Wednesday 23rd March – The Chrism Mass at 7.30 p.m. at La Seu, the Cathedral in Palma
On Wednesday of this week, Holy Week/la Semana Santa, Bishop Javier Salinas Viñals from the Diocese of Mallorca will gather all the priests of the island at La Seu, the Cathedral in Palma, to celebrate what the Catholic Church calls the Chrism Mass.  Our priest in Soller, Father Marià Gastalver Martin, from the Parròquia de Sant Bartomeu in the square, will naturally be there. 
Chrism Masses are celebrated in Catholic Dioceses throughout the world.  They are usually on the morning of Holy Thursday but, with the pressure of the timetable of that day, the Wednesday evening is often seen as preferable.
At the Mass, the priests will renew the priestly promises made at the time of their ordinations.  Then the Bishop will bless the oil of catechumens (used in the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation) and the oil of the sick (used in the administration of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick); and, consecrate the Holy Chrism (a mixture of oil and balsam used in the sacrament of Holy Orders).  These oils are distributed among the priests, who will take them back to their parishes to be used throughout the year.    
This is an ancient practice, which dates back to the fifth century, and emphasises the role of the Bishops as successors to the apostles.  The presence of all the priests serves to demonstrate their unity with their Bishop and thus, in turn, stresses their roles in this succession.  It is therefore a Mass of great importance in the Catholic Church in that it celebrates the institution of the priesthood.  To this extent, it is also a wonderful opportunity for members of the laity to be present and thereby demonstrate their appreciation for their ordained priests.
The Chrism Mass is a very beautiful and humbling celebration and one made all the more spectacular in the grand Gothic building of La Seu Cathedral in Palma. The sight of Gaudi’s impressive canopy chandelier, fashioned to look like the Crown of Thorns, towering above the altar certainly cannot help but focus and draw you into the events that will unfold as we move into Holy Thursday and beyond. 

Debra Reynolds – Religious Affairs Correspondent and Soller Resident 

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