In this file photo, Bishop William F. Medley presides at the Diocese of Owensboro’s Chrism Mass at the Owensboro Sportscenter on April 16, 2019. This was the last Chrism Mass before the COVID-19 pandemic began the following year; Chrism Mass in 2020 and 2021 were closed to the public. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC
Chrism Mass: A time to renew
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
You are cordially invited to attend the Chrism Mass of the Diocese of Owensboro on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. at the Owensboro Sportscenter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has preoccupied the world for more than two years. Over that time it has seen more the six million people infected and nearly one million die from the virus in our country alone. It has upended our lives, our families, our commerce, our recreation and travel, and our worship. It appears that the long crisis is coming to an end thanks to science and research that have produced effective vaccines, and thanks to all of us who made extraordinary sacrifices to limit the spread of the virus. A worldwide pandemic has taught us all of the vulnerability of our place on this earth and in creation.
One of the tremendous sacrifices of the early weeks of the pandemic was the suspension of public gatherings. I could never have imagined that the Catholic Church, almost worldwide, would have suspended public worship for nearly three months. Then when we began to return we were restricted by requirements for masking and distancing. Even as the situation lessened, many have continued to be anxious about returning to Mass. Let me add that for the elderly and those with fragile health this is a very reasonable decision.
But, back to the Chrism Mass. All the faithful have been invited to this celebration every year (with the exception of 2020 and 2021) but I particularly extend this invitation this year that we might celebrate our freedom to worship and the blessings of our community and the world in the end of a pandemic.
The Chrism Mass is so named because it is in this Mass that the bishop consecrates the Sacred Chrism that is used for the ordination of priests, the confirmation of the elect and young people, and the dedication of altars. Also at this Mass the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens is blessed for distribution to all parish churches.
This Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with all the priests of the diocese, should be a manifestation of the priests’ communion with the bishop. There is a renewal of priestly promises, recalling those promises spoken on their ordination day. In this renewal we are reminded that we recall the day that Jesus Christ conferred his priesthood upon his disciples and thus on all priests even until today.
It is especially fitting that young people preparing for Confirmation should attend, as the Sacred Chrism consecrated is the very oil with which their foreheads will be anointed. The same is true for all who will participate in the Easter sacraments at the Holy Saturday vigil. Dcn. Martin Ma Na Ling will serve as deacon of the Mass anticipating the consecration of his hands at his priesthood ordination on July 2 of this year.
Who of us knows who may receive the sacramental Anointing of the Sick using the Oil of the Sick to be blessed?
Please come to the Chrism Mass. Let’s celebrate our common worship and make a sign of our joy in praying together.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend William F. Medley
Diocese of Owensboro
Originally printed in the April 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.