WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sacred oils for sacramental use over the coming year on United States military sites the world over—and in the nation’s VA Medical Centers—were blessed and consecrated Saturday morning at the annual Chrism Mass of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). During the Mass, priests in service to the Archdiocese also renewed their ministerial commitment.
Vested in white, ArchbishoTimothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., raised hands over the silver colored urns at the foot of the altar in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. He blessed the Oil of the Catachumens and the Oil of the Sick; and he mixed balsam with oil forming the “chrism” to be used at baptism, breathing over the mixture as part of the consecration rite.
More than two dozen priests and U.S. Military Chaplains joined Auxiliary Bishops Richard B. Higgins, Neal J. Buckon, and Robert J. Coyle in concelebrating the Mass. They included the AMS Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Monsignor John J.M. Foster, J.C.D.; the AMS Judicial Vicar, Father Christopher Armstrong, J.C.D.; and the newly-appointed, incoming AMS Chancellor, Father Robert R. Cannon, Ch, Col, USAF. The outgoing Chancellor, Deacon Mike Yakir, who retires at the end of September, assisted at the altar, along with co-sponsored transitional deacon, the Rev. Mr. Philip O’Neill. Other co-sponsored seminarians served the Mass.
Cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., sang along with the Basilica Choir.
In his homily, Archbishop Broglio said the chrism serves as a reminder of God’s call:
“The celebration of the annual Chrism Mass is an acknowledgement of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Chrism is scented to remind us of the charge to permeate our world with the fragrance of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.”
Here follows the complete text of Archbishop Broglio’s homily:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Dear Brother Deacons, Priests, and Bishops,
“Look back to the day of ordination. It can be as recent as last December for the Rev. Mr. O’Neill or some forty-eight years ago for Bishop Higgins. We can remember that unease combined with excitement and the joy tempered by a certain sense of inadequacy. There is a notion of fulfillment and mission.
“This morning at the Chrism Mass we look back and praise Almighty God for His action, we celebrate our mission of mercy, and we renew our commitment to authentic service. The Lord Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah and recognizes the action of the Holy Spirit upon Him. The emphasis is on the powerful intervention of Almighty God.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted,…”
The emphasis is on the action of Almighty God.
“As Pope Benedict said at the Chrism Mass in 2010: “At the center of the Church’s worship is the notion of “sacrament”. This means that it is not primarily we who act, but God comes first to meet us through His action, He looks upon us and He leads us to Himself. Another striking feature is this: God touches us through material things, through gifts of creation that He takes up into His service, making them instruments of the encounter between us and Himself.” (Pope Benedict XVI, homily at the Chrism Mass, 1.IV.10.)
“You and I recognize that we are instruments in the hands of the Lord. We act in His Name. One of the great privileges of our priestly ministry is the ability to act in persona Christi, regardless of our limitations, failings, or fatigue.
“Today we pause and bless the oils that will be used in His Name throughout this global Archdiocese to baptize, confirm, and anoint hundreds of people on military installations, in the hospitals of the Department for Veterans Affairs, in the Diocese of Arlington, and in other places we can reach despite the limitations of time and space. The celebration of the annual Chrism Mass is an acknowledgement of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Chrism is scented to remind us of the charge to permeate our world with the fragrance of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
“Jesus insists on the power of that Word, which is not a dead letter. It is living, when spoken it produces the announced effect. That is His message when he preaches in the synagogue of Nazareth at the beginning of His public ministry. Proclaiming this Word is not an inefficacious action, but liberating a power which corresponds to what is spoken. Of course, it must be received and welcomed. The Book of Proverbs reminds us: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who make it a friend shall eat its fruit’”. (Prov. 18:21.) (Archbishop Broglio, homily for the Chrism Mass, 18.III.08.)
“We renew our priestly promises this morning and reawaken within us a renewed awareness of our mission. We have been sent as instruments of divine mercy. That is evident when we raise our hands in absolution to celebrate one of the first gifts stemming from the Paschal victory. What can be a more effective gesture of mercy than to draw from the victory of the Cross and shower forgiveness and reconciliation on those who suffer the effects of personal sinfulness.
“We sense the extent of that mission simply because our reality is present in so many corners of the world. Our field of mission has been stretched to reach those who would not otherwise participate in the divine life through the sacraments. I think readily of the TCN’s in deployed locations, those isolated communities in Saudi Arabia who are persecuted for their faith and make the reality of the catacombs come to life in our day, and our own men and women far from home.
“For, as Pope Francis reminds us, ‘Mercy: [is] the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.’ (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 2.) Or again, speaking to those Bishops who serve the military, especially those afflicted by war, he referred to the ‘special pastoral attention and a solicitude that enables them to feel the Church’s motherly closeness. The role of military chaplains is to accompany and support them on their journey, to be a comforting and brotherly presence for them all. You can pour upon these people’s wounds the balm of the Word of God which alleviates suffering and instills hope; and you can offer them the grace of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation, so as to nourish and regenerate the afflicted soul.’ (Pope Francis, Address, 26.X.15.)
“The fact that we celebrate this Chrism Mass in the context of the Holy Year of Mercy in this Basilica which houses a holy door to remind us of the richness of divine love for us and the abundance of His mercy enlivens the renewal of our priestly commitment this morning. ‘Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism!’ (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus,15.)
“Our need for renewal is ever present, because our burdens can become heavy and the tension between the powerful message of the Gospel and the lure of the world and the siren of its deceptive message takes its toll on each one of us.
“Pope Francis was clear in the document announcing this timely Holy Year. ‘We know that we are called to perfection (cf. Mt 5:48), yet we feel the heavy burden of sin. Though we feel the transforming power of grace, we also feel the effects of sin typical of our fallen state.’ (Ibid., 22.) Consequently, the gesture of renewing our commitment to be effective ministers of the only Gospel who serve those entrusted to our pastoral care with an authentic ministry in spirit and truth takes on new meaning.
“‘The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself.’ (Ibid., 12.)
“Today the Church calls us to discover anew the spirit of commitment and youthful fervor that animated our first ‘adsum’, ‘I am ready and willing,’ or ‘present’. Today with the faithful gathered here we acknowledge the presence and power of our Lord Jesus Christ who calls and makes all things possible.”
Today, AMS staff began shipping vials full of the consecrated chrism and blessed oils from the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center in Washington, D.C. to Catholic chaplains stationed around the world, where they will use them to administer sacraments.