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Author Topic: Use of Holy Oil (Chrism)  (Read 3723 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 31, 2010, 12:39:40 PM »

All, what is the proper use of holy oil that we get at our church reliquary (or by other means)? It is in those little bottles, same type used for holy water.

Can my wife and I annoint each other in our home? What is the proper use?

Could we (gasp) annoint our dogs in some way- my wife is attached to our dogs and wants to know.

Any thoughts on prayers, mode of annointing, references to canons, etc. would be helpful.

edited to add: "blessed" may be a better word than "holy", but if anyone wants to clarify on that distinction, if any, it would be appreciated as well.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 12:48:29 PM by android » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2010, 01:11:42 PM »

No matter how strange to me some American Orthodox customs are, you can't have been given Holy Chrism, just a blessed oil. Yes, you can anoint each other at home, I wouldn't anoint dogs.
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2010, 01:17:16 PM »

correct, not sacramental chrism, just blessed oil. thanks mike. care to elaborate on the "strange customs" of which you speak? (just curious)
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2010, 01:17:53 PM »

Chrism, as distinct from the oil used in the Mystery of Holu Unction, is a specially prepared oil used for Chrismations and the consecration of temples.
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2010, 01:29:37 PM »

No matter how strange to me some American Orthodox customs are, you can't have been given Holy Chrism, just a blessed oil. Yes, you can anoint each other at home, I wouldn't anoint dogs.

There are (at least) four kinds of oil in the Church.

1. Holy Chrism, which is consecrated infrequently by an autocephalous Synod in an elaborate ritual, including mixing in many different spices and essential oils. Holy Chrism is only used by the priest to administer the Mystery of Holy Chrismation, or by Bishops to consecrate a church or an antimension. It's never handed out, and no layperson should use it to anoint anyone or any thing.

2. Holy Oil, which is consecrated/blessed by a priest during the Mystery of Holy Unction for the healing of soul and body and the forgiveness of sins. There are some churches, especially in the diaspora, that will allow people to take some of this home with them, so they can anoint missing family members. However, some priests and bishops object to this.

3. Holy Myrrh, sometimes also called Holy Oil, which streams forth from relics or an Icon. Many churches throughout the Orthodox world will allow the faithful to bring this home to anoint their families.

4. Holy Oil, sometimes just called Oil, taken from a lampada that is next to or in front of relics or a special Icon. Many churches throughout the Orthodox world will allow the faithful to bring this home to anoint their families.

It is most certainly inappropriate to anoint an animal with No. 1 or 2. I've never heard of anyone doing it with No. 3 or 4. Personally, I wouldn't, but there are traditions in which the priest will sprinkle Holy Water on animals.
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2010, 01:37:27 PM »

Thank you, pensateomnia.
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2010, 01:45:45 PM »

Can my wife and I annoint each other in our home? What is the proper use?

Forgot to add this to my original post. Provided you have your priest's blessing to do so, you dip a Q-tip in the oil, and then draw the Sign of the Cross on your wife's forehead (or elsewhere, if there is a particular illness), while saying: "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

That's the typical way. Each spouse anoints the other. However, my wife occasionally decides to unilaterally anoint her own pregnant belly when I'm away at work.

The only issue -- and this is why some priests don't want you to use actual Holy Oil blessed during the Mystery of Holy Unction -- is: What to do with the used Q-tip? It's not acceptable to just throw it away, at least according to most people. So, you either save it and reuse it, or bring it to your parish to have it burned with the other garbage items from the altar area. Not all parish priests practice burning the "holy trash," though, so just ask for guidance from yours.

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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2010, 01:54:44 PM »

thanks pensateomnia- very helpful.
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2010, 02:16:59 PM »

care to elaborate on the "strange customs" of which you speak? (just curious)

Not to open a can of worms: all the stuff that results from small, family-like parishes (parish barbecues, festivals etc.), high level of religious awareness, pews Tongue and some other things.
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2010, 03:16:32 PM »

Not to open a can of worms: all the stuff that results from small, family-like parishes (parish barbecues, festivals etc.), high level of religious awareness, pews Tongue and some other things.

How is it a "strange custom" to have a high level of awareness of one's own religion?
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2010, 03:22:38 PM »

How is it a "strange custom" to have a high level of awareness of one's own religion?

Strange, as in definitely out of the ordinary. Evidence shows that the vast, vast majority of people of many cultures and religions know very little about their faith's teachings, scriptures, theology or history.

That's actually the case here in the U.S. mike just doesn't know that, since he's on an Orthodox nerd board.
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2010, 03:45:08 PM »

For the anointing of an animal:  get an icon of St. Modestos of Jerusalem.  Set up a lampada with oil in it, and light same; do some sort of service for the Saint.  You might then use the oil from the lampada to anoint the animal, since St. Modestos is the patron Saint of livestock and domestic animals.

Anything that has been blessed (flowers, palms, things with holy oils on them) should be disposed of by burning.  If you can't do this yourself, return the spent items to the church, and they'll take care of it.
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2010, 07:11:34 PM »

That's actually the case here in the U.S. mike just doesn't know that, since he's on an Orthodox nerd board.

You've ruined my belief system Cheesy
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2010, 08:15:41 PM »

Do EO priests ever bless water by pouring some Holy Chrism in it and then distributing it among the faithful to drink?  There are blessing services in the Armenian Church where this is done and I wonder if other Churches do it.  I'm not even sure if other OO Churches do that.
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2010, 08:23:11 PM »

Can my wife and I annoint each other in our home? What is the proper use?

Forgot to add this to my original post. Provided you have your priest's blessing to do so, you dip a Q-tip in the oil, and then draw the Sign of the Cross on your wife's forehead (or elsewhere, if there is a particular illness), while saying: "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

That's the typical way. Each spouse anoints the other. However, my wife occasionally decides to unilaterally anoint her own pregnant belly when I'm away at work.

The only issue -- and this is why some priests don't want you to use actual Holy Oil blessed during the Mystery of Holy Unction -- is: What to do with the used Q-tip? It's not acceptable to just throw it away, at least according to most people. So, you either save it and reuse it, or bring it to your parish to have it burned with the other garbage items from the altar area. Not all parish priests practice burning the "holy trash," though, so just ask for guidance from yours.



As I'm a single person sans spouse to annoint me, I just dab some oil on my finger and make the sign of the cross with it on my forehead, then I'll rub any "excess" oil on my finger into my hand. This way I don't have to worry about burning any cotton swabs, and my skin usually absorbs it pretty quickly. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2010, 09:57:47 PM »

No matter how strange to me some American Orthodox customs are, you can't have been given Holy Chrism, just a blessed oil. Yes, you can anoint each other at home, I wouldn't anoint dogs.

There are (at least) four kinds of oil in the Church.

1. Holy Chrism, which is consecrated infrequently by an autocephalous Synod in an elaborate ritual, including mixing in many different spices and essential oils. Holy Chrism is only used by the priest to administer the Mystery of Holy Chrismation, or by Bishops to consecrate a church or an antimension. It's never handed out, and no layperson should use it to anoint anyone or any thing.

2. Holy Oil, which is consecrated/blessed by a priest during the Mystery of Holy Unction for the healing of soul and body and the forgiveness of sins. There are some churches, especially in the diaspora, that will allow people to take some of this home with them, so they can anoint missing family members. However, some priests and bishops object to this.

3. Holy Myrrh, sometimes also called Holy Oil, which streams forth from relics or an Icon. Many churches throughout the Orthodox world will allow the faithful to bring this home to anoint their families.

4. Holy Oil, sometimes just called Oil, taken from a lampada that is next to or in front of relics or a special Icon. Many churches throughout the Orthodox world will allow the faithful to bring this home to anoint their families.

It is most certainly inappropriate to anoint an animal with No. 1 or 2. I've never heard of anyone doing it with No. 3 or 4. Personally, I wouldn't, but there are traditions in which the priest will sprinkle Holy Water on animals.

Re:  the above...setting aside any and all theological considerations, I submit that the reason many priests sprinkle Holy Water on animals is that usually the animals encountered during a house blessing, which is the typical time a priest encounters animals, are cats, and most priests take a certain holy glee in observing the feline reaction to being thusly blessed.
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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2010, 10:39:23 PM »

Quote
most priests take a certain holy glee in observing the feline reaction to being thusly blessed.

Ummm, Father, I'm sure you mean an unholy glee! Though if said feline were a Turkish Van, she'd love being blessed.

(Caveat: I have had cats as part of the household for more than 35 years, and I love them dearly.)
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2010, 11:20:26 AM »

Re:  the above...setting aside any and all theological considerations, I submit that the reason many priests sprinkle Holy Water on animals is that usually the animals encountered during a house blessing, which is the typical time a priest encounters animals, are cats, and most priests take a certain holy glee in observing the feline reaction to being thusly blessed.

In the suburban world, no doubt, but laying that (and your gatamisia police ) aside, I was actually thinking of blessings I've observed in rural Romania or Greece, wherein the priest will go so far as to read a special prayer and sprinkle the goats or a family's milk cow.
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« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2010, 11:29:31 AM »

(and your gatamisia police )

Ahhh - the true inspiration for Fr Anthony's words is uncovered.  Thank you. Wink
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« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2010, 11:51:22 AM »

I submit that the reason many priests sprinkle Holy Water on animals is that usually the animals encountered during a house blessing, which is the typical time a priest encounters animals, are cats, and most priests take a certain holy glee in observing the feline reaction to being thusly blessed.

I think this is secretly my number 1 reason for getting a house blessing  Cheesy

IMO you can't love a cat properly without annoying her from time to time.
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« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2010, 05:35:59 PM »

IMO you can't love a cat properly without annoying her from time to time.

Very true. Though Kitty is far superior at annoying us than we are at annoying her.  Grin

Quote
In the suburban world, no doubt, but laying that (and your gatamisia  ) aside, I was actually thinking of blessings I've observed in rural Romania or Greece, wherein the priest will go so far as to read a special prayer and sprinkle the goats or a family's milk cow.

But in these blessings of animals, holy water is used, never holy oil. In fact, particularly in the Slavic traditions, all sorts of things can be blessed according to the Trebnik, but always with holy water, not oil.
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