JERUSALEM - On Thursday, June 18, 2020, the Chrism Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of All Nations in Gethsemane, where priests renewed their baptismal promises and their vow of obedience to H.E. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and their commitment to serve God’s people. Usually, this Mass is celebrated on Holy Thursday, but due to the spread of COVID-19 and the restrictions and closures imposed, the celebration had to be postponed.
H.E. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, presided over the Mass, which was concelebrated by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine; Br. Francesco Patton, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land; Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem; Bishop Kamal Bathish, Fr. Rariq Nahra, Fr. Ibrahim Shomali, and with the presence of a number of priests, religious communities and a small number of faithful.
The Chrism Mass is usually celebrated during the Holy Week, however, in Jerusalem, it takes place on Holy Thursday, when priests, deacons and representatives of the entire diocese gather around the Bishop, as he blesses the Holy Oils: Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens and Sacred Chrism used in the administration of the sacraments for the year throughout the diocese.
In his homily, His Excellency commented on the celebration: “I think this is the first time in decades that we find ourselves celebrating the Chrism Mass outside of Holy Week, and indeed, outside the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Nevertheless, it is a providential occasion because in our celebrations in whatever place or time, when the Church gathers, it is always Christ who unites us: it is always Him “who loves us and frees us from our sins with His blood, and makes us a kingdom, priests for His God and Father. To Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen” (Ap 1:5-6)
He added: “I cannot consider our celebration of the Chrism Mass today as merely a postponement imposed by circumstances. Rather, it appears to me as an invitation to a deepening or, better, to a repositioning. Today the Lord, both here as then in the synagogue of Nazareth, asks us to take a new position: to open the scroll of the Scriptures again, to read the truth of our present time, and to reconsider life: the life of each of us, the life of our societies, the life of our Church with its expectations, its hopes and its labors”.
At the end of the Mass, prayers were offered for Patriarch Micheal Sabbah and Bishop Kamal Bathish on the occasion of their 65th anniversary of priestly ordination, and the Silver Jubilee for Fr. Aziz Halaweh, Fr. Rifaat Bader, and Mons. Tomasz Grysa, and other priests who celebrated their Golden Jubilee like Fr. Johnny Mansour, Fr. Elias Odeh, Fr. Pietro Fillet, and Fr. Gianmaria Gianazza sdb.