Renewal at the Chrism Mass – Updated

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Love to get your items; they are so fascinating.  Regarding the Chrism Mass, here are some suggestions re a more ample response:

A. Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 22, (3):  “Therefore (sic)  no other person,  not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”  (Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Dec. 4, 1963).
B.  Canon 846:  “In celebrating the sacraments (Eucharist too) the liturgical books approved by competent authority are to be observed faithfully; accordingly, no one is to add, omit, or alter anything in them on one’s own authority.”
C.  De ecclesiae mysterio, Article 8, page 44:  “To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches: association with the renewal of promises made by priests at the Christmas Mass on Holy Thursday, as well as other categories of the faithful who renew religious vows or receive a mandate as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion;”  (This document was approved by eight Roman dicasteries and St. John Paul II on August 15, 1997.)


A: Thank you. I’d forgotten about that item from 1997.


Q: I am wondering about the possibility of the Church permitting bishops and deacons to renew the promises made at their respective ordinations during the Chrism Mass as priests do. I ask this realizing that the Chrism Mass is when the Holy Oils are blessed and consecrated and that it is a day to celebrate the unity of local Church, especially its priests, with its bishop. But what I do not understand is why priests alone renew their promises at the Mass. As far as I can tell, bishops renew the promises made when they were ordained priests and not when they were ordained bishops. Am I remembering that correctly? And deacons do not seem to renew their promises at all, at least not at the Chrism Mass.


A: I treat the origins of this custom in my book Glory in the Cross. It came at the initiative of the Congregation for the Clergy during the pontificate of St. Paul VI when priests and religious were leaving their ministry in great numbers.

It relates to the belief that Jesus instituted the priesthood when he instituted the eucharist at the Last Supper. The focus has therefore remained on priests, not on the other orders.

One could suggest that it be expanded, but others have suggested that it be removed because it is so tangential to the purpose of the chrism Mass and because many dioceses celebrate the chrism Mass on a day other than Holy Thursday.