Church's oils spur growth in economy of salvation

Archbishop Richard Smith, aided by seminarian Roger Niedzielski, blesses the holy oils at the annual Chrism Mass March 30 at St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton.

WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ

Archbishop Richard Smith, aided by seminarian Roger Niedzielski, blesses the holy oils at the annual Chrism Mass March 30 at St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton.

April 6, 2015
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The Church, like the provincial economy, is resource dependent, says Archbishop Richard Smith.

Speaking at the annual Chrism Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica March 30, the archbishop said the Alberta economy is heavily dependent on oil, a resource whose fluctuations in price create an unstable economic foundation for the lives of the people.

The Church herself is resource dependent, he acknowledged. "She relies upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The difference is that the Lord's grace is an energy resource that never fluctuates and is rock-solid in its stability, the archbishop said.

"My point here is not to offer commentary on the budget or our fiscal reality. Rather, I offer this as a metaphor for an appreciation of the message of both Sacred Scripture and this particular liturgy," Smith said in his homily.

At the Mass, attended by priests and lay people from all points in the archdiocese, the archbishop blessed and consecrated the holy oils to be used in ministry throughout the year and gave thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood.

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

"This is what makes us resource dependent," Smith said. "Only in the power of the Holy Spirit can we do that to which the Lord calls us.

"Yet unlike what happens in our province's economic situation, our recognition of resource dependence is not a cause of worry; it does not lead us to look for alternative sources of supply."

Speaking on the significance of the oils he was about to bless, the archbishop said this oil comes from the olive tree, "and is quite unlike its distant cousin residing deep within Alberta soil."

The substance produced in this province plays a pivotal role in our market economy, he said. "The oil we bring forth tonight participates in the divine economy of salvation.

"By blessing and consecration, God makes the oils effective signs of the grace by which we are anointed in sacramental celebration," he continued.

"By her reception of these oils as God's gifts to us and by her prayer over them, the Church gives expression both to her dependence upon God in all things and to her sure conviction that God will never leave wanting those who turn to him in faith."

At the same time, the sacred oils highlight the Church's resource dependence in another manner.

CHURCH'S RESOURCES

"God's anointing makes each of us the resources by which the Church's mission is fulfilled," Smith pointed out. "The grace of God endows us with particular gifts, and sends us forth to place them at the service of God's people, especially those found at the margins of society.

"Our government is seeking to reign in and reduce its expenditures, precisely because its resource base lacks stability. We, however, spend ourselves without measure for the sake of the Gospel, and are able to do so because our source of supply is the unchanging and inexhaustible love of God."

In his homily, Smith thanked all of those in the archdiocese who give themselves in generous service, including parents, lay people, deacons, and religious men and women.

MINISTERIAL PRIESTHOOD

"Of course, every Chrism Mass focuses the attention of the Church in a particular way on that precious resource we call the ministerial priesthood," he said, looking at the priests surrounding him.

"By the will and grace of Jesus Christ, these are the men who, in union with their bishop, teach the Word of God, sanctify the people through the sacraments, and govern so as to fashion and maintain the unity of believers."

GREAT DEDICATION

The archbishop said the priests who serve in the Archdiocese of Edmonton do so with great dedication, moved by their deep love for God's people.

"Once again, Fathers, I am pleased to express to you the thanks and love of the people of God in this Archdiocese, as well as my own personal admiration and esteem."

At the end of the Mass, which marks the start of Holy Week liturgies, Smith warmly greeted representatives from each parish in the archdiocese and passed on to them small vials of the Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick and Oil of Chrism.