Monday, April 2, 2012

Why the Chrism Matters

On Tuesday of Holy Week, I will attend the Chrism Mass for the Archdiocese of Boston.  At that Mass, Cardinal Sean O'Malley will consecrate the three Sacred Oils--the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick, and the Sacred Chrism--that will be used throughout the Archdiocese for the coming year.  The fact that the bishop consecrates the oils that are used throughout the whole Archdiocese connects him in a particular way to all of the sacraments that take place in every parish.  The Chrism Mass shows forth the communion of the whole Church.  We are members of the one Body of Christ.

All of the old oils are burned this week and from the Chrism Mass on, the newly consecrated oils will be used for the coming year.  Tonight, on the eve of the Chrism Mass, I used the old Chrism one last time.  I confirmed Matthew John on the Monday of Holy week.

While in the sacristy of church before the 6:30pm Mass, I took a phone call from the hospital.  It was 6:26pm.  A beautiful family from my parish was in great distress.  During labor, some tragedy occurred and a seemingly healthy little baby boy stopped breathing, was resuscitated, but was in very grave condition. My parishioners  understood why I needed to move the 6:30pm Mass along.  We prayed for Matthew John and by 6:55pm, I was at the hospital with a grieving family, a grieving hospital staff, and a very beautiful but very sick little infant boy.

We professed the Faith together, and then I had the privilege to say, "Matthew John, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  Then, almost exactly a year to the day that the Archbishop consecrated the Chrism, I anointed Matthew John and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation.  He is a member of the Body of Christ.

I sent out word that this baby and his parents needed prayers.  The Body of Christ began praying.  High School students in my parish Religious Education program stopped class and prayed the Rosary for them.  Facebook messages all promised prayers for Matthew John and his parents.  A small group of parishioners came to church and prayed the Rosary with me at 8pm.

The Chrism binds us together.  It binds us to Christ in Baptism, Confirmation, and in Holy Orders.  The Chrism binds us together into the Body of Christ. It binds us together in Baptism and Confirmation.  It binds priests together in the presbyterate and with the bishop.  It binds Matthew John to me, to the bishop, and to the whole Body of Christ.

Whether we were Christians or not, such a tragedy would bind us together because of our common humanity.  But the Chrism binds us together differently.  This baby and his family are part of the Body of Christ.  Frankly, I'm too exhausted right now to think about what that all means or to write coherently about it.  But, I'm grateful for the Chrism.  I'm grateful that there are Sacraments that touch far deeper than any medicine can.  I'm grateful that a beautiful baby and his family are bound closely to Christ and to His Body, the Church.  I'm grateful that because of the Chrism, I could witness the beautiful faith of these people in the midst of so much sorrow.  I'm grateful that whatever happened on Calvary and whatever happened in the Upper Room on Holy Thursday and on Pentecost is able to reach us here and now through the Chrism.

Whatever happens in the coming hours, Matthew John is bound to Christ's saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection through the Sacred Chrism.  He is bound to all of us who are members of the one Body of Christ.  He is bound inseparably to Christ through the Sacraments of the Church.  That is our consolation tonight.  Matthew John and all of us are bound to the Savior through the power of the Sacred Chrism.

(Please pray for Matthew and his beautiful family).

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