REGINA — The Chrism Mass is an important continuation of the church, said Prince Albert Bishop Albert Thévenot, M.Afr., in his homily at the March 15 celebration. Thevénot celebrated the mass because Regina does not yet have a new archbishop following the January death of Archbishop Daniel Bohan.
The three holy oils the church uses in many of its ceremonies and rituals are blessed at the Chrism Mass and distributed to all parishes in the archdiocese.
Thevénot in his homily told the story of the three oils, their purposes, uses and symbolism in the church. He had the congregation laughing several times, describing how the oils were used in the past and how some of that has changed.
Of the catechumen oil used in baptism, said Thevénot, “we become a member of the church and we are anointed to become a prophet. Today we have to be stronger, standing for the truth and the truth is Jesus Christ.”
“The oil of the sick,” said the bishop, “used to be called extreme unction, the last rites. You had to be careful and were told not to administer it until the person was taking their last breath,” he said while performing a hovering posture over a body which brought laughter from the congregation. “Now it is a healing oil used to anoint those who are sick in mind or body.”
He briefly criticized the assisted suicide attitude coming from government deliberations. “We don’t want to leave anything in God’s hands anymore. Life is precious from conception to natural death. Suffering has lost its meaning to the world.”
Chrism oil, like the others, is pure olive oil, but it is mixed with a little balsam and used in confirmation ceremonies. Here again the bishop used humour to get his message across. “I saw one child I anointed wipe it off. I asked him, ‘Why did you wipe it off? I just anointed you.’ We are anointed because we are to bring the Word to the world.” He explained that in previous ordinations the finger and thumb were anointed because that is where the host was held in the consecration. “Now we anoint the hands.”
“Now tomorrow when you go for coffee and they ask you what you did today, you can tell them the story of the three oils,” said Thevénot at the end of his homily.
Following the homily, the traditional renewal of priestly vows was performed in a series of questions asked by the bishop of the more than 60 priests present. The oils were then blessed, taken to another room where they were poured into smaller containers to be distributed by to parish representatives.