Holy oil is ‘ancient symbol’ for ‘healing and strength,’ says Dallas auxiliary at Chrism Mass

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

Photos by Wendy Pandolfo

May 6, 2013

Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Douglas Deshotel blesses the oils to be used in the Diocese of Fort Worth at the annual Chrism Mass March 26.Only a bishop is allowed to consecrate chrism, and since the diocese is currently without an ordinary, Bishop Deshotel performed the ritual.

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St. Patrick Cathedral is a familiar place of worship for Louise Barbetta. For nine years, she joined her husband, Nick, inside the cavernous, stained-glass windowed sanctuary for Sunday Mass. But the wife and mother came to the cathedral March 26 for a different reason. Sitting in one of the wooden pews in front of the church, she watched as Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Douglas Deshotel blessed the oils Father Joe Pemberton would use to mark her forehead as she entered the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil service.

“I’m very excited,” Barbetta said, reflecting on her conversion as the bishop and 90 priests of the Diocese of Fort Worth prepared to concelebrate the annual Chrism Mass. “God called me home. It took awhile, but I’m here!”

At the Chrism Mass, a bishop blesses three oils utilized in rites during the year at local parishes. Holy Chrism anoints the newly baptized, seals candidates for confirmation, and anoints the hands of priests and the heads of bishops at their ordinations. The oil of catechumens is used during the baptism of adults joining the Church, and the oil of the sick brings comfort to the infirm and ailing.

Only a bishop is allowed to consecrate chrism, and since the diocese is currently without an appointed prelate, Bishop Deshotel performed the ritual.

“Oil is the ancient symbol of medicine for healing and strength,” the celebrant said in his homily. “For those who desire baptism, the oil of the catechumen strengthens them for the new life in Christ they are about to receive.”

In Confirmation, the sacred chrism conforms the Christian to be more like Christ.

“Its sweet smell symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Deshotel continued. “That gift, promised by Jesus, guides the Christian to bring the Good News into the world.”

Chrism also anoints men receiving Holy Orders.

“It reminds deacons, priests, and bishops that they, like Christ, bring good tidings to the poor, proclaim liturgy to captives, and recover sight to the blind,” he explained, referencing the day’s Gospel readings. “The oil of the sick prepares the Christian to imitate Christ in suffering and death, so that they may also imitate him in resurrection and everlasting life.”

A beautiful celebration of the pastoral and sacramental life of the Church, the Chrism Mass is also the time when priests renew their commitment to ministry. As priests, they promise obedience and unity with their bishop.

“We carry out the ministry of Christ to the global Church which we serve,” Bishop Deshotel told worshippers. “In this way, the command of Christ to proclaim the Good News is fulfilled.”

In closing, the bishop encouraged the congregation to thank the priests who have answered Christ’s call to continue his ministry.

Virginia Rodriguez and Don Gabbert from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Fort Worth carried the vessel containing the oil of the sick up the aisle for blessing. Rodriguez, one of the parish’s RCIA coordinators, felt humbled and honored to be included in the ceremony. Other oil bearers came from St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills and St. Bartholomew Parish in Southwest Fort Worth.

“It’s a blessing and a joy to be able to participate in all this, especially with Holy Saturday coming up, “ she said, referring to the Easter Vigil liturgy that welcomes new members into the Church. “We have about 45 people in our RCIA program who will receive the oils consecrated at this Mass.”

Brandon Moore attended the Chrism Mass as part of the RCIA process at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller. Raised a Methodist, he initially decided to join the faith to please his wife, Janie, a cradle Catholic, and their twin daughters. But then the experience became life-altering.

“I’m a better person,” Moore said, calling his classes under the guidance of parish religious education director Matt Gill enriching. “I’ve become a better person, father, and husband. And I’ve found more peace in my life.”

The new convert said he always found Catholicism interesting from an historical standpoint but dreaded taking RCIA instruction. Instead of looking at his watch throughout each session, he started staying after each class to talk.

“Seeing the oils blessed is special, and knowing they’ll be used this Saturday when I enter the Church makes it even more so,” Moore added.

Sitting in one of the wooden pews in front of St. Patrick Cathedral March 26, Louise Barbetta, a wife and mother taking RCIA classes, watched as Dallas Auxiliary Bishop Douglas Deshotel blessed the oils Father Joe Pemberton would use to mark her forehead as she entered the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil service.

Published (until 5/6/2063)
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