Bishop blesses oils to be used throughout the year at annual Chrism Mass

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

Photos by Juan Guajardo

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Bishop Michael Olson prepares and blesses the Holy Oils. Priests and parishioners from all over the diocese joined Bishop Michael Olson in celebrating the annual Chrism Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral on April 15.

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There’s a special reason why Corina Pinela wanted to attend this year’s Chrism Mass. During the solemn Holy Week liturgy, celebrated April 15 in St. Patrick Cathedral, Bishop Michael Olson blessed the oil and consecrated the chrism used to administer sacraments in diocesan parishes throughout the year.

The All Saints parishioner believes the Anointing of the Sick she received from her parish priest helped her recover from a near fatal car accident in 2009.

“A 16-year-old was driving on the wrong side of the road. When I saw the impact coming, all I could think was ‘Lord have mercy,’ Pinela remembered. “And He was merciful. I was injured badly but He pulled me through.”

All Saints parochial vicar Father Ángel Infante Hernández, TOR, arrived at the hospital to administer the sacrament and bless the injured office worker with the sacred oil.

“It made a difference in my recovery,” she affirmed. “I still have some pain but nothing like what my Lord went through.”

For more than a thousand years, bishops blessed the sacramental oils used for Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick at the Holy Thursday Mass. Pope Pius XII reformed the rite in 1955 allowing for a separate Mass of Chrism, celebrated during Holy Week to enable more people and priests to gather with their bishop. This year, more than 500 parishioners from across the diocese and 80 priests filled the cathedral to celebrate the 5:30 p.m. Chrism Mass with Bishop Olson.

Representatives from three parish communities served as oil bearers. Parishioners from St. Andrew Church, accompanied by their pastor, Father Tom Stabile, TOR, carried the oil of catechumens. Members of St. Mary of the Assumption Church presented the oil of the sick, and Bl. John Paul II parishioners brought chrism to the altar with their pastor, Father Kyle Walterscheid.

“We ask God to bless these oils and consecrate the chrism, so that we use them as the Lord has called us to do, as we’ve been ordained to do, and as the Church needs us to do,” Bishop Olson told the worshippers. “We ask for blessing upon us, too, who have already received these sacraments, that we are reminded of what the Lord has done for us. Our response should be nothing short of joy and gratitude.”

During his homily, the bishop explained the sacramental significance of the oils. In Baptism, the oil of catechumens symbolically strengthens those preparing for the sacrament.

“Because the Christian life is very much a battle,” he pointed out. “It’s a battle we don’t command on our own terms, but it’s certainly a battle of good over evil.”

Through the oil used to anoint the sick, Christ accompanies those infirmed and dying and gives the “fortitude of martyrs,” Bishop Olson explained. Administered by the priest, the sacred anointing helps the sick know the whole Church is present and praying for them.

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Joseph and Juanita Rangel, of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, bring in the Oil of the Sick at the start of Mass.

“This holy unction — this form of accompaniment — is sacramental, and not just a kind word,” he added.

Finally, holy chrism — a mixture of olive oil and perfume — is linked with the sanctification of individuals. It’s used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders to impart an indelible sacramental character. The bishop also pours it on the altar and walls of a new church during the dedication ceremony.

“Christ accompanies us in a way in which He is webbed to our souls through the sacred, consecrated chrism,” the bishop continued. “We are transformed and united to Him in an inseparable way at Baptism, and in Confirmation, when we are sealed in our mission as disciples of the Lord Jesus sent forth as apostles into the world.”

In Holy Orders chrism consecrates the hands of the priest making them Christ’s hands in the world. It also anoints the head of a bishop making him a shepherd who leads, governs, sanctifies, and teaches his flock by following Christ.

“How much He trusts us to carry out his mission to baptize and to confirm,” Bishop Olson said, addressing the assembly of priests.

To show their unity with the bishop, the presbyters stood after the homily to renew their promises of service and receive the prayers and support of the people.

Kellie Schlosberg has attended the Chrism Mass for the past four years.

“It brings me back to my own Baptism and entry into the Catholic Church in 2006. I’m able to reflect, in a visual way, the impact that had on my life and the life of my family,” says the Holy Family parishioner. “Seeing the oils blessed brings me into union with those who will join us at the Easter Vigil.”

During the Mass, she also offered special prayers for two deacons working at her parish — Gary Picou and Raul Martinez. Their ordinations to the priesthood are planned for this May.

“I am so grateful for these men who have heard Christ's call,” Schlosberg added. “The Chrism Mass is a time when we can all come together and offer our prayers up for each other. It is a time that unifies our diocese in a way that is very humbling.

Chrism-Mass-14-Bp-Olson-Oils-BUTTON.jpgThere’s a special reason why Corina Pinela wanted to attend this year’s Chrism Mass. During the solemn Holy Week liturgy, celebrated April 15 in St. Patrick Cathedral, Bishop Michael Olson blessed the oil and consecrated the chrism used to administer sacraments in diocesan parishes throughout the year.

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