Faithful from across the Diocese of Buffalo filled St. Joseph Cathedral to capacity on Tuesday evening for the Chrism Mass, a highlight of Holy Week, as Bishop Richard J. Malone blessed three urns of oil: oil of the catechumens, oil of the chrism and oil of the sick.
Bishop Malone said the Chrism Mass, "is kind of like the annual oil change and tune-up for the diocese. We sharpen again our sense of who we are and what we are about as Church. This is the building up and renewal of our Church in the diocese."
Following the Mass, priests, deacons, religious and laity from the eight counties of Western New York which make up the diocese received oil which will be used in their parishes, hospitals, colleges and universities, and other ministries, throughout the year.
The oil of catechumens is used to bless those who are about to be baptized; the oil of chrism is used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. The oil of the sick is used in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
"As we bless these oils, we will all recognize again the wondrous love of Jesus, who has chosen us as his friends and disciples, and anointed us for mission," Bishop Malone said. "May we renew our parishes as we renew ourselves and then work together, gradually to make our world look a bit more like the Kingdom of God."
During the Mass, diocesan and religious order priests renewed their vows, with Bishop Malone asking them, "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?"
In unison, the priests answered, "I am."
The bishop shared a personal message with his brother priests: "You work very, very hard, and you're tired often, and I understand that, and I'm in solidarity there with you too. But your ministry is so essential, it makes such a difference in God's plan and for the world. You need to know God's people appreciate you, tremendously, and so do I, and I thank you, and we thank you."
The congregation followed with sustained applause in gratitude for the ministry of the priests.
"I again speak especially to my brother priests," the bishop concluded. "Let's stay deeply in touch with our annointing, let's recall each day the deep reason for priestly joy in our lives, let's forgive each other for whatever in our actions or words has lessened the joy in one another, and let's go forth together as brothers, united, bonded, supported, and to use a word of Pope Benedict, co-responsible, with one another, for the renewal and the revitalization of Catholic life here in this wonderful part of the world that is Western New York."
Holy Week continues this week in all parishes, with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, the Solemn Celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil Saturday evening and Mass for Easter Day on Sunday.