Monday, March 22, 2010
Chrism Mass - March 24, 2010
The Mass of Chrism comes once a year. In our Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur and in many other dioceses around the world, it is usually celebrated in the cathedral, the mother church of the diocese. However in recent years, the Chrism Mass in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has also been celebrated in various parishes to encourage greater participation from various sectors of the diocesan community. If you've never celebrated it, you're missing one of the most solemn and significant liturgies of our church.
This year's celebration will be in our district, the District (State) of Negeri Sembilan, in the Church of St. John M. Vianney, who is the patron saint of pastors and parish priests. The location has been chosen in conjunction with the Year of the Priest (2009-2010) and the fact that the Church of St. John Vianney in Tampin has been designated a pilgrimage centre.
At the Chrism Mass -- which is usually the largest annual gathering of clergy and faithful most dioceses have -- the priests renew the commitments they made at their ordination. 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.
Since the bishop is the only minister in the diocese who may consecrate chrism, this Mass highlights his ministry and our union with him. He will not baptize and confirm everyone in the parishes of the diocese, but he will be symbolically present in the chrism which the priests and deacons will use.
The Chrism Mass also provides an opportunity the faithful of the diocese to show support for their priests.