Diocesan News

Chrism Mass to Bless Holy Oils Set for Holy Tuesday

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The holy oils used throughout the year in the Diocese of Brooklyn for baptisms, confirmations, ordinations of priests and other milestone events will be blessed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio at the Chrism Mass on March 30.

The Mass, which will take place at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph at 7:30 p.m., is an annual Holy Week celebration.

According to Bishop DiMarzio, the Chrism Mass is one of the most important celebrations of the liturgical year. “We bless the oils that are used in the administration of the sacraments,” he said.

The oils are essential, he said, because “it shows that the life of the church continues.”

As an example, the bishop pointed to the Chrism oil that is used in confirmations. “Without the oils, you can’t administer the sacraments. If we can’t anoint the forehead, we can’t say the person has been confirmed,” he said.

Father John O’Connor, director of liturgy for the diocese, said the Mass offers the chance “to give thanks to God for the blessings of nature,” noting that oil comes from nature.

The Chrism Mass has a special significance for the clergy. During the Mass, the diocese priests and deacons renewed the promises they made at their ordinations. In addition, the priests renew their promise of obedience to the bishop. “He is our shepherd,” said Father O’Connor, who is the pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church in Bellerose.

The Mass also celebrates jubilarians — priests who have reached special milestones in their years of service.

The clergy aren’t the only people who are invited to renew promises. Laypersons can also use the Chrism Mass as an opportunity to renew a pledge of support for the bishop, Father O’Connor said.

The bishop traditionally uses the Chrism Mass’s occasion to deliver a message to his priests in his homily.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, some changes have been made to the Chrism Mass this year. For one thing, attendance will be limited to enable the diocese to adhere to social distancing rules. “There will not be as many people as normal,” Bishop DiMarzio said.

Still, the diocese is trying “to get as many people as possible to come,” the bishop said. 

The Chrism Mass is usually celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday at the cathedral of a diocese, but in many dioceses, it takes place on another day during Holy Week. Bishop DiMarzio in recent years has celebrated the Mass on Holy Tuesday.

Last year’s Chrism Mass was postponed until June 19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused churches to close. At the Mass, Bishop DiMarzio delivered a message of love and encouragement to priests, telling the clergy to persevere during the tough times and to remember their commitment to Jesus Christ.

“We’re entering a new phase in the life of the church,” he said.