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Trials of past year can make us a ‘new creation’ says Bishop during Chrism Mass

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In the first reading during the annual Chrism Mass, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah declares that the spirit of God is sending him to bring glad tidings to the lowly, a crown in place of ashes and the “oil of gladness in place of mourning.” Last Holy Thursday, the diocese was in the midst of a global pandemic, a period of suffering and waiting that seemed to last a whole year. Though the pandemic continues, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge expressed his gratitude that things are moving in the right direction and that during these holy days parishioners can worship together. 

He asked Massgoers — many of the priests of the diocese, deacons, some lay people and those watching via livestream — to reflect on the past year during his homily at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington April 1. 

“With all that has happened, how has God changed you?” he asked. “We know that whenever we experience sufferings and trials and setbacks, God will never allow them to be in vain. Through them, he will make us into a new creation.”

During this past year, perhaps God has encouraged us to focus more on our mortality, “on how frail this passing world really is,” said Bishop Burbidge. “And instead, (God is shifting) our attention on the things that are above, the opportunity we have every day to grow closer to him so that we may live with him forever.

“I think another way God may have changed us is by calling us to have more dependency, more reliance on him,” he said. “In the midst of uncertainty, so many questions, so many opinions, we had to rely on the Lord.”

Over the past year, many have shown increased compassion and care to the less fortunate, he said. “The generosity of the faithful has been extraordinary and I am so thankful for the ways you have allowed our diocese and our Catholic Charities to help the increasing number of people who are seeking our assistance. By doing so you have helped us to show them the face of Christ Jesus, who is the hope of the world. Let us be reminded of the words of St. John Paul II — ‘I plead with you never ever lose hope. Do not doubt, do not tire, do not give in to discouragement. Do not be afraid.’ ”

Deacons process out of the cathedral carrying oil of the sick, oil of catechumens and sacred chrism. ZOEY MARAIST  | CATHOLIC HERALD

cm 149Bishop Burbidge also was impressed by the creative new ways Catholics found to evangelize during the pandemic. “This has to continue, especially now as we seek to remind those we love and those we serve that nothing can ever take the place of us being together as the body of Christ through the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” he said. “Guided by the Holy Spirit, may we find these new and creative ways to welcome our people home.”

After the homily, the priests of the diocese stood and renewed their priestly promises. Deacons then carried glass vessels of oil up to the altar and presented them to Bishop Burbidge. He poured the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens into metal vessels and blessed them. He poured oil and fragrant balsam into a metal vessel, mixed them, breathed on them and then prayed over them. In the middle of the prayer, all the priests extended their hands toward the chrism.

At the end of the Mass, representatives from each parish took home vials of oil and chrism to be used for baptisms, confirmations and other anointings throughout the year. 



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

@ZoeyMaraistACH