Dozens of priests from throughout the Diocese of Burlington joined Bishop Christopher Coyne at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington March 30 for the celebration of the Chrism Mass, which brought the diocesan community together as the bishop blessed the oils that symbolize the link of the parishes with the bishop in sacramental ministry.
The Mass was a sign of the unity of the local Church in Vermont, and during it, priests renewed their priestly promises.
“…[O]ur gathering here is a gathering in thanksgiving for the gift of salvation made present in Christ’s Church and offered to us as the way of salvation,” Bishop Coyne said in his homily. “Confident in that truth, the consecration of the Sacred Chrism at this Mass is a reminder of and a call to renewal in the mission of spreading the good news of that salvation beyond these consecrated walls whether as baptized or ordained, each in our life’s circumstances, each with our own talents, time and treasure. We have each been anointed, whether in baptism or confirmation or ordination, to serve the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Containers holding the Oil of the Sick, Oil of the Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism – as well as the perfume that is mixed into the Sacred Chrism to give it its rich aroma – were presented by deacons serving in the Diocese.
To prepare the Chrism Oil, Bishop Coyne mixed in balsam, the perfume that gives it a rich aroma. Before saying the Prayer of Consecration, the bishop breathed upon the opening of the vessel of the chrism. The chrism is a sign of the Holy Spirit, and this action recalls the Spirit of God “moving over the face of the waters” at creation (Gen 1:12) and Jesus’ resurrection appearance to the disciples in which “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (Jn 20:22).
The Chrism Oil was consecrated 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.
“Beyond its constitutive use in the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Sacred Chrism is used within the other sacraments and rites of the Church for an anointing with an intention towards an empowerment in the mission of the Church or usefulness within that mission,” Bishop Coyne said. “It is intended for the mission of proclamation and evangelization, of consecration and sacred use, of empowerment to serve God and to serve others.”
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,” explained Josh Perry, director of the Office of Worship of the Diocese of Burlington.
After the Mass, the oils were distributed and brought back to all the churches in the Diocese.
Bishop Coyne — who spoke of the “profound place of thanksgiving found in all worship” — offered words of thanks to the clergy and people of the Diocese for their faithfulness and generosity, especially during the pandemic, which necessitated last year’s Chrism Mass to be celebrated after Easter when churches had reopened after initially suspending the public celebration of Masses because of Covid-19 restrictions.