OliveBless this oil
and give wisdom and strength
to all who are anointed with it
in preparation for their baptism.
Bring them to a deeper understanding of the gospel.
help them to accept the challenge of Christian living,
and lead them to the joy of new birth
in the family of your Church.

 

It always strikes me that there are two moments in the year when the local Church is called to manifest itself liturgically, the Rite of Election and the Chrism Mass, and both of these are linked to RCIA. Both times the local Church gathers around its bishop within in its cathedral. There may be many other occasions when this happens through the year but both of these celebrations are about the life and mission of the Church.

The Chrism Mass is traditionally celebrated on the morning of Maundy Thursday. It is possible to move the celebration earlier in the week so that people can travel with ease, in large dioceses it may not be possible to get back in good time for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and so that more people can attend. What is important is the proximity to the Triduum. The primary purpose of the Mass, as the title suggests, is the Blessing of Oils of the Sick and Catechumens and the Consecration of the Chrism. In recent years the addition, by Paul VI, of the Renewal of Priestly Promises has arguably shifted the focus of the Mass. An effect of this is to see the readings through the lens of ministerial priesthood rather then baptismal priesthood. This leads to seeing the Chrism Mass as a preparation for the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper rather than as preparation for the Easter Vigil. For the proximity to the Triduum is to provide oils that can be used at Easter Vigil.

The texts of the Blessings are beautiful prayers. This blog began with the main part of the Blessing of Oil of Catechumens. Both that and the following extract from the Consecration of the Chrism might provide suitable reflections for your prayer for your Catechumens this week.

Father, we ask you to bless this oil you have created.
Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit
through Christ your Son.
It is from him that chrism takes its name
and with chrism you have anointed
for yourself priests and kings,
prophets and martyrs.

Make this chrism a sign of life and salvation
for those who are to be born again in the waters of baptism.
Wash away the evil they have inherited from sinful Adam,
and when they are anointed with this holy oil
make them temples of your glory,
radiant with the goodness of life
that has its source in you.

Through this sign of chrism
grant them royal, priestly and prophetic honour,
and clothe them with incorruption.
Let this indeed be the chrism of salvation
for those who will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.
May they come to share eternal life
in the glory of your kingdom.