By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
The sacred Chrism and other oils used for anointing throughout the liturgical year were consecrated and blessed during an evening liturgy April 15 at the Cathedral of the Assumption. During the celebration, the priests of the Archdiocese of Louisville renewed the promises they made at their ordinations.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz presided at the annual Chrism Mass, which was also attended by deacons of the archdiocese, church workers and people preparing to enter the church this Easter.
The Mass, like other major liturgical celebrations, is steeped in ritual. It began with a long procession of clergy — led by the seminarians of the archdiocese, followed by the deacons and the presbyterate.
The procession passed a table situated at the entrance of the cathedral where three decanters of olive oil sat, awaiting their blessings. Before the oils were blessed and consecrated, though, the archbishop spoke to the congregation about renewing their baptismal promises and becoming “attractive witnesses.”
Noting that Christ is at the center of Holy Week celebrations, he said, “It is in Christ Jesus that you and I on Easter day, perhaps at Easter Vigil, will have the privilege to renew our baptismal promises. … And some of you — and we rejoice in this — will have the experience of baptism.”
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” expresses a desire to “stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction,” the archbishop noted.
“You see, the Lord Jesus wants you and me to have a glorious mantle and not a listless spirit,” he said, alluding to Isaiah. “We need Jesus in our lives to bring out the best in us. And … Christ needs you.
“Evangelization is not about being pushy or preachy, but it is about (being) an attractive witness” who draws people to Jesus, he said.
The archbishop noted that while the faithful are the body of Christ, the church also serves the faithful in two ways — through anointing with the oils, which were the focus of the Mass, and through the priests of the archdiocese.
“Unworthy as we are, God somehow called us to a very special responsibility to serve all of you,” the archbishop said. “Please join me in praying for the priests both now and in the past and, by the way, for the priests of the future,” the archbishop said.
The congregation applauded as the archbishop asked seminarians in attendance to stand up. Several seminarians for the archdiocesan priesthood served in different ways throughout the liturgy.
Following the homily, the priests, including Archbishop Kurtz, renewed the promises they made at their ordinations — to unite with and conform to Christ, to be faithful stewards of the Eucharist and other rites, to be faithful teachers and to be as shepherds to the souls of their parishioners.
The ritual blessing and consecration of the oils began after a brief pause.
The three oils are the oil of the sick, which is blessed and used for the sacrament of anointing; the oil of catechumens, which is blessed and used to anoint those who are preparing for baptism; and the sacred chrism — a mixture of olive oil and balsam — which is consecrated and used in a variety of sacred moments, including the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders. The chrism also is used to dedicate new churches and altars.
The oils were carried to the archbishop (who stood at a table beside the main altar). Linda Banker, a chaplain associate at Mercy Sacred Heart (a nursing facility), carried the oil of the sick; Tim Grove director of formation at St. Patrick Church, carried the oil of catechumens; and the chrism was carried by Deacon Shayne Duvall, who is preparing for the priesthood.