The Story of Our Holy Oils

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Deacon (now priest) John Roop carries the oil at the clergy gathering on Holy Tuesday.

Every year our clergy gather with the Bishops on Holy Tuesday for the blessing of the oils. The Chrism Eucharist is the designation for an ancient ritual traditionally celebrated in a Diocese on the morning of Maundy Thursday, during which the anointing Oils to be used for the following year are consecrated. There are three types of oils blessed for various purposes.

Oil of the Catechumens
Our oil is olive oil mixed with hyssop, used by a Priest for the blessing of catechumens (disciples): those preparing for baptism or confirmation or possibly reception or reaffirmation. Catechumens are in need of spiritual cleansing and are open to spiritual attack in their preparations, as they are turning to Christ. A Rite for Admission of Catechumens is found in the new text: To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism (page 137). This oil is used for other purposes as well: for spiritual cleansing, exorcism or deliverance with the Bishop’s consent, and for the Bishop in the Consecration/ Dedication of a Church, in the consecration of Altars and Altar Stones, and in the Ordination of Priests.

Healing Oil, “Oil of the Sick”
This oil is used for anointing at the time of death, but especially for regular prayers for healing by deacons, priests, or commissioned lay prayer ministers; and in the past, for the blessing of bells. (Larger quantities of the healing oil (Oil of the Sick) may be created by adding a drop of the consecrated oil to a larger oil stock that the local church provides.) Our olive oil is mixed with frankincense.
James, in his Epistle, directs the Early Church: “Is any among you sick? Let them call upon the Presbyteroi (elders/priests) of the Church, and let them pray over him/her, anointing him/her with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise them up. And if they be in sin, they shall be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)

Holy Chrism
This oil is used by the Bishop in the Sacrament of Confirmation, and may be used by a Priest in the Rite of Baptism. Bishops also use it in the rites of the consecration of bishops, churches, chalices, patens, and by a Priest for the baptismal water. Our oil has rose as an added fragrance, in addition to the olive oil. In some churches, balsam and/or other perfumes and sweet-spices are added to the oil. “Chrism” means a “scented ointment.” Traditionally the other oils were unscented.

The Source of our Oils
Jose (Joe) and Annette Abreu, from St. Mark’s, Moultrie, Georgia, donated over a gallon of oil that was pressed from olives from their olive orchard in Portugal.  We thank them for their generous kindness.
See the process in the photos below!

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The olives were harvested the old world way “by hand” and were pressed last fall.

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The olives were harvested the old world way “by hand” and were pressed last fall.

Special thanks to Fr. Jon Jenkins for allowing us to adapt his research and writing on oils.

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