Sacramental oils are featured in various blessings and sacraments. There are three types of oils in the Catholic Church: The oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and sacred chrism.
Chrism is one of the more versatile and frequently used oils. It’s also essential during confirmation ceremonies.
Sacred or holy chrism is olive oil-based and is mixed with small amounts of balm or balsam. In addition to being used during the sacrament of confirmation, chrism is also used during baptism, the blessings of major church bells, the ordination of priests and the consecration of churches and bishops. Religious experts note that the fragrant chrism has been seen as a symbol of God’s overflowing grace and generosity for centuries.
Chrism is blessed by the bishop of each diocese at a special mass called the Chrism Mass. It takes place on the morning of Holy Thursday during the solemn period of Lent. Priests then bring the chrism back to their churches for use in various ceremonies.
Chrism is used in confirmation to anoint the faithful. The concept of anointing people dates back to the Old Testament. Anointed people are set apart, cleansed, healed, and marked with the sign of the one who is doing the anointing. Confirmands are anointed with the seal of the Holy Spirit. The bishop will anoint the forehead in the sign of the cross to represent the mark of Christ’s sacrifice.
Chrism is multisensory and reminds those who receive it that they are here to serve a sacred purpose.