Among the many liturgies celebrated during Holy Week, the Chrism Mass is one of the most important solemn liturgies of the year that must take place at the cathedral of the local church presided over by the local bishop.
Traditionally this Mass was celebrated on Holy Thursday, though for pastoral reasons it may be moved to Monday or Tuesday of Holy Week, and in some cases is even celebrated on a different day during Lent.
At the Holy Spirit Cathedral, Adabraka-Accra, the Chief Shepherd of Accra Archdiocese, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie CSSp. was joined by the priests of the Archdiocese and priests working in the Archdiocese to concelebrate the Chrism Mass.
The Chrism mass which usually takes place on Holy Thursday but may also be on any day within the Holy Week before Easter manifests the unity of the priests with their Archbishop and it is a period where the priests renew their vows of obedience to their Archbishop and their commitment to serve God’s people.
All of the priests of the diocese gather together for this Mass, and during it, the bishop will consecrate the sacred oils used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders.
The Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra was the homilist for the eucharistic celebration. He preached on ” Anointing” urging all present to exhibit holistic anointing; thus, if we want to be anointed then we should let Jesus be Prophet, Priest, and Kings in our lives.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CHRISM MASS
Archbishop Kwofie blesses and sanctifies three oils: the oil of catechumens (oleum catechumenorum or oleum sanctorum), the oil of the sick (oleum infirmorum) and holy chrism (sacrum chrisma) which will be used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the archdiocese for the year.
The Archbishop blesses Oil of the Sick praying: ‘May your blessing come upon all who are anointed with this oil, that they may be freed from pain and illness and made well again in body, mind and soul’.
Then the Oil of Catechumens praying that God will ‘give wisdom and strength to all who are anointed with it in preparation for their baptism’.
The blessing of the Holy Chrism is different from that of the other oils. Oil of Chrism is perfumed with balsam an aromatic resin. The Archbishop breathes on this oil to invoke the Holy Spirit and consecrates it praying: ‘make this mixture of oil and perfume a sign and source of your blessing. Pour out the gifts of your Holy Spirit on our brothers and sisters who will be anointed with it. Let the splendour of holiness shine on the world from every place and thing signed by this oil’.
The concelebrants at the Chrism Mass also extend their right hands toward the chrism as the bishop says the consecratory prayer, signifying that in union with their bishop they share “in the authority by which Christ Himself builds up and sanctifies and rules His Body,” the Church (Vatican II, Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, No. 2).
In the sacrament of confirmation, the bishop anoints the forehead of the candidate with chrism saying, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”Sacred chrism is also used in the sacrament of holy orders. In the ordination rite of a priest, the bishop anoints with chrism the palms of each new priest. In the ordination rite of a bishop, the consecrating bishop anoints the head of the new bishop and also used in the dedication ceremony of a church.
The Chrism Mass is a beautiful celebration of unity and is meant to strengthen ties with its diocese, uniting all parishes under the guidance of its local shepherd. All lay people are encouraged to attend this liturgy and experience the beauty of the local church. however, a limited number was allowed in the church during the 2020 chrism mass and strict Covid 19 protocols were upheld to reduces the spread of the disease.
Juliette Manomey//DEPSOCOM Accra