What is the Chrism Mass?

By Mary Powers

Each year, the priests of the Archdiocese join Archbishop Cordileone at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption for the annual Chrism Mass. Traditionally, the Chrism Mass is celebrated on Holy Thursday morning, but due to Holy Week schedules, the Archdiocese celebrates the Mass the Thursday prior to Holy Week.

The Chrism Mass is a sign of unity in the Archdiocese and holds two important roles.

The first is the blessing of oils that are distributed to each parish. During the Mass, Archbishop Cordileone will bless three oils: the oil of catechumens (oleum catechumenorum or oleum sanctorum), the oil of the infirm (oleum infirmorum) and holy chrism (sacrum chrisma). The oil of the catechumens is used in the Sacrament of Baptism; the oil of the infirm is used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick; and chrism oil is used in the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders and to consecrated altars and new churches in the Archdiocese.

The second part of the Chrism Mass is the renewal of priestly promises by the priests of the Archdiocese. Similar to a renewal of wedding vows, priests will publicly repeat the promises they made at their ordination with support of the laity. The promises include being closely conformed to Jesus; being faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, including the sacraments; and faithfully following Christ the Good Shepherd with zeal for souls. The Archbishop then invites the faithful to support the priests in their ministry and in fulfilling their promises.

The Chrism Mass is open to all the faithful to share in this special tradition and support the priests of the Archdiocese.