Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Chrism Mass of Unity, Hopefully, for Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose
I do not know if all of them would be attending their Lenten retreat and celebrate the Chrism Mass at the San Jose Cathedral this coming Thursday. Here, Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD,DD is going to bless three oils — the oil of catechumens (oleum catechumenorum or oleum sanctorum), the oil of the infirm (oleum infirmorum) and holy chrism (sacrum chrisma) — which will be used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the vicariate for the year. The most important thing is this: Chrism Mass manifests the unity of the priests with their bishop. Yes, the Catholic priests who have been entrusted with the awesome privilege and duty to celebrate the sacred mysteries, the sacraments of the Church, for the sanctification of souls and the salvation of the world. Come Thursday, the priests of the vicariate, both diocesan and religious, will be asked: “Are you resolved to be faithful ministers of the mysteries of God, to celebrate the Eucharist and the other liturgical services with sincere devotion?”
The bishop will go on to say: “Are you resolved to imitate Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, by teaching the Christian faith without thinking of your own profit, solely for the well-being of the people you were sent to serve?” And each of them will respond, “I am.” I remember the Chrism Mass in 2007 when a priest, right after renewing his priestly vow, filed a Certificate of Candidacy for the local elections and that was the first instance or issue that divided the priests under the administration of our current bishop.
Needless to say a priest should be a man of character, or any human being for that matter. Character to me is more important than the past, than what other people think, say or do. Now, why am I talking about the importance of character at this Chrism Mass? It’s simply because I think that this celebration gives us an opportunity to renew Christian our character on how we respond to the challenges and intricacies of life. Lenten season must bring readiness for major overhaul for each one of us, the laity and the clergy. Still, it’s always good to hear the “good news” once again and to be re-energized ever more deeply into the life of faith, to have a prime character adjustment to become priest of character.
Character’s still the best. From my priest of character comes priestly character. The sound priestly character for me stems from the priestly ministry that gives meaning to the life of the clergy. The Eucharistic Lay Ministers, the catechists, the PAKRIS leaders, the lectors and commentators, the acolytes and sacristans, the members of the choir,- practically everyone, could attest that a pastor possessing a good character brings a lot of inspiration to us. Jean Galot,SJ rightfully observed that, “The priestly character impresses upon the being of a baptized person an orientation which commits the whole self to the mission of the priest. God engraves that mission in every person. He makes it inseparable from personal being.” If he does not possess this good trait and values, the parish or the apostolate and office that are entrusted to him would endlessly be in shambles.
There are few priests who are extreme legalists who forgot what St. Paul taught us: “”Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own advantage, but that of his neighbor.”” (1 Cor. 10:23, 24). Why too much fuzz about temporal things such as financial administrative concerns and errors than saving souls?
Last time I checked, the three major obligations of a priest are as follows: 1.) Pursuit of Holiness; 2.) Fulfillment of the Pastoral Ministry; and, 3.) Nourishment of Spiritual Life. Others are just “value added”. To emphasize themes of brotherly dialogue and fraternal correction or clerical fraternal bond, Canon 275, par 1 CIC has this to say: “Since all clerics are working for the same purpose, namely, the building up of Body of Christ, they should be united with one another in the bond of brotherhood and prayer. They should seek to cooperate with one another…” With extreme legalistic traits like those of the Scribes during Jesus’ time, any man of cloth will just be sowing seeds of hatred and diversity instead of unity wherever he is assigned. How can a priest stand before God with such miserable, sad and damnable division of His Church?
It is foolish for a sheep to be closely identified with hungry, greedy wolves. This foolishness would result to unimaginable horror to the sheep farm that would even result to and division among his brothers. The Scripture have warned us: “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” – (1 Cor 15:33 [NIV])
The major document of Vatican II that tackles extensively about Priestly Ministry is called “Presbyterorum Ordinis” or PO for short. PO7 indicates the special relationship of priests as co-workers and assistants with the bishop, and the parallel relation of priests to presbyterium of priests who, with the bishop, makes up the ministerial family of a local Church. By the way, is our Diocesan Curia still intact?
PO8 on the other hand exhort priests, whether diocesan or regular, to assist one another as fellow workers in the service of the truth. It exhorts hospitality and kindness and the sharing of goods. PO9 reminds priests that they were themselves reborn in the font of baptism and are thus related as brothers to all baptized. May their relationship with lay people be one of service: “to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of lay people’s dignity and the special role the laity, specially our lay ministers, have to play in the Church’s mission.” Instead of too much dealing with the “side shows” of the crisis, hope the present officials find internal ways finding internal solution to the problem with competent Church authorities. Only through this we become sincere in giving flesh to the priestly ministry that every priest vowed to defend and protect.
I just do pray that a new break of dawn and of hope can be expected this Chrism Mass..