On Monday I was able to attend – for the first time in my life – the Chrism Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street. The celebrant was the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini.
Over fifty Ordinariate priests were present, all wearing their Blessed John Henry Newman beatification chasubles, and the church was well filled with lay faithful, of whom I had the privilege of being one.
Dylan Parry of the Friends of the Ordinariate, who also took the photos, wrote about the Chrism Mass:
Continuing Christ’s Mission in the World
Ordinariate gathers to celebrate the Chrism Mass
Members of the clergy and lay faithful belonging to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham gathered at the Ordinariate’s central church, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory’s, Warwick Street (London, W1), for the annual Mass of Chrism on Monday 30 March.
For the fourth year in succession, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, HE Archbishop Antonio Mennini, was the principal celebrant at the Mass. He also consecrated the Oil of Chrism and blessed the Oils of Catechumens and the Sick.
The Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, preached. During his sermon, he suggested that the word ‘consecration’ links the two main parts of the Chrism Mass: the blessing of the oils and the renewal of priestly promises.
Mgr Newton reflected on the theme of consecration in light of the anointing of Christ, saying: “The mission of the Church is the same as the mission of Jesus. We are made sharers in Christ’s consecration and, therefore, in his mission through the sacraments of baptism and Confirmation, when we are anointed with the Oil of Chrism. It is the Oil of Chrism used at Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination which sets us apart, consecrates us for a particular service. That oil… might be called the oil of Mission.”
He continued: “Today, Jesus speaks to each one of us in this Mass. He stirs us to grasp a new and lively understanding of our particular sharing in his mission He sends us forth, priests and people, to be joyful bearers of the Good News – sharing in the divine mission, which was his from the Father.”
Speaking specifically of his priests, the Ordinary said: “But, also, we are here that those who are priests may recommit themselves in a particular service in Christ’s Church. The fact that we all share that calling to be missionaries does not diminish the role of priests. On the contrary, I think it makes it so much more vital. We will only be effective in our witness if we are grounded and nurtured in the faith of the apostles guarded by the Church, if we are sustained and strengthened for service by the sacraments and if we are lead according to the pattern of servant-hood exemplified by Christ, our great High Priest.”
He then addressed his clergy: “My brothers, [we must set] an example of love and service, of striving to live our lives according to the precepts of Christ; of being an encouragement and example to our people and not a stumbling block; of being known as men of prayer and commitment… As we prepare to celebrate, once again, the mystery of Christ’s love, let us recommit ourselves in his priestly service to enable the whole people of God to continue Christ’s mission in the world.”
Addressing the Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr Newton said: “Once again, I am extremely grateful that Archbishop Mennini, our Nuncio, has graciously agreed to preside at this celebration. It is always a great encouragement to have you with us, not only as a revered brother in Christ, but also as a visible reminder of our communion with the Holy Father Pope Francis.”
In his address at the end of Mass, the Apostolic Nuncio said: “Dear Monsignor Keith, dear brothers and sisters, dear friends… this is the fourth time that I have come to celebrate the Chrism Mass. It is a great pleasure and I thank you for such a kind invitation. It gives me the chance to share in such an important day [in the life of the Ordinariate].”
He added: “I come here as a friend, as a brother, and I am here also as a representative of the Holy Father. I want to assure you of the appreciation and the lasting affection the Holy Father has for all of you. I know all of you, and I think especially of priests and deacons, have paid a high toll in becoming closer to the Successor of St Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, the Holy Father.”
The Nuncio ended, saying: “The first call of mission is the communion of the brothers. May God bless all of you, give you hope and strength and encouragement concerning all that lies in the future.”
P.S. During the Chrism Mass Archbishop Mennini used Mgr Newton’s own crozier dating from his days as an Anglican bishop. The Archbishop grinned at the significance of this gesture when I whispered it into his ear as he greeted me at the end of Mass.
( and then there are Fr. John Hunwicke‘s comments …
Another splendid Chrism Mass yesterday! Celebrated as ever by the Nuncio, as the Holy Father’s particular representative; a lovely piece of symbolism since it reminds us that canonically and ecclesiologically we are directly under the Sovereign Pontiff himself; a detached portion, you might say, of the Church of Urbs Roma herself, miraculously transplanted into this our land. To great applause (I have to admit we did become a trifle unliturgical in our exuberance) Archbishop Tony, as I have heard him called, assured us (and not just once!) of the very special affection in which Pope Francis holds us. Among the massed concelebrants, our six formerly Anglican bishops. And Keith was very persuasive on Mission … Chrisma as the “Oil of Mission”. What a privilege it is to be incardinated into this splendid body.
Through an open door, I happened to notice, over the fireplace in the Ordinary’s study, a fine painting of Bishop Graham Leonard. I felt quite touched; how marvellous to be reminded of that great Pontiff but, even better, to be reminded by him of our continuities … that we lineally constitute as a Coetus that Ecclesia Anglicana planted by S Augustine Romanissimus Romanorum which was violently wrenched into schism under the Tudors but then, over the grace-filled centuries, felt its way back to full Catholic orthodoxy and the fullest and most whole-hearted adherence to the Magisterium. (You should have heard us sing Praise to the Holiest at the end!) We have so much to be proud of … Oops; I should have said, “Grateful for”; grateful for Grace, grateful for each other, grateful for Pope Benedict. God bless him! I am sure it is his prayers, joining with those of the amoluntos Theotokos of Walsingham and of Blessed John Henry, that propel us on our Way.
How the Clergy did chatter, before and after. We are so far flung that we have a lot of catching up to do. I don’t think I heard one little bit of bad news; just talk of growth … and “How’s your family?” … and “I didn’t hear about the Letter until it had gone to press” … and “What a lot of laity this morning, and weren’t they cheerful?” … and “Thank you so much for your blog” (Thank YOU, dear Fathers.) The only hints of sadness were occasional reminiscences of those who had said they would join us on our journey into unity with Peter, but who drew back at the last moment. How much more we could be doing if only …
Perhaps we have spent too much time enjoying ourselves and not enough time in penitential prayer for them? I, for my part, plead guilty to that failing. God give them the grace to understand, and give to me the grace of self-denial. )