Chrism Mass

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April 3, 2023
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

For me, one of the highlights of the liturgical year is celebrating the Chrism Masses each year in South Bend and in Fort Wayne.  I find it always uplifting to have this beautiful concelebration of Mass with so many priests during this week when Our Lord instituted the priesthood, with the presence and participation of so many of our deacons, religious sisters and brothers, seminarians, and, of course, so many lay faithful who gather especially to pray for our priests as they renew their priestly promises.

Click here for more photos from the Mass.

The Second Vatican Council said the following about the Chrism Mass: “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” (PO 7).  I decided to focus my homily this year on this theme of “communion,” not only the communion of the priests with their bishop, but also the communion of the whole Church with Christ and with one another in His Body, the Church.

As you know, there are four marks of the Church, four properties that are inseparable from the very nature of the Church and not found in any other institution: unity, sanctity, catholicity, and apostolicity.  In the Creed, we profess our belief in these four marks when we say: “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”  These four marks of the Church are all interconnected.  I will focus in this homily on the first mark of the Church: unity.

Unity is of the essence of the Church.  The Church is one.  The Second Vatican Council taught how this is so.  First, because of her source – the unity of the Blessed Trinity, one God who is three Divine Persons.  Second, because of her founder: Jesus, the Word made flesh, who reconciled all people to God by His cross.  Third, because of her soul: the Holy Spirit who brings about our communion with Christ and one another.

Saint Clement of Alexandria, one of the early Fathers of the Church, said the following about the Church’s unity: “What an astonishing mystery!  There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her ‘Church’.”

There is a wonderful richness of diversity within the one Church of Christ.  We see this diversity throughout our diocese and here at this Chrism Mass.  Within our unity, there are a diversity of races, cultures and languages, and even within our presbyterate.  There are a diversity of gifts and charisms among the people in our parishes and also within our pre