All six of the Diocese of Superior seminarians assisted at the annual Chrism Mass held in Superior. Four of these men led the procession with students and permanent deacons bringing the oils and sacred chrism to the altar for consecration by Bishop Powers. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)
Catholic Herald staff
In his homily for the annual Chrism Mass, Bishop James P. Powers began by celebrating the large gathering at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Superior. He recalled the feeling of emptiness in the diocesan church two years ago and even last year with greatly reduced numbers under coronavirus restrictions.
In addition to parish representatives, more than 200 Catholic school students attended, as well as Chancery staff, Knights of Columbus Honor Guard and the Diocesan Chorale, who led the music ministry.
“How good it is,” the bishop declared. “It’s the greatest sign of our being one, one body of Christ in the Diocese of Superior.”
He noted that two things would happen during the Chrism Mass that don’t take place at any other Mass – the blessing and consecration of oils that are used to celebrate some of the sacraments as well as the public renewal of priestly service by the clergy.
“Today as we gather, we immerse ourselves in that hope, that joy, that promise – Jesus’ fulfillment of the promise of Isaiah … of the promise of God,” the bishop preached. “United as the one body of Christ in the Diocese of Superior, we hear and we accept the fact that those words of fulfillment are in fact an invitation to each and every one of us. An invitation to our being sent forth on that very mission of our Lord. Called and sent forth as his disciples … To proclaim the love of God to all the world.”
The bishop explained the use of olive oil since ancient times in calling down God’s spirit upon his chosen ones and sending them forth to continue the mission of salvation history. The oils blessed and consecrated during the Chrism Mass will be taken throughout the diocese and used to anoint and bless young and old, healthy and sick.
The Oil of the Sick is used in homes, hospitals and nursing homes to accompany and strengthen the suffering body of Christ.
“When one part of the body of Christ suffers, the entire body suffers. We all suffer,” he affirmed.
The Oil of Catechumens is used to bring infants, youth and adults into the family of God, opening them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“That gift so important in the battle with Satan and against temptation and sin,” Bishop Powers said.
The Sacred Chrism is used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders, “the sacraments that change the person forever,” he added, affirming the rebirth of Christians, the claiming of them for and by God, the ordination with a particular mission.
Addressing his brother priests and permanent deacons, the bishop turned and recognized the gift of their lives, their anointing, “Not for some special privilege, but anointed that we might take the gift of ordination and share it with others.”
He thanked them from the heart for their response and commitment, their dedication to spreading the Gospel – in particular, for the international priests who have come from afar to offer their gifts and offer their sacrifice. He acknowledged the challenges of their vocation, the world’s need for redemption.
“I hope and I pray that none of us ever forget that it is God who has chosen us. And in that response, our God has promised us everything we need to sustain us through our journey.
“But as with any sacrament, as with any gift of God – he does not force his gifts. That if we open ourselves, if we accept that gift, God ever present, ever-wanting and willing to uphold us, to strengthen us,” he encouraged.
He then begged the faithful to love their priests, to pray for them. He asked the same for himself personally, and assured listeners of their prayers and love.
“Joining together in that love of God, we truly do become that body of Christ here in the Diocese of Superior, by sharing in … love for one another, we make our journey through this world, supporting one another, caring for and about one another.”
During the renewal of priestly promises, the bishop addressed members of the assembly, saying, “Dearest sons and daughters, pray for your priests, that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly on them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the high priest, so that they may lead you to him.”
All responded, as prescribed, “Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.”
He then asked for prayers for himself according to the rite, “That I may be faithful to the apostolic office entrusted to me in my lowliness and that in your midst I may be made day by day a living and more perfect image of Christ, the priest, the good shepherd, the teacher and servant of all.”
After the same response from the congregation, the bishop prayed the final words: “May the Lord keep us all in his charity and lead all of us, shepherds and flock, to eternal life.”
A video of the Chrism Mass can be viewed via Facebook on the Cathedral of Christ the King page.