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Bishop highlights blessings of Lent at annual Chrism Mass

Holy Week is capped with the beautiful liturgies of the Triduum, culminating in the Easter Vigil, but another of its highlights comes earlier, with the Chrism Mass, held this year on April 10.

At the annual Mass, the diocesan bishop blesses the holy oils used in the sacraments, such as the Chrism Mass used in the sacrament of confirmation. Representatives from parishes across the diocese attend the Mass to receive those oils and bring them back to their home parishes. The Mass also signifies unity, bringing many of the diocese’s priests to renew their ordination promises and concelebrate Mass.

Bishop Paul Sirba blesses holy oil
Bishop Paul Sirba at the Chrism Mass April 10 blesses one of the holy oils used in the sacraments throughout the year. (Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)

Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba highlighted many of these themes in his homily.

He began by pointing out the many blessings God had given during Lent, giving a long list that included parishes giving out rosaries and books, the ashes and palms received on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, a dispensation allowing people to eat meat on St. Patrick’s Day, diocesan men’s and women’s conferences, Catholics at the Capitol, parish missions, a new spirituality center at St. Scholastica Monastery, and people receiving the Lord’s mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.

“I think the Lord is blessing us abundantly this Lent,” he said.

He also cited his connection with the priests of the diocese who were present with him.

“On a night like tonight, I have the privilege of being surrounded by the presbyterate of the Diocese of Duluth, a presbyterate like no other,” he said.

He said the oil blessed during the Mass would soon be used to consecrate the hands of some of the men serving — transitional deacons to be ordained in June.

He said that all of the faithful share an anointing, along with Christians being martyred in places like Egypt, that makes them share in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly roles of Jesus.

For those ordained to priesthood, the “ontological change” of the sacrament calls them to “put flesh” on the meaning of God’s love, he said, urging people to give thanks for the gift of the priesthood.

“Jesus, through the ministry of the priest, speaks to us,” he said. This happens through the sacraments of baptism and confession and “most especially in the Eucharist.”

“Priests should tremble” at the mystery entrusted to them, he added.

“I invite the lay faithful to continue to pray for our priests,” he said, and he urged all to “savor [their] dignity in Jesus.”

— Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross