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Father Muench Says...

Chrism Mass brings great opportunities

March 28, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I never miss the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.  You do remember the Chrism Mass – this is the Mass at which our Bishop blesses the sacred oils that will be used for the sacraments for this year in each of the parishes of our diocese.  This Mass draws nearly every priest in the diocese to the cathedral.

I remember ages ago when I was a student at Wadhams Hall.  In those days, the Chrism Mass was in the morning of Holy Thursday – and, of course, all was in Latin – and it was very long. 

I remember as a student then I was a bit anxious. (I think one of the reasons was that our Easter vacation began after that Mass.)  I was, however, impressed by all the priests who were there.

This year, the Chrism Mass is earlier in Lent which gives the priests of the diocese a better opportunity to attend.  As always, this Chrism Mass is a wonderful opportunity for all the priests to gather together.  In addition, we, priests, enjoy a stupendous meal after the Mass.

At the Chrism Mass, Bishop LaValley blesses the sacred oils: the Sacred Chrism, the oil of the sick, the oil of the Catechumens for this year’s sacraments.  This is a perfect symbol of the union of each parish with our bishop and with our cathedral.  All sacraments begin and unite each parish with the Cathedral Church.

The Chrism Mass is connected with the Holy Thursday celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  At this time, we remember and celebrate the ordination of the first priests by Jesus – his apostles.  This Mass becomes an anniversary of the ordination of all of us, priests. 

This is an important reason for the gathering of the priests of the diocese at the Chrism Mass.  As part of the Chrism Mass, the priests renew their priestly promises in the presence of the Bishop and people of the diocese.
Let me remind you of just a part of the promises that are asked of the priests.  The first promise asks: “Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him?” 

At this time we, priests, are asked again to make a firm dedication to continue a close relationship with Jesus.  Actually, each time I prepare to celebrate Mass anywhere I have a new opportunity to open myself in friendship with Jesus.  Each Mass is also a time to recognize all that Jesus means to me.  Each Mass is my opportunity to recognize all that the Catholic Church should mean to me – my part in the Church as a priest will always lead me to conform my life more closely to Jesus.

This same promise asks me to remember the day I was ordained.  The words of the first promise are these: “denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination.

I must admit I do think often of just how long ago my ordination was.  Each time I visit the cathedral, I touch the spot where I knelt as I prepared to be ordained.  I definitely pledged myself to the Lord Jesus and to the Catholic Church.

I have been constantly supported over all of these years is definitely the love of God – that I learned through Jesus – that I experience again as I pray through Holy Week.

Because of God’s great love for me – I am a loved person – a loved priest.  Jesus has demonstrated to me God’s great love for me through his Passion and Crucifixion. I know well that I must live like a loved person.

This becomes ever more real for me each time I renew my priestly promises.

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