Last evening Bishop O'Connell celebrated mass with the priests of the Diocese and a full cathedral of the faithful in what has been called the Chrism Mass due to the mixing and blessing of the Sacred Chrism which is done during Holy Week.
All three of the Holy Oils are blessed: The Oil of the Catechumens: used to anoint those approaching Baptism; The Oil of the Sick: the oil used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick; The Sacred Chrism: the oil used to anoint during the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination to the Priesthood, and for consecrating churches and new altars. After the mass, a portion of each of these three oils were distributed to the priests and their parish representatives for taking home to their parishes for use during the coming year.
Our oils will be officially received at the beginning of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. Parishioners will process in with the oils, they will be presented to the congregation, placed in the ambry and incensed. The public reception of the Holy Oils by each community reminds us of our unity in Christ with our diocesan bishop and the church of the Diocese of Trenton and is a tangible connection with the working of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our midst.
Vessels containing the Holy Oils are often labeled with the Latin initials of their contents. OC (Oleum Catechumenorum); OI (Oleum Infirmorum); SC (Sanctum Chrisma). In the past, smaller amounts of the three sacred oils were often kept under lock and key in a small vault which can often be seen in one of the walls of the Sanctuary. In recent years, it has become the custom to display the oils in an ambry, which is often located in a prominent spot in the church, sometimes near the baptismal font. Our oils are kept in an ambry near the votive candles on the Blessed Mother's shrine.