I just love the Chrism Mass! It is an amazing liturgy. People gather from all over the diocese. They come by bus and car and by 6.30pm the cathedral and its precinct are full of people, all catching up and preparing to be part of this most significant celebration of faith.
As a people of faith, we know that ‘oils ain’t oils’! At the Chrism Mass, Bishop Michael, blesses the holy oils which will be used for ministry throughout the coming year. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick are blessed. The oil of chrism is consecrated. The first is used for anointing adult catechumens and infants, the second for anointing the sick, and the oil of chrism for baptism, confirmation, the ordination of priests, and the consecration of altars. The tradition of blessing the oils goes back to the early church. While a priest can bless the oil of the sick and catechumens, only a bishop can consecrate chrism. That is why last year, Bishop Danny Meagher from Sydney came to preside at our Chrism Mass.
This gathering of all the faithful of the Church of Maitland-Newcastle is an expression of both our unity in Christ and the beautiful diversity which strengthens our unity. Here we experience our catholicity, marked in a special way when, after the readings and homily, everyone participates in a renewal of their commitment to ministry; a commitment we share, though in different ways.
This renewal begins with the Assembly – all God's priestly, prophetic and kingly people – who recommit to the work of spreading God's word in their families, communities and workplaces. Then the deacons restate their commitment to the loving and humble service called for by the gospel. This is followed by the priests' renewal of their priestly promises to unite themselves with Christ and to steward the mysteries of God. Finally, Bishop Michael renews his commitment to becoming a more faithful image of Christ the Good Shepherd. Through the process of this renewal, we offer our prayer and support to all those who serve in ordained ministry.
View a simple resource for prayer and reflection on the texts for the blessing of the holy oils. It can help you prepare to participate in the Chrism Mass or reflect on your experience after. It can be used personally or in groups. This resource is particularly relevant to those engaged in the ministry of Christian Initiation, be it with adults or families of children preparing for the next steps in their initiation journey. Hopefully parishes are inviting catechumens, the Elect, and last year’s neophytes to come to the Chrism Mass. The resource will support your process of mystagogical reflection after the experience of the Chrism Mass.
A template for parishes looking for a ritual to receive the oils sent by Bishop Michael from the Chrism Mass is available as a pdf or Word document download.
If you have not been to a Chrism Mass, why not come along this year? It will be the first time everyone who wishes can gather in the Cathedral with our new Bishop. We have told Bishop Michael that when this church of Maitland-Newcastle gathers for liturgy, the roof on the cathedral is all but lifted. Come and be part of the community of the faithful as together we raise our voice in thanks and praise to our God whose Spirit fills the whole world and who sends each of us to bring good news to the poor.
As we listen, watch, smell, taste, touch, pray and sing together, we will be celebrating the fact that ‘oils ain’t oils’!
I am looking forward to seeing you there!
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