This being Holy Week it is good for us to ask how we can give a particularly holy character to each day. For those of us in Richmond, we have the Chrism Mass this evening at 6 PM at the Cathedral. While it is scheduled normally for Holy Thursday morning, the Church allows it to be celebrated on another day, for dioceses like ours where it would be difficult for the priests to gather in the cathedral in the morning and be back in their parishes in the evening.
At the Chrism mass two unique things take place:
1. The Blessing of the Oil of Catechumens and Oil of the Sick, and the Consecration of Chrism.
2. The Renewal of Priestly Promises
Chrism is a unique mixture of a perfume and oil that is consecrated not simply blessed, and is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders. The oils used throughout the year, throughout the diocese are the ones from this mass, a sign of the unity of the diocese.
At the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday the faithful renew their baptismal promises. At this mass, once per year, the presbyterate, all of the priests working within a diocese, are called to come together and renew their priestly promises. The three questions remind us of what the church sees as central to the ministry of her priests
Beloved sons, on the anniversary of that day when Christ our lord conferred his priesthood on his apostles and on us, are you resolved to renew, in the presence of your Bishop and God's holy people, the promises you once made?
the priests, all together, respond: i am.
Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ's Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?
priests: I am.
Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the head and shepherd, not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls?
priests: I am.
Most people will not have the opportunity to participate in the Chrism Mass but I would ask that everyone pray for us, your priests.