Chrism Mass The annual Chrism Mass will be held at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on Wednesday, Apr. 1 at 6 p.m.
The Chrism Mass will be celebrated by Bishop David Choby, with all priests in the diocese attending.
“The bishop and all the priests being there represents the unity and brotherhood of the priesthood,” said Father Marneni Bala Showriah, OFM, pastor of St. Philip Church in Franklin. During the Mass, the priests renew their commitment to their vocation and show their unity with the Church.
During the Mass, the bishop will bless all the holy oils used to administer sacraments throughout the diocese in the coming year: the oil of catechumens, for those preparing to join the Church; the oil of consecration, for priests and religious; and the oil of the infirm, used in the Anointing of the Sick.
All members of the Diocese of Nashville are welcome to attend the Chrism Mass.
Holy Week emphasizes the importance of self-sacrifice and serving others by studying Jesus’s example, says Father Marneni Bala Showriah, OFM, pastor of St. Philip Church in Franklin. The symbolism used in the various liturgies during the week helps bring these realities to life.
“Holy Week is an especially important time in the life of the Church because Jesus gives his life for us,” he said. And in commemorating the events of Holy Week, we can learn how to do the same for others.
The week begins with Palm Sunday, recalling Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. At the beginning of the Mass, parishioners process into the church to re-enact that day.
“In ancient Jerusalem, when great people came to the city, people would welcome them with palm branches to express joy that greatness was in their midst,” Father Bala said. “With Jesus, some people thought he was a prophet, while others knew he was the Messiah. But they didn’t understand what the Messiah came to do. They wanted to make Jesus a king. And a king would usually ride in on a horse. But Jesus didn’t want to be a king. He came to Jerusalem knowing he would die there. Therefore, he rode in humbly on a donkey.”
The Chrism Mass is celebrated by the bishop on Wednesday, and all priests in the Diocese attend.
“The bishop and all the priests being there represents the unity and brotherhood of the priesthood,” Father Bala said. “We bless three different oils: the oil of catechumens, the oil of consecration, and the oil of the sick. The oil of catechumens is for those preparing to join the Church. The oil of consecration is for priests and religious. When they are consecrated as priests and religious, they become servants of God and others. And the last is the oil of the sick. When it is used, it brings healing, strength and forgiveness.”
Holy Thursday recalls Jesus instituting the Eucharist and priesthood, and involves washing the feet of 12 parishioners, symbolizing the 12 Apostles.
“In washing the Apostles’ feet, Jesus reminds us that he came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Father Bala said.
“He also instituted the Eucharist. He takes the bread and wine and says it is his body and blood, and makes his sacrifice a reality,” Father Bala added. “He also told the Apostles to repeat this sacrifice in memory of him. Therefore, he created the Eucharist and priesthood on the same night.”
Good Friday recalls Jesus being condemned to death and his crucifixion.
“Jesus didn’t deserve to be crucified, but the people of Jersualem wanted him to die,” Father Bala said. “Even Pilate didn’t want him to die, and said he found no reason to kill him. But he still gave in to protect his political position and keep himself safe.
“In accepting his death, Jesus pricked the consciences of everyone and reminded them that people must use their powers and gifts to serve, instead of using it for their selfish interests. During the Mass, everything in the Church is covered and the altar is bare because everything has come to a standstill,” Father Bala explained.
Saturday night is the Easter Vigil, beginning the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. It is also the night when new converts receive the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
“During the Easter Vigil, we begin by lighting the new fire outside the church. This symbolizes Jesus as the Light of the World dispelling the darkness of sin, death, and hopelessness,” Father Bala said. “Through his resurrection, he shows us that even death can be overcome. We also bless the baptismal water since Jesus sanctified the water at his own baptism.”
Ultimately, Holy Week is meant to inspire Christians to a deeper conversion and to turn away from sin, Father Bala said. “Life is short; and while we’re living, we should always be thinking about where we’ll end up after we die. We will either rise with Jesus or we’ll belong to the devil for all eternity, depending on whether we choose to embrace goodness or evil throughout our lives.
“Holy Week and Easter are a spring time for all of us,” Father Bala said, “and remind us of the hope that comes from having a new life in Jesus.”