An Explanation of the Sacramental Oils

Last night, along with other staff members and parishioners from Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, I traveled across the city of Phoenix to the Cathedral of Saints Simon and Jude for the annual Chrism Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Phoenix, Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted. Although I have been to other Chrism Masses in other dioceses, this was the first one I have ever attended in my home diocese. To say it was sacred and beautiful would be the understatement of the year. It was as if heaven and earth united in the Cathedral through the solemn liturgy and sacred music.

Besides the primary purpose of the Chrism Mass, which is the blessing and distribution of the Sacramental Oils, which I will discuss shortly, there is also another purpose of the Chrism Mass – the Renewal of Commitment to Priestly Service. The Bishop asks the priests a set of statements renewing their commitment to the Church. After each statement read by the Bishop, the priests in unison but speaking as individuals respond with, “I am.” The Bishop then asks for the assembly to stand, and together with one voice, the faithful pray for their priests and their Bishop. The prayerful nature of the renewal is quite moving and something every Catholic should experience at least once.

When working at a Catholic parish, a year doesn’t go by when someone sees the sacramental oils in the church and asks why do we have three glass jars of oil. The three oils in the ambry are known as the Oil of Catechumens (“Oleum Sanctorum“), Oil of the Sick (“Oleum Infirmorum“), and The Sacred Chrism (“Sacrum Chrisma“). At the Chrism Mass, the Bishop, the pastor of the particular church, blesses the oils, which will be used in the sacramental celebrations throughout the year in the Church.

Sacramental Oils

According to the Early Church Fathers, an image of God the Father was the olive tree. The fruits that bud from that tree are seen as the image of God the Son. The image of God the Holy Spirit is the oil that flows out in every direction as the purest extract of both the tree and the fruit. When the Church uses the blessed oil in its sacramental celebrations, it represents the outward sign of the power of salvation, which is promised in the Paraclete. It is the Holy Spirit that sanctifies the people of God.

During the Chrism Mass, right after the Memorial Acclamation, there is the Blessing of the Oil of the Sick. This oil is used for those individuals that are seriously ill. The oil here acts as a spiritual ointment by which the Spirit heals the body and the soul. This oil is also used for those who are dying. In union with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the soul is given the firm and final fortification it needs as it enters the house of the Father.

Once the Prayer after Communion is prayed, we then have Blessing of the Oil of Catechumens and Consecration of The Sacred Chrism. Those preparing for Baptism receive the Oil of Catechumens. Just like the ancient athletes who once fought in the arena covered their bodies in oil as to make their enemies unable to grab hold and hurl them to the ground, so too are the catechumens anointed with this oil to remind them that the Christian life is full of struggle, most especially a struggle with Satan and sin. The oil gives them strength to continue in their daily battles.

The Holy Chrism is used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Through the sanctifying power of the Spirit, the oil in Baptism symbolizes for individuals the rebirth through water and a share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal missions of Jesus Christ. At Confirmation, the oil reaffirms and strengthens the baptized individual to continue as a witness of Christ to the world. In Holy Orders, the Spirit consecrates the hands of the priest, who will distribute the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist – the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

If your diocese has yet to have the Chrism Mass for this year, I would highly encourage you to attend. It’s a great part of the Holy Week Celebrations that the Church has designed for us. Like I said above, the Chrism Mass is an experience that all Catholics should experience at least once, if not many times over.

If you have been to a Chrism Mass before or plan to attend this year, please feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comment box below.


The Chrism Mass Missal – Diocese of Phoenix. Monday, March, 30, 2015

Help Support Andrea Thomas’ NEW ALBUM

I first met Andrea Thomas (AT as some of us call her) when I was a graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville working on my Masters in Theology six years ago. When you first meet AT, it’s hard not be friends with her because she has a genuine and joyful personality that just draws you in. It’s the joy that I believe many of the great saints have personified over the centuries. Where you really see and hear this joy from Andrea is in her music and the love that she has for singing.

The first time I heard her sing was in a show at Franciscan University, and although many people told me she was an amazing singer, I had never heard her sing before this event. To state it plainly, her voice blew me away. All I kept saying was, Wow! From that point forward, I jokingly nicknamed her “the Siren.” This is in reference to the alluring women that enchant men with their lyrical voices from Greek Mythology. Good thing for us is that Andrea sings like them, but isn’t like them (read the beginning of Book XII in Homer’s, The Odyssey). :)

In all seriousness, Andrea Thomas is a great artist and one that truly needs our support at this time. Please join me and others in helping her fundraise the necessary financial support for her to create a new album. It’s been three years since her first album debuted which is titled, Crying Out to You. Since then she has been traveling as a solo artist as well as singing with country music singer, Collin Raye. She is ready to hit the studio with new material, which is based in a topic close to her heart – overcoming our fears.

Andrea Thomas

For more information on the topic, and most importantly, to assist her in raising the funds needed to record the new album, check out her page – Andrea Thomas New Album via Kickstarter.

I would also encourage you to check out her website, Here you can learn more about her background, her music, and how to book her for a show. She is also blogging and that can be found on this website too. To purchase her music via iTunes, you can do that here. You can also Like her Facebook page.

If you’re Catholic, and haven’t yet donated your alms for the Lenten season this year, I would highly encourage you to give to this cause. The sweet spot is the $25/$50 levels. Good quality music with profound and insightful messages is so greatly needed these days. Let’s help her reach this goal so we can experience the joyful music of Andrea Thomas.

10 Heart-Piercing Quotes on the Annunciation

Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the day that Jesus Christ becomes incarnate in the womb of Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, after she gives her fiat, her yes – “be it done.” Since Mary freely participated through her own consent, she works with her Son in the redemptive work of salvation. She is the Mother of Christ, and at the cross, becomes the Mother of not only all Christians, but of all humanity.

To commemorate this beautiful Solemnity, here are 10 heart-piercing quotes from different saints, theologians, religious, and Popes that express the beauty of God’s divine economy through Mary at the Annunciation –

“Following her example of obedience to God, we can learn to serve delicately without being slavish. In Mary we don’t find the slightest trace of the attitude of the foolish virgins, who obey, but thoughtlessly. Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants, ponders what she doesn’t fully understand and asks about what she doesn’t know. Then she gives herself completely to doing God’s will: Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word. – St. Josemaria Escriva

“How often in these situations must Mary have returned inwardly to the hour when God’s angel had spoken to her, pondering afresh the greeting: ‘Rejoice, full of grace!’ and the consoling words: ‘Do not be afraid!’ The angel departs; her mission remains, and with it matures her inner closeness to God, a closeness that in her heart she is able to see and touch.” – Pope Benedict XVI

“The scene of the Annunciation merits consideration for another reason, too: it is not only wholly Christological; it is wholly trinitarian as well…The angel’s initial salutation…brings her the greeting of the ‘Lord’, Yahweh, the Father…she will give birth to the ‘Son of the Most High’…the Holy Spirit will overshadow her…” – Hans Urs Von Balthasar

“The whole ecclesial movement of women can and should reflect the light of Gospel revelation, according to which a woman, as the representative of the human race, was called to give her consent to the Incarnation of the Word. It is the account of the Annunciation that suggests this truth when it tells that only after the “fiat” of Mary, who consented to be the Mother of the Messiah, did ‘the angel depart from her’ (Lk. 1:38). The angel had completed his mission: he could bring to God humanity’s “yes”, spoken by Mary of Nazareth.” – Pope St. John Paul II

The Annunciation by Steve Bird. For more about him or to purchase his art, please visit

The Annunciation by Steve Bird. For more about him or to purchase his art, please visit

“But all the sublimity of Mary’s moral personality, all the depth of her virginal devotion, and all the strength of her faith culminate in the word which she spoke to the angel: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.’ These were no common, everyday words…They were words out of the depths and recesses of a soul that was pure and noble beyond all earthly measure, words that were her being, her expression, her achievement…” – Karl Adam

“When the angel appeared to Mary, God was announcing this love for the new humanity. It was the beginning of a new earth, and Mary became ‘a flesh-girt Paradise to be gardened by the new Adam.’ As in the first garden Eve brought destruction, so in the garden of her womb, Mary would now bring Redemption.” – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Such ‘consent,’ given by Mary, is not merely private, but expresses the willing participation of man, of humanity, in the work of salvation. In the freedom of Mary, at that instant, were contained all the desires, fears, and hopes of man in need of redemption. And the New Eve spoke her full, total yes to the angel of light, just the first Eve had once spoken her yes to the angel of darkness. Moreover, the response given by Mary to the angel also expresses, in addition to her consent, a humble and unconditional dedication to the plan of God entrusted to her.” – Fr. Settimio M. Manelli, F.I.

“Mary showed complete trust in God by agreeing to be used as an instrument in his plan of salvation. She trusted him in spite of her nothingness because she knew he who is mighty could do great things in her and through her. Once she said “yes” to him, she never doubted. She was just a young woman, but she belonged to God and nothing nor anyone could separate her from him.” – Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

“…In the pronouncing of the word fiat, ‘be it done unto me’; the Virgin’s answer is definite and final; its force impresses us. It is more than a simple ‘yes.’ Once the request was answered, there could be no subsequent changes of heart; it demanded a complete submission of the will; an abandonment of herself, not to do some specific thing, but to do all the things that God had planned for her in exactly the way that He intended that they should be done; she was asked to renounce completely the right to plan her own life.” – Fr. Federico Suarez

“The Church Fathers were fond of exploring the relationship between Eve, mother of all the living, and the new Eve, Mary the Mother of God. Where Eve grasped and lost, Mary surrendered and received; where Eve said no to the alluring mystery, Mary said yes. The angel of the Lord — an agent from a realm beyond what can be seen and known — appears to the maid of Nazareth and greets her in what Balthasar describes as the language of heaven: ‘Hail, full of grace.’” – Fr. Robert Barron

“Mondays with Mary” and the Annunciation

Over the past couple of years, I have done quite a bit of writing on the great Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord, which is yet again coming up on the liturgical calendar this Wednesday, March 25. Trying to avoid repetition from the past, for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I have decided to simply list for you the five blog posts that I have written so far on the Annunciation.

It’s my hope, as it is always, that you will share these posts via your social media sites or copy and paste quotes from them to share on your social media sites.

The list below is no particular order –

1. “Mondays with Mary” – The Teachings of Mary’s Virginity in the Catechism

2. “Mondays with Mary” – Saint Francis de Sales on the Annunciation

3. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary’s Faith at the Annunciation

4. “Mondays with Mary” – ‘The Handmaid of the Lord’

5. “Mondays with Mary” – ‘May it be done to me according to your word’

On Wednesday, I will add the sixth blog post focusing on the Annunciation. I hope that you will return to read that blog post and share it as well with you family and friends (Update: 10 Heart-Piercing Quotes on the Annunciation).

The role Mary plays in Salvation History is fundamental and many people simply don’t understand it. When asked this weekend at the Diocese of Phoenix Men’s Conference about the importance of Mary during the Question and Answer Panel, Dr. Peter Kreeft said Mary is important to the life of the Church like “an airfield is important to a plane.” Simple, yet profound.

Learning the Life of St. Patrick in less than 90 Seconds

Today is the feast of St. Patrick, and as my friend Dan Aedo said on his Facebook page this morning, “This day is not all about leprechauns, shamrocks and green beer. This is a day to honor and pray to St. Patrick. He was an influential saint who, 1,500 years ago brought Christianity to the little country of Ireland.”(Although, In Heaven There is No Beer).

St. Patrick…

  • Was born around 389.
  • He is not actually Irish but is of Roman-British descent.
  • He served as a slave beginning at the age of 16, even though life was difficult he held onto his faith.
  • At the age of 24, he escaped and returned home, but in a dream was told to return to Ireland to bring Christianity to the island.
  • He studied from 412-415 at the monastery of Lerins and was ordained a priest in 417.
  • He was ordained a Bishop in 432.
  • Despite hostility from the Druids, St. Patrick preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and brought many to believe in Him.
  • In 442, he was commissioned to begin the Church in Ireland.
  • Ireland became a Christian nation and the Irish monks brought the Faith to England, France, and Switzerland (it’s these monks that began the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we have it today).
  • He died on March 17, 461 in the monastery of Saul.
  • He is known as the “Apostle to Ireland.”

St. Patrick…Pray For Us.

St. Patrick


“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Mary, Joseph’s Virginal Spouse’

Since this upcoming Wednesday is the optional memorial of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, the Doctor of Catechesis and Thursday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I found it fitting to give you some catechesis from St. Cyril of Jerusalem talking about Mary as St. Joseph’s Virginal Spouse. The Catholic Church declared the doctrine known as the Mary’s Perpetual Virginity solemn in 649 A.D by Pope St. Martin I at the Lateran Synod.

The Perpetual Virgin dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary professes that She was a virgin before the birth of Christ (ante partum), during the birth of Christ (in partu), and after the birth of Christ (post partum). This is a very important teaching of the Catholic Church in its Marian Theology. Even the Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and Ulrich Zwingli believed in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.

Now let us turn to the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem who speaks with elegance on Mary’s virginity –

“Let us reject those who say that the Savior’s birth was the accomplishment of a man and a woman; those who dare to say that he was born of Joseph and Mary, solely because it was written” ‘And he took [her as] his wife’ (Mt 1:24). Let us remember Jacob, who before taking Rachel, said to Laban: ‘Give me my wife’ (Gen 29:21). Just as she was called Jacob’s wife before the marriage celebration solely because promises had been exchanged, so also Mary was called Joseph’s wife, because she was betrothed.

Sassoferrato - Virgin Mother

Note how precise the Gospel is when it says: ‘In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God, to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph’ (Lk 1:26-27), and so forth. Again, when the census was taken and Joseph had to enroll himself, what does Scripture say? ‘Then Joseph went up from Galilee also, to register together with Mary, his betrothed spouse, who was with child’ (Lk 2:4-5). And even though Mary was with child, it does not say, ‘his wife’, but his ‘betrothed spouse”. Indeed, God – says Paul – sent his Son, not born of a man and a woman, but of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4) only, that is, of a virgin. We have shown that a virgin is called a woman. For from a Virgin was born the One who makes souls virgins.

You marvel at what has happened. Did she not also marvel who gave him birth, seeing that she said to Gabriel: ‘How will this happen since I do not know man?’ (Lk 1:34). But he answered: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow; hence, the holy Child to be born will be Son of God (Lk 1:35).

Pure and spotless is this birth. For where the Holy Spirit breathes, all pollution is taken away, so that the human birth of the Only-begotten from the Virgin is undefiled.

If, then, the heretics speak against the truth, the Holy Spirit himself will convict them; against them will rise the anger of the overshadowing power of the Most High and, in the Day of Judgment, Gabriel will rise up against them with severity; the manger that held the Lord will reprove them. The shepherds who received the glad tidings, the host of angels who sang praises and hymns saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will’ (Lk 2:13-14), the temple into which he was brought after forty days, the pair of turtle doves offered for him, Simeon who took him in his arms and the prophetess Anna who was present there: they will all bear witness against the heretics (Catecheses 12, 31-32).