The Chrism Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral April 12 featured the renewal of priestly promises by archdiocesan priests, the blessing of holy oils and an inspiring homily given by Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.
“This is the week of truth,” said Archbishop Gudziak in opening his homily at the afternoon Mass. “This is the week of our salvation. This is the day of our priesthood, receive the oils of healing, and we come to understand the deepest mysteries of our existence. How good it is to be together. How good it is to hear the Lord’s encouragement and to encourage each other in this eucharistic sacramental fellowship.
“We need encouragement. Today this city is shocked by a shooting (at a subway station in Brooklyn). The world reels from wars in Yemen; drug cartels exploiting people in Mexico, Colombia; our brothers and sisters in the faith being persecuted, India, Indonesia, actually on every continent; and before the eyes of the world is an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and massacre of simple citizens.”
Archbishop Gudziak, at the invitation of Cardinal Dolan, addressed hundreds of archdiocesan priests at St. Patrick’s, who were about to renew their priestly promises, for their work in challenging times and reminded all through the words of Scripture that “Christ is here with us, yesterday, now and forever.”
“There are many occasions and reasons to get discouraged, but let us count our blessings,” he told the priests. “Let us listen to the words that were read, and feel the chrism, the ointment, the gifts of the Holy Spirit healing our wounds, offering clarity where there is confusion, and giving us that silent gentle strength of Christ who called us to serve.
“It’s a beautiful call.”
Archbishop Gudziak offered thanks to the people of New York and throughout the United States for supporting Ukranians, who are inspiring the world by walking the path of Jesus in a time of war in their native land.
“Time and time again in this cathedral, daily in your prayers in these months, with your great generosity, you have offered comfort to those who are captive, to the persecuted, to the wounded, to the 11 million homeless, to the 12 million who are still at home but cannot survive without humanitarian aid,” the archbishop said.
“For me, maybe for many of you as well, for all Ukranians, this has been a Lent and will be a Holy Week like no other. We ask why, why this injustice, why this suffering, why this craven cruelty, and yet at the same time embraced by you, anointed by the Lord through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we claim our brotherhood and sisterhood with Jesus. We recognize ourselves as children of the Father, and we live with hope.”
In closing his homily, Archbishop Gudziak reminded everyone of their shared goal.
“Our true hope is to be in the home of our Father,” he said. “We love each other here so that we can love each other forever, and in this Passion week, the holiest of times, as we celebrate these mysteries, let us be confirmed in these gifts, the healing, the sacraments, the fellowship, the service, the humility. Therein is our power. Therein is our life. In Him is our peace, and in Christ is our joy.”
Following the homily, Cardinal Dolan led priests through the renewal of the priestly promises before the rite of blessing of the oils and the consecration of the chrism. The oils are used in the parishes of the archdiocese during the coming year.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist was celebrated with all bishops and priests in the sanctuary.
“As a seminarian, it’s beautiful to see all the priests coming together especially as they come up to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, to see them all gather together united with Cardinal Dolan, our bishop. It’s beautiful to witness the Christ in them,” said Kevin Noyola, 28, a second-year seminarian at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, whose home parish is St. Joseph of the Holy Family in Harlem.
Susan Gan, a 67-year-old parishioner of St. Agnes in Manhattan, said she enjoyed seeing all the priests gathered together. She was also inspired by the words of Archbishop Gudziak and said prayers are needed for the people of Ukraine and New York. “We have to pray for peace,” she said.