|Archdeacon Ian Naylor of France (rt) greeting some of his clergy|
As the Eucharist began, aware of the violent attacks that had taken place in Brussels that morning, the opening words prayed in penitence by the assembly were particularly powerful, and were uttered in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Belgian capital: "have mercy on us, bind up our wounds and revive us". The absolution contained these words "the Lord defend us in trouble and keep us from all evil".
|Fr Peter Jackson proclaims the Gospel|
|Mme Aucuturier addressed the bishop and the people|
But the heart of the liturgy is the blessing of the oils that will be used in the churches of the diocese throughout the year, the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and the holy chrism. The three oils are brought in solemn procession to the altar while an ancient hymn is sung, in which this verse, again in the light of the Brussels attacks, had much meaning:
Eternal King, look down and bless
The oil your servants offer here,
And may it be a lively sign
Which all the powers of darkness fear
Following the liturgy Deacon Frances took charge of decanting the oils into bottles to be taken by the clergy back to their parishes, to anoint those beginning their journey in faith, those who need healing in body, mind and spirit, and those who are baptised and become part of the royal priesthood of Christ.
Holy Trinity Church laid on a fine lunch for all, which rounded off the day with fellowship around another table.
Photos are courtesy of Fr Walter Raymond, Chaplain of St Paul's Monaco.