OIL ANOINTING AND SACRAMENTAL OILS - DR. GIL HAAS, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
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Christians have used three sacramental oils since the second century, although for centuries earlier, oil was used in the Old Testament to anoint kings, prophets, and priests. Mark 6:13 mentions the use of oil for healing, and many of us have been anointed before a surgery or when we were ill. Oil of unction is olive oil blessed by a bishop (usually during Holy week at the service where the diocesan clergy reaffirm their holy vows), and it is often one of the gifts given by a congregation to a new minister. Unction to a dying person can be performed by a deacon or lay person in an emergency. Oil of chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balsam blessed by a bishop and is used after baptism, confirmation, and a bishop’s consecration. Oil of catechumens is olive oil used for the exorcistic anointing before baptism, at the ordination of priests, and the anointing of monarchs, but it is not mentioned by our Book of Common Prayer. All oils are applied in the sign of the cross to a person’s forehead with the clergy’s thumb. Oil at unction was allowed in our 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer includes the rite of chrismation at baptism at which time the newly baptized is “sealed as Christ’s own forever”.
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Dr, Gil Haas, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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