Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Five bishops join in the blessing of oils at the Chrism Mass April 15 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Hartford. From left are Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell; Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin; Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso (partially obscured); Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, principal celebrant; and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza.

Three kinds of oils are consecrated during Holy Week every year. Chrism, a mixture of oil and balsam, is used to anoint the newly baptized and during confirmations of young people. Oil of the Sick is used to strengthen the sick and join them with Christ. Oil of the Catechumens is imposed on those preparing for baptism.

Hundreds of priests from throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford attended and renewed their commitments to priestly service.

Representatives from the parishes picked up vials of the oils to bring to their respective parishes. Archbishop Blair called the Chrism Mass “one of the most beautiful days of the Church year.”

Here are some highlights from Archbishop Blair’s homily:

 “At the Chrism Mass, priests are brought together to concelebrate as witnesses and cooperators with their bishop in the consecration of the Chrism. ... The Chrism Mass is a clear expression of the unity of the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, which continue to be present among you, God’s chosen people.

“In just a few moments, I will ask all of our priests to renew their commitment to priestly service with the support and prayers of everyone present here today from the various parishes, schools and institutions of the archdiocese of Hartford....

“Jesus instituted the ministerial priesthood as part of the church’s very constitution … for teaching, sanctifying and shepherding his flock. There is much that can be said about the priestly vocation and priestly ministry. After a certain identity crisis following the Second Vatican Council, there’s been a tremendous flowering of theological and spiritual reflection on the gift and ministry of the priesthood. This includes both a re-appreciation of the authentic tradition of the church as well as new insights that are especially helpful in today’s culture in the face of today’s challenges.

“Of all these many aspects, I would like to focus … on this: that is, the spiritual fatherhood of priests. Rightly, our priests are called Father, and I have to admit it troubles me sometimes today when that familial term is sometimes dropped when people speak to or about priests.... Perhaps this is out of a misguided desire to level all relationships. It’s not surprising in a world in which Bart Simpson regularly addresses his father as Homer. And I know our young members here today will know what I’m speaking of.…

“In reality, all of us, whatever their state in life, are biologically, psychologically and spiritually meant to be either fathers or mothers, according to their sex. Although fatherhood and motherhood are exercised differently from culture to culture, they are not reducible to generic parenting.… The differences between men and women are real, and they are complementary. That is why it’s good and important for children to have a father and a mother as God meant us to be. The human life, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, is marked precisely by being ready and able to take on the responsibility of being a father or mother....

“Christianity strongly affirms the close bond between spiritual and physical aspects of fatherhood and motherhood. In our pastoral letter on marriage, United States bishops pointed out that for the vast majority of men and women, God places the universal vocation of holiness within the specific vocation of marriage.... [I]f you are Christian and are unmarried, then ‘single’ is not really the right word to describe your state in life.… You might have a gift of self that is in some way maternal or paternal, as the case may be, by the very fact of being a man or woman....

“Hopefully we [priests] see ourselves in Saint Paul. We cannot claim his greatness; but, like him, we are meant to be spiritual fathers to whom people can look with trust.… We can also look back to all the faithful and dedicated priests who have gone before us in Connecticut and in this Archdiocese of Hartford. Our own priesthood is inspired and nurtured either directly or indirectly by these men.…”