Homily of Dr John Magee, Bishop of Cloyne at Chrism Mass in St Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh, Wednesday 23rd March 2005

24 Mar 2005


24 MARCH 2005



My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Once more we gather here in the Cathedral Church of Cloyne to celebrate the
Mass of the Chrism.  We gather as a Priestly people, a Holy People, God’s
chosen people, all sharers in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  Those among
us who are ministers of God’s Holy People, who are ordained in the Presbyteral
Order, together with me, their Bishop, will renew this evening their
commitment to the ministry by renewing the promises they once made on
the day of their priestly ordination.  I ask you all to accompany us
with your prayers.

During the course of this celebration the oils, used by the priests and Bishop
in the exercise of their priestly ministry, will be consecrated and blessed
and the priests will bring them back to their Parishes for use in ministering
to the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care.  This is a solemn moment
in the life of the Church in Cloyne when together, as Church, we invoke God’s
blessing and protection on His People just before we enter those three ‘sacred
days’ of Holy Week, during which we shall journey with the suffering Christ
on His way to Calvary, to the Tomb and to the glorious moment of Resurrection.  
Our Lenten journey finishes this evening during which we have celebrated
liturgically a great Season of Grace, a Season of renewal and reconciliation,
a Season of personal encounter with the Lord Jesus in response to His call:
“Come back to me with all your heart”.  Let us, each one, unite our hearts
with Him this evening in giving thanks to His Father for the gift of faith,
for the grace of redemption and for the new life we have, through Baptism,
in Jesus Christ, His Son.

During the period of Lent we have prayed much for the welfare of the Vicar
of Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II, who has been confined to a hospital bed
struggling with poor health.  In fact, it is from the hospital that he writes
his traditional annual letter to Priests throughout the world as they prepare
to renew their commitment to Jesus, the One priest, in whose priesthood we
all share.  In his letter to priests this year he writes: “My thoughts turn
to you, dear priests, as I spend this time recuperating in hospital, a patient
alongside other patients, uniting in the Eucharist my own sufferings with
those of Christ.  In this spirit I want to reflect with you on some aspects
of our priestly spirituality”.  At the heart of priestly spirituality is
the Eucharist and there was no surprise that the Holy Father concentrated
on the Eucharist in this special Year of the Eucharist.  Pope John Paul,
in his letter, took his inspiration from the words of Eucharistic consecration.  
Addressing the priests of the world who, every day, stand at the altar and
pronounce these words of consecration, the Holy Father said: “These words
provide us with illuminating insights for priestly spirituality: if the whole
Church draws life from the Eucharist, all the more then must the life of a
priest be ‘shaped’ by the Eucharist.  So for us, the words of institution
must be more than a formula of consecration: they must be a ‘formula of

These are the words written by the Pope this year to all priests.  But, my
dear people, if, as I have said, we are all a priestly people, a holy people,
God’s chosen people, then the Eucharist, which is at the heart of the Church,
must be a ‘formula of life’ for each Christian.  Let not the Mass become a
routine formula which bears no relationship to our lives.  Let the Mass and
the manner in which we all participate in it become a veritable Eucharistic
school for all of us, a school where we learn to love the Mass and a school
where we love to learn the Mass more and more.  The Holy Father, in his
letter introducing this special Year of the Eucharistic, stated: “one specific
project of the Year of the Eucharist might be for each parish community to
study the General Instruction of the Roman Missal”.  This Instruction has
just been published in booklet form and it would be ideal, for study projects
at parish level, for all who are engaged in ministry in the celebration of
Mass.  It would also form the basis for an ongoing catechesis on the Mass
through the Sunday homily.  The Holy Father says: “Pastors should be committed
to that catechesis….. by which the faithful are helped to understand the
meaning of the liturgy’s words and actions, to pass from its signs to the
mystery which they contain, and to enter into that mystery in every aspect
of their lives” (M.N.D. no17).
Throughout the course of his Letter to Priests this year one can note the
deep affection the Holy Father has for Priests, the sincere gratitude in his
heart for their faithful ministry and the care that must be taken of the
Priest by the Christian Community.  He entrusts the Priests to the maternal
protection of Our Blessed Lady, whom he calls the “Woman of the Eucharist”.  
He writes: “who more than Mary can help us taste the greatness of the
Eucharistic mystery?  She more than anyone can teach us how to celebrate
the sacred mysteries with due fervour and to commune with her Son, hidden
in the Eucharist”.  I invoke her protection on all here present, priests,
religious and lay faithful, God’s chosen people.  May you always experience
her presence at the altar as you celebrate the Eucharist and, as you adore
the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist, may you be conscious always of Mary
being with you in adoration.

Tomorrow, my dear people, we begin these ‘three Sacred Days’, a unique
celebration of the suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord.  These
days of grace begin with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper during which
we shall give thanks for the great gift of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.  
We shall try to grasp the immensity of the love the Lord Jesus has for each
one of us as we re-enact the moment of the new mandate of love by the washing
of the feet of our brothers and sisters.  May you all experience this Easter
the grace of renewal and the rising to New Life.  May you, my dear Priests,
experience this Easter the deep affection the Lord has for you.  I thank you
for your generous and wholehearted ministry to God’s people and I ask the
Lord to renew within you the fervour you had in your First Mass.  I take this
occasion to congratulate those priests of the Diocese who this year will be
celebrating the Golden and Silver Jubilees of their Priestly Ordination.  I
thank you for your fidelity and your generous service.

As we look forward to the future, which is always in the hand of the Lord, I
cannot but mention that I shall have the joy of ordaining a new priest for
the Diocese in this Year of the Eucharist.  We must continue to pray ‘the
Lord of the Harvest’ to send more and more young men to follow in your footsteps,
my dear brother priests.  The Holy Father’s words on this point are indeed most
touching and relevant: “Vocations will certainly not be lacking if our manner
of life is truly priestly, if we become more holy, more joyful, more impassioned
in the exercise of our ministry.  A priest ‘won’ by Christ more easily ‘wins’
others, so that they too decide to set out on the same adventure”.  Let us then
continue that adventure in grace by renewing our commitment to Priestly service,
going forward in confidence knowing that “God loves us, he goes before us in
his Providence, he accompanies us with His continuous saving acts”. A Happy
and Blessed Easter to all!

+John Magee
Bishop of Cloyne

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)
* Dr John Magee is Bishop of Cloyne, a Member of the Irish Bishops’
Conference’s Department of Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development,
Chairman of the IBC’s Commission on the Liturgy and a Member of the
IBC’s Commission for the Missions.
* The Catholic Diocese of Cloyne has: 46 parishes, 107 Catholic Churches
and a Catholic Population of 129,823. The Patron of the Diocese is
St Colman.