WASHINGTON (CNS) — The preparation, blessing and distribution of oils are central to the Catholic Church’s sacraments and rites — and are among some of the church’s most ancient traditions and rituals witnessed during Holy Week.
The oils include the oil of the sick, used in the anointing of the sick; the oil of catechumens, which is for those preparing to be baptized, and the chrism oil, which is consecrated and used for baptism, confirmation and holy orders.
Ahead of this annual blessing ritual — which takes place at a special liturgy called the chrism Mass usually celebrated on Holy Thursday — comes the publication of a new book titled “The Order of Blessing the Oil of Catechumens and of the Sick and of Consecrating the Chrism” by the publishing division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The book is the revised translation of the rite for blessing the holy oils that the Vatican approved in 2017. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, which was March 6 this year, this text became the required English translation for use in the United States. It will be necessary for dioceses’ celebration of the chrism Mass.
“USCCB Publications has produced an attractive book that is worthy of a ceremony as important as the chrism Mass. The use of the holy oils is a striking part of the church’s prayer in various moments of a person’s life and in important moments in the life of a parish,” Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Divine Worship, said in a statement.
“All of these ceremonies throughout the diocese are linked together through those oils blessed by the bishop,” he added.
This ritual book is intended primarily for U.S. bishops and their diocesan worship offices, but also will be useful for seminaries, theological libraries and “those who are interested in this important moment in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church,” the USCCB said.
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Editor’s Note: “The Order of Blessing the Oil” can be ordered at https://bit.ly/2SR2ftP. The 32-page book is a leather-bound, hardcover volume and costs $29.95. The product code is 7-624.