WASHINGTON, D.C.— Sacred oils for sacramental and ecclesiastical use over the coming year on U.S. military sites the world over and in the nation’s VA Medical Centers were blessed and consecrated Tuesday at the annual Chrism Mass of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). The Chrism Mass, ordinarily celebrated at 6:00 p.m. before a large congregation in the crypt of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, was instead moved this year across Michigan Avenue to the smaller confines of the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center in response to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s stay-at-home order and ban on gatherings of ten or more people because of the coronavirus pandemic.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services, was joined at the altar of the main chapel during the rescheduled noon Mass by a small gathering of auxiliary bishops, Catholic U.S. Military chaplains and priests in service to the Archdiocese. Following the renewal of their priestly promises, His Excellency preached from the cathedra. Clad in white vestments with miter and crosier, he reflected on the impact of the pandemic on all aspects of daily life, both in the military and the lives of the faithful.
“The Military prepares for and responds well to a crisis,” Archbishop Broglio said, “but this enemy is new, and separates us from those we love. It stiffens us when we want to reach out. It seems it seeks to dry the oil that normally lubricates and facilitates our movement. Because unknown and unseen, it call fill us with fear…. To my brothers here present, and those who are diligently serving throughout the world, I say do not be afraid. And to all, I urge that we never forget the assurance of Father Capodanno: God is with us.”
After the homily, Archbishop Broglio raised hands over three silver-colored urns at the foot of the altar. 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 the conferral of baptism, confirmation, and holy orders, breathing over the mixture as part of the consecration rite.
Among priests and chaplains concelebrating the Chrism Mass were Auxiliary Bishops F. Richard Spencer and Joseph L. Coffey; the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Monsignor John J.M. Foster, J.C.D.; the Judicial Vicar, Father Christopher Armstrong, S.T.D., J.C.D.; the Chancellor, Father Robert R. Cannon, M.A., J.C.L.; and the Vocations Director, Father Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O.
Watch video of Archbishop Broglio’s homily and the blessing of the oils here.