The Diocese of Nashville is calling all Catholics, young and old, to a celebration of community as Bishop J. Mark Spalding, along with all the priests of the diocese, celebrates the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, April 4, at the Catholic Pastoral Center’s Sagrado Corazón Church in Nashville.
“At the Chrism Mass we see our diversity and our unity as a Church. We gather as priests, deacons, religious, and lay faithful asking God to bless us in our ministries,” Bishop Spalding said. “These ministries are well represented by the three oils that are consecrated and the priestly promises that are renewed.”
For the next several weeks, parishioners from all 38 counties can learn all about the event on social media, through their parishes, and more.
The event begins at 4:30 p.m. with an open house, food, ministry tables and more, as it all crescendos to the celebration of the Chrism Mass at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a very welcoming atmosphere,” said Joe Cacopardo, director of marketing and strategic communications for the Office of Media and Evangelization. “The diocese is casting a wide net to this multi-generational event. We want young people, we want grandparents, we want families. All are welcome.”
The Chrism Mass has two main purposes, according to the event website – the renewal of the priestly commitment and the blessing of the sacred oils.
“Each year, during Holy Week, priests of the diocese publicly renew their commitment to priestly service,” Cacopardo said. “Priests are brought together and concelebrate this Mass as witnesses and cooperators with their bishop in the consecration of the chrism because they share in the sacred office of the bishop in building up and sanctifying the people of God.”
During the ritual of the oils, Bishop Spalding will first bless the Oil of the Sick, used during the celebration of the Anointing of the Sick, and the Oil of Catechumens, used in the baptism of catechumens being initiated into the Church at the Easter Vigil.
“St. James bears witness to the use of the Oil of the Sick,” according to The Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism (OBO), No. 2, available on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website. “It offers the sick a remedy for infirmity of body and soul, so that they can bravely endure and fight against evils and obtain pardon for sins.”
“The Oil of Catechumens extends the effect of the baptismal exorcisms: it strengthens the candidate with the power to renounce the devil and sin before they go to the font of life for rebirth,” continues OBO, No. 2.
The consecration of the sacred Chrism, used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders, as well as for the consecration of altars and the dedication of churches, is the high point of the entire ritual. The substance comes from a mixture of olive oil, to represent strength, and fragrant balsam, to represent the “aroma of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:15)
“Sacred Chrism shows that through baptism, Christians have been incorporated into the Paschal Mystery of Christ,” according to OBO, no. 2. “Having died, been buried, and risen with him, they are sharers in his kingly and prophetic Priesthood. Through Confirmation, they are given the spiritual anointing of the Holy Spirit.”
Before the celebrating bishop says the Prayer of Consecration over the oil, he will breathe over the opening of the vessel holding the Chrism, recalling “the spirit of God ‘moving over the face of the waters’ at creation (Genesis 1:12) and Jesus’ resurrection appearance to the disciples in which ‘he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’’ (John 20:22),” according to the USCCB.
Following the Chrism Mass, the oils are bottled and distributed to each pastor to use in the coming year in their parishes.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI described the purpose of holy oils throughout the lifespan of a faithful Catholic.
“In four sacraments, oil is the sign of God’s goodness reaching out to touch us: in baptism, in confirmation as the sacrament of the Holy Spirit, in the different grades of the sacrament of holy orders, and finally in the anointing of the sick, in which oil is offered to us, so to speak, as God’s medicine – as the medicine which now assures us of his goodness, offering us strength and consolation, yet at the same time points beyond the moment of the illness towards the definitive healing, the resurrection (cf. James 5:14). Thus oil, in its different forms, accompanies us throughout our lives: beginning with the catechumenate and baptism, and continuing right up to the moment when we prepare to meet God, our Judge and Savior.”
Combining both elements in one Mass, “is, therefore, a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which continues to be present in the Church,” Cacopardo said.
“We all share a love for our savior Jesus Christ, and that is really the impetus for bringing everyone together,” he continued. “This Chrism Mass, this event, embodies that spirit.”
For more information and to RSVP for the free event, visit nashvillechrism.org. Once individuals RSVP and provide an email address, they will receive updates about the event including information about directions and parking, the available food, the ministries that will be available beforehand, and more.