By Rachel Noel for OND
During Holy Week each year in dioceses around the world, bishops, deacons, priests, and Christ’s faithful gather to celebrate the sacred Chrism Mass. This holy celebration manifests the unity of the bishop with the deacons and priests of his diocese, as well as the entire Catholic community, and is one of the most holy Masses celebrated all year.
The Chrism Mass is significant to the salvation of the Diocese of Crookston because it is the only Mass wherein the Bishop blesses the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens. Above all, it is the Mass at which he consecrates the Holy Chrism. These oils are used in sacramental anointing throughout the year in every parish in the diocese.
On the evening of March 26, Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner, joined by Bishop Emeritus Victor Balke, as well as deacons, priests, and parishioners of the Diocese of Crookston filled Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, to celebrate the sacred Chrism Mass in an exhibition of jubilation during the usually solemn Lenten season.
During the Mass, Bishop Hoeppner invited the priests of the Diocese of Crookston to rise and reaffirm their priestly commitments originally vowed at their ordinations, while the faithful present were called to renew their baptismal promises.
“As for you, dearest sons and daughters, pray for your Priests, that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to him, who is the source of salvation,” Bishop Hoeppner said.
During the homily, he said, “My friends, in the many various ways the Church describes it, we never tire of proclaiming the marvelous deed: salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, our firstborn brother.”
“In this Chrism Mass, we thank God for the gift of faith, which is the faith of the apostles, the faith of the Church. We thank God for our baptism by which we are incorporated into Christ’s family, the Church, and are called to glory, the glory of being now a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession to proclaim everywhere God’s mighty works,” Bishop Hoeppner continued. “What a beautiful, marvelous sight! And the beauty is there in the words of blessing and consecration of oils we are about to hear.”
He went on to describe the importance of the Oils and all they convey to the faithful.
“Of the Oil of the Sick, by which we acknowledge and celebrate God’s care and consolation in the healing Jesus brings and the deliverance from every affliction. Of the Oil of Catechumens, by which we praise God who protects, gives wisdom and understanding and strength for accepting the challenge of Christian living, God who leads to the joy of new birth in the family of the Church.”
Bishop Hoeppner also explained what the consecration of the Holy Chrism and the many sacraments in which it is used mean to Christ’s faithful.
“The words of consecration of Chrism which tell of God’s love in which he gives us life itself and so many gifts; and of the sacraments that strengthen us and give our life fuller meaning; and Baptism in which we are made temples of God’s own glory, made to shine radiant with the goodness of life, endowed with royal, priestly, and prophetic honor, clothed with incorruption itself; of the gift of the Holy Spirit that allows the splendor of holiness to shine on the world from every place and things signed with Chrism,” he said.
Following the homily, the three vessels of oil were presented to Bishop Hoeppner to be blessed – the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Oil of the Holy Chrism. The Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens were blessed, the Chrism Oil was mixed with fragrant balsam, and Bishop Hoeppner breathed into the glass basin symbolizing the infusion of the Holy Spirit, in an act of sacred consecration.
After Communion, Bishop Hoeppner invited representatives from churches throughout the Diocese of Crookston to come forward and receive the blessed oils to take back to their respective congregations. The bishop is then symbolically present each time his blessed Oils are used.
This Mass is personal for many parishioners of the Diocese of Crookston. Eilleen Johnson of St. Joseph, Moorhead, attended her first Chrism Mass this year on behalf of her father, who passed away last fall.
“I have always heard people talk about this Mass and I felt that I needed to be here this year. What a special thing – to be able to witness the blessing of the oils for all the sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick,” she said after the Mass. “It can bring such comfort to a family in a difficult time. And the music at Mass tonight was just beautiful.”
Bishop Hoeppner stressed the importance of faith foundation and explained how the Chrism Mass is the perfect way to spread the word of God to everyone – especially those who have fallen away from their Catholic faith.
“My friends, so many, too many people in our world do not have that solid foundation for a meaningful and fulfilled life. They have no rock upon which to build. Our celebration of this beautiful Chrism Mass energizes us to bring the good news of God’s marvelous deeds to them.”
Bishop Hoeppner's Chrism Mass homily can be read at his blog HERE.
Photos from the 2018 Chrism Mass can be viewed HERE.