Chrism oil opens door to all the sacraments

Published: April 9, 2019

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will celebrate the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Monday, April 15 at 5:30 p.m. 

Priests from across the Diocese of Little Rock concelebrate this Mass. All are welcome to attend. This unique liturgy invites the entire assembly to renew its baptismal promises and for deacons and priests to renew their vow of obedience to the bishop and their commitment to serve God’s people. The bishop also blesses the anointing oils to be used in sacraments and dedications in the coming year.

These include the oil for the sick, used in anointing the sick; the oil for catechumens, used during baptism; and the oil for the sacred chrism, which is the primary anointing oil. The word "chrism" means "consecrated oil." It is used in the sacraments of initiation and holy orders as well as special acts of dedication, such as consecrating a new altar and blessing church bells upon their installation.

After the Mass, the clergy take these blessed oils for use in their parishes and communities, which serves as a direct sign of the unity of the diocese under the bishop, who is the "high priest of his flock."

"For centuries, chrism oil has been a symbol of God’s overflowing grace and generosity. It’s a multi-sensory reminder of the goodness of creation, and of people and objects that are set apart from that creation to serve a sacred purpose." Like all sacred oils, chrism oil is typically made from olive oil. But unlike other sacramental oils, chrism is scented, usually with the essential oil of balsam, giving it a woody, pine-like fragrance. To learn more, see Chrism Mass Symbols and Meaning.

In his 2018 Chrism Mass homily, Bishop Taylor explained that the "most sacred of these oils is the chrism which we consecrate — the other two oils we simply bless — but the chrism is consecrated because this oil is used to ordain priests, who will consecrate the Eucharist and celebrate all the other sacraments as well. That is why we priests renew our commitment to the service of the Lord in this Chrism Mass. ...

"Priests who will then administer the other six sacraments to the faithful. So there is a real sense in which this chrism opens the door to all the sacraments, including the other uses of the oil we bless in this Mass: catechumens preparing for baptism and the sacraments of confirmation and anointing of the sick."