Holy Thursday: Fr Damian Mc Caughan (PP Ballymoney and Derrykeighan)
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From Living Church Down and Connor
Normally on Holy Thursday morning St Peter’s Cathedral is packed to capacity for the diocesan chrism Mass with lay people and priests from all over Down & Connor. It’s a celebration of the priesthood. We remember how at the last supper Jesus celebrated the Eucharist for the first time and then called his apostles to share in his priestly ministry. Ever since that ministry has been carried out by the bishops as successors of the apostles and the priests and deacons they ordain to Holy Orders. At our Chrism Mass, we priests renew the promises of our ordination, and the Bishop blesses the holy oils we will use to celebrate the sacraments this year.
Needless to say, things are a bit different now. You know what has stopped us from gathering together in the cathedral. Last year I renewed my priestly promises watching the Bishop on the cathedral webcam. I was actually sitting in the chaplain’s office at the Causeway Hospital at the time. This year we’re still facing restrictions and I’ll be watching online again.
But while our worship may be restricted, our ministry continues. Jesus still wants his priests to be close to him in prayer, to share the Word of God and celebrate the sacraments, reaching out with love to all God’s people. Over the last year, we’ve had to find new ways to do that work - in car parks, wearing masks, over the phone and online through social media. My parish now has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel!
I’m sure I speak for all our priests when I thank you - our lay brothers and sisters - for the support you’ve given us and the kindness you’ve shown. And yeah, we’ve had a tough year - but when we think of parents home-schooling young children; nurses, doctors, care staff giving their all for those they look after; people who have missed out on meeting with family and friends for the greater good - we’ve been truly inspired. Priests have seen and heard about so many people who have made great sacrifices over the last year. And it reminds us that all Christians, by virtue of our baptism are called to be priestly and to offer ourselves with Christ for the sake of the world.
At Mass tonight it will be our privilege to say the words of Christ “this is my body which will be given up for you”. But all of us - priest, religious, lay woman or man are asked to offer up our own bodies, our good works, our sacrifices, and our love with Jesus to the Father. And by the power of his cross and resurrection, those sacrifices will do more good than any of us could ever imagine.
So on this Holy Thursday, as we turn our thoughts to the Lord’s Supper, I ask you to pray for our Bishop, and your priests and deacons - indeed pray for more of them! And remember we in turn are always praying for you.
By virtue of our Baptism, we are all called to be priestly and to offer ourselves with Christ for the sake of the world. What gift can you offer to the World?