Each year for the past seven years, John and I have had a task to perform on the Tuesday before Easter. On the Tuesday before Easter, the Bishop presides at the Chrism Mass, where all of the oils that will be used in all of the parishes of the diocese for the next year are blessed. The Chrism Mass is one of the most beautiful liturgies of the year. For the past seven years, while the Chrism Mass was going on in Sacred Heart Cathedral, John and I have been down in the basement.
Before the Chrism Mass, each parish brings its containers for oils to the basement (Parish Hall) of the Cathedral. A group of volunteers (including me and John) arranges them, removes the lids, and waits for the oils to be blessed. Once the oils are blessed, they are brought to the basement. Then, we transfer the oils from the big containers in which they are blessed into the parish containers. I have always seen it as a very holy ministry. It is a sacred responsibility to pour out the blessed oils and send them out to the individual parishes, where they will be used in baptisms and in the sacrament of the sick. I sometimes think about and pray for the people who will eventually be anointed with the oil I am pouring out into a parish container. For three years, while I was youth minister, my youth group helped transfer the oils. I emphasized to them what an important ministry they were providing.
Tonight, though, after seven years of working with the oils, John and I were freed of the responsibility of transferring them. It would have been impossible for me to pour the oils anyway, with my reduced vision. I definitely would have spilled, especially when transferring into some of the smaller vials. The group of volunteers was large enough that we were not needed. John and I jumped at the chance to participate in the Chrism Mass. So, tonight, instead of working away in the basement, we were singing and worshiping in the Cathedral. It was a wonderful, beautiful Mass. The Cathedral was packed. We knew a lot of people. We saw a lot of old friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in a year. A few people teased us, asking us why we were allowed out of the basement. A few people knew about my successful surgery and congratulated me. It felt great to see everyone, people from all over the diocese, all coming together to celebrate.
I felt so joyful all through Mass. The music was phenomenal. The readings were so beautiful and seemed to speak right to me. Celebrating the Eucharist with the Bishop is always a wonderful experience. The communion line seemed to go on and on and I thought so happily about all the faithful going forward to receive. For the recessional, we sang Jerusalem, My Destiny. The organ was loud and the people were really singing. My heart felt like it was overflowing. Then, when Bishop Clark walked past me, he spotted me and gave me a big hug, just as we sang the words of the refrain
I have fixed my eyes on your hills,
Jerusalem, my Destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me,
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way;
this journey is our destiny.
Let no one walk alone.
The journey makes us one.
The words seemed so appropriate tonight. I felt so included, so loved, so much a part of a community, so much a part of the body of Christ. It was all a bit overwhelming in a joyful, exuberant way. I had hoped that this Holy Week would have a message for me, and if tonight was any indication, the message is here and it is LOVE. Let no one walk alone. The journey makes us one.