The annual Chrism Mass was celebrated by Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Apex. The church, which seats approximately 800, was filled to capacity with many of the faithful standing.
The Mass is one of the most solemn and important liturgies of the Church, providing a public expression of the unity of the Diocese with representatives from the 96 parishes and mission churches in attendance. The Mass also reflects the unity of the Bishop and Priests in a celebration of the ministry of Priesthood.
During the liturgy, the Priests renewed their commitment to service as the assembly offered prayers and support. The Bishop then asked the people to also pray for him, “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.”
An important part of the Mass was the Blessing of the Oil of the Sick, the Blessing of the Oil of the Catechumens and the Consecration of the Chrism. Large vessels of each were brought in to the sanctuary by members of the Diocesan faithful for blessing by the Bishop.
At the end of Mass, bottles of the oils were presented to representatives of every parish in the Diocese for use throughout the year beginning with the Easter Vigil. Through the Holy Oils, the Bishop will be symbolically present to all who receive them in Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick.
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge spoke of the vibrancy of the Diocese. Noting his upcoming trip to the Vatican, in which he will report to Pope Benedict XVI on the life of the Diocese, the Bishop said he will inform the Holy Father of the deep faith that exists in the Diocese and will point out what a historic and exciting time it is for the faithful.
Bishop Burbidge spoke of the grace that many will receive from the oils and Chrism that will be blessed and used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. “We also think today of those present,” the Bishop said, “who represent the beautiful sacrament of Matrimony, the permanent, faithful, life-giving union of one man and one woman that symbolizes the love Jesus has for His Bride, the Church and whose definition, as He intended, must be safeguarded and protected in our State and beyond. Thank you dear married couples for your beautiful witness.”
In addressing his brother Priests, Bishop Burbidge talked of the “sacramental graces of Ordination,” by which they are configured to Christ. “Thank you for being so available to the faithful, so they can celebrate God’s infinite mercy in the Sacrament of Penance,” the Bishop said. “We know that without the priest, there is no Eucharist, no Church. Thank you brother priests for faithfully offering the Sacrifice of the Mass and bringing us the Real Presence of Jesus: body and blood, soul and divinity.”
Bishop Burbidge also spoke of the challenge the Church and its people currently face in defending the dignity of human life and standing firm for religious liberty and conscience rights. “To live as witnesses of Christ will not always be easy,” the Bishop cautioned. “At times, it can even be overwhelming, challenging. In the process, we may be falsely labeled and judged. We, like Christ, may even be ridiculed and rejected. Yet, we rejoice in knowing that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us!”
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Above: More than 900 people attending the 2012 Chrism Mass at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Apex.
Above: Deacon Don Maloney, who is scheduled to be ordained to the Priesthood on June 2, carrying the Chrism to the altar to be consecrated. The Sacred Chrism will be used for his Ordination.
Above: Bishop Burbidge during the blessing of the Oil of the Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and the consecration of the Sacred Chrism.