Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blessed Oils

Until this afternoon after Mass, I had never really given much thought to blessed oil and all the rules surrounding its use. I knew blessed oil was different than Holy Oils and that lay Catholics cannot anoint people. Now I know the rest of the story!

We've used St. Joseph's oil  in the past (oil that burns in the lamp under the statue of St. Joseph in St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal) and blessed oil that is in our wedding crucifix.  Hubby's dad was healed through the intercession of Bl. Brother Andre and this has always given us a special affection for Bl. Brother Andre. His parents brought oil back for us on their last trip to Montreal many, many years ago. 

St. Joseph's oil was special to us, too. We  passed  along what we had left about 3 years ago to a lady who was battling cancer.  I remember using the St. Joseph's oil when we lost our fourth pregnancy.  Of course, the night before, we did not know the baby was dead. We prayed the rosary when I started having "complications" and I remember Chris getting out the St. Joseph's Oil and blessing me with it as he prayed over me.  We continued to pray and hope for the best. Followed doctor's orders and the next day, we found Thomas' heart was no longer beating. They induced labor and he was given a conditional baptism by the pathologist with the Holy Water I brought from home. She used the prayer from my Mother's manual and everything (Our priest at the time refused to come out to the hospital).  I'll never forget her tears and her hugging us after she'd given him a conditional baptism.  I really think the blessed oil, the Holy Water and all of our sacramentals gave us blessings we needed to get through those long days.

Last year, a  friend gave me some scented blessing oil that had not been blessed.  It smells like church because it is Frankincense and Myrrh scented. Absolutely lovely. Or yummy, both words describe it well.   This oil sat by my door for at least a year, until today because I am so forgetful.

After Mass, I asked Father to bless the oil and he looked perplexed as he asked me, "What is it?"  I said, "Scented oil for blessing."  I forget exactly what he said, but he didn't want to bless it.  He mentioned something about people being confused between a blessing and anointing of the sick.  I asked him if it was wrong to bless someone with oil and told him my boys know the difference between the Anointing of the Sick and a blessing.  I was confused by his response because we'd blessed our children and each other with oil before. Certainly not a common practice, but we'd done it at certain "special" times.  I started to walk away and he had second thoughts, I guess, because he grabbed my hand and blessed the oil. 

This  exchange made me research things. This was a policy I came across that made me feel much better. (I couldn't find one specific to our diocese online):


No permission is necessary for the private use of blessed oil by individuals to bless themselves or members of their families.

The faculty is granted to pastors and priest-chaplains to give permission for lay ministers to use blessed oil for ministry to the sick in their parish or institution.

When blessed oil is used in the ministry of healing care must be taken to avoid any confusion with the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, which may be celebrated only by a priest. The minister should always make it clear that the blessing is in no way regarded as the sacrament of the sick. A lay minister may not perform anointings either with the oil of the sick or with any unblessed oil.

Blessed oil, used as a sacramental, must be blessed by a priest or deacon using a distinct formula of blessing (Book of Blessings, chapter 59).

A prayer must always accompany the application of the blessed oil since sacramentals achieve their effects through the Church’s intercession (Book of Blessings, #10; Sacrosanctum Concilium, #60).
Blessed oil may be used by a designated lay minister at the conclusion of the Order for the Blessing of the Sick (Book of Blessings, chapter 2), or likewise, at the conclusion of the rite of a visit to the sick (Pastoral Care of the Sick, chapters 1 and 2), provided that the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister are followed.

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