Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton spoke in Arundel Cathedral at the Chrism Mass about the mission of the Church in Sussex.
Echoing the first reading from the prophet Isaiah and the reading from Luke’s Gospel, he said: “The Particular Church that is our Diocese has the task of bringing the good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives, sight to the blind, freedom for the downtrodden and the bringing about of the Lord’s year of favour.”
He called on the Church to welcome those who are to be baptized at Easter, to bring comfort to the sick and to remember that we are to be a ‘Servant Church’. He said: “If we lose sight of Service, we lose sight of who we are called to be.”
In an ancient rite in which he blessed special oils to be used in baptism, anointing of the sick and confirmation of young people and adults, he also accepted the renewal of promises made at ordination by the scores of priests present at the Mass.
Bishop Richard said: “The Oils, this celebration of the Eucharist, the Renewal of Promises that take place this evening: All are calls to Service and Mission.”
His full message is below:
Whenever we gather for the Chrism Mass, the Church is truly present: people, deacons, priests, bishop and today’s liturgy presents is with a wonderful moment to reflect on the call that the Lord gives to his Church.
This call is reflected in our Liturgy today most especially through the focus on the great gift of the Sacraments that the Lord has given to us and on the renewal of Priestly Service.
The Church exists to call people together in the love that exists in the Blessed Trinity. We are called to live in relationship with one another and within the never-ending love that we experience in Father, Son and Spirit.
The Church has, therefore, a very clear mission. It is the mission of Jesus Himself. It is foreshadowed by the prophet Isaiah and taken up explicitly by Jesus Himself in his words in the Synagogue in Nazareth.
The Particular Church that is our Diocese has the task of bringing the good news to the poor, proclaiming liberty to captives, sight to the blind, freedom for the downtrodden and the bringing about of the Lord’s year of favour.
In a society that is so often driven by a secularist agenda, this call from Christ takes on a particular and challenging significance. Indeed, at this present time in the history of this country, when so many are experiencing times of uncertainty, the message of the Gospel – calling people into unity as children of the Father – offers the only real answer.
This Mission of the Church – of our Diocese – is as vital as it has ever been.
In the Liturgy of the Church, we express what we believe, what we know to be true. In today’s celebration we bless and consecrate the Oils that will be used in the administration of the Sacraments. These Oils speak to us of our mission:
The Welcome that is offered to the Catechumen, the one preparing for Baptism: This is at the centre of our Mission, for Baptism is the gateway to the Christian Life, that moment of union with the Blessed Trinity in whose love we are called to live.
The comfort and healing that is brought to the sick and the dying in the Sacrament of the Sick: The mission to the weak is at the centre of our Mission, for it is at the centre of Jesus’ ministry too.
We recognise the suffering Christ in the one who suffers. Every one of us is called to reach out to the poor and disadvantaged – something of which Pope Francis reminds is very often in his call for the Church to live in simplicity and in openness to the weakest in our world.
The service of the Church: expressed in the Chrism that is consecrated today. This oil, used in the year ahead in Sacrament of Confirmation and in the Ordination of Priests brings is the sign of the outpouring of the Spirit on those whom Christ calls and enables to be committed to the Christian Life and to the leadership through service to the Church. The Church is a Servant Church – and very often in today’s world a Suffering Servant Church. If we lose sight of Service, we lose sight of who we are called to be.
Our Diocesan Family must be a place of Welcome – welcome for our Catholic Community, especially those who, for whatever reason, have become a little detached from the community of faith. We must also be a Serving Church. It is in that Service to which Christ calls us in today’s Gospel that we shall truly become the community of faith we are called to be.
Our priests will soon re-commit themselves to the Service to which they were called at Ordination. We rejoice in their commitment and each of you is called to pray for them and for me too.
As they make their renewal of Priestly Promises, I invite everyone in this Cathedral Church and all in the Diocese to pray for our priests and for vocations to the Priesthood.
Let us also reflect on the call to service that is the joy of every one of the baptised. Service to family and loved ones, service to the wider world and most especially the weak, oppressed and those who have lost sight of the God who loves them.
In the measure that we do not reach our in welcome, healing and service – in that measure we are less than the Church we are called to be.
Service must be a constant reality for us. As we receive the One who gave all out of love for us, surely our truly valid response must be Service of our brothers and sisters, motivated solely by the love we have first received.
The Oils, this celebration of the Eucharist, the Renewal of Promises that take place this evening: All are calls to Service and Mission. May our Diocese be truly a community of Mission – the Mission in which Christ Himself calls us to share.