HE ANNUAL blessing and disbursement of oils within the diocese is an eloquent expression of ecclesiology. Just as Jesus is the Christ—the Anointed One—who came to bring to bring good news to the afflicted and to bind up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1), so the bishop blesses the sacred oils in order to perpetuate the Lord’s ministry within the local Church. The gathering of the priests, deacons, religious, and lay faithful of the diocese, together with their bishop, expresses the unity to which the Church is called. Apportioning the oils to each parish after the Chrism Mass highlights the connection between the bishop and the whole of the ministerial activity that takes place within his see.
Anointing, of course, is an action central to many of the Church’s liturgies. The Church makes use of sacred oils to initiate new Christians and to heal the sick, to ordain new clergymen and to dedicate new churches.
The Chrism Mass, as a whole, is perhaps the most exemplary manifestation of the local Church and of the bishop’s ministry. That the blessing and consecration of the sacred oils is among the principal features of this liturgy reflects the oils’ tremendous importance in the life of the Church.
The prayers for blessing and consecrating the oils have been newly translated and published in a ritual book entitled, Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism. It is available exclusively through the USCCB bookstore. This book took effect for all dioceses in the USA on Ash Wednesday 2019. The new prayers, therefore, are normative for the Chrism Mass from 2019 onward.
LONG with the fresh translations, this volume includes musical settings for the prayer texts and responsories. In order to assist bishops and liturgical musicians, the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship has made PDF versions of these new chant settings freely available on their website.
The PDF chant settings include:
The hymn for the procession of the oils, O Redemptor (O Redeemer)
The prayer of blessing of the Oil of the Sick
The prayer of blessing of the Oil of Catechumens
The three texts related to consecration of the Chrism: 1) Invitation to Prayer, 2) Prayer of Consecration (first option), and 3) Prayer of Consecration (second option)
The website with the new musical settings also features useful catechesis on the significance of the rite of blessing and consecration. It offers recommendations, moreover, for the reception of the oils during the parish Mass of the Lord’s Supper.