CHARLESTON — Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone spoke to a packed house at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist during his first Mass of the Oils on April 7.
His words to his brother priests were ones of encouragement. He told them that often the message they need to share is not what people want to hear and their hearts are closed to it, but they must persevere.
Bishop Guglielmone related the story of Jesus preaching at the synagogue in Judea and how excited everyone was to hear the “local boy.” Yet when Jesus told the crowd that he was the anointed one and they needed to follow him, most of the listeners were angry and refused to believe.
“His message did not fit into their expectations, so their hearts were closed,” Bishop Guglielmone said.
“We were called, my brothers, to spend our lives in a unique way, in a sense to be Christ,” the bishop said, adding that they are called to give of themselves not for glorious triumph, but to service.
“We are called, all of us, to give our lives away,” he said.
The Mass of the Oils is celebrated annually near Easter by the bishop and concelebrated by the priests of the diocese to bless the sacramental oils used in the church for the next year. It is also a time for the priests to renew their commitment to their ministry.
Most of the left side of the Cathedral was filled by priests, while the right was packed with lay people. Everyone listened intently to the bishop’s homily as his voice rose and fell in the cadence of a good storyteller.
Catholics of all ages filled the church, from infants nestled on their parent’s chests to senior citizens. Despite a sunny day outside, the Cathedral remained dark as the stained glass windows are shrouded in tarpaulin and scaffolding due to repair work on the brownstone.
The mood inside, however, was bright with hope.
Bishop Guglielmone led the priests in their renewal of commitment to priestly service, telling them their calling is a willingness to heal, to listen, and to pray with and for their people, not just when it’s convenient, but all the time.
He said that even in difficult times they must forge on with trust in God.
Bishop Guglielmone blessed the oils, which are the oil of catechumens, sick and chrism. The chrism oil, a mix of olive or other vegetable oil and balsam, is used in baptism, confirmation, holy orders and for blessing an altar.
Of the congregation, he asked that they pray for and support all Catholic priests as they go forth to do Jesus’ work. Bishop Guglielmone added that despite being “unworthy” he was chosen as apostolate, and asked people to pray for him as he seeks to fulfill the role.
“With God’s help, with God’s help the journey indeed becomes a joy,” the bishop said.