This year’s Chrism Mass, postponed because of the restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, at Sagrado Corazon Church in the Catholic Pastoral Center.
It was originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 7, during Holy Week.
Attending will be all the priests of the diocese, the deacons and their wives, and the diocese’s seminarians. The limited attendance is in response to social distancing requirements put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has claimed more than 112,000 lives across the country, 441 deaths in Tennessee as of June 11, and 80 in Davidson County.
The Chrism Mass has two distinguishing features. The first is the blessing of oils used during the year, and the second is the renewal of ordination promises made by the priests of the diocese.
The Chrism oils are used in the sacraments as well as in the consecration of churches, altars, baptismal water, and parts of the sacred vessels used in the Mass that come in contact with the Sacred Species such as patens and chalices.
There are three types of oils blessed at the Chrism Mass: the Oil of the Catechumens, used for anointing children and others coming into the Church through Baptism; the Oil of the Infirmed, used in the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick; and the Oil of Chrism, used in the anointing of priests, deacons and confirmands, as well as the altars and walls of a church that is being consecrated.
“The Oil of Catechumens is tied to the teaching role of the Church,” Bishop J. Mark Spalding said. “The Oil of the Infirmed is tied to the healing mission of the Church. The Oil of Chrism is tied to … the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.”
After the Mass, the oils are divided among the pastors, who bring them back to their parishes to be used in the coming year.
The Chrism Mass is also the time priests “renew their promises of service, of offering up their life in a sacrificial way for the good of the Church,” Bishop Spalding said. “It’s also a powerful moment for me as bishop. I also renew my promises as the shepherd of the Diocese of Nashville.”
“The Mass is built around service and sacrifice,” he added. “We see it in the oils, we see it in the promises, we see it in the celebration of the Eucharist itself.”
In 2019, more than 2,000 people from across the diocese attended the Chrism Mass.
“We want to return to that diocesan-wide invitation and celebration next year if and when the COVID-19 pandemic is addressed appropriately,” Bishop Spalding said.
“The dream behind moving the Chrism Mass to Sagrado Corazon and the strong effort of bringing in more people to it is to see the wonderful ritual and also to see the great diversity of the diocese at the same time,” Bishop Spalding said.
“Last year … I was able to encourage all of us to look around and see the great diversity that is the Diocese of Nashville, all colors and cultures and even the various language groups in the diocese,” he said.
“It was said long ago that when you describe the Catholic Church, it’s best said, ‘Here comes everybody,’” Bishop Spalding said. “One of the times we can see that clearly is the Chrism Mass.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our priests, for our deacons and their wives, for our seminarians and the people together,” he added. “But this year it will be done with social distancing and hygiene protocols.”