ROCKFORD—The annual Chrism Mass was held on Holy Thursday, April 13, at the Cathedral of St. Peter.
It welcomed people from throughout the Diocese of Rockford who represented their respective parishes and other Catholic entities to receive the holy oils to be used throughout the coming year.
In his homily, Bishop David Malloy told of a mute Parisian janitor played by the late actor Jackie Gleason in a 1962 movie, “Gigot,” to help illustrate the challenge of breaking “through the resistance of our culture to save more souls.”
Gigot tries to introduce a little girl to Jesus when she asks who the man on the cross is. “Unable to speak words that she will hear and understand, but deeply wishing to share his faith, Gigot, by gestures and mimes attempts to tell the story of Jesus,” Bishop Malloy explained. Gigot acts out the entire story of Jesus, “all the way to the death on the cross. And the little girl does not understand,” the bishop said.
“In a rage of frustration, Gigot begins violently to strike at his own mouth, seeming to say to God, ‘Why will you not give me the words to bring the world, or at least this child to you?’
“But the little girl tugs at the coat of Gigot. He stops, and she blows a kiss to Jesus, the statue. Something, some small thing, she has understood.”
Addressing his priests, Bishop Malloy noted that “in our vocation there is grace. The work that we do, the seeds that we sow have their effect beyond what we can recognize, or what it is that we can know. What we can know is that our priestly efforts are never in vain.”
Following his homily, the priests who were present renewed their commitment to priestly service.
Three deacons then brought forth jars of olive oil. Bishop Malloy blessed the oils, first the oil of the sick and then the oil of catechumens. He then prepared the sacred Chrism, pouring a mixture composed since the eighth century of more than 50 ingredients — ranging from rose extract to black pepper to pressed nut oil and the familiar spices of cardamom, cinnamon and clove — into the main ingredient of olive oil and mixing it with a long-handled spoon.
After breathing over the vessel of Chrism, he prayed the consecratory prayer, which asks God the Father to “bless this oil you have created. Fill it with the power of your Holy Spirit through Christ your Son. It is from him that Chrism takes its name ...”
At the conclusion of the Mass, representatives came up to receive boxes of the oils of the sick, of catechumens and of Chrism for their parishes and religious communities, as well as Catholic hospitals and health facilities. A reception followed.