[Fr. Peduru Jeevaraj]
'Blessing of the Holy Oils' or â€˜Chrismâ€™ mass was held at St. Maryâ€™s Cathedral, Batticaloa, on Monday March 25. Bishop Joseph Ponniah celebrated the high mass along with all the diocese priests.
The Blessings of the Holy Oils which is usually done on Maundy Thursday, was conducted some days earlier by the Bishop since all the priests of the Diocese have to be present in their respective parishes on that day.
This year, the Blessings of the Holy Oils was conducted for the first time ever in the newly established Diocese of Batticaloa in St. Maryâ€™s Cathedral. Bishop blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick. All three are basically an olive oil; chrism spices the air with the scent of a perfume, traditionally balsam. For pastoral reasons, another vegetable oil and perfume may be used. During the Mass all priests made a renewal of their commitment to priestly service.
Since the bishop is the only minister in the diocese who may consecrate chrism, this Mass highlights his ministry and our union with him. He will not baptize and confirm everyone in the parishes of the diocese, but he will be symbolically present in the chrism which the priests and deacons will use. In recent years, this Mass has also acknowledged the ministry of priests. It invites them to renew their commitment of service and to receive the prayers and support of the people. The Mass of Chrism gathers the faithful of the diocese at their mother church with their shepherd to prepare for celebrations of Christ in all our churches throughout the year.
Catholics from throughout the diocese are drawn to the Chrism Mass because of the beauty of the liturgy and its rituals which reinforce the Churchâ€™s unity, continuity and fidelity. Parishioners also enjoy seeing parish priests and former parish priests concelebrate the Mass.
In his homily, the Bishop Joseph called on all priests to continue to look to Christ for guidance in how best to serve and renew the Church and minister to humanity. He further urged the priests to concentrate more on the pastoral needs of the faithful who are living in the outskirts of the diocese.
â€œGod is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of touch,â€ the Bishop said.
He urged priests to remember their role in new evangelization at the moment. Further, he requested the faithful to love their priests. Not to harm them by unprecedented activities.
Finally, Bishop gave gratitude to all concerned for the successful celebration.