An Indian bishop in the eastern Indian state of Odisha has invited his priests to be open to the Holy Spirit in order to be fruitful in their priestly mission, not only to their flock but also to people of other faiths in a state that saw India’s worst anti-Christian persecution nearly 10 years ago.
“We are the salt of the earth, and to be fully salt of the earth we need the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy spirit we won’t be fruitful in our mission,” said Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar as he presided over the Chrism Mass on Tuesday in Konjamendi.
The Chrism Mass that commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood by Christ at the Last Supper, is normally scheduled for Holy Thursday of the Holy Week. It is a day when priests of a diocese gather around their bishop to celebrate their priesthood symbolizing the unity of the local church. They also renew the promises they made on the day of their ordination.
The blessing of the chrism or the holy oils that are used in various sacraments during the year takes place during the Chrism Mass.
In mission lands, the Chrism Mass is anticipated by a few days, to enable priests to report back to their missions with the holy oils in time for the Easter Triduum, the final three days before Easter Sunday that begins with Holy Thursday.
Prayers for survivors of persecution
Some 100 priests, 30 religious nuns, 34 seminarians and lay people participated in the March 27 Chrism Mass at the Divya Jyoti Pastoral Centre in Odisha’s Kandhamal District, that was the epicenter of untold violence on Christians in 2008. They has also faced violence but to a lesser degree, during Christmas of 2007.
In his homily, Archbishop Barwa said that despite the suffering, Kandhamal’s Christians have witnessed to their faith. The Chrism Mass, he said, provided them an opportunity to pray for the survivors of the Kandhamal anti-Christian persecution of 2007-2008.
“We are chosen and anointed to witness Christian values in our mission. It is the call of every individual to create the atmosphere of peace, unity and fraternity with Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities in the region,” the archbishop said.
Father George Mampally, the Parish Priest of Padangi gave a talk to the priests on effective witnessing to God’s presence in the passion, death and resurrection.
After his homily, Archbishop Barwa invited all the priests to renew their priestly promises.
Priests around their bishop
Fr. Udayanath Bishoyi, director of Divya Jyoti Pastoral Centre said it was a grace filled moment for the entire presbyterium or the college of priests to come together around their bishop to pray. The Mass with the blessing of the holy oils manifests the communion of the priests with the local ordinary in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ.
New Testament in Odia released
A new version of the New Testament in Odia language was also released at the Mass by Archbishop Barwa. The work for the revised Odia version of New Testament begun in the month of March 2017 and was completed this month. 50,000 copies of this edition have been printed. (Source: Mattersindia)