By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published April 16, 2014
ATLANTA—While singing “Lift High the Cross,” the priests of the Archdiocese of Atlanta processed into the Cathedral of Christ the King for the Chrism Mass celebrated April 15.
During the Mass, traditionally held here on the Tuesday of Holy Week, the archbishop blesses the oils used for the celebration of the sacraments in every church during the coming year, and priests renew the promises made at their ordination.
In addition to the blessing of the oils and consecration of the chrism, the Mass was also the jubilee celebration of the ordinations of three priests—Auxiliary Bishop David P. Talley, Father Edward A.J. Danneker, and Father Richard J. DeTore, a Claretian priest. Bishop Talley is celebrating 25 years in the priesthood, and both Father Danneker and Father DeTore are marking 50 years as priests.
Longtime cathedral parishioner Barbara Johansen traditionally attends the Chrism Mass.
“I love this Mass,” said Johansen. “It’s the celebration of the priesthood.”
Johansen said that the Mass is “just gorgeous” and noted the beautiful palm and floral sprays adorning the altar, arranged by the Cathedral Flower Guild.
Cathedral parishioner Angela Smith was attending for the first time with her infant son, Nathaniel. “My husband is part of the Cathedral Choir,” said Smith.
Bishop Talley, Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama and the priests of the archdiocese concelebrated the Mass.
In his homily, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory reflected on the prophet Isaiah’s suggestion that it may be for all “a year of favor from the Lord.”
Archbishop Gregory questioned what such a year would look like.
“Would not such a year be ultimately a time of hope and confidence?” he asked.
“Undoubtedly a year of favor from the Lord would include a deeper bond of unity between those of us who serve the Church in the ordained ministry and all of those who are our sisters and brothers in the priestly office of the baptized,” said the archbishop. “We who are your priests and bishops and who are about to renew our public commitment to love the Church as Christ’s own bride through our sacramental ministry have been anointed with the oil of gladness. In that year of favor which comes only from the Lord Himself, those who are priests and bishops and those who are God’s priestly people will continue to strive to live together in mutual affection, in deepening trust, and in support.”
The archbishop also acknowledged that a year of favor might mean something different for each person, whether it’s a safe world for young people, peace among races and cultures, or cure for disease, but that such a year would bring all concerns into “peaceable accord.”
“Still this very week, Jesus, who is the very Breath of God’s Peace, will once again lay down His life and take it up again under signs made sacred by their age and origin, because the Year of Favor from the Lord is a prophecy that has already dawned but not yet shone upon all.”
In his homily, Archbishop also prayed for peace among nations, and for family life “threatened by so many unanticipated hostile forces and popular trends and misunderstood rights within our society.”
Following the homily, priests renewed the commitments made at ordination to be faithful ministers of the Church and to remain steadfast in the desire to imitate Christ in daily work.
“… are you resolved to renew, in the presence of your bishop and God’s holy people the promises you once made?” asked the archbishop. The priests responded with a powerful and collective “I am.”
In response, the people offered prayers for the priests and for the archbishop.
Three large vessels of oil were then brought before the altar as the choir sang “O Redeemer.” The archbishop prayed over the vessels, asking God to bless the oil of the sick and fill it with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the oil of the catechumens to give wisdom to all anointed.
During the consecration of the chrism, the archbishop poured balsam, a perfume, into the oil, and mixed them together silently.
Then the archbishop petitioned: “Let us pray that God our almighty Father will bless this oil so that all who are anointed with it may be inwardly transformed and come to share in eternal salvation.”
Chrism is used in the sacraments of confirmation, baptism and ordination, and at the dedication of a church or altar.
Following Mass, all of the priests collect several ounces of the oils to take back to their respective parishes.
In past years, parishes have supplied their own bottles to take home. This year, as in many dioceses around the nation, plastic bottles were supplied and filled by volunteers for easy transport.
In the hours preceding Mass, the priests participated in their annual Lenten Day of Reflection at the cathedral.