Chrism Mass and Distribution of Oils
The Chrism Mass, ordinarily celebrated during Holy Week by the Bishop and concelebrated with the priests of the diocese, is the Mass when the bishop consecrates the holy chrism and blesses the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick. Priests are brought together and concelebrate this Mass as witnesses and cooperators with their bishop in the consecration of the chrism because they share in the sacred office of the bishop in building up, sanctifying, and ruling the people of God. This Mass is therefore a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and the sacrifice of Christ, which continue to be present in the Church. The Mass takes its name from the most eminent of the three holy oils which the bishop commissions for his local church's use over the following year.
While the Oil of the Sick, used for those who seek the anointing, and the Oil of the Catechumens, which is imposed on those preparing for baptism, are simply "blessed," the Sacred Chrism is "consecrated," and 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 Chrism is used at the ordination of priests and bishops, baptisms, confirmations, 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 "odor of sanctity" to which those people and things who are marked with it, and by extension all of us, are called to strive for.
After the Oils have been blessed and prepared by the Bishop at the Chrism Mass, they are distributed to the parishes and institutions of the diocese. Two representatives from each parish and institution are chosen and sent to receive the oils from the Bishop at Solemn Evening Prayer, held on Tuesday, April 16th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral. This ceremony is open to the public and the faithful are encouraged to attend.
Please note that this year the Chrism Mass and Solemn Evening Prayer with the Distribution of Oils are two distinct ceremonies. Priests will be gathering with the Bishop for the Chrism Mass separately and will then gather with the deacons, religious, seminarians, and faithful for Solemn Evening Prayer and the Distribution of Oils in St. Joseph Cathedral on Tuesday, April 16th at 6:30 p.m.
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