Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Chrism Mass

By Bishop Charles C. Thompson


When asked about how the Church relates to a society “with an evolution that is dynamic


and conflicted and very often distant from the values of the Gospel of Christ,” Pope Francis


responded:  “We must not be a Church closed in on herself…and is unable to transcend.  


Twofold transcendence is important; toward God and toward one’s neighbor.  Coming out of


oneself is not an adventure; it is a journey, it is the path that God has indicated to men, to the


people from the first moment when he said to Abraham, “Go from your country.”  The Holy


Father went on to stress the need to meet others up close, adding; “Closeness is a key word: be


near.  Do not be afraid of anything.  Be close.” [Meeting with Priests of the Diocese of Caserta,


26 July 2014]


    The Chrism Mass, understood correctly, is anything but a turning in on ourselves as


Church.  Just as full, conscious and active participation in any given Mass involves our


engagement in the liturgy as well as our embrace of being sent forth in service to others in the


name of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, so we gather together here as the local Church of


Southwest Indiana to break open the Word of God, bless the sacred oils for service, renew


priestly promises and be nourished by the Eucharist, all for the purpose of going forth to draw


close to those in need of being heard, lifted, renewed, understood, valued, healed and forgiven.   


If the Church is to transcend ever more fully toward God and neighbor, it is necessary that each


and every baptized member, including both clergy and laity, be able and willing to journey on


the path that God has indicated in and through Jesus Christ.


    The blessing of oils—of the Sick, Catechumen and Sacred Chrism—reminds us of


profound significance of “anointing” in the life, ministry and service of the Church.  Our


scripture readings attest to this reality.  In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah declares:  “The


spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.”  The prophet leaves no


doubt of the purpose for this anointing; namely, to be sent.  He is sent to “bring glad tidings to


the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners, to


announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who


mourn.”  Isaiah goes on to describe the oil entrusted to him as “oil of gladness,” to lift up those


who mourn and suffer from a listless spirit.  Our second reading, from the Book of Revelation,


denotes the power of the Eucharist, noting that Jesus Christ “has freed us from our sins by his


blood…made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”  Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus


reads from the sacred scroll the very words spoken by the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading,


adding; “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”


    Thus, we are anointed in Him, sent to be close to God and neighbor without fear.  In


baptism, we are anointed as priests, prophets and kings.  In confirmation, we are anointed with


the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  In sickness, persons are anointed for union with


the suffering of Jesus Christ and healing.  In Holy Orders, priests and bishops are anointed not


for themselves but for others.  The renewal of our priestly promises this evening leaves no doubt


about this fact.  


    Going forth in faith, hope and charity—taking with us the oils of gladness, the


transforming power of God’s Word and saving grace of the Church’s sacraments—we dare to


draw ever closer to a society wounded by poverty, addiction, abuse, hunger, violence,


guilt, indifference, fear and despair.  We are sent forth to assure the world by our witness that in Jesus Christ the Scripture passages just proclaimed are being fulfilled in our very midst.  May we


not be mere takers of all that creation has to offer, but may we good stewards with grateful hearts


who give in return.  We must be especially attentive to the poor, the homeless, the unemployed,


the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the frail, the immigrant, the migrant, the refugee and all who are


vulnerable.  No one is beyond the scope of divine mercy; so we must exclude no one from the


witness of our missionary discipleship in drawing ever closer to one another in the name of

Jesus, our Great High Priest.  Exuding the joy of the gospel, may we be ambassadors of hope.