Chrism Mass is the Holy Mass celebrated by the bishop at the diocese’s cathedral church on Holy Thursday morning. Joined by the priests in the diocese, the celebration manifests the priests’ unity with their bishop.
In the celebration, the bishop blesses three oils, namely the oil of catechumens, the oil of the infirm, and the Holy Chrism. These oils blessed will then be used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders administered throughout the year in the diocese.
Oil has been symbolic in the Scriptures that the early Church adopted its use in their sacramental rituals. In the Bible, it symbolizes “sanctification, healing, strengthening, beautification, dedication, consecration, and sacrifice.”
The Three Holy Oils
The oil of catechumens (oleum catechumenorum or oleum sanctorum) made of pure olive oil is used in anointing the adults and infants receiving the sacrament of Baptism. In anointing the catechumens, the priest or deacon prays that God will give them the wisdom and strength necessary for their Catholic faith and their life with Christ.
The oil of the infirm (oleum infirmorum), also made of pure olive oil, is used in the anointing of the sick. In this sacrament, the priest lays his hands on the sick or elderly while saying special prayers. After this, the person is then anointed with oil on the forehead and hands in the form of a cross.
The Holy Chrism (Sacrum Chrisma) is a mixture of olive oil and balsam that puts fragrance to the oil, representing the aroma of Christ (as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:15). Being anointed with this oil symbolizes the gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Chrism oil is used in sanctifying a person and in the consecration of something to God’s service.
In the Chrism Mass, the bishop blesses the Holy Chrism in a different manner by breathing over the vessel of the oil. This gesture symbolizes the coming down of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the oil, and the life-giving, sanctifying nature of the sacraments it will be used for.
The Holy Chrism is used to anoint young people who receive the sacrament of Confirmation. As the bishop traces the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of a person being confirmed, he then says “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Also, this oil is used in the sacrament of Baptism wherein a cross with Holy Chrism is traced on the crown of an infant’s head, “marking him as a Christian.”
Holy Chrism is also used during the sacrament of Holy Orders where the bishop anoints the palms of a new priest with this oil. Also, when a bishop is ordained, the consecrating bishop anoints the head of the new bishop with this oil.
This oil is as well used in the dedication ceremony of a church. In blessing the altar, the bishop pours Holy Chrism on its middle and on its four corners. In the ceremony, the walls of the Church are as well anointed in 12 or four places marked by crosses.
What is Chrism Mass? – Fr. William Saunders: https://catholicexchange.com/what-is-the-chrism-mass/
What is the Chrism Mass and why is it important?: https://aleteia.org/2019/04/18/what-is-the-chrism-mass-and-why-is-it-important/
What are the Three Holy Oils? https://www.simplycatholic.com/what-are-holy-oils/