Significance of Chrism Mass, By Bernard Balogun

Posted by News Express | 28 April 2019 | 1,321 times

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•Bernard Balogun (BenPino)

The Feast of Passion Sunday, also known as Palm Sunday precedes the Holy Week. During the house Holy Week, there are significant celebrations in the Universal (Catholic) Church, beginning with the Chrism Mass, which in some dioceses in Nigeria is celebrated on Wednesday and in others, as it may be instituted by the Local Ordinary, is celebrated on Thursday. And, on this day too, the Universal (Catholic) Church is known for the “Washing of Feet”. On this occasion, “Our Lord exemplified humility by voluntarily doing a menial task reserved for the servant.” That symbolises the humility in Christ, which the Church encourages its leaders to demonstrate at all times. On Good Friday, at 3 o'clock, unless decided otherwise by the Local Ordinary, the Lord’s Passion, consisting in three parts, namely, the Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Cross and Holy Communion. On this day, the altar is completely left bare, without candles and cloths. Veneration of the Cross, is that time you go before the cross, genuflect and gently kiss the cross, not necessarily kissing but any other appropriate form may be adopted. This action, in a nutshell, symbolises the fact that the cross is not a thing of shame but an accolade, appreciating the very essence that Jesus died on the cross for the salvation of mankind. On Good Friday, Catholics are encouraged to abstain from meat.

Holy Saturday, “the Church waits at the Lord’s tomb in prayer, fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on His descent into Hell, awaiting his resurrection...” During this solemn vigil Mass, the entire light inside and outside the Church is put-out. There is total darkness. On this occasion, darkness represents sin and fallen humanity. A true reflection of Jesus Christ the Light, over darkness. A large fire is prepared at a suitable point within the premises of Church or at the main entrance of the church. “The blessing of the fire and preparation of the Pascal Candle by the celebrating priest. It is from this fire that the Pascal Candle is lit: The officiating priest “cuts a cross into the candle, makes the Greek letter Alpha above the cross, the letter Omega below, the four numerals of the current year between the two ends of the cross with each congregant holding a lit candle and procession into the church. And, of course, the Easter Proclamation (Exsiltet) follows. Also, it is time when all the lay-faithful renew their baptismal pledge. This is just synopsis, not an exhaustive narrative, to the background of the significance of the Holy Week. However, the whole essence of this narrative is to capture the Chrism Mass which took place on Wednesday, April 17, in the Diocese of Lokoja. That is our focus. In line with the tradition of the Church, it was an occasion where all the priests in the various dioceses, including the lay-faithful from the various parishes in a diocese, came to concelebrate with their bishop, Most Rev Dr Martin Dada Abejide Olorunmolu, who only recently celebrated, on February 8, 2019 to be precise, his 70th birthday, 40th priestly ordination and 13th Episcopal as a bishop. During the Chrism Mass, the first two oils were blessed and third oil is consecrated. Namely, oil of the sick, oil of Catechumen and oil of Chrism, which is consecrated. At this mass, all the priests before the lay-faithful openly pledge their continued loyalty to the bishop. One high-point on this occasion, which brought profound jubilation, was the investiture of a monsignor in person of Dr Michael Sunday Sasa, current Director of Studies, St Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary, Makurdi.

Msgnr Sasa had been in the business of moulding priests for the church for close to 40 years now. He had been Rector, St Clement’s Minor Seminary, Lokoja. Msgnr Sasa was at one time the Cathedral Administrator of the Lokoja Diocese for many years too. Rector, SS Peter & Paul Major Seminary, Bodija in Ibadan. John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan was also at SS Peter & Paul Major Seminary Ibadan as Rector, from where he went to Ilorin as an Auxiliary Bishop. That is the glory of God radiating in the lives of the two, His Eminence, Cardinal Onaiyekan and the man of the moment, Msgnr Sasa, who are both of the Diocese of Lokoja.

Ad multos Annos.

•Balogun (BenPino) writes from Wuse District of Abuja. 0818.181.2456.


Source: News Express

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