Archbishop blesses holy oils in a nearly empty cathedral

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz poured balsam into olive oil which he consecrated as sacred chrism during the Chrism Mass, celebrated privately April 7 at the Cathedral of the Assumption. He was joined by Deacon Dennis Nash, left, Father Anthony Chandler, background, and Barry Mudd, right. Public Masses are suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

Normally the priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville and representatives of its 110 parishes fill the Cathedral of the Assumption for the annual Chrism Mass.

But the global COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the suspension of public Masses. Catholics are called to practice good hygiene and social distancing as a matter of Catholic social teaching, said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.

“It is because of our deep and abiding concern for the common good, the good of all,” he said.

And so, the archbishop blessed the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens and consecrated the sacred chrism in a nearly-empty cathedral April 7. He was accompanied in the meditative service by a few priests who renewed their promises, which is also an annual part of the Chrism Mass.

The archbishop noted that priests and parishioners were able to join in by watching the Mass via a live stream on the cathedral’s website and on WAVE 3 TV, which is airing services at the cathedral throughout Holy Week.

He also acknowledged that many people deeply miss receiving sacraments, especially during Holy Week. But he said there is hope, too: “From great deprivation will come great appreciation.”

Sometimes, he noted, we might “take for granted the spiritual gifts of our faith.”

“We ask that God will renew within us that appreciation for faith,” he prayed.

In preparation for the Chrism Mass, the archbishop said he called the archdiocese’s 170 or so priests and heard about two important things they were doing: They are finding creative ways to serve their people and they are praying for the people they serve.

A handful of priests who attended the Chrism Mass renewed the promises they made at ordination.

Oils from the Chrism Mass, which are typically distributed immediately after the Mass, will be delivered after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.

WAVE 3 will be airing live services at the cathedral each day this week at 7 p.m. and on Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil will be aired live at 8:30 p.m. The cathedral’s website,, will also live stream services.

A pre-recorded Easter Sunday Mass with Archbishop Kurtz will be shown on Mass of the Air at 10:30 a.m. on WHAS 11.



Clergy processed, above, into the virtually empty cathedral for the Chrism Mass April 7. Archbishop Kurtz, below, blessed the oil of the sick.

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