By Frank Flegel

For a Monday afternoon work day there were few empty places in Holy Rosary Cathedral as the faithful came from all over the archdiocese to take part in the annual Chrism mass. The Chrism mass is when oils are blessed for use in anointing of the sick and for baptisms. Chrism oil is consecrated and used to confer the sacraments of Confirmation and Ordination.

Tradition is, also at the Chrism mass priests from all over the diocese gather to renew their priestly promises of service, and the congregation is asked to continue their support of the priests and to pray for them. This year, for the first time, an ecumenical choir was present to provide music for the service. The singers were drawn from several Roman Catholic churches, Knox Metropolitan United Church, Grace Mennonite Church and St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral.

“We all need the Good News that Jesus brings,” said Archbishop Donald Bolen in his homily after speaking initially about a wounded Church, a wounded society and the wounds that people carry, even priests and bishops. “There is no exemption clause in ordination,” Bolen said, directing his remarks specifically to the priests who were about to renew their priestly promises. “We all need the Good News that Jesus is doing this, bringing healing, bringing redemption, doing it for us, for all of us,” he emphasized. “But the wounds are not the total story about the human condition,” he continued. “Beauty and wonder and awe bless, us is the deeper story.” He was thinking about the beauty, the wonder, and the awe as seen through the eyes of his mother, who would have been 100 years old on that day, (she died in 2006) “I’m thinking about her learning the prayers, hearing the meadowlark for the first time in the Spring, her learning to walk, learning to love and be loved by the family, falling in love and how that changed her life and all of us who come from that love.” He talked about her aging and the struggles with it. “I’m thinking this human condition that God made is a beautiful and wonderful and amazing thing.” He referred to a couple of movies he recently watched while travelling by air to and from several destinations, taking examples in dialogue from Our Town and The Shape of Water to emphasize the beauty of the human condition that we often take for granted. “We yearn for a voice that comes from the other side of death that there is meaning, that there has been purpose to what we have lived; that there is something that holds it all together. Even though our culture rejects Christianity on the one side,” said Bolen, “it yearns for what is proclaimed by our Gospels on the other.” Our culture is searching for an ultimate foundation to goodness. “Is there something, someone out there who will bind our wounds, who will bring joy to our struggles and bring the Good News that we really long to hear.”  The overwhelming good news, as seen by the Archbishop, is that He has indeed come and it is for us that Christ came.

All parishes in the diocese had representatives who attended the Chrism mass for the express purpose of receiving the packaged oils to take back for use in their home church. The representatives were called up to the main altar individually to receive the packaged oils from the archbishop; some of the priests present received the oils for their churches. After the Chrism mass, a reception was held in the Cathedral lower floor hosted by the Filipino Knights of Columbus from Blessed Sacrament Church. There was a long table filled with food which featured a suckling pig cooked by Knight Sonny Du Poz with assistance from fellow Knight Edgar Regnim. It is tradition to feed the people who carry the oils in preparation for their journey back to their home parishes.

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