Thursday, April 14, 2011

Worship and Prayer: The fragrance of holiness

This morning the Diocese of Bethlehem celebrated Chrism Mass, at which deacons, priests and bishops renew their ordination vows, and the holy oils for the year are blessed. These oils including anointing oil for the Sick, for the Catechumens, and Holy Chrism. Following the conclusion of Mass, Bishop Paul's chaplain, Deacon George, bottles the newly minted oils into tiny vials for distribution to each parish.

While Deacon George and his assistants toil at the oil-filling machine (of Deacon George's construction), everyone else retires to the parish hall for a Lenten lunch.

I happened to be sitting at a table with a bowl of soup, when Deacon George came in to announce that the oils were ready. A faint fragrance of chrism floated behind him as he passed by.

Ancient tradition has it that holy people are sometimes surrounded by the sweetest and loveliest of scents. Indeed, sometimes even their relics give off the smell of flowers or incense. I hope that God sometimes looks down on us at prayer and worship, and experiences our prayers rising like incense (Psalm 141).

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