Monday, April 18, 2011

The Importance of Oil

My thoughts today turn toward oil. I am not speaking about crude oil, with the outrageous price per barrel that it is now commanding, but rather the oil that will be blessed by bishops throughout the world in these last days before the Triduum begins. In our Diocese of Wilmington, we will celebrate the "Chrism Mass" this evening, and priests will gather to concelebrate with our bishop as he blesses the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and consecrates the Chrism.
These oils will be used in sacraments throughout the diocese during this next year. I would like to share with you phrases from the prayers said by the bishop over each of the oils.
"Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul, and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction." It is very impressive to me to think that this Oil of the Sick will be used to anoint countless individuals we need the healing power of God in their lives. How many will be comforted in their last days, hours or minutes by the graces that are given in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick!
Likewise, innumerable infants, children and adults will be touched by the Oil of Catechumens, marking their desire to be baptized in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. "Bless this oil and give wisdom and strength to all who are anointed with it in preparation for their baptism. Bring them to a deeper understanding of the gospel, help them to accept the challenge of Christian living, and lead them to the joy of new birth in the family of God." What a beautiful sentiment!
And I am awestruck to ponder the connection with the entire diocese that will be felt by those who will be marked with Sacred Chrism in the sacraments that change forever the life of the recipient: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders, as well as the altars and church walls that will be consecrated with this perfumed oil! "Father, by the power of your love, make this mixture of oil and perfume a sign and source of your blessing. Pour out the gifts of your Holy Spirit on our brothers and sisters who will be anointed with it. Let the splendor of holiness shine on the world from every place and thing signed with this oil."
Indeed the prayers that are pronounced by the bishop are short, but powerful. And their meaning is profound and beautiful!

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