, wisdom and maturity of the joy felt by these older priests. May they be able to pray with Nehemiah: “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (cf. Neh 8:10).

Finally, on this priestly Thursday I ask the Lord Jesus to make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm. It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels. May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity (Guardini). May they know the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful homily.

When the pope choked up at the end (it seemed like he did), speaking of the joy of the elderly priests, the joy of the cross, I did too. It made my eyes tear up...

Anyway… have a Blessed Triduum, Father Allan!

Anonymous said...

Before anyone starts. Yes Francis looked miserable but of course he sees angels before it's really piety and don't you dare disagree. I am a liberal and I have spoken therefore if you disagree with me it's because you are a racist and hate those who are different than yourselves.

The usual brown trimmed vestments were not cheap and unbecoming, they were noble and simple ........and don't dare disagree. I am a liberal and have spoken. If you disagree with me it's because you hate poor people and want them to suffer and are a Republican.

The liturgy wasn't impoverished and boring The bestest pope ever was there so naturally it was a golden experience and please don't disagree the liberals don't like people who disagree.

Although the pope will not genuflect to the Real Presence, tonight we will see him crawling on the floor at the feet of Muslims.....again. It's not scandalous, it's called humility. There has never been such a humble pope in all 2000 years of Church history and please don't disagree as I am a liberal and therefore correct at all times. And if you dare disagree with me that's because you are a Republican and want grandma thrown off a cliff, hate women and well, you just hate, so be quiet.

Anonymous 2. And of course I am the world wide famous Anonymous 2 not the one who started posting on Feb 13, 1978 from the planet Saturn but the real one.

Before anyone has the usual hizzy fizziness rants it's all sarcasm, that means it's a joke people. Lighten up. Of course I thought it was horribly dull and lackluster like all his liturgies. That's not sarcasm but my opinion which I have a right to express, not in a mean disrespectful way but in the way I choose. Have a special special day.

Anonymous said...

He must feel like the pope today, did you see he wore the papal ring this time.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Anonymous at 5:49: I hope your personality trait isn't to carp against your spouse, or if you are a priest, to carp and criticize you parishioners. This is the greatest recipe for a divorce, carping, negativity, tearing down, criticizing, it is also called nitpicking. It isn't good for relationships, ends in divorce or schism if it is the Church and pope to whom it is directed. It is sad for a Catholic to do so, whether liberal or conservative, heterodox or orthodox.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous at 5:49: I hope your personality trait isn't to carp against your spouse, or if you are a priest, to carp and criticize you parishioners"

Well the pope constantly criticizes practicing Catholics and who are you to judge? You sound like a self absorbed neo pelagian to me, in all charity of course just like Francis does.

Vox Cantoris said...

How do we explain Father, that the Pope does not genuflect after the elevations but he can kneel to wash the feet?

I fell for the idea too that, "he must have bad knees" I surely do and struggle sometimes from kneeling, but we've seen him kneel.

How are we to interpret this without the hyperbole of our friend above?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As one who has arthritis in both knees, and has had two meniscus surgeries on my right knee, one 15 years ago and another 4 weeks ago, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is easier to kneel than to genuflect. A proper genuflection places most of the weight on the left knee. I cannot do a proper genuflection because of the arthritis in the that knee. The meniscus issues with the right knee are less intrusive for the genuflection but curtail it. The best I can do is a half genuflection/bow at the same time. I've been told it would look better for me to do a profound bow rather that the curtsey that I attempt now.

I know for a fact that the Holy Father has sciatica issues as well as knee issues.

Let me repeat. It is easier to kneel than to genuflect when one has knee, sciatica and meniscus and arthritis issues.

So, why don't we just complain about how high and long his elevations are and his breathing issues and that he is 77 years old, that should be a laugh riot pointing out how old he is.

Vox Cantoris said...

Thank you Father, I was not trying to be argumentative or disrespectful; your answer is sufficient. You can understand though why the question would be asked.

John Nolan said...

I am as concerned with how the liturgy is celebrated as anyone on this blog, but having watched this Mass, I would make the following observations.
1. The Pope was acting as the diocesan bishop. He could have celebrated in Italian, but instead did so in Latin.
2. Despite the overall length of the Mass, he used the Roman Canon. This is a lesson to those priests who preach for too long and use EP II in order to get the Mass over with as quickly as possible.
3. The music has greatly improved since JP II's day, as has the liturgy generally, thanks to Benedict XVI and Guido Marini. I don't think we are going to see great changes in this pontificate. A year ago I was less sanguine.

Anonymous said...

I joyfully note the use of the Roman Canon at this Mass.... If only it were used more in my own parish. The traditionally-inclined, young parochial vicar uses it often enough, but the older pastor seems to prefer the other ones.

Augustus said...

Why do some find it necessary to "interpret" - really "dissect" - every aspect, no matter how inconsequential, of papal liturgies?

Did he kneel or not kneel? Did he genuflect or not genuflect? Did he chant or recite? Did he smile or frown? Did he bow from the waist or only from the neck?

Are the candles arranged in parallel with the front of the altar, or on an angle? Is the pastoral staff recently made or does it date to the pontificate of Sixtus V? Are the surplices worn by the cardinals replete with lace,or are the lace-makers of Burano weeping over their little-used bobbins, pillows, and prickers?

Dear LORD, some people have got very little of substance to worry about . . .

Anonymous said...


rcg said...

The Monsignor in my FSSP parish has a bad knee. Tonight he bowed profoundly and genuflected only during consecration. He was assisted by our priest and a visiting deacon both of whom genuflected. I can safely say we are about as trad as it gets and Monsignor is probably half the age of Pope Francis.

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed, if not disgusted, at the carping about the Holy Father's kneeling to wash feet but not kneeling at the Elevation in "routine" Masses. Might he not think it worth while to make a special gesture of humility for the Rite which preeminently illustrates humility (and remember that he had to be helped for the last "washees"), but simply not believe that he should overtax himself in everyday activity? The carping on this thread reminds me of the snarky snideness of Maureen Dowd, shortly after the accession of Pope Benedict XVI, in remarking unfavorably on his having as a teenager belonged to the Hitlerjugend.

- Ancil Payne

Anonymous said...

People complain about the carping that goes on about Pope Francis. Unfortunately, I thing he has actually brought carping about, particularly against traditionalists - true charity should extend to everyone and unfortunately I think Pope Francis has brought out the worst in traditionalists because he began first by complaining of them counting Hail Marys when they graciously offered him rosaries.

He has said nuns shouldn't be old maids, spoken very ill of priests. If he was CEO of a company he would completely break the morale of the company speaking that way to the workforce. He is really doing very little to build up the faith, more discouraging than anything else, unless you are a Muslim of course. He seems to have done a lot to build up the Muslim faith!

I have to say I loathe the vestments I can't watch the Mass because they're so ugly. The only vestments worse I have seen were worn by Pope Benedict which were a sort of rainbow blue! The Pope's vestments would be much better unadorned without the hideous black and gold trimming.


Anonymous 2 said...

Anonymous Wannabe 2 (at 5:52 am on April 17):

“And of course I am the world wide famous Anonymous 2 not the one who started posting on Feb 13, 1978 from the planet Saturn but the real one.”

What a silly person you are. I couldn’t have started posting in Feb. 13, 1978 because Blogs had not yet been invented. I could have given you a ring, though.

Anonymous said...

Jan, I did not say anything one way or another about criticisms of the present Holy Father in general, but only about those who criticized him for not kneeling (genuflecting) at the Elevation in Holy Mass day after day but kneeling for the foot-washing on Holy Thursday. Your remarks, while fine in themselves, are not responsive to my post, although, by your use of the word "carping," they seem to have been so intended.

- Ancil Payne