One of my favorite liturgies of the year is the Chrism Mass, or Mass of the Oils. Once a year, the Bishop blesses the holy oils (Chrism, the Oil of the Sick, and the Oil of Catechumens) all the priests of the diocese come to the Cathedral to renew their commitment to the people of God, and to take the newly blessed oils back to their parishes. The oils will be used to anoint the sick, to anoint those who are coming into the Church and those who will be baptized, confirmed, or ordained. Chrism is also used to anoint new altars, churches and icons.
Seeing all the priests of the diocese standing in the Cathedral always brings a lump to my throat. We only have ten priests serving in the Diocese of Juneau. We have two Oblates of Mary Immaculate who are loaned to our diocese (Fr. Jim Blaney and Fr. Pat Casey), one retired (Fr. Peter Gorges), one Congolese priest who was incardinated into our diocese (Fr. Jean-Paulin Lockulu Engbanda) and six who were ordained for the Diocese of Juneau (Fr. Scott Settimo, Fr. Thomas Weise, Fr. Edmund Penisten, Fr. Perry Kenaston, Fr. Steve Gallagher, and Fr. Pat Travers). The six who are our diocesan priests have all been ordained since I came to Juneau, and I have attended all but one of their ordinations.
Of course, one of my favorite things about this Mass, besides seeing all of our priests together, is watching Charles assist the Bishop. The first time I saw Charles in his vestments (his stole and dalmatic), I was overwhelmed with emotion.
|The bishop and his priests and deacons (missing from the picture are Fr. Perry and Fr. Pat Travers), including Miguel (at the far left), who was serving.|
|Charles, proclaiming the Gospel.|
|Charles presents the Oil of the Sick to the Bishop to be blessed.|
|The Eucharistic Prayer, with the unblessed oils and balsam, which gives the Chrism its distinctive fragrance.|
It is so beautiful to watch my husband serve at Mass and also to watch him exercise his diaconal ministry of charity, which he does when he serves as chaplain at the hospital, when he does spiritual direction, when he visits the sick in their homes, and when he stops at the grocery store to counsel someone in the frozen food aisle. I once saw him sit with a weeping drunk in a hotel lobby in Anchorage, taking all the time the man needed, and waving off the hovering hotel staff who were attempting to throw the man out. The poor man was overcome with guilt and fear for his son with whom he had a distant and troubled relationship, and who was in Iraq in harm's way. He sobbed as he poured his heart out. Charles reassured him, urged him to contact his son, blessed him, calmed him and sent him on his way. The man, who thought Charles was a priest, even though Charles corrected him, kept saying, "Thank you, Father! Thank you, thank you!"
I love watching Charles the Deacon. I love seeing him living out his vocation and I am proud to have him for my husband.