THE CHRISM MASS
The Mass takes its name from the blessing of the holy oils used in the sacraments throughout the year, which are then given to priests to take back to their parishes.The Rite of Reception of the Oils by representatives of the diocesan parishes is a sign of each parish’s unity with the Bishop and the diocesan Church.Whenever the holy oils are used, the ministry of the bishop who consecrated them is symbolically present.The oils distributed are meant to last all year, although extra oil is also blessed during the Mass and is kept at the cathedral as a reserve if a parish runs out.
The Holy Oils are:
▪ the oil of catechumens – also used in the sacrament of Baptism, and
▪ the oil of the sick – used in the rite of the Anointing of the Sick
While the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick, are simply “blessed,” the Sacred Chrism is “consecrated,”. Holy chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balsam, an aromatic resin. Balsam is poured into the oil, which gives it a sweet smell intended to remind those who encounter it of the “odor of sanctity” to which those who are marked with it, are called to strive. The bishop breathes over the vessel containing the chrism, a gesture which symbolizes the Holy Spirit coming down to consecrate this oil, and recalls the actions of Jesus in John 20:22, when he breathed on the apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit…” The priests concelebrating the Mass extend their hands toward the vessel containing the chrism and say the prayer of consecration silently as the bishop pronounces it over the chrism.