It’s a time during Holy Week for all in the diocese to gather – for the annual Chrism Mass.
The Diocese of Beaumont will celebrate the Chrism Mass, Tuesday of Holy Week, March 27, with Bishop Curtis J. Guillory as principal celebrant and homilist. All the priests of the diocese will concelebrate with Bishop Guillory, “manifesting the communion of the presbyters with their bishop” [Ceremonial of Bishops 274]. This Eucharistic Liturgy will be at 6:30 p.m. at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica, 700 Jefferson St., Beaumont.
“The blessing and consecration of oils is the high point of the Chrism Mass,” said Rosalind Sanchez, director of the diocesan Office of Worship. “Bishop consecrates the holy chrism and blesses the other oils that are used in parishes and by hospital and prison ministry chaplains throughout the year.”
The Sacred Chrism is used in anointing those celebrating the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders and in the anointing of the altar and the walls in the Dedication of a Church.
“Through Baptism Christians share the paschal mystery of Christ—dying and rising to new life—as through the waters of baptism they experience death to the old self, the cleansing of the soul in the baptismal water and the beginning of their new life in Christ,” Sanchez said.
These newly baptized are confirmed and anointed with the Chrism. All who celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation throughout the year are anointed with Chrism and receive the spiritual anointing of the Holy Spirit whom they receive in this sacrament. Chrism is used in the anointing of the altar and walls in a new or re-built church, signifying the church is given over completely and always to Christian worship.
During ordination to the priesthood a man’s hands are anointed with chrism signifying his anointing to his ministry of priestly service.
The Oil of Catechumens is used for those preparing for their baptism, for the strength to renounce sin and the devil. The Oil of the Sick is used to anoint the sick during their illness of mind and body to give them strength to bear suffering, resist evil, and obtain the forgiveness of sins. The elderly, who may be more susceptible to ill health, may also be anointed with The Oil of the Sick as may those preparing to undergo surgery.
During the Chrism Mass all the oils are brought forward in procession by members of various parishes who have a particular connection to the oils. After the final blessing of the Mass, the oils are symbolically sent to all parishes, missions, and chaplains of prison and hospital ministry by the Vicars in the Procession of the Oils.
The oils derive their description from the Old Testament usage—anointing of kings, priests, and prophets with consecratory oil—because the name of Christ, whom they prefigured, means “the anointed of the Lord.” The oil used for the consecration and for the blessing of oils is olive oil. Chrism is made of olive oil with perfumed balsam added.
“Another unique and powerful ritual of the Chrism Mass is The Renewal of Priestly Promises by our priests and our Bishop before all the assembly,” Sanchez said.
“Within the Chrism Mass is seen the rich diversity of the diocese in the many liturgical ministers who participate: those carrying the oils in procession, the lectors, the gift bearers, in the scripture readings and in the music,” she continued. “The Chrism Mass is a profound experience, deeply meaningful in the Holy Week celebrations.”
Bishop Guillory invites the entire diocese to attend this special liturgy as part of their Holy Week liturgies leading to the Easter Vigil, with a special invitation to those in the RCIA process.