Holy Week: Tuesday celebrates the consecration of holy oils

"Christ washing Peter's feet" by Ford Madox Brown, 1857-58. (Wikimedia)

The Chrism Mass, also known as the Mass of the Oils, is traditionally held on the Tuesday of Holy Week. It is during this ceremony that the bishop consecrates the sacred oils and clergy renew their priestly vows.

April 7, the Mass of the Oils 

“You set a table before me in front of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

In the Bible, the ritual of anointing with sacred oil is mentioned in Psalms and the Gospels. Oil had a central role in daily life, from cooking to anointing the heads of guests and preparing bodies for burial. 

In the Diocese of Charleston, the Tuesday of Holy Week is when the Mass of the Oils is held to consecrate those used in sacrament. These three oils are the oil of the catechumens, used in baptism; oil of the sick, for anointing those who are ill; and the oil of sacred chrism, considered the chief anointing oil for the Church and used to bless new churches, altars and sacred objects. 

The Chrism Mass this year will be celebrated April 7 at 11 a.m. via livestream, which will be broadcast on the diocesan Facebook page at facebook.com/DioceseChas and youtube.com/DioceseChas. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place, priests will tune in to the livestream in order to renew their Priestly Promises made at ordination.