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Guest Post: Oil Of The Chrism on Maundy Thursday

Chrism Mass (according to wikipedia):

The Mass takes its name from the blessing of the holy oils used in the sacraments throughout the year, which are then given to priests to take back to their parishes.


A mixture of olive oil and balsam, an aromatic resin used in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy orders, as well as for the consecration of altars and the dedication of churches. 



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Christ directed me to start holding Mass and blessing Communion during Lent last year, taking the rite from the Book of Common Prayer. A week before Holy Week I read about the oil of the Chrism blessing on Maundy Thursday.


I found the rite for the blessing and directions for proper disposal, and I prayed for discernment. Did I have the spiritual authority to ask the Holy Spirit to enter the oil? The church reserves this rite for bishops.


Over the next few days I felt a deep sense of peace with being called to participate in this Sacramental. I already had a proper glass bottle. The olive oil in the kitchen ran out on Palm Sunday and that week the grocery store ran a half off special. I brought two bottles home.


#holyweek #maundythursday #holyoils #mystic #episcopalchurch


On Thursday morning I prepared the oil along with the bread and wine for Communion. The most suitable aromatic oil I had was eucalyptus, which is protective and healing so it seemed appropriate.


When the altar was ready I spent a few minutes in silent prayer, mediating on the privilege of serving the Most High God and the gift of Christ's Passion that makes it possible.


The Mass and the blessing went well; it felt easy. I spoke with confidence. There was a sense of being anointed to do the work and it filled me with love and gratitude for God.


I am not formally educated in theology. I am not ordained by any church. I am just a woman in love with Christ. I resisted the urge to argue, as Moses did, that I could not be worthy of His call.


The idea that spiritual authority comes from the church is a powerful belief. It was absurd but very real: I contemplated declining God's invitation out of subservience to doctrine.


My experience with God is that He places a high value on reverence and humility, but that we project onto Him our need for tradition, rules and formal qualifications.


Afterwards I felt moved to use the oil- why else would God call me to bless it? The Chrism is used at baptism, confirmation and ordination. It symbolizes our status as members of the Body of Christ, chosen and marked by God. It is said to strengthen our resolve against temptation, sin and evil by the essence of the Holy Spirit.


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As Christ enters the Eucharist when it is blessed, the Spirit enters the oils. Through Her presence and power we are protected and guided.


Carefully, with reverence I anointed my chest and made the sign of the cross. I spent the rest of the day in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. A feeling of tender love, deep peace and quiet faith enveloped me. My ecstatic experiences with Christ and the Father are physically overwhelming. My spiritual gifts are deeply intensified for days after.


This was so gentle and powerful at the same time. It deepened my love for myself, for the holy spark within. I began to see myself as God sees me: righteous, beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made.


I've shared it with friends who report the same experience and my son, who giggled with delight for the rest of the day.


Over the last year I have wondered: should I have anointed my hands as a priestess, or my head as a bishop? Did my humility serve Him?


I don't have an answer to those questions. I have used the Chrism sparingly and with reverence throughout the year on my forehead and chest, most often when facing temptation or discouragement.


In the last few weeks I've thought about anointing my feet. Feet represent our spiritual understanding; Magdalene sat at the feet of Christ and Christ washed the disciples’ feet after the Last Supper.


Anointing my feet with the Chrism would signify a certain level of spiritual understanding. I love the Trinity with all that I am and all that I have but I hesitate to claim any spiritual superiority or significance. Walking by faith and not by sight is a lesson I learn again every morning.


It is worth noting: I carried the Chrism cross-country this spring. After 3000 miles of mountain ranges, construction zones and winding desert roads not a drop has spilled. I can't say the same for some of my beauty oils and those bottles have airtight caps.


This week I will bury the remaining oil to dispose of it properly before Maundy Thursday. Will I bless another bottle Thursday morning? I have not felt called to repeat the rite.


We sometimes cling to certain prayers, rituals and groups because we met God there once but God moves. He cannot be contained by a tradition or form of faith and neither can His Spirit. Christ died so that we can meet God without condition, limit or form. God is everywhere, in everything, whether we perceive it so or not. The Chrism is powerful by virtue of His power. Sacramentals and rites are meant as a human recognition of what God has done in a person's heart and His intentions for their life.


Better to humble myself and let Him exalt me if He pleases.


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