Here’s my article for this weekend’s (March 12-13, 2016) bulletin.
This coming Thursday March 17th at 5:30 pm in the Cathedral, the Diocese of Jefferson City will host it’s annual “Chrism Mass.” Bishop John R. Gaydos will be the celebrant, joined by all the priests serving in the diocese. The Chrism Mass is held in every diocese around the world in the days leading up to the Triduum. Traditionally it is done on Thursday morning of Holy Week. While this works well in urban dioceses, in large, spread-out, rural dioceses such as ours, it is not practical. Some of our priests live over 3 hours away from the Cathedral and could never make it back in time for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening.
The Chrism Mass serves two important purposes.
The first is that the priests renew their commitment and promises to service of God’s people. Certainly, our vows or promises made at ordination are life-long, but it’s good to gather and publicly renew that commitment every year. This is done at the Chrism Mass because, it is associated with Holy Thursday, which is considered to be the day that Christ instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper. If you’ve never been to a Chrism Mass or an Ordination, it can be pretty impressive to see 70+ priests gathered together.
The second purpose is the blessing of Holy Oils, hence the term, “Chrism Mass.” The Holy Oils: the Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and Sacred Chrism will all be blessed by the bishop during a special ritual. These oils are then to be used throughout the diocese in all of the parishes for the next year. After they are blessed at the Chrism Mass, they will be presented to our parishes during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
So when one of you or a loved one here is sick and or dying and receives anointing in the next year, the oil used by Fr. Mark or myself will have been blessed at this Chrism Mass. When one of your children is baptized, they will be anointed with the Oil of Catechumens and Sacred Chrism blessed at the Chrism Mass. When our RCIA candidates receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil, they will anointed with these same oils. In April, the Bishop will come here to give some of our young people the sacrament of confirmation, and they will be anointed with the Sacred Chrism.
While we as priests will be in Jefferson City all day for a Day of Recollection with our brother priests, all of the faithful are invited and encouraged to attend this important Mass. So let this be your invitation to join us in this beautiful celebration of our Catholic and sacramental faith at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City at 5:30 PM on Thursday March 17.