WASHINGTON, D.C.— Sacred oils for sacramental and ecclesiastical use over the coming year on U.S. military sites worldwide and in the nation’s VA Medical Centers were blessed and consecrated Tuesday evening during a socially-distanced gathering at the annual Chrism Mass of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). Attendance was limited to no more than 60 members of the public due to crowd size restrictions imposed by the District of Columbia during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. During the Mass, Catholic U.S. Military chaplains, priests in service to, and friends of the Archdiocese also renewed their ministerial commitment.
Wearing his miter with crosier in hand, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., preached from the chair in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Noting that one purpose of the Mass was to celebrate Christ’s gift of the priesthood to his Church, Archbishop Broglio said in part:
“Sometimes we feel the weight of the charge on our shoulders. We might resemble more the olives pitted and pressed than the oil of gladness. Here both Isaiah and Jesus according to St. Luke remind us that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us. He enables us to proclaim the glad tidings to the privileged recipients who are the poor in the widest sense possible: the economically indigent, those so smothered by the riches of this world or so convinced of their own self-sufficiency that they are blinded to the presence of God, and those who struggle to know Jesus Christ. We are responsible for all of them.
“As we heard on Ash Wednesday, now is the acceptable time. Now is the definitive moment of Jubilee. We offer freedom from debt (from sin); to captives liberty from the bondage of sin, sight to the blind: challenge, because people do not know that they cannot see; truth has been so relativized, that the blind see only their side, only listen to what canonizes their preconceived conclusions, and turn off whatever challenges them to grow. (Cf. Pablo T. Gadenz, The Gospel of Luke, pp. 98-100.)
“St. John Paul II reminded us that ‘the priest is called to reveal to others, in Jesus Christ, the true face of God, and as a result the true face of humanity.’ (St. John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis, 72.)
“We are clearly in a time of renewal. Faced with disbelief or doubt about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we must find ways to rekindle faith in that most precious gift. After a year of life-streamed prayers, people must learn to hunger for full and active participation in the life of the Church, which is defined by the sacraments.
“Yet you and I, despite our fatigue, discouragement, and uncertainty, must offer hope to those entrusted to us who are overwhelmed by the experience of the pandemic and uncertain about the way forward. It is not an easy time, but the Lord walks with us.”
Following the renewal of priestly commitment, Archbishop Broglio raised hands over three silvery urns at the foot of the altar. His Excellency 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.
Dozens of priests and chaplains joined Auxiliary Bishops F. Richard Spencer, Neal J. Buckon, and Joseph L. Coffey in concelebrating the Mass. They included the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Monsignor John J.M. Foster, J.C.D.; the Judicial Vicar, and Father Mark Rutherford, J.C.L.; and the Chancellor, Father Robert R. Cannon, J.C.L. Archbishop Broglio pointed out that Auxiliary Bishop William (Bill) Muhm, Episcopal Vicar for U.S. Military installations in Europe and Asia, could not be present because he is currently in quarantine in Korea.
The Reverend Mr. Jason Allan and the Reverend Brother Matthew Tomeny, M.I.C., were the deacons of the Mass. Other co-sponsored seminarians served the Mass. The Reverend Brothers Philip Nolan, O.P., Maximilian Jaskowak, O.P., and Luke VanBerkum, O.P., ordained deacons by Archbishop Broglio last Saturday, were the deacons of the oils.