"He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him."
"They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them."
“They shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil” (Jer.31:12) In these words the prophet Jeremiah foretells the blessings that God would one day pour out upon his people. Oil in particular was a special sign of God’s blessing among the many beautiful provisions of the Good Shepherd is his anointing: “You anoint my head with oil.” (Ps. 23:5) The tribe of Asher was especially blessed among all the tribes of Israel (the word “asher” means “happy” or “blessed”) because, as Moses said, “the oil of his olive trees runs over his feet” (Dt. 33:24). It is no wonder then, that oil became a symbol of the fullness of God’s blessings poured out through His Holy Spirit, and that the expected savior would be the Anointed One (Messiah or Christ). Thus oil has become a rich symbol of our life in Jesus, or our sharing in His anointing and in the outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Using oil can be a beautiful and powerful way of renewing our life in Jesus, especially when this oil has been “made holy by God’s word and by prayer” (I Tim. 4:5).
Oil in the Bible
Perhaps no other element in the bible was used for such a wide variety of purposes as was oil. Listed below are only some of them. Oil was used in cooking and baking. In particular, the loaves offered in sacrifice were to be made with oil (Ex. 29:2). Oil was often mixed with perfumes and used to make oneself more beautiful and attractive (Ruth 3:3; Jdt.16:2). As such it was also used to honor guests. Anointing them with perfumed oil was a sign of great honor and respect, as well as a way of offering refreshment after a journey ( Lk. 7:37-38, 46; Ps 23:5). Perhaps for this same reason it was often referred to as an “oil of gladness,” bringing joy to the heart (Ps. 45:8; Is. 61:3; Heb 1:9).
Oil too was a source of light, being used in lamps both in homes and in the temple (Ex. 27:20; Mt. 25:3). The flame thus kindled likewise became a symbol of the Holy Spirit, whose fire purifies and enflames us with love and zeal (Acts 2:3). The healing properties of oil were also recognized (Ez.16:9; Lk 10:34). The apostles used it for healing, apparently at the instruction of Jesus Himself (Mk. 6:13), and this practice was continued in the early church (Jas. 5:14). Moses gave instructions for the making of a sacred anointing oil (Ex. 30:22-25). With this oil, the Israelites were to consecrate the priests (Ex. 29:7; Lev. 8:12). Even the meeting tent and the obects of worship were to be anointed with this oil, and thus consecrated to God (Ex. 30: 26-29; Lev. 8:10-11).
The kings of Israel were also anointed with oil (I Kings 1:39); II Kings 9:6). Further more, we read that when Samuel anointed David as king : “from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David” (I Sam. 16:13). From this experience, and perhaps others like it, oil became a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The prophets therefore who spoke under the influence of the Spirit were considered to be anointed by God (Is. 61:1), and were sometimes even anointed with oil (I Kings 19:16).
Jesus, the Anointed One
The expected savior of Israel, being the Anointed One, was to receive the full and complete anointing of God’s Spirit. Every blessing given through oil in the Old Testament was to be poured out in fullness upon the Messiah, and through Him upon all God’s people. Throughout his entire life Jesus showed Himself to be the Anointed One. At His baptism in particular,He received a powerful anointing of the Spirit, as Peter later bore witness: God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil”(Acts 10:38).
The New Testament witnesses also to Jesus; threefold anointing as King (Lk. 1:33), Prophet (Lk.4:18), and Priest (Heb. 7:17), and to His being anointed with the oil of gladness (Heb.1:9). In short, the fullness of anointing, the fullness of God’s Spirit, is to be found in Jesus. It is to Him that we must go to receive of that anointing. “The Disciples were called Christians”(Acts 11:26). Since Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, it is not surprising that his followers soon came to be called “christians”, “anointed ones.” To be a christian means to share in the anointing of Jesus, to receive His Holy Spirit and the blessings the Spirit imparts.
How do we do this: How do we receive Jesus’ anointing? Scripture mentions three initial steps: repentance, faith, and baptism (Acts 2:38). But there was also in addition to baptism, even in apostolic time, the laying on of hands with prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15-17). By at least the second century this was accompanied by an anointing with oil. Oil was no doubt used together with the laying on of hands because it signified becoming a sharer in the anointing of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the course of time this came to be called the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the oil used was called “chrism”. To this anointing there was later added a pre-baptismal anointing to prepare catechumens for baptism. This oil came to be called the “oil of catechumens”. A third oil mentioned in the letter of James (5:14) is the “oil of the sick”. Until at least the 9th century lay people as well as clergy could use oil in praying for the sick. The first oil, chrism, is also used in baptism, when for some reason, confirmation does not follow immediately, and it is used as well in the ordination of bishops and priests.
These three oils are blessed each year by the bishop during holy week. Together they signify in various ways our full sharing in the anointing of Jesus. By using all these oils we give outward expression to our faith in Jesus as God’s anointed, and thereby share more deeply in his anointing.
In using sacramentals, as lay people we should not confuse this oil with the Church’s holy oil that is conferred only by a priest in the Anointing of the Sick.
Blessed Oil for all Christians
Besides the three oils which the church now reserves for use in the sacraments, the Church also recognizes the use of blessed oil for use by all Christians. (See roman Ritual, p. 393, no.3) The purpose of this oil is primarily for healing and protection from harm; but the oil can also be used to pray for all the blessings which the oil represents; that is, all the riches which are ours in Jesus. The oil can be used in praying for oneself or in praying for others. The simplest way of anointing is to make the sign of the cross on the forehead while saying the accompanying prayers. (see Ez. 9:3; Rev. 7:3) But other parts of the body can also be anointed especially when the need for healing may be localized in one or several parts of the body.
If using on another, it is advisable to inform them that you are using blessed oil, which is not the sacred oils of the Church, and are not administering a sacrament of the church.
by Abbot Andrew Miles, OSB
Exorcism Blessing for Oil (Olive)
(Use regular, 100% pure oil) (Priest vests in surplice and purple stole)
P. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
P: O oil, creature of God, I exorcise you by God the Father (+) almighty, who made heaven and earth and sea, and all that they contain. Let the adversary’s power, the devil’s legions, and all of Satan’s attacks and machinations be dispelled and driven far from this creature, oil. Let it bring health in body and mind to all who use it, in the name of God (+) the Father almighty, and of our Lord Jesus (+) Christ, His Son, and of the Holy (+) Spirit, as well as in the love of the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
P: O Lord hear my prayer.
R: And let my cry come unto thee.
P: May the Lord be with you.
R: And with your spirit.
P: Let us pray. Lord God almighty, before whom the hosts of angels stand in awe, and whose heavenly service we acknowledge; may it please you to regard favorably and to bless (+) and hallow (+) this creature, oil, which by your power has been pressed from the juice of olives. You have ordained it for anointing the sick, so that, when they are made well, they may give thanks to you, the living and true God. Grant we pray, that those who will use this oil, which we are blessing (+) in your name, may be protected from every attack of the unclean spirit, and be delivered from all suffering, all infirmity, and all wiles of the enemy. Let it be a means of averting any kind of adversity from man, redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, so that he may never again suffer the sting of the ancient serpent. Through Christ our Lord.