By Dr. Karen Shadle
You’ve heard of must-see TV. The Chrism Mass is must-see liturgy. A unique and powerful experience, the Chrism Mass offers not only incredible sights and sounds, but also that unforgettable, sweet smell of balsam.
You may know that the Chrism Mass is the celebration at which the holy oils are blessed and consecrated by Archbishops Kurtz for use throughout the coming year in the dedication of new churches and altars and in the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick, Confirmation, Baptism, and Ordination. This beautiful Holy Week ritual surrounding the oils keeps Chrism Mass-goers coming back again and again. Let me offer two more reasons you should attend this year.
First, the Chrism Mass is the pre-eminent annual celebration of the whole Archdiocese of Louisville. This is our night. We will each go off to our individual parishes for the Triduum – those most solemn liturgies of the year. But Chrism Mass is our night to all be together, 110 parishes united as one. We are diverse in every way imaginable – in parish size, location, culture, age, ethnicity, economics, worship style, and much more. What a joy to see that on full display in the faces of the people gathered, to hear it in the scriptures and the music, and to sense it in the energy of the Cathedral. This is our night. Don’t miss it.
Second, go to support your priest. Besides the blessing of oils, the other unique feature of Chrism Mass is the renewal of priestly promises. All priests present are invited to stand and once again pledge to work together to shepherd and serve the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
The renewal of priestly promises is somewhat parallel to a married couple’s renewal of vows. When our married friends renew their vows, perhaps on a milestone anniversary, we want to be there to celebrate the years accomplished and to support their continued commitment. When our priest friends renew their vows, we ought to do the same.
This has been a difficult year. Over the summer, the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report re-opened some old and painful wounds here locally. The resulting “crisis of trust” has hurt us all, including the many outstanding men who have answered the call to priesthood with lives of goodness, prayer, service, commitment, and sacrifice. They need our support.
Whether it’s your first time or your fortieth, I invite you to join us for the Chrism Mass this year,
Tuesday, April 16
Cathedral of the Assumption
(433 S. 5
Street, Louisville). It lasts about 1 hour 45 minutes. A reception follows in the undercroft.
Dr. Karen Shadle is the director of the Office of Worship.