Mar 4, 2018

We don’t often consider the psalm of each day’s Mass when reflecting on the scriptures of the liturgy, but the psalm can provides a helpful key to understanding the rest of the readings of the day.

In the psalm response today we pray together from Psalm 18: “Lord you have the words of everlasting life.” (NB: in a parish where there are RCIA candidates the readings of Year A are often used for this Third Sunday of Lent.)

In our world we are surround by words. Sometimes too much words.

Words have power and we have all benefitted and suffered from the use and misuse of this power. The encouraging word of another can lift us beyond the routines and demands of a day whereas a careless word can turn a good day into a struggle.

We often reduce our faith to words. Many wordy books have been written, and many doctrines communicated in words chosen with legal precision have been proclaimed. But let’s remember that all of these written and spoken words are no more than the signs that point us to THE WORD who is the person of God present among us in Jesus Christ.

The Word became flesh, and dwells among us.

In today’s ordination of Paul Martin as the tenth bishop of Christchurch there were many wonderful words through which the Holy Spirit spoke a word of hope for the people of the diocese of Christchurch.

The pope’s representative in New Zealand Archbishop Martin Krebs read the words of the letter of appointment of Paul from Pope Francis. Cardinal John Dew used words to reflect on the Word of God, especially the gospel passage Paul had chosen for this Mass: “You are salt for the earth.”  More important words were heard as our new bishop Paul accepted his appointment, and at the end of Mass in a few informal words of greeting he delighted us as he announced that he is no longer a “wandering Marist” but now his home is in the Christchurch diocese. Bishop Paul words were filled with the beauty of his humanity and the power of his faith in Jesus Christ.

All of these were words were words that we needed to hear.

But words are not the only way that we communicate. The images below convey something of this beauty and hope of today’s celebration without using words. As we know images and actions often speak with greater clarity than the words from our mouths. I think it was Francis of Assisi who first said “preach the gospel in every moment, and if absolutely necessary, use words.”

The heart of today’s celebration was the tangible, visible and audible presence of the Word of God in Jesus Christ present and active in our diocese of Christchurch.

Thanks be to God, and we keep Bishop Paul Martin in our prayer as this morning he takes possession of his Cathedral and in doing so formally becomes bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch.

Thanks to Peter Fleming for the photos below.
a musical highlight (below) was the combined schools choir singing Ave Verum.
Archbishop Martin Krebs after reading the Mandate from the Holy See makes sure the people know this is for real.
Anointing with Chrism

Prayer of Consecration of Bishop

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies and God of all consolation, you dwell in heaven, yet look with compassion on all that is humble.  You know all things before they came to be; by your gracious word you have established the plan of your Church.

From the beginning you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.  You established rulers and priests, and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you.  From the creation of the world you have been pleased to be glorified by those whom you have chosen.

The following part of the prayer is recited by all the consecrating bishops, with hands joined:

So now pour out upon this chosen one the power that is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to his holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.

Then the principal consecrator continues alone.

Father, you know all hearts.  You have chosen your servant for the office of bishop.  May he be a shepherd to your holy flock, and a high priest blameless in your sight, ministering to you night and day; may he always gain the blessing of your favour and offer the gifts of your holy Church.  Through the Spirit who gives the grace of high priesthood grant him the power to forgive sins as you have commanded, to assign ministries as you have decreed, and to loose every bond by the authority which you gave to your apostles.  May he be pleasing to you by his gentleness and purity of heart, presenting a fragrant offering to you, through Jesus Christ, your Son, through whom glory and power and honour are yours with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, now and for ever.  R.  Amen.


  1. Blessings on your words Fr John and THANK YOU!

  2. this Fr John. Words can have such great power – the smallest can often have the most: God; love; peace; pity; praise; faith; hope; baby; Lent; and little sentences made of little words: He gave himself up for us; love one another; love God; be kind … it will soon be Easter!

  3. Wow ! Thanks John, after this wonderful letter We can only say we were there without being there!, Dear Lord thank you for our new Bishop, please guide and truly bless him.

  4. Those words from St Francis of Assisi stood out for me this morning.

  5. Thank you Father John, I enjoyed hearing of the way the ordination. You are the salt of the earth.

  6. Thank you for that today, I was particularly touched by the life that an ordination of a Bishop brings back into the church.


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