The Chrism Mass is the largest diocesan celebration held during the year. In this liturgy priests and people gather with the bishop for the blessing of the holy oils that will be used in parishes in the coming year – the oil of the sick, the oil of Catechumens and the oil of Chrism, from which the Mass receives its name.
THE BLESSING AND CONSECRATION OF OILS
While the Oil of the Sick, used for those who seek the anointing, and the Oil of the Catechumens, used for those preparing for baptism, are simply “blessed,” the Sacred Chrism is “consecrated”. All the priests present participate in the latter moment by extending their hands toward the vessel containing it as the bishop says the prayer of consecration.
The Oil of Chrism is used at baptisms, confirmations, the ordination of priests and bishops, the consecration of altars and the blessing of churches, where the walls are smeared with it in the shape of the sign of the cross.
As part of the consecration of the Chrism, balsam is poured into the oil, which gives it a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the “odour of sanctity” to which those people and things who are marked with it, and by extension all of us, are called to strive for.
RENEWAL OF ORDINATION VOWS
The Chrism Mass also provides an opportunity for the priests of the diocese to renew the vows they first made at their ordination. As a group of ministers gathered with members of the faithful of the diocese they make their public commitment to the service of God, the Church and its people once more. The people in turn offer their prayerful support of their priests.
This year our Chrism Mass is taking place in the context of our Listening Lent – a Lent in which thousands of people across the diocese have engaged with the synod process.
For these past weeks people of all ages and from all walks of life have come together to listen to one another sharing on what it is like to be part of the Church – the joy and pain of that membership, the hopes and the dreams for the Church in the future.
I am delighted that the opening procession of our Chrism Mass will include representatives from each of our seven pastoral areas. Each of these people will carry parish and focus group synod submissions which will be placed in a prepared space.
As I incense the altar at the beginning of Mass I will also incense these submissions – underscoring the sacredness of what has been so generously shared by people in their conversations and in their submissions on line.
And I look forward to sharing with you at the Chrism Mass just some of what people have said – before a deeper listening to the submissions takes place during the Easter Season.
A TIME TO GATHER AS A DIOCESAN FAMILY
The Chrism Mass provides us with a moment to gather as a diocese – bishop, priests and people – to support and pray for one another, to remember and pray for the people of our diocese and beyond.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THE BISHOP & ONE ANOTHER
We will continue our gathering immediately after the celebration of Mass with light refreshments in Carlow College. This will be a chance to meet and greet one another from across the diocese.