April 11, 2023 // Bishop
Blessing of Holy Oils and Priestly Vows Renewed at Chrism Masses
On Monday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 4, the priests of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend gathered at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in South Bend and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne respectively to join Bishop Rhoades in celebrating the Chrism Mass. Each year, this special Mass is held on both sides of the diocese to consecrate and bless the Holy Oils that will be used in the coming year and for the priests to renew their sacred vows.
Click here for more photos from St. Matthew Cathedral.
Held in the first days of Holy Week each year, the Chrism Mass is considered one of the most important Masses of the year. The Chrism Oil, a sweet-smelling mixture of olive oil and balsam (a tree resin), is consecrated to be used beginning at the Celebration of Easter Vigil when the Elect of the Diocese are welcomed into the fullness of the faith and later for confirmations and ordinations. Two other oils, The Oil of the Sick, used during the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick, and the Oil of Catechumens, used prior to the Sacrament of Baptism, are blessed.
Beginning his homily, Bishop Rhoades shared, “For me, one of the highlights of the liturgical year is celebrating the Chrism Masses each year in South Bend and Fort Wayne. I find it always uplifting to have this beautiful concelebration of Mass with so many priests during this week when our Lord instituted the priesthood, with the presence and participation of so many of our deacons, religious sisters and brothers, seminarians, and, of course, so many lay faithful who gather especially to pray for our priests as they renew their priestly promises.”
Click here for more photos from the Fort Wayne Chrism Mass.
He continued by stating what the Second Vatican Council said about the Chrism Mass. “The Chrism Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium, and at which the Holy Chrism is consecrated, and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ” (PO 7).
Bishop Rhoades continued his homily with the focus of communion, that of the priests with their bishop, and the whole Church with Christ and with one another in His Body, the Church.
“There is a wonderful richness of diversity within the one Church of Christ. We see this diversity throughout our Diocese and here at the Chrism Mass.” He went on to say, “Amid this beautiful diversity, there is a fundamental unity: our unity in the faith received from the apostles; our unity in the common celebration of the sacraments; and our unity through the governance established by Christ, the apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders.”
The bishop then went on to speak of the wounds inflicted on the Church by dissensions and schisms throughout the centuries. He reminded the faithful that the devil hates their unity and wishes to see them divided from one another and divided from the Church. Speaking then to the priests, Bishop Rhoades told them to be shepherds of the whole flock of believers, not just those who share similar views.
Later in his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke more about unity. “My brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity and the Spirit of Truth. The devil is the divider and the father of lies. Some claim to be following the Holy Spirit when they are actually accommodating to the spirit of this world. It is not of the Holy Spirit if it is in contradiction to Christ and His teachings, if it is contrary to the Word of God transmitted through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”
He told those present that the Holy Spirit does not sever our bond with the apostolic faith, but instead safeguards it.
Speaking again to the priests, he reminded them that their pastoral strength comes from the Holy Spirit, through their ordination. It is He who guides them to serve the Church and its unity.
Bishop Rhoades closed his homily by thanking the priests of the diocese for their commitment to unity. “My brother priests, I thank you for your faithful service of the Church and her unity, through your fidelity to the teaching of the Gospel in union with the Church’s Magisterium, through your fidelity to the celebration of the sacraments according to the directives of the Church, and through your humble and loving service of the people entrusted to your pastoral care.”
Following the homily, the priests renewed their vows, pledging to be more united to the Lord and more closely conformed to Him and committing once again to be faithful stewards of the sacraments. Bishop then asked the people of the congregation to pray for the priests to remain faithful in their promises, and to pray also for the bishop that he may be faithful to the office entrusted to him.
After the renewal of vows, the gifts and the oils were brought forward for consecration and blessing by members of the community. The Oil of the Sick was the first to be blessed, followed by the Oil of Catechumens. Finally, the Balsam oil was mixed with the olive to create the sacred Chrism. The congregation stood while this holy oil was consecrated. The Sacred Chrism is used during confirmations and ordinations. On Easter Vigil, the new Catholics who are to be confirmed will be anointed with this sweet-smelling oil, bringing them into the fullness of the apostolic faith, calling the Holy Spirit to descend upon them. In June, seven young men of our diocese will be anointed with this Sacred Oil as they become priests. It is a powerful symbol of Unity with Christ, the Church, and all those who have partaken of the sacraments before them.
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