Chrism Mass: celebrating the communion of the presbyters with their bishop

Friday, Apr. 05, 2019
Chrism Mass: celebrating the communion of the presbyters with their bishop Photo 1 of 2
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

Bishop Oscar A. Solis and the priests of the Diocese of Salt Lake City will celebrate the Chrism Mass on April 11 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The Mass “manifests the communion of the presbyters with their bishop,” according to the Roman Breviary.

Also at the Mass, the bishop will bless the three oils that will be used throughout the year in the administration of the sacraments throughout the diocese.

This year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a new book, “The Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism,” which has an updated English translation of the text for The Order of Blessing of the Oil. There are no ritual changes to the Blessing of Oils.

Why do all the clergy gather for the Chrism Mass?

During the Chrism Mass, the priests will renew their vow of obedience to the bishop, which they took first at ordination. In the parishes, the priest acts in the name of the bishop, but “Obedience is not blindly following the bishop’s command, obedience is listening to one another, working together to meet the goals of the diocese as outlined by the Pastoral Plan,” said Father Martin Diaz, the cathedral rector and chairman of the board for the ongoing formation of priests. 

What is the significance of the different chalices?

This year during the Chrism Mass, the chalices of priests who served at the cathedral, as well as some who are deceased, will be used during Communion. This is to commemorate that “we’re connected to our past,” Fr. Diaz said. “When the diocese gathers for the Chrism Mass, it’s our past and our future in the present. Using the chalices will recognize those who built the Church community in which we gather.”

What are the oils that will be blessed?

During the Chrism Mass, the bishop will bless the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and the holy chrism. All three are made of olive oil that is given a special blessing for its unique use. The holy chrism also contains balsam. The oil of catechumens is used in the Sacrament of Baptism. The oil of the sick is used in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. The holy chrism is used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, as well as for the consecration of altars and the dedication of churches.

What is the special blessing that the holy chrism receives?

In addition to giving a verbal blessing to the oils, at the Chrism Mass Bishop Solis will stir balsam into the holy chrism, then breathe into the urn. The bishop is the head of the local Catholic community, “so it’s the fullness of the Catholic community being breathed into that oil,” Fr. Diaz said, adding that all the priests who are present in the cathedral will concelebrate this blessing, “so again, it emphasizes the whole Church.”

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