Chrism masses: renewing ministerial commitment and blessing the oils for the sacraments
Taken from Bishop David's blog here.
The Chrism Mass is a key moment each year when the unity of those engaged in public ministry is manifested and renewed, and when the sacred oils of baptism, the sick and chrism are blessed for distribution across the diocese.
St James the Apostle refers to anointing the sick with oil, and the prayer of blessing asks that the Lord may free those anointed from pain and illness and made well again in body, mind and soul. In blessing the oil of the catechumens we pray that those anointed in preparation for their baptism will be given a deeper understanding of the gospel and strength for the challenge of Christian living. The sacred chrism, a mixture of olive oil and fragrant and aromatic essences, is blessed by the bishop and priests together, and is used after baptisms, at confirmations and ordinations, as a sign of the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A translation of an ancient (sixth century) hymn O Redemptor sume carmen is sung as the oils are processed to the altar. It contains a verse looks forward to the passion and resurrection about to be celebrated in our churches:
Lord Christ, the Father's only Son
Who took our flesh in Mary's womb
give light to your anointed ones
and break the power of death's dark tomb.
This year I presided at a Chrism Mass on Monday in Holy Week, in St George's Madrid. Clergy and Readers from across Spain, Portugal and even Switzerland joined together for this celebration. Deacon Justo from the partner Diocese of Peru, was our special and honoured guest.
On Tuesday in Holy Week clergy and Readers from Italy, France and the Netherlands came together in All Saints Rome. At that celebration, recognising the rich ecumenical life in the city of Rome, we were joined by clergy from the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, and the Church of Scotland. It was moving to commit ourselves as ecumenical partners to live, work and pray as one body in Christ.
In our scattered diocese, the Chrism masses also provide an occasion for isolated clergy and people to renew their links of companionship. Both St George's, Madrid, and All Saints, Rome, provided a community lunch for us following the services.