The Chrism Eucharist is one of my favourite moments in Holy Week – but when I was scouting round Google for a quick summary of the nature and importance of the event I could find little that was Anglican, so here goes:
The Chrism Eucharist – once commonly called the Maundy Mass – is a combination of the ancient practice of the Bishop blessing the oils for the year to come with the more recent custom of renewing ordination vows in Holy Week in the light of Gethsemane (see the ‘historical note’ p278 Times and Seasons) and of the Great
The service is a rare opportunity for clergy to come together in unity around our Great High Priest and remind ourselves of the source and nature of our vocation. It weaves together the interdependance of the holy orders, emphasising that all bishops are also priests, and all priests also deacons and all deacons are part of the priesthood of all believers. More importantly it calls us all to pray for, and support each other in our common service of the Gospel.
Chorister At your ordination as bishop, you received the gift of the Spirit, that you might lead the Church in mission, and send out ministers in Christ’s name; that you might promote its unity, uphold its discipline, and guard its faith; and that you might teach and govern the people committed to your charge. Will you continue faithfully in this ministry, watching over Christ’s own flock, and building them up in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace?
Bishop By the help of God, I will.
The chorister turns to address the priests, deacons and the congregation.
Chorister Will you pray for our bishops, that they may be faithful to the great trust that has been handed to them? Will you support and uphold them in this gift that has been given to them?
All By the help of God, we will.
The priests stand with the Bishop
A deacon addresses all the priests
Deacon At your ordination to the priesthood, you took authority to watch over and care for God’s people, to absolve and bless them in his name, to proclaim the gospel of salvation, and to minister the sacraments of his New Covenant. Will you continue as faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, preaching the Gospel of Christ and ministering his holy sacraments?
Priests By the help of God, I will.
The deacon turns to address the deacons and the congregation.
Deacon Will you pray for our priests, asking the Lord to bless them with the fullness of his love, and support them, that they may be faithful ministers of his word and sacrament, and lead his people in the way of salvation?
All: By the help of God, we will.
The deacons join the priests and bishops, standing
The chorister addresses all the deacons
Chorister At your ordination as a deacon, you received the yoke of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve. Will you continue faithfully in this ministry, to build up God’s people in his truth and serve them in his name?
Deacons By the help of God, I will.
The chorister turns to address the congregation
Chorister Will you pray for our deacons, that the Lord may pour upon them the riches of his grace, and support them in their service?
All By the help of God, we will.
The congregation stand
The deacon addresses the laos, the holy people of God, including lay ministers, lay workers and officers
Deacon By your Baptism you received the life the Christ. In your work and ministry you are called to be faithful in prayer, and by word and example to minister to those for whom Christ died. Will you do all that is in your power to be faithful in this calling?
Lay People & Ministers By the help of God, I will.
The chorister addresses the bishops, priests and deacons
Chorister Will you pray for the whole people of God and support them as they live out their baptism into Christ that they may be constant in prayer and steadfast in faith, and serve God and neighbour with joy.
Will you encourage and affirm those who through their Baptism have answered God’s call to serve in licensed public ministry in Christ’s Church?
All the ordained By the help of God, we will.
Having renewed our ordination vows, the liturgy turns the blessing of the oils: of chrism, of baptism, and for the healing of the sick. Beyond the Eucharist, these are at the heart of the sacramental life of the Church – baptism, healing and commissioning – and call us back out again, into our various ministries.
In many dioceses, the Chrism Eucharist naturally flows into a lunch – either corporately or severally – as clergy and other ministers and officers feast together before the exertions of the tridiium.
The Chrism Eucharist, in short, is an opportunity for clergy (principally) to be ministered to, to reconnect with the touchstone of their vocation, and to reflect on the nature of priestly service before they pour themselves out into the mysteries of the Passion and Resurrection. The people gathered in the cathedral are there, not only for their own renewal, but in support of their sisters and brothers in the work of the Gospel.
It is a beautiful service – and I encourage you to attend.
 The Chrism Eucharist in the Rochester Diocese in 2017 is on Thursday 13th April at 10:30am