Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Chrism Mass 

The Cathedral was full tonight. Many more people were present for the Chrism Mass, for the blessing of oils, than were present for the Rite of Sending. A full choir with horns and drums held forth from the balcony and I think every priest in the area was present in white to help the bishop with the Mass. Forty or so priests, followed by the Bishop, processed the main aisle, amid incense and music, to the alter. The first reading (in Spanish) was Isaiah 61:1-9 and the second (in English) was from Revelations 1:1-8. Then Bishop D'Arcy read Luke 4:16-21 and gave a long homily on the sacraments as vehicles of glory. The homily focused on priestly vows and how priests, and we, should focus not on all that has been sacrificed, but instead give thanks for all that has been given. All priests, indeed all Christians, are called to the model of Christ. Servants all and thankfully so.

After the homily, four deacons brought the oil from the back of the Cathedral to the alter. The oil was held in large, glass jugs. Another deacon carried a smaller glass jar of balsam. The Bishop then mixed balsam in with the oil and blessed the oils. It was hard to see, but I didn't see him make any extra effort to breathe over the oils beyond standing over them and saying the prayers. At the moments of blessing, all of the many priests raised their right hands for the blessings.

After the oils were blessed and taken away for us to pick up later, a regular Mass began. Regular, that is, in form but not in spirit because forty priests and a bishop holding Mass is a sight! The Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of Power, God of might) was warm and full and lofty with the choir in the great Cathedral. The many priests mirrored the motions of the Bishop when he held the body and then the blood of Christ aloft. Priests went off in pairs to all corners of the church to offer the Eucharist. We still in RCIA were blessed since we're still four days away from partaking ourselves in the body and blood of Christ.

After Mass, the assigned delegates of each church found their way to the room where each church's oils had been poured into each church's containers. We packed ours up and our priest found us and took the bottles home. The entire Chrism Mass was, I believe, under an hour and half long. The music and people and sights and smells were uplifting, full of mystery, and interesting. As with the Rite of Election, I got the feeling that the priests truly enjoy these times when they can all be together and share in the same event. I saw so many smiling, joking, laughing and joyous priests walking about afterward. I enjoyed it all.

Update: As proof that priests enjoy the Chrism Mass get together, witness Catholic Rage Monkey.

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