The Chrism Mass in Melbourne

Lots of nice piccies here on the CAM website of yesterday’s Chrism Mass in St Patrick’s, along with the text of the Archbishop’s homily.

I always enjoy this liturgy, which I rather naughtily refer to as the “cooking show”. I especially enjoy the opportunity to play “spot your parish priest”.

But seriously, this is a very significant moment in the yearly liturgical life of the Church. In one sense, it is a celebration of the source and origin of the life of the local Church: the Eucharist, which is Christ himself, our source and summit; the priesthood gathered with their Bishop, who represents (according to Ignatius of Antioch), God the Father in our midst; the oils that are used to initiate new members of the Church into this communion of the Holy Spirit. All mixed up with the colours and smells and tastes and words and actions that go with sacramental life. Deep, deep stuff.

From a purely aesthetical point of view – well, not purely, I guess – I was particularly impressed by the Schola of Corpus Christi Seminary. We used James Quinn’s verses of “O Redemptor”, but sung the English refrain (“O Redeemer, hear our singing as we praise you with one voice”) to the traditional chant rather than the modern Wilcock setting. Thanks Herr Kappelmeister Geoffrey! Apart from three excellent hymns, the entire mass, using the new translations of the Gloria and Sanctus and Memorial Acclamation, was sung in chant, and the people joined in very well. Simple. Dignified. Beautiful. I hope it was an encouragement to every parish priest who attended to implement the same model in their own parishes.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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6 Responses to The Chrism Mass in Melbourne

  1. Hannah says:

    David I enjoyed this post of yours until you referred to A/Bishop as representing God The Father… then our thinking separated. Thats I will say.

    • Schütz says:

      The passage is Ch.8 in his letter to the Smyrnaeans:

      “See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.”

      It is, of course, more usual to see the Bishop as representative of Christ, but the idea of the Bishop as the Father is building upon a Trinitarian ecclesiology which sees the local Church as a communion of relationships. In this “taxis”, just as the Father is the “arche” of the Trinity, so the Bishop is the “arche” of the communion of the local Church.

      That’s how I read it anyway.

  2. William Weedon says:

    I am confused. I thought the Roman communion celebrated the Chrism mass as the first Mass of Maundy Thursday.

    • Schütz says:

      That’s the tradition, Pastor Bill. But the practicalities are that Holy Week and the Triduum being what it is, most dioceses transfer the event a day or two earlier to give priests the time to travel to the Cathedral and back without adding extra stress to an already busy schedule. Loses some of the connection to the Maundy Thursday institution of the Lord’s Supper, of course, by doing that…

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