BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE



The celebrations within the Holy Week are usually unique and profound in themselves. The uniqueness of these celebrations depict the mysteries therein celebrated, the mysteries of our faith, the mysteries from which the grace of God is poured into our souls, the mysteries through which “we receive grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16). May our celebration of these mysteries open our hearts to the graces that flow from them; Amen.

The morning liturgy of Holy Thursday is widely known as the Chrism Mass. In this Mass two important ceremonies take place; the commemoration of the Institution of the Priesthood and the blessing and consecration of three oils. In the ceremony of the blessing of oils, two oils are blessed and the third consecrated. Firstly, the oil of the sick is blessed before the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and this oil is used in the administration of the anointing of the sick. This oil becomes “for anyone who is anointed with it a safeguard for body, mind, and spirit, to take away every pain, every infirmity, and every sickness.” Secondly, the oil of catechumens which is blessed after communion and is used at the administration of the sacrament of baptism before the anointment with the oil of Chrism, to render the catechumens free from every foul spirit and to make them open to be filled with the Spirit of God. Through this oil the catechumens are “made worthy of adoption to Sonship and find joy in being born again and living in the Church of God.” Thirdly and finally, is the consecration of the oil of Chrism which is used for the administration of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, for the anointment of the hands of priests and the heads of bishops at their priestly and Episcopal ordinations respectively and also for the rite of dedication of churches. Through this holy oil, we are endowed “with the dignity of king, priest, and prophet, and clothed with the garment of that incorruption which is God’s gift.”

In the other ceremony that makes up part of today’s liturgy of the Chrism Mass, all priests are invited to renew their priestly promises. As the whole church commemorates the institution of this noble vocation, priests are reminded of their responsibilities as priests. They act in the person of Christ through whose merits flows the efficacy of all their priestly functions; “they are to renew in His name the sacrifice of human redemption, to set before His children the paschal banquet, to lead His holy people in charity, to nourish them with the word and strengthen them with the Sacraments.” It is one thing to have a flock and another to have a shepherd. God is the One Shepherd of His flock Israel and we all are members of this sheepfold. Priests are human instruments, little shepherds through whom the one Good Shepherd is concretely present in the midst of His flock.

The greatest challenge to being a little shepherd after the example of the greatest, perfect and good Shepherd is the limitedness of the priest who in His weakness and fragility is not only invited to share in the identity of Christ as the Good Shepherd but who also is a member of the sheepfold of Christ. On a day like this, we must appreciate all priests for the great work they are doing, not just in the Church but in the society at large. It is unfortunate that some groups have chosen to sponsor a propaganda that sees only evil in the priests of God, closing their eyes to the uncountable things of irreproachable standard and of laudable percentage worked by God through His priests. In as much as it is extremely regrettable that there exist some horrible facts borne out of the weakness and fragility of priests, this however should not drive us to the other extreme of forgetting entirely the sacrifice of themselves which the greatest percentage of priests make for the good of others and the society at large. The good work done by priests throughout the centuries far surpass whatever it is that exist in the contrary. Most times we hear more of the failures, many of which are untrue, than of the good works of priests seen in all corners of the earth. Pray for your priests; speak well of your priests; appreciate their work; encourage them; help them to overcome their weaknesses with fraternal correction and critique when necessary and most importantly lead them through prayers to the Blessed Ever Virgin Mary Mother of priests!

May God bless all priests all over the world and may He grant us the grace to serve Him in our brothers and sisters with joy and fulfillment and may His grace strengthen us always never to give in to the impulses of corrupt nature; Amen. Wishing my brother priests a Happy Feast Day and may you have a grace-filled Holy Thursday;
-Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE


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