Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI
Holy Week Reflection Series

Holy Week Reflection Series

Tuesday of Holy Week: Chrism Mass

The oils of our Church mark us for mission and ministry

by Sister Elise Cholewinski

“Rebuild my church.” Having heard this message twice from the Lord in the church of Sam Damiano, St. Francis of Assisi eventually changed his whole lifestyle.

One of the very special liturgies of Holy Week is the Chrism Mass, celebrated at the cathedral on Tuesday of that week. During that liturgy the bishop consecrates the three oils that are to be used in the celebration of the sacraments in all of the churches of the diocese throughout the year. One of the oils is the Sacred Chrism, with which a person is anointed after receiving Baptism and Confirmation. It is a symbol of being called and chosen by the Lord to carry on Christ’s mission and ministry.

As Francis went about rebuilding the Church through prayer, preaching, and penance, he underwent a continual conversion. Instead of ascending some kind of spiritual ladder to find God, he discovered Jesus in the poorest and lowliest members of society. He not only cared for them but actually identified with them through the clothing he wore and the manner in which he lived. His conversion was characterized by a process of downward mobility.

There was a time when we were anointed with the Sacred Chrism; we were called and chosen. When have we had a moment that caused us to stop short, to re-examine our values, and to turn our steps in a new direction? When and how has the Lord summoned us to emerge from our comfort zone and to descend social ladder and be in solidarity with those who are unnoticed and discarded? At this moment in history, what does our being anointed for service speak to us about being “alone together”?

1 Comment

04/07/2020 9:09 am

There is a religious tradition that on this day, Tuesday of Holy Week, JESUS, knowing his death was immanent, spoke an individual parting message of encouragement to each one of his followers. For example, to Andrew JESUS spoke, "Be not dismayed by the events just ahead ..." To Peter JESUS said, "Put not your trust in the arm of flesh nor in weapons of steel." To James JESUS said, "Falter not because of outward appearances ...." To John JESUS spoke, "Be gentle; love even your enemies; be tolerant." To Phillip JESUS said, "Be unmoved by the events now impending. Remain unshaken, even when you cannot see the way." JESUS addressed Matthew, saying, "Forget not the mercy that received you into the kingdom." To Thomas JESUS said, "No matter how difficult ...walk by faith and not by sight." To two brothers JESUS spoke, "Do not allow the things which you cannot understand to crush you." To Simon JESUS spoke, "You may be crushed by disappointment, but your spirit will rise above all that will come upon you .... my spirit will teach you."

I find this practice truly meaningful and prayerful. And it makes sense that, just as when a family member or close friend is dying, that s/he imparts a particular message to each one of their beloved, so, too, would JESUS, the Apex of a loving human being, would have done so.

In prayer, I put myself in the presence of JESUS, as he knows his death is near. What would he say to me? How would I understand his words? How do the words of JESUS spoken specifically to me and for me, affect me, and my relationship with him?

This way of praying is for me, like an "anointing." For truly JESUS has anointed each one of us in Truth and Spirit, as Sr. Elise says. And the words JESUS speaks to us through prayer, are anointed words and words of anointing.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to me." Jer. 31:3

"I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. ... Strengthen, too, your sisters brothers." Luke 22:32

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