“The first time is always the most memorable”, so says my friend.
It was a pleasant Wednesday evening, I drove from my workplace right into the heart of the city where the Cathedral stands. Initially I’ve made up my mind to attend my first ever Chrism Mass even if there’s no company. It was not until noon time when my friend texted that he’ll be able to make it.
Mass started at 7pm. Before that the rosary was recited in several languages so foreign to me, they must have been Tagalog and Burmese or so they sound.
The next time when you visit this cathedral, if you look carefully enough, the inscription in mosaic chips on the altar reads “Ecce Agnus Dei” (Behold the Lamb of God). Beautiful!
For your extra reading, the Congregational Divine Worship, para 35 explains the Chrism Mass as follow:
“35. The Chrism Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium and at which the holy chrism is consecrated and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ. The priests who concelebrate with the bishop should come to this Mass from different parts of the diocese, thus showing in the consecration of the chrism to be his witnesses and cooperators, just as in their daily ministry they are his helpers and counselors.
The faithful are also to be encouraged to participate in this Mass, and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Traditionally the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the Thursday of Holy Week. If, however, it should prove to be difficult for the clergy and people to gather with the bishop, this rite can be transferred to another day, but one always close to Easter. The chrism and the oil of catechumens is to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation on Easter night”
Just before mass started, I managed to grab a quick snap. The small bottle on the right is the balsam. The three oils blessed at this Mass are:
- The Oil of the Sick (Oleum Infirmorum)is appropriate when administering the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
- The Oil of Catechumen (Oleum Catechumenorum) is used to bless people prior to their Baptism and during enrollment as catechumen, students of the faith preparing for Baptism.
- Chrism Oil (Sacrum Chrisma), is for newly baptised persons. The bishop also uses Chrism Oil when administering the Sacraments of Confirmation or Holy Orders. Balsam is added to give fragrance.
The entrance procession. Sorry for the blurry picture, my friend managed to capture it just in time. The main celebrant was Archbishop Julian Leow, in front of him is Apostolic Nuncio Joseph Marino, Vicar General Mitchel Anthony, and Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam giving a hand to Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez. About 40-50 priests were also present and concelebrated the mass.
The entire atmosphere of the mass was majestic. The Gloria was sung breaking the solemness of Lent, there was incensing and the Archbishop was there with his silver staff. Attending this mass gives me a deeper meaning of Lent and also enhances my understanding towards my faith.
To end this post, let me just share some very impromptu experience. Seated on the same pew were my friend and I (both young men), and four older women. After mass, the woman beside me asked us whether are we single, which we replied yes, and she then continued to pray that we consider the priesthood.