REGINA — Chrism Mass, the mass of the holy oils, was celebrated by Archbishop Daniel Bohan March 23 in Holy Rosary Cathedral with 70 priests as concelebrants and several hundred of the faithful in attendance.
The Chrism Mass is the first of the celebrations leading to the Easter Triduum. The mass, according to the liturgical schedule, is usually celebrated the morning of Holy Thursday, but according to archdiocesan Director of Liturgy, Rev. Ron Andree, the Regina archdiocese traditionally celebrates the week before Holy Week.>
“A few other dioceses also celebrate it early because of logistics or distance the priests may have to travel to be at mass and return to their parishes for the beginning of the Triduum.”
Holy Thursday is also the anniversary of Christ ordaining priests and bishops at the Passover Supper known as the Last Supper before Christ’s arrest, crucifixion and resurrection. In celebration of that anniversary, priests from throughout the archdiocese gather and renew their priestly promises at the Chrism Mass.
Three oils are blessed by the archbishop: one is used in anointing the sick, another in anointing the catechumens and the chrism oil which is used in baptism, confirmation and the ordination of priests and deacons.
The chrism oil gets special treatment. After the oils of the sick and catechumens are blessed, balsam, an aromatic resin, is mixed with the chrism oil and the archbishop breathes over it, commemorating Christ breathing over the apostles, bringing the Holy Spirit to them. All the priests raise their hands in blessing the chrism oil, in communion with the archbishop, as the consecratory prayer is read over the chrism.
The oils are all olive oil which, since ancient times, has had several uses, including healing. Bohan’s homily focused on the healing that Christ brings.
“Jesus came to bring healing to everyone and to restore human dignity to every person who is oppressed, marginalized or, as Pope Francis says, pushed to the periphery of society. This is the bishop’s work and the priest’s work and the deacon’s work. They do this work, my dear brothers and sisters, for you, so that you may do this work of Jesus where you live, where you work, where you curl, where you play hockey or golf. The oils which we bless today are in a way our connection with the person of Jesus who continues to heal and strengthen us so that we can heal and strengthen the world.”
Immediately after the blessing, the oils are taken to a meeting room where they are transferred to small containers and distributed after mass for each parish in the archdiocese.