Bishops’ Rules for Blessed Oil
After consultation with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the bishops of the SACBC have decided as follows regarding the blessed oil commonly referred to as oil of gladness by others.
The only name to be used is blessed oil. This is out of reverence for the Oil of Chrism specially blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday, which the liturgy calls the oil of gladness in the rite of the Chrism Mass. The term oil of gladness should be restricted to chrism in our Catholic understanding.
Currently there is confusion with essential oils that people purchase, for example, oil of gladness. This is an essential oil and nothing to do with blessed oil.
As a sacramental, the blessed oil indicates strengthening, protection and healing similar to holy water.
When blessing the oil, the prayer of blessing recommended by the conference is found below. The oil thus blessed will be brought to the level of other sacramentals such as medals, crucifixes and holy water which have their own blessing formulas.
It will be necessary and important to instruct people that the oil thus blessed by the priest or bishop is for them to use on themselves or within their families.
In the case of healing liturgies when the Oil of the Sick is not used by the priest, oil can be blessed using the same formula as below. The priest using it has the responsibility of catechising the people in terms of the reasons why on that particular occasion blessed oil and not the Oil of the Sick is being used.
In the main the reason is that the oil for the Sacrament of the Sick is used to confer the sacrament on those who are physically ill, whereas healing liturgies invite people with all kinds of ailments, physical, mental, emotional, to come to be prayed over and anointed with the blessed oil. Holy water, blessed salt, blessed candles and incense could also be used as alternatives in such prayer rituals.
This blessed oil is also used in circumstances of deliverance as holy water would be used.
Groups such as Youth Encounter in Spirit (YES), Education for Life and others coming from a charismatic background, using the blessed oil, are asked to understand that the bishops are from now on limiting the blessing and use of this blessed oil to priests alone.
The promotion and use of holy water is an alternative to blessed oil, and equivalent to it.
There is a special prayer provided for the blessing of ordinary oil and it is to be used by a priest when blessing oil at someone’s request.
The priest, after blessing the oil, will anoint the person with a simple sign of the cross on the forehead, in silence, and entrust the oil to the person for his/her own use, or for use in the family.
He reminds the person that this oil is only a sacramental which points to the much more important encounter with Christ the healer in the sacraments of confession and holy communion.
The bishops also desire that blessed oil be used by the priest or a number of priests at pilgrimage sites where large numbers of the faithful are gathered whose needs for healing are much wider than physical illness which is the reason for the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
At healing services presided over by a priest, the oil can be used and is blessed with the prayer provided.
Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
People: Who made heaven and earth.
Priest: O Lord, hear my prayer
People: And let my cry come unto you.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Let us pray:
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we praise and thank you for this oil which brings healing and gladness to your people who come to you in faith.
By the gift of your Holy Spirit bless this oil which we set aside for use in his name.
Grant we pray that those who use this oil may be delivered from all suffering, all infirmity, and all the wiles of the enemy.
We ask this in hope through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son.
For any queries, please consult Bishop Edward Risi, chair of the Department for Christian Formation, Liturgy and Culture and CIE, at email@example.com