LITURGY MATTERS: Chrism Mass in on!

Last year’s COVID-19 lockdown meant we had no Chrism Mass in 2020. Well, it’s back in 2021 but with the necessary COVID restrictions.

This time last year we were in ‘ready, set, go’ position for the annual Chrism Mass, always celebrated in the Church of Maitland-Newcastle on the Tuesday evening of Holy Week. The liturgy was prepared, the musicians had been practicing, the oils were bottled, ministries had been allocated. And then came lockdown and everything was shelved.

I love the Chrism Mass. I love the crowded cathedral, I love the faith that is felt and heard in full voiced responses and singing that feels like it will lift the roof off the cathedral. I love the procession of oils. I love the People of God standing throughout the cathedral holding up the oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick for Bishop Bill to bless, and the oil of chrism for him to consecrate. I love the happy buzz in the cathedral before the Mass starts and the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and friends from across the diocese. Supper’s not bad either. Yes, it is one of my favourite things.

While we can gather to celebrate the Chrism Mass this year it will be very different. COVID restrictions will mean the following changes:

  • In keeping with the one person per two square metre rule, only 221 people will be able to participate. This means seating will be limited and allocated to those whom parishes nominate.
  • The Chrism Mass will therefore be a ticketed event and, alas, you won’t be in the cathedral unless you have a ticket.
  • Unless there is a further change to the Public Health Order before March 30, there will be no communal singing.
  • The Mass will be live-streamed (as long as the gremlins who have taken up residence in the cathedral technology have been sent packing).
  • There will be no supper following the Mass.

Those who would like to know more about the Chrism Mass can click on the ‘Chrism Mass’ plus/minus icon for on-screen information at the diocesan website.

If you would like to pray with the prayers that are special to the Chrism Mass – either individually or in a group – a resource is available on the website for viewing or download.

Also available from the on-screen information webpage is a ritual for parishes who would like to celebrate ‘receiving’ the Holy Oils sent by Bishop Bill. Given the limit on the number who can participate in the Chrism Mass in 2021, this ritual would be a good way to ‘extend’ the event to include more people. The ritual template is available for download in Word or PDF format.

To get more of a ‘feel’ for the Chrism Mass, you can view photos of the 2019 Mass.

The 2021 Chrism Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday evening, March 30 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral with Bishop Bill presiding. You might like to ‘watch’ and/or ’pray’ with the community who is able to gather. Live-stream details will be posted closer to the date.


Photo: © 2019 Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. All rights reserved.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Manager of Worship and Prayer.