Meet humanity in its poverty, Smith tell Chrism Mass

Archbishop Richard Smith stirs the Oil of Chrism, as seminarian Robert Lee watches, during the annual Chrism Mass April 2 at St. Joseph's Basilica.


Archbishop Richard Smith stirs the Oil of Chrism, as seminarian Robert Lee watches, during the annual Chrism Mass April 2 at St. Joseph's Basilica.

April 9, 2012

Our mission as a Church is to meet the humanity of today so that it may encounter God, who offers love.

Archbishop Richard Smith delivered that message during the annual Chrism Mass April 2 before a packed St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton.

At the Mass, the archbishop also blessed and consecrated the oils to be used in ministry throughout the year and gave thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood.

"We are particularly blessed in this archdiocese with many good and dedicated priests. It's an honour for me to be their bishop and to serve in the priesthood with them."


Priests in the archdiocese renewed their commitment to the Lord and to his Church later in the Mass.

Priests and laity from across the archdiocese attended the Chrism Mass, which Smith said focuses our attention in a particular way upon our mission as a Church.

Pope Benedict made this mission clear when he said in Santiago de Cuba recently that true face of the Church is a place in which God draws near and encounters humanity.


"So our mission as a Church is to meet the humanity of today," Smith said. He pointed out that the humanity we encounter today suffers from poverty in a variety of ways, including a visible manifestation in the homeless, the working poor and those seeking affordable housing.


"Also today there is an equally painful, invisible dimension (of poverty) experienced in loneliness, depression and broken or dysfunctional relationships," he said.

"From another perspective, Western society in particular, suffers from a denial of poverty, by which I mean a refusal to acknowledge the essential dependence of every human being on God."

Rather than accept the truth of their radical need for God, people in society develop the illusion of self-reliance and self-sufficiency and quickly fall victim to pride, he said.


"The Good News of Christ is that God, who is love, is near and he is fully trustworthy," the archbishop said. "He will provide for our every need if we entrust ourselves fully to him."

Smith said Jesus' mission to preach release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed continues in the Church as we reach out with compassion to men and women behind bars, to those held captive by addiction and to any who are oppressed by fear or despair.

In a society that has always claimed to honour freedom, many have grown fearful of it, especially of freedom of religion and religious conscience.

"Some would seek to reduce the full meaning of religious liberty and limit it to freedom of worship so as to justify the exclusion of religious expression from public life and discourse," the archbishop said.


Freedom of conscience is being violated whenever, for example, doctors are pressured to make referrals or actions that they cannot in conscience perform themselves or pharmacists to give out morally objectionable products, he said.

"The fear and violation of freedom is a failure to understand freedom properly."


"Jesus has made clear that freedom is indissolubly linked to objective and discernable truth, yet many misunderstand freedom as licence and unbridled right to do whatever one wants."


During the Mass, which marked the start of Holy Week liturgies, Smith blessed the sacred oils that will be used across the Edmonton Archdiocese.

Then he warmly greeted representatives from each parish and passed on to them small vials of the Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick and Oil of Chrism.

Cindy Dyjur and her husband Murray received the oils for St. Columba Parish in Clandonald. It's just a huge honour," Cindy said," looking at the vials of oil.

Yvonne and Jerry Rain received the oils on behalf of the Lac Ste. Anne Parish, which serve the Alexis and Paul First Nations.

"I feel humbled to receive these oils on behalf of the community," Jerry said. "It's a privilege."