Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another Year, Another Chrism Mass

A year ago, I reported on the "Last Chrism Mass" in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Of course, it was not exactly the last. This year, Trinity Cathedral - again in the spirit of our resolution - is hosting two Chrism Masses, one for the continuing Episcopal Diocese (today) and one for the realigned Episcopal Diocese (tomorrow).

Since I teach a class at Duquesne University on Tuesday mornings, I am not able to be present tomorrow, but I put in an appearance today. As near as I could judge there were around 35 priests and Bishop Robert Johnson in attendance. To my surprise, the laity present (all three of us) were invited to present the clergy to the bishop, prior to the renewal of vows, a pleasing touch in my humble opinion. (It's a nice point whether I actually should have have been doing the presenting, since I'm not yet clear to which body I belong, but then nor does anyone else at Trinity, so I figure it's excusable).

Bishop Johnson preached an irreproachable sermon, alluding to those presbyters from whom members of this body were now sadly separated. When he went on to talk of rebuilding the diocese (which obviously has to be done) I did feel he went a little over the top in making a comparison with St. Francis, but perhaps he merely meant to emphasize the magnitude of the task ahead. He spoke of the feelings of wonderment that most must feel at being a priest in this place at this time (he did not anticipate being in Pittsburgh a year ago, he admitted) and urged the clergy not to forget their calling in the passing anguish of the moment.

Among those present were many of the communion conservative clergy (some of whom I know personally and others by repute) to whom I feel theologically closest. It is nonsense, at least in this place, to see only sheep in one jurisdiction and goats in another. While I can often appreciate the logic of the federal conservative arguments, this doesn't translate for me into a belief that only in ACNA can one be faithful. At today's Mass there were present those who have experienced the agony of Gethsemane every day since realignment. May it be that those at tomorrow's gathering will be equally appreciative of what has been lost as well as what has been gained.

1 comment:

Bruce Robison said...

Thank you for the kind note, Jeremy. I thought it was a good morning. Bittersweet in so many ways, yet also with the light of the morning shining in on us. Blessings in these holy days.