Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua is a great place to be on this Wednesday of Holy Week. I am here in the company of about 50 of the priests of our diocese to enjoy a day of prayer and reflection under the direction of Father Joe Neville, a Jesuit Father from the Le Moyne College Community in Syracuse. Sharing this lovely facility for their own day of prayer today are staff members from our diocesan Office of Parish Support Ministries.
It is a peaceful environment in which to open one’s heart and spirit to the great mysteries of Holy Week, and to prepare for the glorious gift of renewed Easter life.
The company of my brother priests and other coworkers in ministry does much to open my heart to the grace of this week. Through these hours together, I have been mindful of the goodness and generosity of each one of them I have come to know over the years. These are women and men who truly love the Lord. At some sacrifice, they give their lives in witness to the good news that he is for all of us. They do so mindful of their own limitations but hopeful that Paul’s encouragement is realized in them: that God shares the treasures of the God-life in and through us who are earthen vessels.
In these quiet hours, I am mindful of how these faithful women and men have brought strength to my own spirit and offered encouragement during the difficult moments of our journey together. And, being with them today reminds me of the larger assembly at the cathedral last evening in which many of us here today also participated.
I refer to our annual Chrism Mass, at which we blessed the oils to be used through the year in our sacramental life and at which the priests of our diocese renewed their commitments to the priestly vocation.
It was a joyful, spirited celebration in which we remembered and thanked God for the gift and the call to holiness so richly symbolized by the oils. People from all parts of the diocese gathered to sing God’s praise and thank God in the Eucharist for the Easter life that we share. It was wonderful to remember that we receive God’s anointing — God’s gift of and call to holiness ‚Äì in many ways. We receive that anointing by the Spirit when we open our hearts to God’s word, when we break and share the bread of life, and when we celebrate the sacraments. In addition to these gifts, we experience the anointing of the Spirit of God in and through the faith and love of the assembly.
I can tell you that both today and last night, I have been deeply mindful that I have shared the company of holy people, have been touched and encouraged by them. Through that experience, I have felt the call to go deeper with the Lord, to seek greater union with him, to be freer and more generous in my response to his gift of life in the many ways in which I experience it.
I hope that you will have a chance during this special week of grace to remember and give thanks for the ways in which God has anointed you — made you holy and called you to deeper life through the sacraments — through the goodness and holiness of people who are a part of your life or of whom you have some awareness, and especially through the Eucharist.
I will be praying with you and for you these days that we can all treasure more deeply the precious gift that is Easter life and the call it contains to come closer to the Lord all the days of our life.
Peace to all.