RALEIGH – The Diocese of Raleigh held its annual Chrism Mass April 12 at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. The beautiful spring morning was reflected in the smiles of those who joyfully arrived early at the cathedral for the event.
Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama was there to welcome many, including priests from throughout the diocese and students from Cardinal Gibbons High School, JPII High School, St. Thomas More Academy and Cristo Rey Research Triangle High School.
While many celebrated in person, the Mass was also streamed live for those who could not be there.
The Chrism Mass is one of the most important liturgies of the year. It’s the Mass when the bishop blesses the oil of the catechumens and the oil of the sick and consecrates the sacred chrism. Representatives from parishes then receive the oils and carry them back to their churches.
The holy oils blessed at the Chrism Mass are used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and anointing of the sick, as well as for ordination of priests and consecration of churches and altars.
“Good morning, buenos dias,” Bishop Luis said at the beginning of his homily, during which he thanked those attending.
Bishop Luis told the students present that they were making a journey of escaping classes for a good cause. And he wanted all those present to know that “it’s good, once in a while, to escape from the routine and find something new in life.”
He added: “Every Eucharist and every Chrism Mass is an overwhelming experience of our faith. Jesus is still revealing himself to us through this beautiful ministry.”
It was difficult for people in the time of Jesus to recognize him as the Messiah, the bishop explained. Jesus performed beautiful miracles, but very few people were able to recognize him as the Messiah; they had their own expectations.
“But now that he is giving himself through the life of the sacraments, how are we able to recognize him? He is present in every sacrament to feed us, to refresh us, to anoint us,” concluded Bishop Luis.
Addressing his brother priests, sitting together this year with a larger number of attendees, Bishop Luis acknowledged how seeing them sitting together was also overwhelming.
“We dress in the best way possible for this Mass. We like to give this moment our best, but what is the reason why we are here this morning?” he asked.
The bishop then said, “Because the Lord has called us, and he anointed us. For what purpose? To anoint the people who are sick, the oppressed … and give good news to the people who are suffering. He wanted each of us to become his voice. He wanted us to become his messengers.”
After the homily all the priests renewed their commitment to priestly service.
The blessed oils were pack into smaller oil stocks that will be distributed to parishes from the different deaneries in the diocese.
Veronica Clark, a parishioner from St. Andrew the Apostle in Apex, was one of the parishioners receiving the box with the holy oil for her parish. “It’s a privilege to be here today. On behalf of my parish, St. Andrew, I’m very happy and thankful,” she said.
Local ABC affiliate, WTVD-11, interviewed Fr. Michael Schuetz, pastor of Mother of Mercy parish in Washington, about the Chrism Mass.