Category Archives: Easter

Rite of the Turkey Basters

You think I’m kidding around right? Rite of the Turkey Basters? What the heck is that?

Well, that’s not it’s official name, but there is a special mass that the laity rarely get to attend that happens this week, usually on Thursday morning, but it often moves around. It is the Chrism Mass.

Now it’s not that the laity aren’t invited, it’s just that it is usually inconvenient because it is held at the cathedral. I don’t know about you, but most mornings, I’m personally not excited to drive 6 hours to my cathedral for Mass, how about you? It is however, a very important Mass, and very much tied to Holy Week.

Now as I said, it’s proper place is Holy Thursday Morning. So as we think about the Mass and walk through it, we need to keep it in the context of Holy Thursday, even if it is celebrated on a different day. Why? Because The Chrism Mass is not about Chrism.

I know, this is just not making any sense, but hang on there.

The Chrism Mass is a lot like Midnight Mass at Christmas time in that it has it’s name because of an incidental thing that happens at this Mass. We don’t celebrate “midnight” at Midnight Mass, we celebrate the birth of our savior. It just happens at midnight, so we call it Midnight Mass. Same thing here. This is the Mass where the Holy Oils are blessed, so we call it the Chrism Mass. (Chrism is one of the oils.)

What is really going on here is something much bigger. This is the Mass of unity. This is the Mass where every priest in the diocese once again rededicates himself to Christ through obedience to his bishop. This is the Mass where the priest is empowered by their bishop to go out and serve you. We must remember that all the gifts a priest is given are given through their shepherd, this Mass is where those gifts are dispersed. This is why the Mass must be understood in the context of Holy Thursday, as Holy Thursday is the day we celebrate the institution of the priesthood. (As a side note, the footwashing thing is also tied to the priesthood, but I’ll get to that another day.)

This is the Mass that ties us to our apostle. How cool is that? It is just not enough to get a phone call and have a piece of paper hanging on the wall telling us we are united with the greater Church. We have to have real unity, and that unity is celebrated at this Mass.

This is also the Chrism Mass though, so we should talk about oils. All of the oils we used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Healing of the Sick, and Holy Orders must be blessed by the bishop. They are also only good for one year. (Unity theme again!) So every year, the bishop blesses the oils at the Chrism Mass, and all the priests take it back home to their parishes with them. Pretty cool huh?!

There is one rite we are missing here. When the bishop blesses the oils, they are in three huge vats, so they have to be separated before the priests can take their oils back home.

So immediately after the Mass begins the Rite of the Turkey Basters, where all the helpers gather together to distribute the oils, usually while trading jokes and funny stories from their parishes. So imagine a bunch of really oily people laughing and in a rush to get home, and you will have the right picture of the day. Tons of fun, and an incredible Mass to attend if you ever have the opportunity.

Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday

Yup, that’s right. Tomorrow is such a big day that it has two names.

Expect an emotional roller coaster.

Woah man, do I mean it too. We start with the triumph of Christ entering Jerusalem in glory, we end with death and mayhem. This is going to be a bumpy ride.

Christ’s entry into Jerusalem is so odd to me. He enters both as a king and as a pauper. On one side, He is being hailed by all around him. People are crying out Hosanna and draping palms before Him that the very feet of his steed may not touch the ground. Christ has just performed three powerful signs proving His kingship, most notably the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and folks are just plain excited. The new King has arrived, and they can just see everything about to finally start going right.

At the same time though, He is riding a donkey. A smelly, filthy little donkey. He is not being born by a litter of buff men, nor is he riding in on a powerful warhorse. Heck, he’s not even riding in on a camel. Let’s be honest here, it we be more comely if he would just get off and walk, but no. He rides in on the very image of poverty.

This is just wild. Can you imagine this happening today? What if the president rode into town in a beat up Buick from the eighties, coated in rust with the rims stolen, the headliner draped around his head and the tailpipe blowing smoke. Seriously, this would just be scandal.

What an amazing scene, and what a glorious way to start Mass.

It certainly doesn’t last long.

Without ado, we are led straight into the lion’s den. Christ is being dragged through the court system with such speed it would make any judge blush. His head is on the chopping block, and folks aren’t wasting time with deliberation. The Cross is calling, and Christ is walking up the hill.

I want to pause. So often we think the priest has the good part. He wears fancy robes, and gets to bless everyone. He gets to read the Gospel, and splash everyone with holy water. Well, that certainly isn’t the case today. Today we read the good parts.

“Crucify Him!”

You may not think this is the good part. You might even feel ashamed as you read it. As you accuse Peter along with servant girl, you may wish you were reading about lilies in the field. I want you to understand, that is exactly what makes it the good part. We get to remember that it was us that hung Christ out to dry. It was you and I, every time we sin that caused this to be necessary. We have the part that is truly designed to change us, to bring us back to center. What a blessing.

Christ is hanging. We just stand and watch. We leave with a deep sense of quiet, a silence ever so much more deep because of our triumphant entrance.

The man we worshiped as king is dead, and the donkey is put out to pasture.

Our palms have becomes crosses, and we are truly alone.

Holy Week to Easter Sunday

This weekend it all begins. That most holy and glorious time of year, that moment when heaven seems to reach down and touch the earth.

Holy Week is upon us.

I realize that many of you do not have the opportunity to run to every service that happens this week, so I wanted to do a little catechesis, and give you the basic overview of what goes on this week for those who do not know. Next week, I plan to go in depth about each of the Holy Week liturgies as they happen.

First things first though, the overview.

Passion/Palm Sunday

Now the Church fully realizes that not everyone can go to Mass every day, even during Holy Week, so it tries very hard to cram as much of the gospel message into Sunday liturgies as possible. You will most definitely see this in action this Sunday, as it tries to tell the entire story of our Lords passion in one sitting. Phew, this one is tough.

Spy Wednesday

Not a big day, I know, but we remember the betrayal by Judas.

Holy Thursday

More like Holy Cow! How they are able to fit in the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper, the washing of the feet, the re-dedication of clergy to their bishop, the blessing of the holy oils, and the agony in the garden in one day is simply miraculous. Really, really big day, officially starting the Triduum.

Good Friday

The day we remember the actual passion of our Lord, also the only day of the year we are not allowed to have Mass. The great highlight here is the Adoration of the Cross.

Holy Saturday

This day is usually rather calm, as we relive the time when Christ was in the tomb. If you have a liturgy of the hours service in the morning, go to it, the readings are absolutely beautiful.

Easter Sunday

Finnaly the day has arrived! It starts with the Easter Vigil, the single most important Mass of the year. (Yes, I know it’s on Saturday Night, but liturgically, it’s on Sunday. I’ll have to explain this sometime!) This is the day we remember Christ rising from the dead. It is also when we bring in new adult converts into the Church. Easter Sunday is celebration after celebration.

I hope you take the time to engage yourself as much as possible over the next week. Let the story overtake you, and reorder your life. Holy Week is truly a foretasting of heaven, so savor every moment.