Chrism Mass

By Deacon Sal Lema

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Avondale was the scene for this year’s Diocese of Phoenix Chrism Mass, held Monday, March 25, 2024. Most Reverend John Dolan, Bishop of the Diocese, and Auxiliary Bishop Most Reverend Eduardo Navares presided as Celebrant and Homilist and Concelebrant, respectively.

At a little after 4:00 PM the procession began with deacons, followed by priests, altar priests, ceremony servers, altar deacons, and bishops. Viewing the main photo of the sanctuary doesn’t do justice to the enormity of the space and the beauty that your eyes behold. From the entrance of the church to the walk up towards the sanctuary, a person is struck with an awe-inspiring Presence, and to be with an accompaniment of our bishops and so many priests, deacons, and religious in one place is a gift that only those present could appreciate.

The sound of the choir was a blend of voices so gracefully together that their sounds seemed like one giant harmonic voice. The choir and instrument accompaniment brought all present to a grace-filled time. As for myself, I felt as though I was somewhere else in a graceful closeness to the One we serve. From the processional hymn “The Canticle of Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer” to the recessional hymn “Lord, You Give the Great Commission”, the background music could be heard softly and beautifully until a crescendo was needed. Words fully cannot explain its richness.

Prior to the blessing of the oils, an important ritual took place which was the renewal of commitment to priestly service. Each priest present stood and pledged to remain united with Christ, and to honor his faith and discharge his duties. It is a moving pledge as our priests openly resolve to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites.

But the main reason we were all there was to receive the sacred oils to be used at our churches for the 2024/2025 season. The Chrism Mass gets its name from an action that only occurs on this day. During this special rite, Most Reverend John Dolan blessed three different oils that will be used in the sacraments at our churches throughout the year. The first oil is the oil of the sick, used to anoint people who are ill or the infirm. The next oil is the oil of catechumens which will be used in baptism, and the Consecration of the Sacred Chrism is the last oil to be blessed. The Sacred Chrism is used in the sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Orders. These oils will be received at St. Elizabeth Seton at the Holy Thursday Mass, where they will replace the old oil in our ambry. The remaining oil from last year will be used in our fire at the vigil on Saturday evening.

After the oils were blessed, the mass went on as normal.

The Sanctuary and altar of St. Thomas Aquinas Church was magnificent. If you have a chance to visit this church one day, you will understand my amazement at its presence.

At the end of Mass, the blessed oils were received by parish representatives who were charged with bringing them to their church.


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