Homily for Chrism Mass, Ennis Cathedral, 2023

Chrism Mass – Some Images and Homily of Bishop Fintan Monahan

I love the wisdom of the Bengali philosopher, poet and artist Tagore, Nobel Laureate in literature.  He says:

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” 

True communion with those to whom we minister lies in service and that results in genuine joy.

On the occasion of Chrism Mass we reflect on, celebrate and pray for all in the ministry of service that we engage in, priests, religious, ministers of pastoral care, catechesis, along with all the baptised in various different ministries and apostolates in the service of Jesus Christ in the Church of the diocese of Killaloe.

Ministry is at the heart of what we do as Church, in imitation of Jesus Christ.  In reflecting on this I’m so often drawn to the words of Eucharistic Prayer II that we so often pray at Mass:

Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation, giving thanks that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you.

Are You Being Served?

If you are young enough or old enough, whichever cap fits you may recall a BBC British sitcom from the 70’s and 80’s called Are you being Served!  The greeting of the attendants in the clothes shop was always just that, Are you being Served!

The old fashioned motto from this era of retail service was – “the customer is always right”.  It indicated a profound sense of duty and service to others.

During the pandemic we often heard thanks expressed to those working in the service industry.

During Lent and in the Divine Office we ritually reflect on the scriptures that:

Jesus … Gave his life to serve… as a ransom for many …

All in the service of and for all that was good, true and beautiful.

In the gospel of St. John 13 and 14, we see Jesus as a model of model of service.

In the text that we read every Saturday in vespers or evening prayer, Phil 2:6-11 we see the self-emptying of Jesus of every drop of life he had in the service of and as a ransom for many.  We contemplate this deeply over the next number of days as we enter the Holy Week Triduum.

In reflecting on ministry we try and keep the important perspective in focus that it is not just the doing of things that is important but that it has it source firstly in being… being in Jesus Christ, from whom we get our commissioning as priests, religious, new ministers and all the baptised exercising the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Over the past few months, since the death of Pope Benedict, I have been reflecting on the themes of two of his books on ministry and priesthood, namely Ministers of your Joy and Priests of Jesus Christ.  I like his emphasis in one Holy Thursday homily where he encourages us to get the balance and focus right between contemplation and action.  The Mary and Martha dilemma of prioritising being before doing.   “Activism” Benedict says:

“by itself can be heroic, but in the end external action is fruitless and loses its effectiveness unless it is born from deep inner communion with Christ. The time we spend on this is truly a time of pastoral activity, authentic pastoral activity. The minister must above all be a person of prayer.”

(Pope Benedict, Holy Thursday, 13th April 2006)

To be a Pastor, a minister of Jesus Christ is to be imbued with a spirit of prayerful service arising from that source of communion. And then Giving.  Freely.  Generously. Not counting the cost.  Echoes of Boenhoeffer’s “costing nothing less than everything”.

We pray during this Chrism Mass for a renewal of that joyful spirit of giving that is the springboard for service and at the heart of the ministry we are engaged in here in the diocese of Killaloe.



Silver        Paschal Hanrahan

Ruby             Brendan Kyne, Tom FitzPatrick, Eugene Nugent, Pat Gilbert.

Golden           Joe McMahon

Diamond        Harry Brady, Harry Bohan