Prayers for renewal of the church, priestly ministry voiced at Chrism Mass
As the Chrism Mass returned to its rightful place during Holy Week, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, said it was a “special blessing” to be able to gather with the priests and representatives of the religious and laity “to pray for the renewal of the life and all the works of our local church.”
He encouraged everyone present in St. Mary’s Cathedral — and those viewing the liturgy via livestream — to be “ready for the Spirit of God to change our lives.”
The Chrism Mass takes its name from one of the three oils that are blessed during the liturgy. Sacred Chrism is used to anoint the hands of priests and the heads of bishops, as well as the altar, baptismal font and walls of new churches. The others are the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens.
The annual liturgy was postponed last year when all public Masses were suspended at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was eventually celebrated on Oct. 20, with primarily the priests of the Diocese of Peoria in attendance.
While this year’s liturgy still had to be limited in terms of numbers, a few more people were able to join Bishop Jenky and Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka for the Mass on March 30. Following COVID-19 protocols, all the priests were seated before the liturgy began and the processions at the beginning and end of Mass were simplified so there was less movement in the mother church of the diocese.
There was nothing simplified about what came in between the processions from and back to the sacristy, however.
PROMISES RENEWED, OILS BLESSED
One of the main moments of the Chrism Mass is when the priests, led by Bishop Jenky, renew the promises they made at their priestly ordination. Among them is “to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the Head and Shepherd, not seeking any gain, but moved by zeal for souls.”
Bishop Jenky also asked the religious and laity to pray for the priests, “that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ the High Priest, so that they may lead you to Him, who is the source of salvation.”
“And pray also for me, that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and the Servant of All,” he said.
What followed was the blessing of the Oil of the Sick, which was presented by Deacon Ed Mallow, and the Oil of the Catechumens, presented by Deacon Terry Stalsberg, both permanent deacons. Deacon Mallow serves St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights, and Deacon Stalsberg is the new director of Sacré-Coeur Retreat Center in Magnolia.
Bringing the balsam for the Sacred Chrism to Bishop Jenky was Deacon Nic Wilson, while the oil it would be poured into was carried up the main aisle of the cathedral by Deacon Austin Bosse. Both will be anointed with Sacred Chrism at their ordination to the priesthood, which is scheduled for May 29.
After pouring the balsam into the oil and mixing it, Bishop Jenky breathed over the opening of the vessel and offered the prayer of consecration. The priests joined him by extending their right hands toward the Sacred Chrism.
The vessels with all three oils were placed on pedestals in front of the altar, where they remained for the rest of Mass.
COMFORTING, HEALING, FRAGRANT
In his homily, Bishop Jenky said that at the Chrism Mass, “the holy oils, those designated signs of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, are renewed.”
“The Oil of the Sick comforts and heals,” he explained, adding that “The Oil of the Catechumens strengthens those called to new life in the Easter sacraments.”
Because the Sacred Chrism, “awesome and wondrous in mystery, perfumed with all the rich fragrance of the Holy Spirit,” is used for the ordination of priests, Bishop Jenky said it was appropriate that the clergy would join him in consecrating it as they renewed the promises they made that day.
“Although in these days of pandemic it is both prudent and appropriate to anoint using Q-tips, I look forward with some longing for the days when once again, at confirmations, the thumb of the bishop will carry the scent of Holy Chrism for days afterward,” he said.
As they left St. Mary’s Cathedral after Mass, the priests picked up small containers of the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism to use in sacramental anointing at their parishes in the coming year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Chrism Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.