“The Immaculate Conception invites us to reflect on the dignity of the priesthood: the priesthood, just like the Immaculate Conception is purely the grace of God,” said Archbishop William Goh during a traditional Latin Mass on Dec 8.
He was speaking to Catholics who packed St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah) to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
The Mass in the Extraordinary Form was also to celebrate the 40th and 46th priestly anniversaries of Frs Augustine Tay and Anthony Ho respectively.
Archbishop Goh reminded the crowd that God had given the Church the ordained ministry because after His departure on earth, Jesus “wants to continue to be present in our midst so we can continue to encounter Him, personally and sacramentally, through the priest who celebrates the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist”.
The archbishop also emphasised the importance of holiness in the ordained ministry: “You don’t become a priest to be holy. You first must be holy to become priest and then you become holier…to be a priest is to be called to a life of holiness”.
He also shared that when he himself celebrates Mass, he is reminded that he is not only offering the sacrifice of the Mass, but also his own sacrifice through the living out of the Mass.
The archbishop also warned laity and Church workers against “activism”. Planning church activities and programmes must “come from a heart that is deeply attuned to the Lord, a heart that is humble, that is forgiving, a heart of love, so that we do everything with humility, love and compassion”.
He pointed out that the Mass in the Extraordinary Form “helps us to be focused and experience [its] mystery”, adding that understanding is not a prerequisite to experiencing the sacred.
“Encountering the Lord is more than reason. It’s not the head. Yes, the head is important but it’s ultimately your heart …when you encounter the Lord in your heart, your life will change… at the end of the day, it is how we worship, how much are we attuned to the Lord,” he said.
The Solemn High Mass in Latin was celebrated by Fr Tay with Fr Ho assisting as deacon. This was the second time that Archbishop Goh had participated in a Latin Mass organised by the Latin Mass community since its official establishment in 2013.
Archbishop Goh ended his homily by thanking Frs Tay and Ho for giving their lives to the priesthood. He likened their perseverance and service over the years as offering themselves as a “living sacrifice”, recalling that he himself was only 11 when Fr Ho was ordained.
The Latin Mass community meets at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St, for Mass in the Extraordinary Form every Sunday at 3 pm.