The Chrism Mass is one of the most solemn and significant liturgies of the Church year. At the Chrism Mass the Archbishop will bless all of the oil, also called chrism, that will be used throughout the parishes of our Archdiocese for the whole year.
During the Mass the Archbishop will be presented with three large urns filled with oil. One will contain the oil that priests will use to anoint the sick. Another will contain the oil that will be used immediately before baptisms. The other will contain the oil that will be used after baptisms and for confirmations, ordinations, and the consecration of new church buildings and altars. The Archbishop will consecrate all of the oil. Then after the Mass the oil is divided up and representatives from each of the parishes will take a portion of the oil back for their parish use.
I look forward to the Chrism Mass every year. I don’t get many opportunities to be at Mass without having to preside and preach. This Mass I get to be preached to. I am able to soak it all in and reflect on what joy the Church brings to my life.
The smell of the oil that will fill the Cathedral that night also has a profound effect on my spirit. In my years as a priest I have noticed how, even if I just slightly touch or come in contact with the holy oil, its fragrance will remain on me and linger about me for a long time.
For example, I often am called to the hospital to anoint somebody who is sick. Long after I have returned to the parish I will still catch a whiff of the oil on my hands. It’s a moving experience. I continue to sense some mystical communion with the person in that hospital bed well after I have left. I have had parents tell me too that after their baby has been baptized they still can smell the holy oil on their child for days afterward.
The holy oil penetrates. It helps me more firmly to believe that the grace of God penetrates our lives deeply and in a lasting way. Sacraments! God truly heals and saves us through these profound and mystical gifts.
All are welcome to attend the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Thursday, March 26, beginning at 7:00 pm. Come and pray for all of those who will be anointed at Nativity of Mary in the year ahead. It might be just the “tune up” that you need.