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Father Muench Says...

Chrism Mass is a special opportunity

April 10, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The weeks of Lent are now approaching Holy Week. Our Catholic liturgy prepares us for Easter with the Masses and ceremonies of Holy Week. As a priest one of the most impressive of these ceremonies is the Chrism Mass. This special Mass is a part of the Holy Thursday liturgy. In our diocese we celebrate the Chrism Mass a week early to make it possible for all priests of the diocese to attend.

The purpose of the Chrism Mass, in addition to the Eucharist, is the blessing of the holy oils that will be used in the celebration of the sacraments in our Catholic liturgy for the next year in each parish of the diocese. These holy oils are blessed by Bishop LaValley at the Cathedral each year. They are then distributed to each parish in the diocese. This is a magnificent sign of the unity of each of our parishes with our Bishop and with the Cathedral.

The Chrism Mass also is a special time for all of us, priests of the diocese. Each year, all the priests of our diocese gather at the Chrism Mass with the Bishop. At this Chrism Mass, one of the ceremonies is the Renewal of the Priestly Promises of the priests of the diocese. Every year since my own ordination, I have taken part in this Mass and in this renewal. It’s my opportunity to renew my promises to God and to my Bishop of my dedication to my priestly ministry in this diocese.

Today, I would like to share with you just what these promises are. Actually, this will give me an opportunity to personally review these promises for myself to pray over what I will be renewing at the Chrism Mass.

During the Chrism Mass, Bishop LaValley asks us, priests, to rededicate ourselves to the promises we made to the carrying out of the sacred duties towards Christ’s Church, which we pledged at the time of our priestly ordination. This is the church’s call to all its priests to holiness. This is a call to perfection. Each year this renewal is very special for me because it is in the Cathedral, where I was ordained a priest. In fact, I can recognize the place in the Cathedral sanctuary where I stood and knelt during my ordination many years ago.

The Second Vatican Council issued among its various documents a Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests. The Council writes a section on the Priest’s Call to Perfection. It says: “Priests are bound by a special reason to acquire this perfection. They are consecrated to God in a new way in their ordination and made the living instruments of Christ the real priest and so are enabled to accomplish throughout all time that wonderful work of his which supernatural efficacy restored the whole human race.”

During the renewal of promises, the Bishop ask this question of priests: “Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ, the Head and Shepherd, not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls?”

Each year this Chrism Mass is a sacred time for me, personally. It’s a time of renewal, a time of deep gratitude to God for the gift of many years of priesthood that have been given to me by the Lord.

I pray in thanksgiving to God for the many opportunities the Lord has given me: opportunities to help those in need, opportunities to lead a parish in worship of God and developing relationship with the Lord.

I thank God for the many families that have been part of my life. As a pastor I have been a part of so many wonderful families.

I thank the Lord for the happiness of being a priest.

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