Catholic Herald staff
The bishop of the neighboring Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, celebrated the Mass of Chrism Tuesday, March 24, as the Diocese of Superior is without a bishop.
Bishop Paul Sirba called the invitation “an honor.”
“It isn’t often that a bishop is able to celebrate the Chrism Mass twice,” he said.
More than 550 people crowded into the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior, to witness the annual consecration of the chrism and blessing of the oils.
Students from St. Francis Solanus School, Reserve, opened the celebration with drumming, dancing and a prayer for blessings “as we journey through our circle of life.” The Knights of Columbus, seminarians, deacons, priests and bishop processed up the center aisle as the diocesan chorale performed with brassy accompaniment.
Bishop Sirba addressed the vacancy at the beginning of his homily. In Nebraska March 19 for the installation of a new bishop for the Diocese of Grand Island, Bishop Sirba approached Bishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and casually mentioned the Diocese of Superior.
“He didn’t volunteer anything,” he added.
Bishop Sirba assured listeners he and his diocese would be praying for them “as you await your new shepherd.”
He also thanked the crowd for his warm welcome. He feels right at home at the Cathedral of Christ the King, the bishop joked, because his parking spot is in exactly the same place at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary – right next to the dumpster.
In the ancient world, oil signified abundance and healing, Bishop Sirba said. It “made people radiant with health and beauty and strength.” It was a source of physical and spiritual healing and comfort.
In the church, oil is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders, and in the consecration of churches and altars.
“Through the anointing, the newly baptized will receive a mark,” he explained. That mark is a sacred seal, signifying God’s ownership of his people.
“We, as followers of Jesus, are marked,” he continued. “We totally belong to Jesus Christ.”
The seal promises us protection in this life and the hereafter and, being infinitely loved, we should feel great joy.
But, quoting Pope Francis, the bishop said, “‘There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.’”
Pope Francis, on the other hand, “radiates joy, because he knows that he is sealed.”
In closing his homily, Bishop Sirba urged Christians to share their joy, because the church grows by attraction.
“Joy attracts,” he added. “Sourpusses do not.”
After the homily, all priests in attendance renewed their promises, and Bishop Sirba performed the blessing of oils and consecration of chrism. A luncheon in Kress Hall followed the Mass.