By Leon Suprenant | March 17, 2008
On Holy Thursday, or more likely one day earlier this week, the bishop of each respective Catholic diocese throughout the world, in the company of his priests, will celebrate the Chrism Mass. This Mass typically takes place at the cathedral or some other central location that will accommodate a large number of concelebrants. At this Mass, the bishop blesses the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens, and most notably the chrism that will be used throughout the diocese in the coming year.
Our family likes to attend this Mass each year. Not only does it prepare us for the rest of the Holy Week liturgies, but it is a singularly beautiful manifestation of the local Church in all its splendor and richness. I recommend it highly to you and yours.
And if you are unable to attend this year, it still might be fruitful to privately contemplate some of the prayers and blessings used at this Mass. Just to give you a taste, here is just one of the forms of the consecratory prayer used in blessing the chrism:
Rite of Consecrating the Chrism
Let us pray
that God our almighty Father
will bless this oil
so that all who are anointed with it
may be inwardly transformed
and come to share in eternal salvation.
God our maker,
source of all growth in holiness,
accept the joyful thanks and praise
we offer in the name of your Church.
In the beginning, at your command,
the earth produced fruit-bearing trees.
From the fruit of the olive tree
you have provided us with oil for holy chrism.
The prophet David sang of the life and joy
that the oil would bring us in the sacraments of your love.
After the avenging flood,
the dove returning to Noah with an olive branch
annouced your gift of peace.
This was a sign of a greater gift to come.
Now the waters of baptism wash away the sins of men,
and by the anointing with olive oil
you make us radiant with your joy.
At your command,
Aaron was washed with water,
and your servant Moses, his brother,
anointed him priest.
This too foreshadowed greater things to come.
After your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
asked John for baptism in the waters of Jordan,
you sent the Spirit upon him
in the form of a dove
and by the witness of your own voice
you declared him to be your only, well-beloved Son.
In this you clearly fulfilled the prophecy of David,
that Christ would be anointed with the oil of gladness
beyond his fellow men.
And so, Father, we ask you to bless + this oil you have created.
Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit
through Christ your Son.
It is from him that chrism takes its name
and with chrism you have anointed
for yourself priests and kings,
prophets and martyrs.
Make this chrism a sign of life and salvation
for those who are to be born again in the waters of baptism.
Wash away the evil they have inherited from sinful Adam,
and when they are anointed with this holy oil
make them temples of your glory,
radiant with the goodness of life
that has its source in you.
Through this sign of chrism
grant them royal, priestly, and prophetic honor,
and clothe them with incorruption.
Let this be indeed the chrism of salvation
for those who will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.
May they come to share eternal life
in the glory of your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.