10 Questions about the Chrism Mass

Have you ever wondered what the Chrism Mass is all about? Pastoral Ministries Officer of Worship and Prayer Fiona Duque answers some questions below. 

What is the Chrism Mass? 

The Chrism Mass is one of the most significant events on the Liturgical Calendar. At this mass, the bishop gathers with the priests and all the faithful. It is held traditionally on Holy Thursday; however it can also be held sometime during Holy Week.

Why is this Mass so important? 

The bishop, priests and the faithful participate together to bless the oils that are going to be used in the ministry of various sacraments throughout the year from Easter to Easter. Because of this, the Chrism Mass is a powerful symbol of the unity of the Church and the Gospel imperative to be a missionary and anointing community.  

What oils are blessed? 

There are three oils blessed at the Chrism Mass - the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and the Oil of Chrism. Technically the Oil of Chrism is consecrated, but that’s a story for another day.

How are the oils used over the year? 

The Oil of Catechumens is used to anoint those seeking to be initiated into the Catholic faith. The Oil of the Sick is used to anoint the sick and bring them comfort and strength. The Oil of Chrism is the most important and is a sign that the person or thing anointed becomes one with Christ. This anointing only happens once. It is used primarily in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (initiation), Holy Orders (ordination), dedication of churches and altars (consecration).

Why are the oils blessed by the bishop? 

In ancient times, oils were an important part of ritual life in anointing priests, prophets and kings. This importance has continued in the Church when it anoints someone in important sacramental moments. Anointing with oils is a sign of God’s blessing, strength and healing. Interesting to note that the word messiah means ‘anointed one’.

How do parishes receive the sacred oils? 

Parishes send representatives who collect the oils and present them to the bishop for blessing and consecration. These oils are then taken back to their parishes where they are received at mass on Holy Thursday night.

What is the composition of the oils? 

The Oil of Catechumens and Oil of the Sick are both pure olive oil. The Oil of Chrism is a mixture of pure olive oil and perfume. The addition of perfume elevates this consecrated oil and makes it more special.

What else happens at the Chrism Mass? 

The diocesan priests renew their priestly promises and their commitment to serve the Church of Maitland-Newcastle: To become more Christlike, to be faithful to the liturgy and to the ministry of servant leadership.

So, what does this mean for you? 

If you haven’t been before, come and experience it for yourself. It is truly a highlight of the year when it comes to liturgical celebrations. It is a real feast for the senses…

Tuesday 26 March - 7pm - Sacred Heart Cathedral

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Fiona Duque Image
Fiona Duque

Fiona is the Pastoral Ministries Officer - Worship and Prayer.

Formerly, she was the Ministry Coordinator and Religious Studies Coordinator at St Bede's Catholic College, Chisholm.