Coronavirus: Chrism Mass Oils, Renewal of Priestly Promises, Praying for Priests

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For any LEOs wanting to get a hold of me for arrest, fine, or both, for apparently having broken the Federal, State and Mecklenburg County, NC, declared State of Emergency regulations regarding “Stay at Home” orders so that I might fetch the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Infirm and the Oil of Catechumens consecrated at that Chrism Mass Tuesday morning, know that any presumed breaking of the law is simply not true.

The Chrism Mass this year, sadly even if necessarily and prudentially, saw in attendance only the good Bishop, a couple of deacons and just a few of the priests more local to the Cathedral. This Mass is essential – critical if you want to use technical vocabulary – for the free exercise of religion, as the consecrated oils confected in this most extraordinary Mass with very elaborate ceremony and awesome consecratory prayers, are used for the Ordination Rite of Priests, for Baptism and Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick, the latter also known as the Last Rites which are somewhat more common in these Coronavirus times.

Since the assistance – during that Mass – of the rest of the priests including myself was not considered critical, it was arranged through the powers that be that I would arrive at the Cathedral after the last of the good and holy deacons filling the little distribution bottles of the Sacred Oils would have finished their work for all the parishes and missions of entire diocese (that’s really a lot of little bottles!) and would have then forthwith left the campus of the Cathedral in Charlotte (to the back-right of the picture above), so that I, quite alone, could retrieve, quite alone, the package of Oils for all the parishes of the Smoky Mountain Vicariate, the extreme western region of North Carolina.

That’s how it worked out. That package was placed inside the back entrance of the rectory of the Cathedral (to the lower right in the picture above). I was out of my car for perhaps 30 seconds, and had my N-95 mask in place. I jumped back in the car and headed straight back, making for a more than 400 mile round trip, about eight or nine hours for me in the surprisingly somewhat heavy traffic and parking-lot-on-Interstate-26 construction zones with subsequent traffic jams.

While still driving – or parking on the highway as the case may be – a good and holy deacon who had assisted with that package of Oils called me, asking whether I had retrieved the package. The inhabitants of the Cathedral wanted to know if I had already grabbed that package, concerned for its safety (but perhaps also wondering if it was safe to venture forth, since, who knows if I could also be a carrier of Coronavirus). I posit that just for humor, but I would totally respect that concern as well.

As it turns out, that may well be true. But that’s for another post. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, being saddened by not having been able to attend the Chrism Mass itself to assist with the consecration of the Sacred Chrism and the blessing of the other oils, and to renew the promises of the priesthood with my fellow priests, I mentioned my sadness to the good and holy deacon, throwing out the thought that perhaps we priests might be able to get together at another time to recite these promises together, hoping, in doing this, that this good and holy deacon might mention this to the good Bishop. All deacons are good and holy, by the way, as they have to put up with us priests. :-)

The good and holy deacon immediately offered that the priests retreat always in the first full week of October would be an opportune time. I concurred and thanked him for this wonderful suggestion. I’m hoping he will put this to the good Bishop. Here is the rite of those promises. There are parts for the Bishop and the laity as well. I hope everyone will pray that we ever so weak priests can keep these promises. I will recite them later this Holy Thursday morning…


After the Homily, the Bishop speaks with the Priests in these or similar words.

Beloved sons, on the anniversary of that day when Christ our Lord conferred his priesthood on his Apostles and on us, are you resolved to renew in the presence of your Bishop and God’s holy people, the promises you once made?

The Priests, all together, respond: I am.

Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ and his Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?

Priests: I am.

Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching, following Christ the Head and Shepherd, not seeking any gain, but moved only by zeal for souls?

Priests: I am.

Then, turned towards the people, the Bishop continues:

As for you, dearest sons and daughters, pray for your Priests, that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to him, who is the source of salvation.

People: Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

And pray also for me, that I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and the Servant of all.

People: Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

Bishop: May the Lord keep us all in his charity and lead all of us, shepherds and flock, to eternal life.

All: Amen.

4 Comments

Filed under Coronavirus, Prayer, Priesthood

4 responses to “Coronavirus: Chrism Mass Oils, Renewal of Priestly Promises, Praying for Priests

  1. pelerin

    I attended the Chrism Mass in our cathedral for the first time ever last year. My cathedral is not an easy place to get to for those who do not drive and I am ashamed I have not made the effort before. It was a most moving ceremony to see all the Priests of the diocese there. This year I watched the Chrism Mass from Paris on the internet. Interesting to see the closeups but not the same as actually being present.

  2. nancyv

    God! …is so good to let us experience a t-tiny part of the Agony in the Garden. I am grateful for our priests. But especially now.

  3. Anne Maliborski

    Thank you for posting the recitation for Renewal of Priestly Promises. Now we can all take part in these prayers today!

  4. Catherine

    Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us. Amen.

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