Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

The Chrism Mass

Our Ordinary, Monsignor Keith Newton, wrote to his clergy this week explaining the importance of the Chrism Mass in our priestly life. His words are worthy of sharing and I hope some of you might be able to attend the Chrism Mass this year. He writes:

This is just to remind you that the annual Ordinariate Chrism Mass takes place on Monday the 26th of March at 11.30 am in the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street. This year the principal celebrant will be the Apostolic Nuncio H.E. Archbishop Edward Adams. This will be his first liturgical experience of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and I hope we will have a good congregation. Archbishop Adams will be preaching to us on this occasion. Please encourage members of the laity to attend if at all possible, though I do understand that in some cases distances make this quite difficult.

Could I gently remind all priests and deacons incardinated into the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham that they should attend the Chrism Mass of the Ordinariate as a matter of priority and not the Chrism Mass in the local diocese instead. Of course, some of you might wish to attend both but I want to emphasise that participation with your fellow priests and deacons of Ordinariate is an important aspect of the Chrism Mass.

With prayers and best wishes,

Keith Newton

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17 Comments

  1. MV

    Chrism masses are a Vatican 2 novelty. Don’t go.

    • Admin

      There is nothing innovative or Vatican II as regards obeying your bishop….

    • Pat

      Nope
      It is a revival of a very ancient Service. It was recorded as in use in the early 200s AD

  2. A.

    I don’t even see the Chrism Mass as a revival.Before Vatican 2 it was usually held on the morning of Holy Thursday along with the episcopal ceremony of the Maundy.
    This was continued in the morning,even when ,sensibly, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper was moved to the evening,following changes in Holy week routine and also in fasting laws.
    The only thing ‘new’ in the Chrism Mass is the greater possibility of attending and the greater encouragement to attend,if it is held on another day rather than Holy Thursday

    • Pat

      Very true but it did slip a bit in public prominence in the Western Rite. As far as I am aware, that did not happen in the Eastern Rites. Anybody know better?

    • MV

      It is a novelty in its current form. There was no such event known as a ‘chrism mass’. The blessing of the oils by the bishop anciently took place in the normal Maundy Thursday mass. There was no ‘renewal of ordination promises” or concelebration, and certainly no expectation on all clergy to attend.

      • David Knowles

        The Chrism Mass is one of the good developments following Vatican II.
        I suppose Anglicanism was a novelty at the time of its creation by the English Crown MV.

        • MV

          And why do you think it is a good development, Dave?

          • Mr silly strikes again after a long pause…..

          • David Knowles

            The blessing of the three oils and their distribution to the parishes symbolises the unity of the diocese, the fulness of the bishop’s priesthood as he sends his priests out to minister to those yet unborn, to those who will be confirmed, received into the church and to those who will pass out of this world in the coming year.
            If you can’t appreciate the wonder of this symbolic Mass then I feel sorry for you.

      • Pat

        What do you have against the bishop, his clergy and as many as possible of his congregation having an opportunity to come together in unity. The importance of the blessing of the oils in such context is very ancient and is documented from earliest times. A need for a separate Mass was indicated a long time ago because of the desire of congregations to attend and the pressures resulting on the Mass of The Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. I’d say it is no novelty but an opportunity for a direct expression of faith for which we should be grateful. There is no harm whatsoever in us being reminded of what our spiritual promises were and are.

        • MV

          I can’t even understand what you are saying, Pat. Why on earth would any lay folk apart from the usual few cloth moths want to look at a lot of clergy gathered together?

          And where is your evidence for the existence of a ‘Chrism Mass’ in the Western Rite before 1970? None of my books seem to know of it.

          • Admin

            That you describe the holy sacrifice of the Mass during which clergy re-affirm priestly vows and holy oils are blessed for another year as “looking at clergy gathered together’ is sad. It would rather suggest you see only the externals and not the central mystery; the spiritual reality of what is occurring. Factor in fine music and authentic devotion and I do not struggle to see why we always have a few of our congregation make the effort to attend. I feel sorry for your cynical and rather stunted view. Perhaps you could do with a retreat and some time before the sacrament?

          • Pat

            Some in-depth historical reading is needed because you seem to have limited information. To start you on the road see this which takes the restoration back before 1970:-
            “This tradition is rooted in the early Church as noted in the Gelasian Sacramentary (named after Pope Gelasius I, d. 496), but was later absorbed into the Holy Thursday evening Mass; Pope Pius XII issued a new Ordinal for Holy Week, which reinstituted a special Mass of the chrism distinct from the evening Mass.”
            The reference is from:-
            https://catholicexchange.com/what-is-the-chrism-mass
            But there are other items carrying the information forward and indications that the Chrism Mass was celebrated on the Wednesday evening.

  3. Can’t we just agrEe that it is a wonderful event when the clergy get to renew their promises which should be an example to us all?

  4. A.

    We might want to keep in mind that,until the liturgical reforms of Holy Week instituted by pope Pius XII in the early 1950s,the Mass of Holy Thursday would have been celebrated, like all others ,in the morning (as also the ceremonies of Good Friday and Holy Saturday).In cathedrals the bishop would have,as part of that festal Mass,consecrated the various oils for use in the diocese. The Maundy ceremony of foot washing would have taken place at a separate time after the Mass and the stripping of the altars.
    When Pius XII changed the fasting laws before reception of Communion and permitted Mass to be celebrated at any hour the festal Mass of Holy Thursday
    was moved,sensibly, to the evening.
    However the consecration of oils remained at a special pontifical Mass celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday.From this has grown in ‘popularity’ the Chrism Mass,now often celebrated at a separate time from Maundy Thursday.

  5. Pat

    Re. – Fr Ed’s comment “clergy re-affirm priestly vows and holy oils are blessed…”

    The extract from the US Boston Chrism Mass of 2014 below might help explain the importance of the gathering:-

    “Keeping a tradition from recent years, the leader of the Boston Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Methodios spoke to the priests and the cardinal as the Mass began, to honor the solidarity and fraternity of the priesthood a theme of the Chrism Mass between Greek Orthodox and Catholics in Boston.

    “I pray together with you that this cathedral church and all churches of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church be spiritually transformed into a Mount of Olives where Christians may come to pray that the will of God may soon lead us all to the unity that we all seek,” Metropolitan Methodios said.

    “If someone asks what the Chrism Mass means for us, we might say that it’s a time when we gather for the annual oil change and tune up. The oils are the tools we use in the ministry we share, but just as important is our own tune up as we gather as presbyterate to recommit ourselves to follow Christ and to shepherd His people,” the cardinal said.
    https://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=171090
    Catholic – Orthodox reunion seems to be making some more practical, but still tentative, steps in parts of the US and in parts of the Middle East

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