"A People of Unction"
Though the rubrics prefer that the annual celebration -- the one big get-together of the year in most local churches -- be held on Holy Thursday morning, such are the exigencies of most dioceses (and their desire for the greatest possible participation of the lay faithful) that it's more commonly held earlier in the week, even before Palm Sunday in some places. At the Mass, each presbyterate renews its commitment to priestly service, the year's supply of the Oils of the Sick and the Catechumens are blessed, and the Holy Chrism that gives the Mass its name is consecrated. (As seen at right, the latter rite calls for the bishop to breathe upon the chief oil, used at ordinations of priests and bishops, confirmations, baptisms and the dedications of churches and altars.)
This is all a long way of saying that, if you don't already make it a point to be there, you should. But not everyone can, of course, and if you're one of those -- or even if you aren't and could use a pre-game -- you can still experience it... even though it isn't your own diocese's... except if you live in Utah.
Some weeks back, the exemplary liturgical and technological chops of the diocese of Salt Lake City were highlighted here after the installation of Bishop John Wester. And yet again, the Cathedral of the Madeleine and the Intermountain Catholic (with its enormous staff of... three) are showing the rest of us the way, in more ways than one: Salt Lake's Chrism Mass was held Thursday night, and the webstream of the whole shebang is already up and running. So watch, pray, enjoy, immerse yourself in the sounds of the Madeleine Choir, and another winner of a Wester homily, to boot. (Solidifying the gold standard even further, video podcasts of the Madeleine liturgies are also downloadable on iTunes.)
On a housekeeping note: while, in keeping with custom, general posting will remain suspended through Holy Week, in keeping with another tradition forgotten the other day, full English translations of B16's Chrism and Triduum homilies will be up on the page as quickly as they can be produced. (Many thanks in advance if anyone could help ease the load by lending a hand with those.)
To all of you, your loved ones and those you serve, all wishes and prayers for a moving and Blessed Holy Week.