Thursday and Friday this week marked two diocesan celebrations of significant proportion. Thursday, we celebrated the annual Chrism mass at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Casper. The priests and deacons of the diocese gathered for a day of recollection and prayer. I gave two talks, and we also offered the sacraments of anointing and reconciliation. They enjoyed a noon meal together as well as time to socialize during the breaks. Mostly, it was a time to reflect and pray with particular focus on the gift we share in the sacrament of Holy Orders, and prepare to renew our priestly promises once again.
The people of the diocese responded in marvelous fashion, as the church was packed for the 5:15 Mass. From responses received at the end of the day, all felt the impact of the special nature of this annual ritual of our faith. After the priests renewed their promises, all present offered a standing ovation as a sign of their appreciation for the service of our priests. Indeed, the priests and deacons serve faithfully and well, and such recognition is heart-warming.
As a new bishop, there was a particular and unique grace experienced celebrating my first Chrism Mass as the head of a diocese. I can only stand in awe and amazement at the good things God is doing in our local Church. As I have been invited to return to Indianapolis to preach for the Chrism Mass this year, I will post my Chrism Mass homily Tuesday evening.
Last night, we celebrated the re-opening of the sanctuary at St. Mary Cathedral which has been under renovation since this summer. During the Mass, we dedicated the new baldacchino and tabernacle. The cathedral was filled with people and excitement. After Easter, the entire church will be closed for the remaining renovation work of replacing the carpet with tile and removing the pews to be replaced with new pews modelled on the original pews. We will reopen and dedicate the entire church on the Feast of the Assumption August 15.
Both of these celebrations give pause for consideration for who we are as “church” and not only what we do as Church, but more importantly, what God is doing when we continue the ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ is our Light, our Truth, the very expression and experience of God’s love present in our world today. It is His Word and Truth proclaimed in the Gospel still today. It is His very presence acting in and through us in the sacraments of the Church today. I pray we may all continue to live this Word fully, and receive Christ frequently in His Sacraments, that we may bring His Truth, and bear His Light authentically and well to the world today.
Blessings to all for a grace-filled Holy Week!