Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Chrism Mass

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Chrism Mass was celebrated in my diocese on Tuesday.

The sanctuary of the cathedral

The Chrism Mass may only be celebrated by a bishop since while any priest can bless the Oil of the Sick and Oil of Catechumens, only a bishop can consecrate Sacred Chrism.

Nearly all the priests from the diocese and a large number of deacons attended the Mass. The cathedral was nearly filled to capacity.

Bishop Coleman delivers his homily

Bishop Coleman's homily was based on Pope Benedict's comments that the Eucharist must always remain central in the lives of priests.

Following the homily, the priests renewed their priestly commitment:

Bishop: My brothers, today we celebrate the memory of that first Eucharist at which our Lord Jesus Christ shared with His apostles and with us His call to the priestly service of His Church. Now, in the presence of your bishop and God's holy people, are you ready to renew your own dedication to Christ as priests of His new covenant?

Priests: I am.

Bishop: At your ordination you accepted the responsibilites of the priesthood out of love for the Lord Jesus and His Church. Are you resolved to unite yourselves more closely to Christ and try to become more like Him by joyfully sacrificing your own pleasure and ambition to being His peace and love to your brothers and sisters?

Priests: I am.

Bishop: Are you resolved to be faithful ministers of the mysteries of God, to celebrate the Eucharist and other liturgical services with sincere devotion? Are you resolved to imitate Jesus Christ, the head and shepherd of the Church, by teaching the Christian faith without thinking of your own profit, solely for the well-being of the people you were sent to serve.

Priests: I am.

The bishop now addresses the people:

Bishop: My brothers and sisters, pray for your priests. Ask the Lord to bless them with the fullness of His Love, to help them be faithful ministers of Christ, the high priest, so that they will be able to lead you to Him, the fountain of your salvation.

People: Lord, Jesus Christ, hear us and answer our prayer.

Bishop: Pray also for me, that despite my own unworthiness, I may faithfully fulfill the office of apostle which Jesus Christ has entrusted to me. Pray that I may become more like our High Priest and Good Shepherd. the Teacher and Servant of all, and so become a genuile sign of Christ's loving presence among you.

People: Lord, Jesus Christ, hear us and answer our prayer.

This renewal of commitment is a beautiful ceremony which reminds us to the importance, and fragility of the priesthood. The priestly commitment is not a one time commitment, it must be renewed each day and in each moment. Likewise, we must commit to support our priests through prayer and temporal support.

The three vessels of oil before being blessed.
Purple = Sick
White = Chrism
Green = Catechumens
The balsam is in the glass cruet on the right.

The Oil of the Sick is blessed during the Eucharistic Prayer, just before the Doxology.

The bishop says: God of all consolation, you chose and sent your Son to heal the world. Graciously listen to our prayer of faith: send the power of your Holy Spirit, the Consoler, into this precious oil, this soothing ointment, this rich gift, this fruit of the earth. Bless + this oil and sanctify it for our use. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul, and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction. We ask this through Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Blessing the Oil of Catechumens

After Communion, the bishop blesses the Oil of Catechumens saying:

Lord, protector of all who believe in you bless + this oil and give wisdom and strength to all who are anointed with it in preparation for their baptism. Bring them to a deeper understanding of the gospel, help them to accept the challenge of Christian living, and lead them to the joy of new birth in the family of your Church. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Then the olive oil which will become Chrism is uncovered. The Bishop pours balsam into the oil.

Adding balsam to the olive oil

Then he says:

Let us pray that God, our almighty Father, will bless this oil so that all who are anointed with it may be inwardly transformed and come to share in eternal salvation.

Bishop Coleman breathes into the vessel of Chrism

The Bishop breathes over the open vessel of Chrism.

He continues:

God, our maker, source of all growth in holiness accept the joyful thanks and praise we offer in the name of your Church. In the beginning, at your command, the earth produced fruit-bearing trees. From the fruit of the olive tree you have provided up with oil for holy chrism. The prophet David sang of the life and joy that the oil would bring us in the sacraments of your love. After the avenging flood, the dove, returning to Noah with an olive branch, announced your gift of peace. This was a sign of a greater giift to come. Now in the waters of baptism wash away the sins of men and by the anointing with oil make us radiant with your joy. At your command, Aaron was washed with water, and your servant Moses, his brother, anointed him priest. This, too, foreshadowed greater things to come. After your Son, Jesus Christ of Lord, asked John for baptism in the waters of Jordan, you sent the Spirit upon him in the form of a dove and by the witness of your own voice you declared him to be your only, well-beloved Son. In this you clearly fulfilled the prophecy of David, that Christ would be anointed with the oil of gladness beyond his fellow men.

All concelebrants extend their right hands toward the chrism in silence until the end of the prayer.

And so, Father, we ask you to bless + this oil you have created. Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ your Son. It is from him that chrism takes its name and with chrism that you have anointed for yourself priests and kings, prophets and martyrs. Make this chrism a sign of life and salvation for those who are to be born again in the waters of baptism. Wash away the evil they have inherited from sinful Adam, and when they are anointed with this holy oil make them temples of your glory, radiant with the goodness of life that has its source in you. Through this sign of chrism grant them royal, priestly, and prophetic honor, and clothe them with incorruption. Let this be indeed the chrism of salvation for those who will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit. May they come to share eternal life in the glory of your kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Diane said...

Nice post and photos. My kind of Catholic blog!

Domini Sumus said...