Chrism Mass, when is it?

I read in some places that Chrism Mass takes place on Holy Thursday. However, our archdiocese is planning on having the Chrism Mass on the Tuesday before this. What is the rule on this? Thanks.


Normally, the Chrism Mass should be held on the morning of Holy Thursday, but, for pastoral reasons, the local Ordinary (bishop) or the local Metropolitan (Archbishop) will move it to another suitable day during Holy Week. Ours will have it either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Holy Father celebrates both Masses (Chrism Mass and the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper) on Holy Thursday.

From a logistical standpoint, it is often better to have the Mass on a different day. My diocese covers seven counties and some of the priests have to travel a good distance on a two-lane highway. It also allows the diocesan faithul to be a part of this very special liturgy. From the planning standpoint, it is also easier. I had a good enough time to devote to getting the gallons of virgin olive oil, the simple floral decorations, the worship aids and everything else that needed to be prepared. And then, I could completely devote my efforts to the Triduum. There are a lot behind the scenes things that happen when planning these liturgies.

Ours will be the first week of April during the diocesan gathering. Since several of our priests have to fly in for the gathering, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the Chrism Mass then they can return with the Holy Oils.

Isn’t the first week in April Holy Week?

By the way, when our diocese was still the Western Vicariate for Corpus Christi, the bishop had to come to Laredo to celebrate the Chrism Mass. He had one for his priests in Corpus Christi and the second one for the priests in Laredo. But, these were done during Holy Week.

April begins on a Wednesday, so I assume that Phemie was referring to the Chrism Mass being celebrated sometime during that shortened week. If I remember correctly, last year in some far flung dioceses, such as Hawaii and the Yukon Territories, the Chrism Masses were also said the week before Holy Week. In my diocese, the Mass is on Tuesday, April 7. The Monday and Tuesday before the Mass are days of retreat for the diocesan priests with the Bishop.

Here is what Paschale Solemnitatis says regarding the Chrism Mass:

B. The Chrism Mass

  1. The Chrism Mass, which the bishop concelebrates with his presbyterium, and at which the Holy Chrism is consecrated and the oils blessed, manifests the communion of the priests with their bishop in the same priesthood and ministry of Christ. [38] The priests who concelebrate with the bishop should come to this Mass from different parts of the diocese, thus showing in the consecration of the Chrism to be his witnesses and cooperators, just as in their daily ministry, they are his helpers and counselors.

The faithful are also to be encouraged to participate in this Mass and to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Traditionally, the Chrism Mass is celebrated on the Thursday of Holy Week. **If, however, it should prove to be difficult for the clergy and people to gather with the bishop, this rite can be transferred to another day, but one always close to Easter. **[39] The Chrism and the oil of catechumens is to be used in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation on Easter night.

  1. There should be only one celebration of the Chrism Mass, given its significance in the life of the diocese, and it should take place in the cathedral or, for pastoral reasons, in another church [40] that has a special significance.

The Holy oils can be brought to the individual parishes before the celebration of the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, or at some other suitable time. This can be a means of catechizing the faithful about the use and effects of the Holy oils and Chrism in Christian life.

Paschale Solemnitatis, the Circular Letter regarding Holy Week, was promulgated by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacaments back in 1988. To my knowledge, it is still in force. I hope this helps.

For several years now my Archdiocese has held the Chrism Mass on Monday evening of Holy Week. That gives all the parishes a chance to attend the Chrism Mass, obtain their oils, and then go back and finish preparing for the Triduum. Since the Archdiocese is so large it helps to have a set day every year so parishes can plan ahead.

Ours is always held at 11 AM on Holy Thursday. I can never attend because I am the only one left in the Parish. I preside at Morning Prayer and then start getting ready for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and deal with anything that happens in the parish until the preists get back sometime later in the afternoon. I would really love, just once, to attend the Chrism Mass. Maybe when I retire.

Oh, I hear you. I would take my vacation during Holy Week, but, then, I would need a vacation from my vacation. :smiley: I would start weeks ahead with the preparation, though. People don’t realize that it takes a lot of work, ordering the Chrism essence, ordering the bottles for the placement of the oils, the labels, the boxes, drawing up lists so as to ensure that no one takes home duplicates and that there are enough oils for every parish, and planning the actual liturgy (music selection, worship aid production, art and environment). Plus, there is always the local 4th Degree K of C to contend with as they want to do their own thing. :shrug: Luckily, I had a pretty well-oiled machine ready for the filling, packing and distribution of the oils. I used the EMHCs since they weren’t going to be needed for the Chrism Mass. The bishop thought it was a good idea. At first neither me nor my rector knew how this would work out, but, in the end, it ran quite smoothly. We withheld desert (with the bishop’s blessing because the priests had their dinner before the Mass) until after the liturgy. They were told to report back to the ballroom of the hotel (across the street from the Cathedral) so that they could eat their desert, drink their coffee and sign for their oils.

That is why I am grateful that the Chrism Mass is on a seperate day from Holy Thursday.

I would say that for us it’s as close to Easter as it can be to allow priests to return home. If our pastor wanted to drive to the Chrism Mass it would take him 6 days minimum to get there and back. That’s why our guys have to fly there and back and, if they’re lucky, there won’t be a storm that keeps them from getting back to their parish for Easter.

Last year our pastor asked me to attend the Chrism Mass in his place and to receive the Holy Oils for 4 parishes. The year before I went to the Mass of my own accord and the bishop, when he saw me there, asked me to pick up the oils for 5 parishes while I was there, although I didn’t formally receive them during the Mass. Luckily, the security person at the airport, when she saw the X-ray of my bags said “Oh, you’re the one they pointed out at Mass last night. Let me just verify what you are carrying.”

Ours is always on Tuesday of Holy Week. While we’re not the largest diocese in terms of population and number of parishes, we’re pretty spread out, covering two time zones.

Ours is always Tuesday of Holy Week. That way, there can be ample time for the presentation of the oils at the beginning of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at all the diocese’s parishes.

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