Wednesday, 4 April 2007

The Chrism Mass

The blessing of Holy Oils is one of the most ancient and beautiful ceremonies of the Church. Traditionally celebrated on the morning of Maundy Thursday, at Westminster we have for some years held the Mass on the Tuesday of Holy week, to allow priests travelling in from the farther reaches of the Diocese to attend. All photos (c) Marcin Mazur.

The Mass is itself an especially important occasion for priests. Celebrated by the bishop surrounded by his clergy, it manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop.

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Sainz Munoz, can just be seen to the left of the Cardinal.

Above, Cardinal Cormac stands with his four auxiliary bishops; from the left, Bishop Bernard Longley, Bishop Alan Hopes, Bishop George stack and Bishop John Arnold.

There was an excellent turnout of priests. Behind them, in the picture above, are some of the seminarians from the diocesan seminary Allen Hall.

Following his homily, the Cardinal invites all the priests present to renew their priestly promises. He then address the people:
My brothers and sisters, pray for your priests. Ask the Lord to bless them with the fullness of his love, to help them to be faithful ministers of Christ the High Priest, so that they may be able to lead you to him, the fountain of your salvation.
The sacred oils, that will be used throughout the diocese in the coming year, are blessed at this Mass. The rich symbolism of oil explains the fact of its choice; it is fuel for the flame, a healing balm for the sick, a strengthening anointing for the athelete, and so naturally suggests illumination, assuaging of pain, and strength of which it is to become an effective sign. Above, the Cardinal pours balsam into the oil and mixes the Chrism.

He then breathes over the opening of the vessel of Chrism, symbolising the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ, and the fulfilment of the prophecy that Christ would be anointed with the oil of gladness beyond his fellow men.

The Cardinal and all the priests present then consecrate the Chrism. The Cardinal says:
Father, we ask you to bless this oil which you have created. Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ your Son. It is from him that Chrism takes its name, and with Chrism you have anointed for yourself priests and kings, prophets and martyrs.

This beautiful Mass was a fitting prelude to the great ceremonies of Holy Week.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful set of photos, and a very informative commentary about the Chrism Mass itself. Very uplifting.

Anonymous said...

Still don't see a shot as good as the one I took at the Chrism Mass in 2005 - as used in material for 'Communion and Mission'! Hope all is well with you. Joe Kennedy

Mark Langham said...

Ah Joe, - we are only standing on giant's shoulders! Hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

This was my first Chrsim mass I have ever been to. I found it to be on of the nicest services I have ever been to it brought me to tears.