On June 30 at 2 p.m., priests from throughout Vermont will join Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. This annual Mass traditionally is celebrated late in Lent or during Holy Week as part of the preparations for the Easter Season.
This year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vatican gave the bishops worldwide permission to reschedule the Chrism Mass for another time of the year when it could be celebrated more fully. The Chrism Mass brings the diocesan community together as the bishop blesses the priests of the Diocese and blesses the holy oils that will be used in the sacramental life of the Church in the coming year.
During the liturgy, the priests of the Diocese will stand before the bishop and renew the promises they made at their own ordination. They resolve to be “faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist” and “discharge the sacred office of teaching … not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls.”
The bishop will exhort everyone to pray for the priests and finally to pray for him so that he “may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the priest, the Good Shepherd, the teacher and the servant of all.” At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the sacred oils are blessed. Containers holding the three oils — Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism — as well as the perfume that is mixed into the Sacred Chrism to give it its rich aroma – are presented to the bishop.
The Oil of the Sick is blessed for the healing of body, mind and spirit.
The Oil of Catechumens is blessed for the anointing of those preparing for baptism. Through this anointing, they are strengthened by Christ to resist the power of evil in all its forms.
The Holy Chrism is consecrated by the bishop and priests of the Diocese to anoint infants after baptism, those who are to be confirmed and bishops and priests at their ordination. It also is used to anoint altars and churches at the time of their dedication.
After the Mass, the oils are distributed and brought back to all the churches in the Diocese.
All are invited to this special liturgy to pray especially for priests and for all who will be anointed by these oils in the coming year.
As the bishop will pray at the Chrism Mass: “May the Lord keep us all in His charity and lead all of us, shepherds and flock, to eternal life.” Because of the limited capacity in the cathedral and the presence of the priests of the Diocese, seating for the general public will be very limited. Those wishing to attend must RSVP online at the diocesan website or call Josh Perry at 802-448-3515. Reservations will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Mass will also be live-streamed on the diocesan website.
Priests or parish representatives designated by their pastors may go to the lower chapel following the Chrism Mass to pick up the holy oils for their respective church(es).
— Josh Perry is director of worship for the Diocese of Burlington.
—Originally published in the June 20-26, 2020, issue of the Inland See.