Hundreds of Catholics from across the Archdiocese of Louisville, who gathered with dozens of priests and deacons for the Chrism Mass April 12, heard from Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre that the liturgy is a powerful symbol of union with one another, the universal church and Jesus Christ.
“What a powerful symbol of our union with one another, a union as parish faith communities, a union as a diocese, a union with the universal church, a union with Jesus Christ himself who is the fulfillment of the Father’s love,” said Archbishop Fabre.
The liturgy celebrated at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville was Archbishop Fabre’s first Chrism Mass in the archdiocese. The annual Holy Week celebration was packed for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The oils used in the sacraments and other blessings throughout the year were blessed and the sacred Chrism was consecrated by Archbishop Fabre. A portion of each oil was distributed to the archdiocese’s 110 parishes afterward.
During his homily, Archbishop Fabre discussed the joining of liturgical prayer and ritual action and how that brings about something “sacramental,” “sacred” and “holy.”
In Scripture, one such ritual action accompanied by sacred words is anointing with oil, he said.
“When we are sacramentally anointed with these holy oils, it is Jesus Christ who anoints us through the ritual actions undertaken, and sacred words spoken by bishops, priests and deacons,” he said.
Oil of the catechumens is used to anoint those preparing to enter the church through baptism.
“Anointing with this oil is to be marked with the oil of gladness,” said Archbishop Fabre. They are “prepared and strengthened to be washed clean of original sin.”
Oil of the sick is used to anoint those who are ill.
“Anointing with the oil of the sick silences the temptation to believe that we face the struggles of illnesses alone.”
Sacred Chrism is used to anoint those who are being baptized, confirmed and ordained. The sacred Chrism is also used during the rite of dedication of a church or altar.
The sacred Chrism “invokes the power of the Holy Spirit on us in a powerful way,” said Archbishop Fabre. All three oils convey sacramental grace to those receiving it, he said.
At the evening celebration, priests of the archdiocese also renewed their priestly promises.
Speaking directly to his “brother priests,” Archbishop Fabre thanked them for saying yes to God at ordination and for saying yes every day in ministering to the needs of the people they serve.
“I am grateful for your priestly heart and your priestly service,” said Archbishop Fabre. “I assure you that your priestly ministry is not something that I take lightly and it is something that I thank God for each day as I pray for you my dear brother priests.”