SOUTH BEND — “This Chrism Mass expresses in a beautifully solemn way the unity of Christ’s Church here in our diocese and in dioceses throughout the world: Bishop, priests, deacons, religious and laity, gathered together during Holy Week for the consecration of the Sacred Chrism and the blessing of the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick,” began Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in his homily at St. Matthew Co-Cathedral in South Bend on Monday, April 18.
At the Chrism Mass, which was also celebrated Tuesday, April 19, in Fort Wayne at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism are blessed by the bishop and distributed to churches throughout the diocese.
The Sacred Chrism will be used to confirm the elect at the Easter Vigil. The Chrism will be used in the coming months for infant Baptisms and priestly Ordinations. It is also employed for sacramental blessings and consecrations, such as the dedication of churches and altars.
“Through these oils, the Lord’s grace will flow within thousands of people’s souls throughout our diocese, bringing light, support and strength through the sacraments. The Church will be built up as the Holy Spirit works through these oils, consecrating and sanctifying the members of Christ’s Body in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, and bringing healing through the Anointing of the Sick,” Bishop Rhoades said.
During the Blessing of the Oils, which followed the homily, Bishop Rhoades poured the balsam in the oil and mixed the Chrism. He breathed over the Sacred Chrism and then with his hands extended, he prayed the prayer of consecration.
Bishop Rhoades spoke of anointing in the homily: “‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me,’ Isaiah wrote concerning the awaited Messiah. In the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus read these words of Isaiah and applied them to Himself: ‘Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’ Jesus presented Himself as filled with the Spirit and consecrated with an anointing, sent to bring glad tidings to the poor.”
The bishop continued, “He is the Messiah, ‘the Christ,’ which means ‘Anointed One.’ He is ‘the Alpha and the Omega,’” as heard in the Book of Revelation, “‘the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.’” And from that same reading, “‘He is the one who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for His God and Father.’”
Bishop Rhoades spoke of how all gathered for the Chrism Mass, as members of God’s holy Church, “have received from Jesus, the great High Priest, the dignity and mission of sharing in His priesthood. The promise of God to Israel: ‘You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ has been fulfilled, as the book of Revelation teaches us,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The universal priesthood of all the baptized is a real share in the priesthood of Christ by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Through the common priesthood, we are able to offer our lives in union with Christ as spiritual sacrifices to the Father, capable of living lives of faith, hope and charity, capable of living by the Spirit as children of the light.”
The evening also had a special focus on the ordained priesthood. The presbyterate assembles to concelebrate with the bishop and manifest their communion with him. During the Mass, the priests renew their commitment to priestly service, dedicating themselves anew to Christ and to service of the local Church, particularly through the sacred liturgy.
“In the sacrament of Holy Orders, Jesus has sent His Spirit on certain men to serve the common priesthood of all the faithful, to represent Him as the Good Shepherd leading His flock, acting in His Person as Head of the Church,” Bishop Rhoades said in the homily. “The gift of the ordained priesthood is a gift of Christ to His Church, so that all the members of His Body, through the ministry of His ordained priests, might be nourished by the Word of God and the sacraments, led to worship God in spirit and in truth, and guided along the way of holiness.”
Bishop Rhoades noted that the call to holiness applies for priests, religious and laity. He spoke of the example of Pope John Paul II, who will be beatified May 1: “What an example he is for us of what it means to be a faithful and holy priest,” Bishop Rhoades said. “And he taught us so much about the priesthood in his writings and talks. He wrote the following: ‘Christians expect to find in the priest not only a man who welcomes them, who listens to them gladly and shares a real interest in them, but also and above all a man who will help them to turn to God, to rise up to Him.’”
Bishop Rhoades offered the formula for the priests’ prayer life. “It’s good to remember the basics of a healthy priestly spirituality — prayerful meditation with the Sacred Scriptures (lectio divina), Adoration of the most Holy Eucharist, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Liturgy of the Hours,” Bishop Rhoades said. “At ordination, we assumed the obligation to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours for the people of God and indeed for the whole world. This is a blessed obligation. When we pray the (Liturgy of the) Hours, we can personally lift up to the Lord all the people who have asked us to pray for them or whom we have promised to pray for. This is not something secondary or incidental to our ministry. It’s part of our priestly identity — interceding for our people.”
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.