Chrism Mass celebrates Christian identity

BLESSING — Archbishop José Gomez blesses the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism Oil. “We need to always remember and reclaim our identity as Christians,” he told the large assembly. (VICTOR ALEMAN)

Archbishop José Gomez called the April 14 evening Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels a “celebration of our Christian identity.” And he said the holy oils he would soon bless are “all signs of our anointing, signs of the gift of God’s Spirit in our lives.” 

“That’s what our name means, ‘Christian,’” the archbishop pointed out during his homily. “It means ‘anointed one.’ That’s who we are. We all know this, but we need to hear it again, year after year. We need to always remember and reclaim our identity as Christians. Because being a Christian is not only a label, something casual. Being a Christian means our lives have a mission. 

“God anoints us to his service in baptism. All of us here tonight have received this anointing. He gives us a ‘priestly’ mission — to offer Christ to the world and the world to Christ. He calls us to open the hearts of our neighbors to the beautiful gift of salvation that he longs to give us.” 

It took nearly 20 minutes for more than 400 deacons, priests and bishops of the Los Angeles Archdiocese to process four-abreast down the cathedral’s center aisle, as the lavender-robed choir and 3,000-strong congregation sang “Lift High the Cross” and other hymns. 

Archbishop Gomez welcomed individually the jubilarian clerics: Msgr. Peter Amy, Msgr. Clement Connolly, Msgr. Charles Hill, Father Rock Janowski, Father James Kavanagh, Father Thomas King, Father Jules Mayer, Father Joseph Moniz, Msgr. Terrence Richey, Father Juan Romero and Msgr. Royale Vadakin. 

Religious order priests celebrating their 50th anniversary included Redemptorist Fathers William Adams and Rodolfo D’Agostino, Claretian Father George Whedbee and Salesian Father Carmine Vairo.

The archbishop blessed the Oil of Catechumens, used in baptism and the ordination of priests as well as the consecration of churches and blessing of altars; the Holy Chrism, used in confirmation, baptism and various consecrations; and the Oil of the Sick.  

And the priests renewed their sacred vows. “Through your priesthood, the mighty works of God that Jesus performed continue in our world today,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Through your priesthood, God in his love still reaches down to lift up the lowly. Through your ministry, God still shows mercy to the brokenhearted and sets his people free from every slavery of sin and injustice.

“Tonight we make a solemn renewal of our priestly vows, as we do each year in this Chrism Mass. And this year we have a special example of how to live our priestly vocation in the ministry of Our Holy Father, Pope Francis…. 

“And the Pope isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary,” he noted. “He’s just praying and preaching; teaching, meeting with people, taking care of the organization of the Church, celebrating the Mass and the sacraments. The pope is just being a priest.”

But the archbishop stressed that as Christians every member of the Catholic Church is called to the vocation of being “missionary disciples,” a favorite term of the pontiff. “Being missionary disciples means sharing God’s promise of mercy and salvation with others,” he explained. “It means serving those others with works of mercy — especially the poor and those who are vulnerable. This is the beautiful way that we are called to live as ‘anointed ones.’”

After the liturgy, priests, deacons and parishioners collected the holy oils at the Cathedral conference center to bring back to their 287 local parishes.


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