During Holy Week the Chrism Mass is celebrated in every cathedral in the world in preparation for the Easter Triduum. Only a bishop can consecrate chrism, pure olive oil infused with rich fragrance, so this liturgy is a sign of the unity of the local Church and the bishop’s ministry to all who will be baptized and confirmed in our parishes in the coming year. Chrism is also used in the ordination of priests and bishops and the consecration of new altars. Two other sacramental oils, the unscented olive oil for catechumens and
for the sick, will be blessed in the same liturgy and transported carefully to every parish by the beginning of the Triduum.
Remember when Noah’s dove returned with the sign of the world’s rebirth? The dove carried an olive branch, a pledgethat God was breathing the world to life again. Yet olives require human nurture. Olives are inedible unless they are cured by human labor. Olive trees grow on sunny slopes, away from the shade of city walls, so they can only be properly tended, cured, and laboriously pressed in peace time. The Chrism Mass with its olive oils expresses God’s deepest desires for us, and our resolve to place our lives in service to God’s saving, healing, loving plan.
© J. S. Paluch Co.