Connected to Communion
All that We Have: The New Vessels for the Holy Oils at Saint Julie Catholic Church
Published on March 19-20, 2016 in the Parish Bulletin of Jesus Our Savior Catholic Church, Morehead KY
On Holy Tuesday, March 22, 2016, during the 10:30 AM Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington, Kentucky, the Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM Conv. (born 1966), Bishop of Lexington (2015-), with all of the priests of our diocese concelebrating, will consecrate the Sacred Chrism and bless the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of the Catechumens that will be used in the celebration of the Sacraments this year. There will be representatives from each parish, mission, and Catholic hospital to receive these blessed oils, but everyone in our diocese is invited to attend and participate at this Mass.
The Oil of the Catechumens and the Sacred Chrism will be used to anoint those who will be received into the Catholic Church this Easter as well as those who will be baptized during the rest of the year. The Sacred Chrism will also be used for those who will be confirmed, those who will be ordained priests and bishops, and in the dedication of altars and Churches. The Oil of the Sick will be used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
The Chrism Mass is perhaps one of the most powerful and palpable signs of the oneness of our Holy Catholic Church. The oils blessed at this Mass bind those who are anointed in the Sacraments to our Bishop and to the rest of the faithful. The Bishop himself may not be able to celebrate every baptism in our diocese or visit every parishioner who is sick or is dying, but the holy oils that he will bless will make present to them his own blessing and prayers as well as the blessing of all of his priests and the prayers of the people of God. Thus, we not only share the common experience of the ritual of the Sacraments; we also are linked physically by the use of the same sanctified substance. There is then no private celebration of a Sacrament, because, even in the most isolated of hospital rooms, these holy oils still connect us to the communion of saints.
The holy oils that will be blessed at the Chrism Mass will be received at Saint Julie Catholic Church in Owingsville, Kentucky during the 6:00 PM Mass for Maundy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper. They will be placed in the crystal vessels that were given to the Church this Lenten season by Fr. Richard Watson (born 1961) and Saint Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Pikeville, Kentucky. I blessed these vessels on March 18, 2016 during the 6:00 PM Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Saint Julie’s.
The vessels for the holy oils are often called ampullae and these particular ones had been used at Saint Francis in Pikeville until the dedication of the new Church on May 23, 2015. Each fluted ampulla has a square bottom that measures 2 ½ inches. With its round-head stopper, each ampulla stands 7 ½ inches tall and is able to contain, at the most, four fluid ounces. Initials are engraved on one side to indicate which holy oil is contained in it: INF stands for Oleum Infirmorum or the Oil of the Sick, CAT for Oleum Catechumenorum or the Oil of the Catechumens, and CHR for Sacra Chrisma or Sacred Chrism.