The recent presidential election here in the United States happily coincided with the start of a new television programme entitled The Crown, which traces the life of Queen Elizabeth II at the time of her marriage, the death of her father, King George VI, and her subsequent accession, as well as the early years of her reign. Themes of duty, honour, and fidelity, are very present and the character of Sir Winston Churchill, then serving his second term as Prime Minister, is at pains to instill in the young sovereign these laudable traits; characteristics that ensure the Crown remains greater than the crowned.
On or about Holy Thursday each year the diocesan bishop celebrates what is known as the ‘Chrism Mass’, during which the oils to be used in the celebration of the sacraments in the coming year are blessed or consecrated. The oil of the sick used when a person is seriously ill or dying, and the oil of catechumens used in the rites associated with the sacrament of Holy Baptism, are both blessed, whilst the oil of Chrism is consecrated; the bishop breathing into the oil and mixing with it a sweet-smelling perfume called balsam. This consecration, or setting-aside, is significant because the oil of Chrism signifies the royal dignity in which Christians share by their incorporation into Christ; the one whose very name means ‘anointed’.