Friday, April 10, 2009

Just what the heck is a "Chrism Mass?" Is it Licit and Valid?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

From Father John Trigilio's blog, The Black Biretta

Chrism Mass

Chrism Chrismatory

Father Guy Selvester (Shouts in the Piazza) has an excellent explanation of the Mass of the Oils (a.k.a. the Chrism Mass) every diocese has during Holy Week where the Bishop blesses the olive oil for the sacraments. While originally on Maundy (Holy) Thursday, due to the distance some pastors have to drive to the See city (like my own in Harrisburg or my native diocese, Erie, where some parishes are located 2 to 4 hours from the Cathedral), church law allows for the transfer of the Mass to another day so the the priests can be available for Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday in their own respective parishes. Hence, my diocese (and many others) had the Chrism Mass on Monday of Holy Week.

We began with an afternoon of recollection and an opportunity for the priests to go to confession (and not just hear confessions as we do all during Lent). Then we go to the Cathedral for the Mass and the priests and deacons of the diocese show our solidarity with the local diocesan bishop.

Every parish MUST destroy the old oils from last year and get new oils from the Chrism Mass. The connection between the Bishop and his priests, especially his pastors, is obvious in that each parish priest gets his own oils from the common vat blessed by the bishop for the entire diocese. We priests also RENEW our commitment to the Bishop and Diocese at this Mass.

Bishop: Are you ready to renew your own dedication to Christ as priests of the new covenant?

Priests: I am

Are you resolved to unite yourselves more closely to Christ and try to become more like him?

I am

Are you resolved to be faithful ministers of the mysteries of God?

I am

Are you resolved to imitate Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church?

I am

On the evening of Maundy Thursday, the new oils are ceremoniously brought into the parish church at the Offertory (Preparation of the Gifts):


Reception of the Oils

The celebrant, facing the people, gives an instruction concerning the blessing and use of holy oils in these, or similar, words.


On Tuesday, united with the priests and faithful of the Diocese, the Bishop consecrated the Holy Chrism and blessed the oils for use in the Anointing of the Sick and in preparation of catechumens for Baptism. Tonight we receive these holy oils for use in the celebration of the Church’s sacraments during the coming year.


Behold the Oil of the Sick, blessed by our Bishop, and sent to us for the anointing of all who suffer illness.


Blessed be God forever!


Behold the Oil of Catechumens, blessed by our Bishop, and sent to us for the anointing of our catechumens in preparation for their baptism at the Easter Vigil and throughout the coming year.


Blessed be God forever!


Behold the Sacred Chrism, oil mixed with sweet perfume and consecrated by our Bishop, and sent to us for the anointing of the baptized who are to be sealed with the Holy Spirit.


Blessed be God forever!

The oils are then placed into the ambry or on a table. The Mass continues with the preparation of the gifts at the altar.

From Father Guy Selvester's Blog, Shouts in the Piazza

The Mass of Chrism comes once a year to your cathedral. If you've never attended it, you're missing one of the most solemn and significant liturgies of our church. During the Mass, your bishop will bless the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick, and the oil of chrism. We use the first for adult catechumens and infants, the second for anointing the sick, and the sacred oil of chrism for baptism, confirmation, the ordination of priests and bishops, and the consecration of altars. All three are basically an olive oil; chrism spices the air with the scent of a perfume, traditionally balsam. For pastoral reasons, another vegetable oil and perfume may be used.

Since the bishop is the only one in the diocese who may consecrate chrism, this Mass highlights his ministry and our union with him. He will not baptize and confirm everyone in the parishes of the diocese, but he will be symbolically present in the chrism which the priests and deacons will use. In recent years, this Mass has also celebrated the institution of the priesthood by Christ. It invites the priests to renew their commitment of service and to receive the prayers and support of the people. The Mass of Chrism gathers the faithful of the diocese at their mother church with their shepherd and his closest collaborators in ministry to prepare for celebrations of Christ in all our churches throughout the year.

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