After being postponed three times for the year due to COVID-19 church closures, the annual celebration of Chrism Mass, which usually takes place at the start of Holy Week occurred 5 p.m. Monday, November 9 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Archbishop Jason Gordon was the main celebrant.
Traditionally, the Mass takes place in the crowded Cathedral in the presence of faithful gathered to witness priests from the Archdiocese renew vows made at ordination. Instead, there was no congregation, and only present were about 40 priests and deacons , physically distanced, in keeping with COVID-19 protocols.
Archbishop Gordon chose to celebrate the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in observance of the Feast of the Dedication of St John Lateran Basilica, also November 9. This Basilica is recognised as the official cathedral of the Pope, the Mother Church of all Christendom and the cathedral of the world.
, The Archbishop began his homily telling clergy who were seated where the congregation usually sits, that these were “strange days and times”.
He spoke to the “pain” and challenge experienced by all during the past months with COVID-19.
“But as we see the challenge that we are facing in this time of COVID, I pray and I beg, also see this as a time of grace. An incredible moment, opportunity of grace,” he beseeched.
He observed that persons who were not ready to hear the gospel because of the busyness of their lives, and the security in which they lived, are now open to hear the gospel in a new way.
These persons, the Archbishop asserted, need a preacher, one who will take the Old and the New Testament and bring it to them in a way that would be “medicinal for their soul”.
Archbishop Gordon reminded his brother priests that they are custodians of grace, a grace that is to be administered to all people of God.
He warned them this is not the moment to hold back, retreat, or to become reticent about their role as priests. Rather, this is a moment where they must all boldly live out what has been given and entrusted into their hands because “the people are hungry, they are thirsty, they are starving for the Word of God … They need us.”
In renewing their priestly vows, the Archbishop invited them pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them as a presbyterate and as Church in Trinidad and Tobago. He hoped that the same Holy Spirit that birthed the Church in Pentecost and sent her out to mission will birth into them a desire and fire to become holy priests.
The Penitential Rite was led by Fr Stephan Alexander.
Rev Malcom Joab did the First Reading and Rev Sheldon Narine, the Second Reading. Rev Lennox Toussaint proclaimed the gospel.
Clergy renewed vows after the homily and then oils were blessed by the Archbishop. During the Chrism Mass, the oils used in the pastoral and sacramental life of the Church are blessed and consecrated for use in parishes throughout the year.