By Chinwendu Nnamani
Every Thursday of the Holy Week, Bishops, Clergies, Religious and the Lay faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu gathers at the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Ogui Enugu to join Catholics world over to celebrate the Chrism Mass.
The Chrism Mass is a public celebration and display of the unity of the Bishop to the priests of his Diocese and the entire Church community as Members of the Body of Christ to Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Church. It is one of the most holy and solemn Masses celebrated all year because, in addition to the priests renewing their promises to the Bishop, the three oils, Oil of Catechumens used in the sacrament of Baptism, the oil of the sick used in the Sacrament of anointing of the sick and the Holy Chrism oil used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the in Holy Orders for the ordination of Priests and Bishops are blessed by the Bishop during the Chrism Mass. These oils play such an important role in the life of the Church.
The 2019 Chrism Mass had in attendance, Most Rev. C. V. C. Onaga, the Bishop of Enugu Diocese who presided over the holy Eucharist, Most Rev. Ernest E. Obodo, the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Rev. A. O. Gbuji, the Bishop Emeritus, Very Rev Fr. Ambrose Agu, the Diocesan Secretary, Msgr. Geofrey Ogbene, the Cathedral Administrator, Very Rev Fr. Prof. Christian Anieke, Vice Chancellor, Godfrey Okoye University, several other notable priest of the Diocese and Religious men and women.
In his homily which was based on the readings of the day, 1st reading: Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9, 2nd reading: Apo. 1:1-8, and Gospel according to Luke 4:16-21. Bishop Onaga spoke on the Theme: Priests of our age/part time priests.
The Bishop said that the Chrism Mass is very important as it helps us to re- validate the vocation of the Priesthood; “we are gathered again to commemorate the gift of the Priesthood, it is an opportunity to re-validate the vocation of priesthood” and this, he said “is very important seeing the routine nature of the Holy Mass and prayers of the Catholic Church as routine breeds burden and is prone to devaluation and this can make Priests celebrate the Holy Mass with no sign of sacredness”, he rather admonished the Priests to always try to make every Mass, a new one just like Henry Newman.
“When the Mass is celebrated as a routine, it gets to a point where it becomes duty for duty sake and before you know it, you have lost touch with the real reason the Mass is celebrated as it loses its sacredness”, he said
“The Chrism Mass re-energizes and re-validates the essence and importance of the priesthood and this becomes very necessary in this age where only visible and tangible comfort and pleasures has become the yardstick for measuring meaning and essence and worst still in this sacred vocation, where the issue of relevance has taken the center stage, the quest for being known and popular has crept into the sacred vocation of the Priesthood and this has overtaken the quest for the absolute truth and wisdom which is what should be more important”. According to the blind and deaf Redemptories Priest, “the fear of being unknown can easily lead to lose of faith or clinging to shyness”.
“Let us emphasize the Priesthood in us which defines us, avoiding unnecessary and wired competition over material things. always remember that it is not how popular you are as a Priest or the number of degrees and certificate you have that matters, what really matters is how much Christ like you are and how many souls you have converted and touched as a priest”, he admonished.
“It is not also the position you hold in the church that counts but how fulfilled you are as another Christ, simply and nothing more, how many people feel Christ by meeting you, that is why we left our homes and embraced this very wonderful vocation, therefore we must always ask ourselves whether we are part time priests or full time priests”.
Bishop Onaga went further to enumerate the characteristics of the part time Priests as “a job seeker, while a full time Priest is another Christ ,fully immersed into the redemptive mission of Christ and not using the priesthood as a ladder to climb to what he really wants, a full time Priest is a full shepherd of his flocks always without any external distractions, let us be weary of the juicy clapping of the present age”
He concluded with what Apostle Paul said in Roman 12:2, “do not model your behavior to the contemporary world but let the renewal of your lives transform you so that you may discern for yourselves, what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and mature”.
He advised the Priests to always put all their energy and concentration in the calling as priests, “be full time priests as the full time priest is a happy priest”.
To the lay people the Bishop thanked them for their support and prayers and for “always encouraging us to stand firm in this calling”, he enjoined them to keep praying for the Priests as their prayers are needed for them(Priests) to live up to the expectation as the other Christ before the faithful.
The Bishop equally gave a little insight into the pastoral letter for the year titled; ‘Why are we Christians; one family of God’.
According to the Bishop, “it touches on issues that deserve our special attention such as being a true Christian, a true Priest or Religion, Religious Prostitution, Ethnicism and Sectionalism, Ostracism, the Osu Caste system, Internet Fraud, use of Social Media and being one family etc.
Pictures from the 2019 Chrism Mass at Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu