Bishop Pates Presides at Chrism Mass
The Chrism Mass is usually held during Lent. This Lent was different as the pandemic shut most of the world down. But, with the re-opening of churches throughout the diocese several months ago, the Chrism Mass was delayed and held in early August, with Bishop Richard E. Pates, the apostolic administrator, presiding.
During the Mass, priests and deacons gathered at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet to witness Bishop Pates blessing the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and the oil of chrism. The Mass, which was livestreamed, also acknowledged the ministry of priests as they renewed their commitment of service and received prayers and support from those at the Mass.
During his homily, Bishop Pates talked about how the Chrism oil is used.
“It will be sacramentally applied for us in Baptism and Confirmation and in the ordination of priests and bishop,” he said. “In Baptism, the core identity is confirmed. The Baptismal water... conveys salvation. Sin is forgiven, and transition into God's very life occurs. One becomes God's child. The individual, thereafter, takes on the ministry of Jesus and is engaged in as an integral member of God's priestly, prophetic and holy people.”
He continued: “Confirmation, the partner sacrament of Baptism, completes baptism with its anointing. The Holy Spirit, the third person of God, comes to reside in the confirmed. As happened to the Apostles on Pentecost, the confirmand is transformed and entrusted with the ministry of evangelization. The accompanying gifts of the Holy Spirit enable a life that gives witness to one's union with Jesus in the power of the Spirit. One is assured in his pathway by the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.”
He also talked about how the Chrism oil is used during the ordination of priests and bishops.
“After the ordination prayer and the laying on of hands, the newly ordained priest presents his hands to be anointed,” Bishop Pates said. “They become empowered to be about God's work, especially in the ministry of the sacraments. At the bishop's ordination, chrism is poured on the head of the ordained. The bishop thereafter enjoys the fullness of priesthood extending in time the ministry of the Apostles.”
The sacramental graces of Confirmation, Baptism and ordination leads to and highlights the various missions of the Church, such as bringing good tidings to the poor; to preserving life from conception to natural death, along with building up of the Culture of Life; and anything that diminishes human dignity, including abortion, euthanasia, racism, and oppression of immigrants and refugees.
Another mission, Bishop Pates said, is to proclaim liberty to captives.
“Captivity today can be exercised by idealogues who mislead and compromise truth and by those who are captive of sin,” he said. “Jesus comes with the words of Truth to set us free.”
Another mission, he said, is to be guided by the light of Christ so that those who are in “human darkness” can “see” again.
A fourth mission is to “let the oppressed go free,” which means we have to have hearts for compassion, a will to sacrifice and the power to love, he said.
A fifth mission is to “proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord,” he said, which can occur when people absorb and implement the Beatitudes from Matthew 25, and when people can abide in the two great commandments: to love God and love your neighbor.
Bishop Pates also highlighted the importance of blessing the oils of the sick, especially vital during today’s time of pandemic.
“As Jesus demonstrated, God's heart is with the suffering and the sick,” he said. “He will accompany us, enable us to join our pain with His, until we enjoy the resurrection to life eternal.”
Bishop Pates ended his homily with gratitude.
“I extend heartfelt thanks to my brother priests gathered here today and all of your brothers at home for serving in such a beautiful way the Church of Joliet,” he said. “I have come to a genuine appreciation of your dedication and your generous and selfless ministry to those entrusted to your shepherd’s care. I'm very proud to associate with you, and I will carry forward a positive impression and keep you in my heart and prayers. May the renewal of our vows strengthen our commitment and bring a fresh spirit to our ministry.”