From the Archives
By Mary Woodward
JACKSON – This year’s Chrism Mass is moving to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4. For many years the Chrism Mass has been celebrated on Tuesday of Holy Week at the unique time of 5:45 p.m. Prior to this, many, many years ago, the Mass was celebrated in the morning on Holy Thursday and only priests were in attendance.
The Chrism Mass is a celebration focused on the ministerial priesthood. Priests from all over the diocese concelebrate and renew their priestly promises made at their ordination. Bishop Joseph Kopacz will recognize this year’s jubilarians in his homily. Then the oils to be used in priestly ministry are blessed and consecrated by the bishop surrounded by his brother priests.
The Ceremonial of Bishops describes the Chrism Mass in this way: “This Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with his college of presbyters and at which he consecrates the holy chrism and blesses the other oils, manifests the communion of the presbyters with their bishop.
“The holy chrism consecrated by the bishop is used to anoint the newly baptized, to seal the candidates for confirmation, and to anoint the hands of presbyters and the heads of bishops at their ordination, as well as in the rites of anointing pertaining to the dedication of churches and altars.
“The oil of catechumens is used in the preparation of catechumens for baptism. The oil of the sick is used to bring comfort and support to the sick in their infirmity.
“This Mass is therefore a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which continue to be present in the church.”
As stated above for many years the Mass has been celebrated in the evening and priests and people have come from all over the diocese. This would mean our clergy and people would return home late in the evening, especially those coming from parishes in the far corners of the diocese.
The move to late morning will allow for travel in the daylight. We also have invited fifth graders from our Catholic schools to the Mass and are having a fun, educational event with them afterwards to talk about the cathedral, liturgy and vocations. Right now, we have around 140 young folks and headed to the celebration on April 4.
Several other dioceses in the region do this and we are excited about having our young people present in the Cathedral for such a beautiful Mass. As always (except for the height of the pandemic) the Chrism Mass is open to the public.
As we journey closer to the sacred celebrations of Holy Week, let us hold our clergy in prayer. They certainly need them.
(Mary Woodward is Chancellor and Archivist for the Diocese of Jackson.)