Annual Chrism Mass is a Physical Reminder of Christ’s Presence:
The Ancient Ritual Carries Contemporary Significance,
Sacramental Uses are Central to the Worldwide Catholic Rite
Orange, CA (April 2, 2012) – The Most Reverend Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange, celebrated the annual Chrism Mass at St. Columban Parish Church, in Garden Grove. St. Columban is the largest parish church in the diocese and accommodates 1500 worshippers. St. Columban was selected to host this important celebration over the smaller Holy Family Cathedral.
“Moving significant liturgical gatherings to venues around the diocese has become a reality. Our diocese is now among the nations’ largest and continues to grow at record pace; unfortunately we have no single venue capable of hosting events such as the Chrism Mass without the risk of turning people away. The good news is that our new cathedral will solve this concern and we are grateful for that day to arrive,” said Lesa Truxaw, Director of Worship.
Bishop Brown, assisted by other clergy and laity, blessed the oils that will be used for sacramental purposes in the coming liturgical year, and officiated over the annual renewal of promises made by priests serving in Orange County. Recognized as the Chrism Mass this event convenes all priests, deacons, and others participating in liturgical functions within the Diocese. The annual gathering is notable for its solemnity, richness of tradition and significance.
The Chrism Mass, the name itself is a derivative of “Christ” which means Anointed One, is celebrated worldwide during Holy Week, itself the most important week in the Catholic rite – as the events it commemorates lead to Easter and the Resurrection. The Chrism ceremony began with blessing the oils of the sick and catechumens, those preparing for baptism. The holy chrism was then consecrated to anoint: the newly baptized; those receiving confirmation; the hands of priests; the head of a bishop at ordination; and, the altars and walls of new churches at their dedication.
“Historically, unguents and oils have played an important symbolic role in the Catholic liturgy. Over time, these precious and physical symbols of faith, hope and dedication have become central to Catholic ritual and embody some of the differences between our faith practices and other religions. Yet, the use of blessed or consecrated oils existed before the time of Christ and suggest that special human significance attaches to the abstract idea of taking something precious – like faith – and giving it physical reality when spread over someone’s forehead or onto an important inanimate object,” Truxaw added.
In his homily Bishop Brown stressed the power of being one in spirit and the value of liturgical symbolism, even in contemporary times.
“I have always sought to bring Christological relevance to our interaction with the laity and within our own clerical communities. We as Catholics should make every effort to remind others of Christ and of the need to behave in Christ-like ways. This is what it truly means to be Christian. The Chrism Mass and blessing of oils is but one way of doing this, as these precious oils symbolize Christ in our lives in a way we can feel, smell, experience and appreciate,” said Bishop Brown.