“If we trip and fall, there will be no baptisms for the rest of the year,” joked Deacon Santiago, who serves at St. Michael in Poplar Springs, prior to the Mass.
The men had an important duty this year – carrying the vessels of oil to be blessed by the archbishop.
Deacon Witherspoon, who serves at St. Peter Claver and St. Pius V in Baltimore, looks forward to the Chrism Mass as “a chance to see old friends and make new ones,” he said, while Deacon Seneschal of St. Mary in Pylesville enjoys “seeing all the priests” of the archdiocese, who renew their commitments as part of the liturgy.
The men greeted Deacon Frank Ziegler of St. Louis in Clarksville, ordained just under a year ago, as he walked up to their group, gathered in the hall above the undercroft of the cathedral.
Deacon Harbey cracked another one as he shook hands with his friend: “If anything goes wrong, blame him,” he said.
“So many think of themselves as free and prosperous,” the archbishop said, “are in fact oppressed and held captive – by broken family relationships, by addictions, confusion, anger and even the loss of civil freedoms, all of which are reflected in harsh public discourse across the political spectrum.”
The remedy, he said, is God’s mercy, “the sum and substance of what the church proclaims and imparts.”
Father Andrew DeFusco, associate pastor of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland, leads a group of deacons in carrying sacramental oils prior to the start of the March 21 Chrism Mass. (Kevin J. Parks)
He touted the sacrament of reconciliation as a primary way to experience God’s mercy as a layperson, or impart it as a priest.
“People want to unburden their hearts,” he said. “They are seeking a mercy that engages their struggles, and they are looking to make a new beginning, with all their sins forgiven.”
Archbishop William E. Lori blesses sacramental oils during the March 21 chrism Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
“Where has the time flown, you know?” he commented to the Catholic Review prior to the Chrism Mass. “It’s been a humbling experience where I’ve been invited into people’s lives, sometimes in traumatic events.”
Father Sparklin ministered as a chaplain at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore before serving at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
“I saw the good, the bad and the ugly, and now the scope of that ministry is all over the place,” he added.
“Other than when a new archbishop is installed in Baltimore, it’s the greatest turnouts of priests,” he said.
Priests from the Archdiocese of Baltimore renew their vows at the March 21 Chrism Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
During the liturgy, the archbishop blessed both the oils of catechumens, which will be used at the baptisms of those preparing for the sacrament through the Rite of Christian Initiation, and the oils of the sick, which will be used in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
He also consecrated Holy Chrism, a mixture of olive oil and balsam fragrance, that will be used to anoint the newly baptized, seal candidates for confirmation and anoint the hands of priests and the heads of bishops at their ordination. It will also be used in the rites of anointing at the dedication of churches and altars. As part of the consecration rite, the archbishop breathed over a vessel containing the chrism – calling down the Holy Spirit.
Volunteers prepare vessels with holy oils during the March 21 Chrism Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
“Some parishes need more Chrism,” she said, “while others need more oil of the sick.”
She takes special care with the 20 16-oz. containers of balsam essence that add fragrance to the Holy Chrism.
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