On Thursday 19th June, the Church of Jerusalem celebrated the Chrism Mass at the Basilica of the Agony– or the Church of All the Nations– standing at the foot of the Mount of Olives, on the garden which tradition recognizes as Gethsemane.
Usually celebrated on Holy Thursday but postponed because of the global pandemic, there were three main parts of the liturgy: the blessing of the oils and the renewal of the priestly promises as well as the celebration of the jubilees of priestly life. "These oils are used throughout the year, for the whole diocese; each time the oils are used the ministry of the Bishop who consecrated them is symbolically present,” was how Father Ibrahim Shomali, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Deputy Director of the Pastoral Department, introduced the celebration. "The Chrism Mass reminds us of our unity in Christ through the Baptism: this is also a fundamental time when the unity of the Bishop with the priestly community is appeared and renewed."
The celebration was presided by the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Mons. PierbattistaPizzaballa, and the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Mons. Leopoldo Girelli, Mons. Kamal Bathis and Mons. GiacintoBoulosMarcuzzo, Auxiliary Bishops of Jerusalem, who concelebrated the Eucharist, were also present. The Bishop introduced his comment to the Gospel speaking of the time that we are living through."The difficult period that we have lived through, due to the pandemic and its consequences, must also become an invitation to rethink ourselves in a different way, to take up a new place in the world… but also an ancient one: the place that Jesus takes in the synagogue in Nazareth. What did Jesus announce at that time? The messianic prophecy, liberation, and the possibility of consolation" (Cf. Luke 4,18). In his homily, Mons. Pizzaballaconcentrated on the life and concrete testimony and the experience of faith of the religious and of all Christians. "Allow me, lastly, to dream and pray with you for a truly prophetic Church, that is deeply priestly and authentically royal,” he concluded. "Prophetic, because free from the human logic of power and therefore capable of consolation, vision, and courage. Priestly, because able to stay between men and God, to intercede with God for the good of the world, to bring to God and to offer Him our lives out of love for the world. Royal, because capable of testifying the authority of Christ over the world, an authority of love, of giving, of freedom and of gratuitousness."
After the homily, three Franciscan deacons offered the oils which were blessed and consecrated, according to the liturgy, with the specific formula in Latin. The blessing was followed by the renewal of the priestly promises by the concelebrating priests.