Proper use of Holy Oil?

My son is very ill, and this morning I asked Father to please pray for him. After finding out what the problem is, he gave me a vial of Holy Oil (normally used for the Sacrament of Annointing of the Sick) with which to annoint him when I go to the hospital.

Is this a proper use? According to Canon Law, only a priest can validly confer the Sacrament, and then only to a Catholic. I’m not a priest (obviously). My son has been baptised, but is not Catholic. But is it proper for me to annoint him with the oil as a sacramental?

Please someone reply, I’m going to see him in the morning. I don’t want to do anything illicit but if it’s alright then I’d sure like to do everything I can.

Thanks, and please keep us in your prayers.

From 1997 Instruction On Certain Questions, at Article 9, §1:

“… Since they are not priests, in no instance may the non-ordained perform anointings either with the Oil of the Sick or any other oil.”

neophyte, your suspicions are correct. Only a priest can anoint and surely he knows this. Why on earth did he give you holy oil?

May I ask how old your priest is?

My right retina detached and tore in 4 places, very serious. I received some oil holy from the St. Philimenia society along with a blessed cord to wear. I put the oil on my eye lid each day and my eye sight returned to 20-25 in my right eye, and after one year, the blood flow appears almost equal to the left eye.

I was not annointing “the dieing” , just the sick -me. Yes, you can use it.

Also, get your son enrolled in a parish prayer group for the sick - this really works as well.

If I am wrong someone please correct me, but I believe that the oil that the priests use for the Anointing of the Sick (Sacrament, capital “S”), has a special blessing that is given at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week where the various oils are blessed. If that is what the priest gave, he probably got carried away. I don’t think he intended it as being used by a lay person for the Sacrament of the sick which only he can do.

However, the sacramental blessed oil that some use when they pray for a person is different. Some of those sacramental oils (small “s”) are obtained from shrines of saints.

I knew a Carmelite priest, now deceased, who blessed olive oil, (even vegetable oil, he just said oil) salt, and water for those who brought some in to the monthly day of prayer that he gave at a retreat house We always had two conferences, Mass, and sharing from the previous month’s prayers for healing and deliverance. He forte was being a Retreat Master on the three Carmelite saints who are Doctors of the Church, and after Holy Communion he asked for 15 minutes of silent time alone with the Lord. (I know I am running off at the mouth, but these were such awe-filled days that I attended when I lived up north.)

Testimonies of people there who used the sacramentals with faith abounded! The blessing of these items contains the prayer of the Church and we can count on that.

I can’t really speculate on his interior reasoning, but I’m sure that he did it because he’s a very kind and generous man.

Perhaps he knows, perhaps not. In charity I’ll presume not and let God give me the words that he wishes me to speak.

A friend of mine sent a letter to the Vatican asking for clarification on the above-referenced document asking if it prohibited lay people from using blessed oil. He received the following letter in reply:

You can also read commentary on this letter here.

I understand what you are saying and I read the commentary. However, the big difference here and what the OP, described is that this is the oil that was actually consecrated at the Chrism Mass. Thus, what the priest suggested to the OP is not proper at all. The oil from the St. Philomena shrine is not intended for the imparting of the sacrament of the annointing of the sick, as the CDWDS clarified. That is an important distinction to make. However, the oil that the priest used, is intended solely for the purpose of imparting the sacrament. It should not be used for anything else. Thus, what he suggested to the OP was gravely wrong.

Thank you for posting that Beckycmarie! It is so good to read the clear wording of a sound teaching.


That is an important point. Somehow I missed that the OP was saying the priest gave him or her the Oil of the Infirm, and not just some other blessed oil. Lay people can never use one of the three oils used for Sacraments.


Thanks so much for posting that!

In retrospect Father did not specifically say that the oil was the Oil of the Infirm - I merely inferred it from the context of the conversation. I’ve since learned that he also a vial from an icon of the Blessed Mother which appears to be supernaturally exuding oil.

This is probably a case of me being highly stressed on top of my usual scrupulosity. Father usually exercises great care in guarding the sacraments, and now that I’ve had time to decompress I feel reasonably assured that this is the oil from the icon.

Thanks, everyone.

Still, you might ask him for some clarification as to which oil he gave you. Regarding the oil from the icon of the Blessed Mother, I would stress caution here. Unless this has been approved by the diocesan bishop where the icon is located, this could be a very delicate matter.

Also - good news to the OP - if your son was baptized in the Trinatarian Formula than congratualations - your son is Catholic by baptism - he just has not has not had Eucharist and Confirmation yet. And if his condition is grave both can be conferred regardless of age - and if he should recover - even better - there are healing powers.

Baptism is a Sacrament that we share with the other Christian Churches - Marriage is the other. I am putting it simply - it is a bit more complicated but it should provide you some hope.

The sacramental bond of the unity of Christians
1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: “For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.”[80] “Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.”[81]

An indelible spiritual mark . . .
1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.[82] Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.

1273 Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have received the sacramental character that consecrates them for Christian religious worship.[83] The baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.[84]

1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (“Dominicus character”) “for the day of redemption.”[85] “Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life.”[86] The faithful Christian who has “kept the seal” until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life “marked with the sign of faith,”[87] with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.

Well, you know more than we do - so take with a grain of salt what I just said before I get lynched - if you have any questions about his status see your Priest - he sounds conservative enough and a true protector of the Sacramentals.

However, I would be very careful with these statements. When the Catechism uses the word “Christian”, more often than not, it is in reference to Catholics and not necessarily those who are members of Protestant ecclesial communities. While a person may be baptized in a Protestant ecclesial community using the Trinitarian formula, that does not necessarily make the individual a Catholic, a Christian, yes, but not a Catholic.

The Catechesism is the official teaching document of the Church, but, it is not a legislative one nor a canonical one. The OP’s son would need proper formation in the Faith in order to enter into full communion with the Church.

Exactly- and that is why follow up with the priest should be done on this but if he is giving blessed oils - well it sounds as if he already has made his decision on it.

Do you know if it’s chrism or merely (not “merely”, but you get the idea) blessed oil? I go to my priest for spiritual direction, and told him that while I had pretty much conquered the whole impure thought thing during the day (with, needless to say, prayer), I was badly troubled by them at night or as I woke in the morning. He gave me a bottle of blessed oil (olive, actually) and said to dip a finger in it and make the Sign of the Cross just before going to sleep at night. Sounds crazy–it certainly did to me–but it really did work. Perhaps he gave something similar to you?

The Oil of Chrism and the Oil of the Sick are two different things altogether. Inasmuch as these Oils, along with the Oil of the Catechumen, are consecrated/blessed during the Chrism Mass by the bishop, each serves a different purpose. The Oil of Chrism is used for Holy Orders and Confirmation (and Baptism I believe, but I might be wrong). The Oil of Catechumen is used for Baptism. The Oil of the Sick has its specific use for the Sacrament of Annointing of the Sick.

I’m quite sure the good Father did not give Oil of the Infirm to this mother. No priest would do that. Who would leave their oil stock behind and then go on to other visits?

It’s most likely sacramental oil from a shrine or something of the sort, or just sacramental oil that the priest blessed himself.

There is a formula in the Book of Blessings for sacramental oil that can be blessed by a priest or deacon. Obviously this is NOT the Oil of the Infirm. (confer BB 1171). This is for blessing of food, wine, oil and salt and so forth.

The formula for oil is:

God of compassion, mercy and love,
in the midst of the pain and suffering of the world
your Son came among us
to heal our infirmities and soothe our wounds.
May all who use this oil (in honor of Saint N.)
be blessed with health of mind and body.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

And yes, Benedictgal - the Sacred Chrism is used in baptism. Those to be baptized are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens BEFORE baptism (on the breastplate - like spiritual armor), and AFTER baptism with the Sacred Chrism on the crown of the head.

Whenever a priest (or even a deacon, it seems) were to give blessed sacramental oil to someone they should be OVERLY CLEAR that it is a sacramental oil, and not the Oil of the Infirm. Take five minutes and provide a little catechesis. Then these sorts of confusion would not occur.

God bless you all,

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