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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Chrism Mass in Holy Trinity Nice

Archdeacon Ian Naylor of France (rt) greeting some of his clergy
Clergy and Readers from France, Monaco and Spain gathered on Tuesday 22 March at Holy Trinity, Nice, for the Chrism Mass. Fr Peter Jackson, the Chaplain of Holy Trinity, was our host for this liturgy.  As always in this scattered diocese, it was a welcome moment for those engaged in ministry and working in relative isolation to connect with their brothers and sisters, to meet new faces, to encourage each other and to pray together.

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
The Gospel for the day (St Luke 4.16-21) was Christ's teaching in the synagogue, in which he applied the words of Isaiah to his own ministry, and thus to ours as his ministers. Again the words of the Chrism liturgy sum this up: "In your wisdom and love you call your church to serve the world, to share in Christ's suffering and to reveal his glory".

Mme Aucuturier addressed the bishop and the people
Although this particular liturgy has a focus on the renewal of the vows of sacred ministry of deacons, priests and bishops, and the renewal of the commitment of Readers, as all ordained or commissioned ministers serve God's people in their ministry in the world, it is fitting that a representative of the laity come before us to address us and remind us of our calling. Mme Valerie Aucouturier, Churchwarden at St John's Menton, was given this task.

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.

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