Thousands of Catholics have gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral and Sydney parishes for the opening of the Easter Triduum with Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP welcomed the congregation to the cathedral with some thoughts about the fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral which gripped the world this Holy Week.
“It is all the more poignant that the fire occurred in Holy Week in the cathedral that houses what is believed to be the Crown of Thorns and that firefighters risked their lives to save it,” he said.
“The Church of Sydney knows about such losses, having twice lost our cathedral to fire, as did our daughter diocese of Parramatta.”
The archbishop said the task of rebuilding the Church is one for every age, “but especially so here in Australia at present”.
“As we begin tonight the three-day-long Liturgy commemorating the saving events of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we entrust that task first and foremost to our Saviour.”
Related article: 8 facts about Notre Dame Cathedral
In his homily, the archbishop said that the Mass on Holy Thursday night marks the beginning of Christ’s final “battle for our souls”.
“For our sakes, the King of Kings makes Himself our slave, our food,” he said.
“But at the end of our ceremony there will be no final blessing, no dismissal, for this Passover continues tomorrow, as Jesus is stripped again and ‘made humbler yet, even to accepting death on a cross’.”
The archbishop was joined by Bishop Tony Randazzo, cathedral dean Don Richardson and other clergy and seminarians of the archdiocese.
Earlier in the day clergy, religious, seminarians and representatives of parishes and schools gathered at the cathedral for the annual Chrism Mass where priests solemnly renewed their promises to serve the people of God.
Archbishop Fisher focused on the heart of Our Lord in his homily and reminded them that their mission, like Christ’s, is to convert people’s hearts, and “bind up every broken heart”.
“But if priests are to bring human hearts in line with that of God, they must first conform their own hearts to Christ’s—what animates and guides them must be a pastor’s loving heart,” he said.
After the renewal of vows by the clergy Archbishop Fisher blessed the three oils intended for use in every parish through the liturgical year: the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, for baptisms, and the Oil for Holy Chrism, for those to be ordained.