“The Lord Asks us to Keep Watch”

BRIDGEPORT—“The Lord asks of us, Watch with me,” but most of us fall asleep out of complacency, fear or self-righteousness, said Bishop frank J. Caggiano at the Chrism Mass held this morning at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

Hundreds of priests, deacons, religious and laity filled the Cathedral for the Chrism Mass, which is celebrated to bless the holy oils, that are used in the sacraments throughout the year, and to strengthen the bond between the bishop and his priests.

“It’s fitting that we gather for the Chrism Mass on a morning shrouded in mist and twilight,” the bishop said, noting that we are often blind to God’s gifts and what he is asking of us. “We often fall asleep in the garden.”

“This is a difficult time in the life of the Church, and Holy Week comes at our hour of greatest need,” said the bishop. “It’s time to wake from sleep and do what the Lord asks of us.”

The bishop said falling asleep spiritually takes many different forms, “the sleep of the status quo where people want noting new or creative… the sleep of fear, and the sleep of zealotry” that is based in anger and turns brother against brother.

Noting that the celebration of the Triduum –Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday– begins tonight, the Bishop said “we are all invited to the upper room with Jesus, but we must also be prepared to follow him to Calvary and the tomb.”

He said that the Church was given two great gifts in the upper room on Holy Thursday, the ministerial priesthood and the Eucharist. But the upper room was also the place of betrayal by Judas and Peter.

“We don’t want to initiate betrayal but we struggle and stumble in our own brokenness to be faithful to Christ,” he cautioned.

Referring to the fire earlier this week that nearly destroyed the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, the bishop said , “We saw the image of Our Lady ‘s house on fire and watched the spire collapse like a dagger in the heart of a sacred place.”

The bishop said the entire world watched and many “were stopped in their tracks of fear and complacency.”

“Our Lady’s house was on fire, and the city and world that was asleep woke up,” he said, noting that young people were on their knees in the street singing and praying.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

During the Mass, the bishop led the Renewal of Priestly Promises with a series of questions.

“Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus, and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promise about sacred duties toward Christ’s Church,” he asked the priests.

“Yes I am,” the more than 200 priests answered in unison.

At the end of the promises the Bishop directly asked the laity “to pray for me that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midsts I may be made day bey day a living, and more perfect image of Christ..”

During the service, the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Infirm and the Holy Chrism (a mixture of olive oil and balsam used in ordinations and confirmation).

After Mass, the holy oils that were consecrated on the altar were distributed to priests who will use them in their parishes when blessing the sick and in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Deacon Patrick Toole served as Master of Ceremonies for the Mass. The music was provided by the Latin Schola of the Cathedral of St. Augustine.