Holy Oils


#1

I believe that holy oils, or at least the sacred chrism, are to be kept under lock and key… does anyone have the relevant canon?


#2

It’s not in the 1983 Code. This is what it says:

847 §2. The pastor is to obtain the holy oils from his own bishop and is to preserve them diligently with proper care.

That canon combines 734 & 735 from the old code.

1917 Code:
Can 734 §1. Sacra olea quae quibusdam Sacramentis administrandis inserviunt, debent esse ab Episcopo benedicta feria V in Coena Domini proxime superiore; neque adhibeantur vetera, nisi necessitas urgeat.
§2. Mox deficienti oleo benedicto aliud oleum de olivis non benedictum adiiciatur, etiam iterato, minore tamen copia.
Can 735. Parochus olea sacra a suo Ordinario petere debet et in ecclesia in tuta ac decenti custodia sub clave diligenter asservare; nec ea domi retineat, nisi propter necessitatem aliamve rationabilem causam, accedente Ordinarii licentia.

The old Canon 735 did specify that they had to be locked-up (sub clave).

In any case, every pastor knows that he is obligated to keep the Holy Oils in a safe place.


#3

Thanks for the clarification Father. So it seems that the 1983 code relaxed the requirement? I thought the law still explicitly required the Chrism to be “locked” away. It was originally required by the Fourth Lateran Council I believe and I suppose I thought that canon had continued into the modern code.
At my home parish the holy oils are in the foyer on little shelves between the doors from the foyer to the nave. It still strikes me as wrong to have them there, but I guess the law isn’t as strict as I thought.


#4

Is it required that an ambry be in the sanctuary?


#5

Not necessarily.

In my personal experience, I see both practices of keeping them in an ambry in the sanctuary (or baptistry) or in a safe place in the sacristy.


#6

Yes. It seems that way to me too. But I wouldn’t read too much meaning into the change itself. I’ll make that my next post.

I thought the law still explicitly required the Chrism to be “locked” away. It was originally required by the Fourth Lateran Council I believe and I suppose I thought that canon had continued into the modern code.

Yes, until 1983.

What we have to keep in mind is that just because the requirement of a lock (sub clave) is not explicitly in the code anymore, that doesn’t mean they can be kept just anywhere. The 1983 code still requires the priest to “preserve them diligently with proper care.”

At my home parish the holy oils are in the foyer on little shelves between the doors from the foyer to the nave. It still strikes me as wrong to have them there, but I guess the law isn’t as strict as I thought.

As long as they’re in a safe and dignified place, that’s what counts.


#7

I know that there were a number of questions sent to the Holy See asking for clarification on keeping the Holy Oils under key. It might be that when the '83 Code was written, the decision was simply to drop the “sub clave” requirement so as not to be too legalistic. The important value (the value that the canon is meant to protect) is that the Oils be kept safe. That value was certainly retained in the 1983 code.

There are some good commentaries on the individual canons explaining the history of them and exactly why they were edited or revised from the 1917 code to the 1983 code. Maybe someone who has one of those can look it up to see if there’s any explanation.


#8

The requirement for locking the tabernacle with the reserved Blessed Sacrament is still in place, correct?
I believe it was the same original Lateran IV canon that required the “sub clave” requirement for BOTH the reserved Blessed Sacrament and the Chrism.


#9

Yes. Canon 938.3

I believe it was the same original Lateran IV canon that required the “sub clave” requirement for BOTH the reserved Blessed Sacrament and the Chrism.

I take you at your word. I’m sure you researched it before you posted it.

St John Paul the Great modified the code of canon law in 1983. He obviously felt that the words “preserve them diligently with proper care” were the appropriate words to use in the canon.

You posted the original question. You asked for the relevant canon. I posted the relevant canon.
847 §2. The pastor is to obtain the holy oils from his own bishop and is to preserve them diligently with proper care.
§ 2. Parochus olea sacra a proprio Episcopo impetret eaque decenti custodia diligenter asservet.


#10

Thanks Father. No, I know you answered my original question. I now know I was mistaken to think that the more strict requirement was still in place. I just thought it was interesting that both the Eucharist and Chrism were covered by a single canon at Lateran IV. Here’s the original canon from the Council:

CANON 20

Text: We decree that in all churches the chrism and the Eucharist be kept in properly protected places provided with locks and keys, that they may not be reached by rash and indiscreet persons and used for impious and blasphemous purposes. But if he to whom such guardianship pertains should leave them unprotected, let him be suspended from office for a period of three months. And if through his negligence an execrable deed should result, let him be punished more severely.
(fordham.edu/halsall/basis/lateran4.asp)

Interestingly, the following canon, Canon 21, survived into the modern code: the requirement to confess serious sins once a year and receive Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.


#11

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