Chrism Mass celebrates renewal in Christ

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrates the Mass of the Oils at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston on April 16.

CHARLESTON—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated the annual chrism Mass before a packed congregation at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Traditionally held on the Tuesday of Holy Week, it is the time when diocesan priests renew their pledge to serve the people of God.

Known as the Mass of the Oils, the ceremony also marks the annual consecration of sacred oils used in the sacraments.

During the Mass, deacons carry large silver containers containing the oils up to the altar to be blessed by the bishop. The three oils include oil of catechumens, used in baptism; oil of the sick, to anoint those who are ill; and sacred chrism, called the church’s chief anointing oil and used to dedicate churches, altars and other sacred objects, and for baptisms, confirmations and holy orders.

It is a favorite Mass of the people and every year draws a standing-room only crowd to bear witness as 100-plus priests and deacons process into the cathedral and renew their vows.

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During his homily, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone spoke of the sacrifices and challenges that priests face in their daily lives. He also challenged the clergy to never consider their duties as routine, but to remember the vital importance of the work they do, especially the celebration of the Eucharist.

“We are not only called to simply imitate Christ, but … to be Christ to the people with whom we minister; not in the sense of the glorious and triumphant Christ, but in the sense of a Christ who willingly lays down his life for others,” Bishop Guglielmone told his brother priests.

He also reflected on the extreme emotions of Holy Week, from the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem to his crucifixion just five days later, and then the transcendent joy of his resurrection.

“Let us reflect on this Holy Week, let us reflect on the presence of Jesus in our lives, let us reflect on a Church that struggles at this point to regain a sense of credibility and trust, and certainly let us praise the God who remains with us through it all,” Bishop Guglielmone said.