Summary of today’s show: The Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week each year is one of the biggest single gatherings of the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston each year and in it Cardinal Seán often gives a very strong homily to encourage his priests. Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor were joined today by Fr. Bill Kelly and Fr. Joe Scorzello to talk about the importance of the Mass to the priests and Cardinal Seán’s reflections on the conclave and comparing it to the openness required of priests who give themselves over to the Holy Spirit. Also, Scot talks to the boys from the Archdiocesan Choir School about their experience singing at the Mass.
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Bill Kelly and Fr. Joe Scorzello
Links from today’s show:
- Cardinal Seán’s homily and photos
- All of George Martell’s photos from the Chrism Mass
- Boston Archdiocesan Choir School
Today’s topics: The Chrism Mass, the Choir School, and Cardinal Seán’s homily
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross where Cardinal Seán celebrated the annual Chrism Mass with the priests of the Archdiocese. the Cardinal gives a significant homily to the priests and consecrates new holy oils for all the parishes. Scot said this year many Catholic schools were invited to attend the Mass, including The Archdiocesan Choir School.
2nd segment: Scot welcomed the boys from the choir school and music director John Robinson. He asked John where the boys have been singing in this their 50th anniversary year. He said they sing a range of events, including Christmas concerts in Salem, Norwell, Newport, Rhode Island, and even Carnegie Hall.
Today the choir school was to sing the Gloria, an Ave Verum Corpus and another, alongside the Cathedral Festival Choir. Christian Landry, Scot’s son who is part of the choir, said it was a great honor to sing for the cardinal’s Mass. He said singing for all the priests of the archdiocese is a little bit of a nerve=wracking experience but will prepare them to sing for large audiences later in life. Christian said he loves the teachers and students. Another student, Thomas Potts, said the teachers push them to succeed and learn.
Scot asked John about what it’s like to be the only Catholic choir school in the country. John said it’s an amazing responsibility because they’re training the future tenors and cantors and even boys who will become priests. It’s a model that Europe has shown to work over many centuries. They’re showing it works by the way the boys sing and are being educated.
Scot said the school’s annual gala will be June 1. John said it’s a very important evening financially for the school, but it’s great fun as well because the boys are singing in a light jazzy style as well.
John said having come into the Church with his wife as an adult, the Chrism Mass is very special for him and especially this year with the Cardinal having come back to us in Boston.
3rd segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Chris O’Connor to the show. Fr. Chris said it was a beautiful Mass that showed the unity of priests, bishops and laity. Scot welcomed Fr. Joe Scorzello who said it’s one of the largest Chrism Masses he can remember with many older and younger priests gathered together in a sign of unity and a boost for morale.
Fr. Bill Kelly, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Dedham, was welcomed by Scot. Fr. Bill said the Cardinal was at the front door greeting each priest as they came in and it was moving for many of them who haven’t been able to see him since the conclave. Fr. Bill said this year the anointing of the oil of the sick was moving for him this year as he recalled all the sick he goes to in hospital and nursing homes, including his own father recently. He said they probably use the anointings more than 100 times per year, including more and more recently to people’s homes.
Fr. Chris said in this Mass all of the oils used for all of the sacraments throughout the Archdiocese this year were consecrated today. The men to be ordained in May carried the oils up to Cardinal Seán. All of the catechumens to be welcomed into the Church on Saturday and all the babies to be baptized will have those oils used to anoint them. Another moving moment was when Bishop Robert Deeley read the names of all the priests who died this year, reminding that the bonds of the priesthood never die. The unity among them exists not just among the priests, but among the parishes too. This is a Mass about unity between all and their bishop. All of the priests also renew their vows and stay committed to their promise to remain faithful to the Lord and faithful to the bishop.
Fr. Scorzello said the lists of names take even greater meaning as he gets older. He’s known many of them for years and some he was even an altar server for. He said the Mass is usually celebrated on Holy Thursday and by exception on another day and is focused on the presbyterate as Holy Thursday is as well.
Scot said outside of ordinations, it’s the largest gathering of priests. Fr. Bill said the Mass and the renewal of vows recalls for him his original vows at his ordination. Like any promise, you don’t know how living those promises will be lived out and so saying it again makes him reflect. He said the closing hymn, “Oh Good Beyond All Praising” talks of all the joys and challenges we have as Christians and has the great line, “yet strive to follow still.” He said he finds it consoling knowing that he will die and is being asked to live his life serving as a priest.
Scot said having all the Catholic school kids there made it much like the whole church from young to old and he thought of all the young boys who may one day be priests and one of them may one day be reading the name of Fr. Bill or Fr. Chris or Fr. Joe. Fr. Chris said he was struck by the young woman who did an incredible job proclaiming the Second Reading at Mass. Fr. Bill said the faces on the kids reflected all the hundreds of priests and how they realized that the Catholic Church is so much bigger than they imagined.
Fr. Chris said as he saw all the priests and all the young people gathered, he was struck by the Psalm “Forever I will sing of the goodness of the Lord”, particularly for priests to be reminded to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and to tell people even in their darkest hour of the goodness of God.
Scot said Cardinal Seán might work on this homily as much as he does on any homily all year. He said Cardinal Seán started with some humor reflecting on the conclave:
The whole pre-Conclave atmosphere where I was leading in the Italian polls was quite surrealistic. I thought of St. Patrick who was of a Roman family living in Britain. Patrick was an Irish wanabee, he was actually an Italian kidnapped by Irish pirates. I was worried that the Italians were trying to get even. Actually, I was very touched by the Italian people’s enthusiasm for your Archbishop.
Needless to say, I am very happy and relieved to be back home in Boston. The whole experience of the Conclave was extraordinary. I felt very close to all of you. I knew that we were united in prayer, praying that the Holy Spirit guide our Church in this important decision. Like the first Christians praying intensely before choosing St. Matthias to be an apostle, to fill the vacancy and to pass on the office of Apostle.
Scot said it’s Cardinal Seán’s first mention of the enthusiasm for him in Italy. He said his own experience in Rome was that the regular folk were all for him. Scot noted that Cardinal Seán told reporters he was most looking forward to going home to celebrate the Chrism Mass. Fr. Scorzello said the theme of the Cardinal’s homily was one of continuity, whether it was the continuity of the papacy or the continuity of the Church in Boston. He also spoke of the continuity of the formation and growth of the priest throughout his life. He said Metropolitan Methodius’ words at the end of Mass was the fulfillment of that continuity. Scot said the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan expressed his hope for unity between West and East.
Here in Boston, we must see ourselves as the continuation of the Church of the Acts of the Apostles, with so many dramatic challenges, we must cultivate a deep trust in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and unite us.
As we work to implement the Pastoral Plan, it cannot be just about strategy or techniques, but about our own deep awareness of God’s loving presence in our Church. All of our discussions and planning, like the work of the pre-Conclave Congregations and the Conclave itself, needs to take place in that atmosphere of prayer and trust in God’s love for us.
Scot said as he was hearing that, he thought that he wants the awareness of the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit to be part of everything we do in the Archdiocese of Boston. Fr. Bill said when you’re coming to the work of the Gospel from a sense of poverty, you’re depending wholly on the Holy Spirit. It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of pastoral planning, but this homily brings us back to the sense of hope and trust and if we do commit ourselves to where the Holy Spirit leads, these other things will get worked out. There’s a deeper power to what the Church has to do.
Scot said Cardinal Seán reflected on the uncertainty facing priests with the pastoral plan compared to the uncertainty of the cardinals entering the conclave.
As my brother Cardinals and I entered the Conclave, we did not know what the outcome would be or what the future would hold. We were called to make ourselves available for the mission of the Church. Our pastors in the first phase of pastoral planning have likewise been called to make themselves available for mission, without knowing what the outcome would be as once again they responded, “adsum”. The Archdiocese is greatly blessed by their dedication, commitment and example of selfless service as we embark on the journey of rebuilding our parishes and welcoming the faithful back to active participation in the life of our Church. We want our Pastoral Planning, like the Conclave in Rome, to be a Pentecost moment in this Year of Faith.
Scot said we like to know that our leader knows what it’s like to walk in our shoes and the cardinal knows that uncertainty. Fr. Chris said the Chrism Mass is usually on Holy Thursday because it’s the day that Christ instituted not only the Eucharist but also the priesthood. When the man to be ordained to the priesthood lies prostrate on the cathedral floor, he is giving himself completely to whatever the Church needs of him, whether parish priest or pope.
Scot said it’s tough sometimes for priests to focus on what they know they need to do, but have difficulty finding time to do. Fr. Joe said it’s easy to get busy in the parish, but there has to be time set aside each day for prayer, reflection of Sacred Scripture and study of the sacred sciences. That’s continuing formation that makes them receptive to the Holy Spirit and receptive to receive the will of God as spoken through the Church’s needs. A thing is received according to the ability of the recipient to receive them.
Fr. Bill assisted Cardinal Seán in ongoing formation of priests before becoming pastor of St. Mary’s. Scot asked what parishioners can do to help priests work on their ongoing formation. Fr. Bill said encouragement is key. The parishioners who work closest with the pastor who recognize the need of the priest to step back. People need to be understanding of the need of the pastor not to be responsive at every moment. He said he knows a priest who every year those closest to him tell him that he needs to go on retreat. Working in a parish can give you tunnel vision and you need someone to help you see what you need to make time for.
Scot said he’ll remember the analogy made by Cardinal Seán between a husband kissing his wife each day with a priest kissing the altar each day, as in celebrating the Mass. Fr. Chris said it brings home to the layman the commitment of the priest to the Church. He liked as well that he referenced the fact that not only is kissing the altar is a public reality, but it’s also a very private reality. The Eucharist should be the fire, zeal, energy for the priest to go out and do his ministry. Once a priest, you’re always a priest. The most important thing a priest can do is reverence the altar and begin the celebration of the Mass.
Scot said Cardinal Seán also talked about the priest being a model of the Church’s preferential option for the poor. Fr. Joe said concern for the poor is an Evangelical virtue. It comes out of the celebration of the Eucharist and what it means, the giving over of oneself for everyone. Looking back on the election of Pope Francis and the Italians’ love of St. Francis, what was Francis’ focus but the love of the poor and God’s love of the poor. Francis reminded us of the poverty that Christ accepted when he accepted human nature. We can poor both materially and spiritually. Christ came to save the human person, body and soul. We have to be attentive to all aspects of the person, body and soul.
Cardinal ended by imploring all the priests to be unified, not to mention the call for unity with Metropolitan Methodius. We need to continually state the need for unity. Fr. Bill said the Gospel of John reminds us of Jesus’ prayer that we all may be one. That’s not just for ecumenical work, but also within the Church. The idea of the priestly life flowing from the altar holds everything together. Love is unitive.
Scot asked what else happens after the Chrism Mass. Fr. Chris said there’s the reality of seeing all their brother priests, working in all places, in all sizes, shapes, colors, and ages, but all called with their unique gifts to serve Christ as priests.
Fr. Scorzello spoke of this mother who is 93 years old and he carries the oils of anointing with him all the time because he never knows when she might need him to anoint her. There’s a unity in the sacraments of the Church through these oils.
Fr. Bill said he’s a choir school graduate and the song they sang after Communion was the song he was singing when he received his call to the priesthood, “Greater Love” by John Ireland.
Fr. Chris said Holy Week is the best week every year.