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‘Use your voices to proclaim the faith’ — Bishop Malooly’s Chrism Mass homily

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The following is taken from Bishop Malooly’s homily at the Chrism Mass on March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover.

It’s great to be with all of you here. This is one of the wonderful once-a-year celebrations. This is my seventh Chrism Mass (as bishop of Wilmington).

Bishop Malooly stirs the balm into the holy oil before consecrating the sacred chrism during the Chrism Mass March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover. (Jason Minto for The Dialog)
Bishop Malooly stirs the balm into the holy oil before consecrating the sacred chrism during the Chrism Mass March 30 at Holy Cross Church in Dover.

For some reason this is always a very significant moment of transition for me. Almost like the beginning of a new year, even though it’s nestled in Holy Week.

It’s a time to welcome new members, to bless and consecrate the sacramental oils and to have my brothers and myself renew our priestly commitment.

The holy chrism is used to anoint the newly baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation and to anoint the hands of presbyters (priests) and the heads of bishops at their ordinations, as well as in the rites of anointing pertaining to the dedication of churches and altars.

The oil of catechumens is used in preparation of the catechumens for their baptism. The oil of the sick is used in the comfort and support of the sick in their infirmity.

Today as we celebrate, I am very grateful for so many women and men in consecrated life, who offer us such powerful witness in different ministries.

Many of our priests in religious communities have been joining us in great numbers in recent years. Our Franciscans, our Oblates, I’m very happy to have all of you. Many of you are involved in our parishes, too, and for that I’m grateful.

This is the Year of Consecrated Life, so it’s even more important.

I also want to acknowledge our permanent deacons and their wives, all of our dedicated diocesan, parish, school and Charities employees and coworkers. Each of you has a mission and a ministry and it’s important for all of us.

With this Chrism Mass, I look forward with hope. I look back with gratitude. I especially want to thank my brother priests for their support, their faith, their leadership and their positive outlook. You have kept your parishes and ministries alive and vibrant.

Yesterday, Pope Francis, to the youth of the world, said, “Have the courage to be happy.” And I ask the same of you. It’s not always easy for us but it’s so important, to continue to bring joy to where you minister.

I want to thank you now for the first time for the remarkable effort you made on behalf of the capital campaign. It was successful because the pastors made it successful in parishes. For that, I’m very grateful.

The Gospel is familiar. When Jesus began his public ministry he returned to Galilee. When he came to Nazareth, where he was raised, he stood up in his own synagogue and read from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Then he rolls up the scroll and the first thing he says in his public ministry, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

This would be what he did during his public ministry, how he would reach out and serve the needs of all he met.

When we look at Pope Francis’ agenda and how he deals with all kinds of people, especially the poor and needy, you see a very similar model as we hear in Isaiah and see in Jesus.

Today, as I always do, I would once again appeal to all of us to intensify our efforts to pray for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.

I am grateful for the work Father Dave Kelley and his vocation team of priests do. I also thank my brother priests who have been working with the Come and Seek program for the gathering together of young men with a group of priests just to sit down and discuss (the priesthood).

My four seminarians — and I wish there were more but they are outstanding — are here this evening. They are serving and I’m grateful that you are here.

Are there many of our catechumens or candidates here who will be received into the church at the Easter Vigil? We had about 200 at the Rite of Election and it’s good to have you’re here.

Every year our candidates and catechumens create a lot of energy for us. I saw that once again on Saturday. If you were not at our sixth annual Youth Pilgrimage, we had just short of 1,200 people marching, carrying the cross and witnessing to their faith.

When we passed a place, people would run out and say, “What are you doing?”

And they would say, “We’re witnessing our belief in Jesus and what he did for us.”

So even by their expressions and demeanor, it made a great witness for those who were there.

It was a shoehorned event at St. Hedwig, as Father Andrew (Molewski) knows, getting them in for the Stations.

We had the adoration and Benediction and St. Paul’s; reconciliation at St. Anthony’s. Stations of the Cross, beautiful Stations, at St. Hedwig’s, and Mass back at St. Elizabeth’s.

The enthusiasm of our young people was not only energizing for us, who were the adults there, but I also think it was very helpful for them to see the faith of so many of their peers and the willingness to express that.

They were positive, they were upbeat, they were filled with joy. And they understood Pope Francis’ challenge to have the courage to be happy.

At the time of the millennium, some 15 years ago now, Pope John Paul wrote, and I love this phrase, “All initiatives should be set in relationship to holiness, which expresses best the mystery of the church.”

All of our initiatives, all of our activities should be set in relationship to holiness which expresses best the mystery of the church.

No one who suffered as long as he did and was as holy as he was could miss this realization. He knew it firsthand and he knew it substantively.

We are to be holy within the unique gifts and personality God has given us.

As our Oblate brothers and sisters remind us, quoting St. Francis de Sales, “Be who you are and be that well.”

That’s true of every one of us. I know my brother priests take that seriously and we all should.

During this week, we will once again remember, commemorate and celebrate the sacred mysteries of our redemption. On Thursday, we will gather to celebrate the Eucharist, commemorating that first Eucharist at the Last Supper. At the same time, we will be focused on service, by the Washing of the Feet.

On Good Friday, we will celebrate our Lord’s suffering and death, that selfless gift that gives each of us eternal life.

At the Vigil and on Easter Sunday, we will remember the joy of that first Easter.

Some 2,000 years-plus later, we are encouraged by the Lord’s presence among us. We are truly blessed. He asked very little of us. I think he wants us to do what the early disciples did: to speak the Good News to others that Jesus suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life. No more complex, no simpler, just simple fact: Jesus suffered, died and rose that we might have eternal life.

I ask you during this Holy Week to speak that phrase to your friends who might not be as connected to the Lord as you are. To do what Paul and the holy men and women of the first century did. They didn’t have pamphlets or books, they had voices and they used those voices to proclaim your faith.

Let us do the same.