Strange "Anointing" at the end of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

Glory Be to Jesus Christ!

So, I went to a very small Ukrainian Catholic church this past Saturday where we celebrated the fest of Sts. Peter and Paul. Now, I’m Roman Catholic, so there’s a whole lot of culture that I don’t understand.

Now, at the end of the Divine Liturgy, all 7 of us present (yeah, I know, crazy!) went up to Father who anointed us with a key dipped in a vial of oil. Is this an Eastern tradition I’ve never heard of, or was it something totally out of the blue?

Thanks everyone!

It is a Byzantine tradition (at least among the Slavic churches) that is done on feast days.

Yeah we do that at my parish on big feast days.

Yes, we got anointed too, and the oil has a lovely fragrance. I don’t know about a key though. How sad that there were only 7 of you!!

I wish I could have been number 8; that sounds lovely.

Yes, the anointing is done during Feasts. Normally it should be at Vespers, but many EC parishes do not celebrate Vespers, or have a Vesperal Divine Liturgy, so the anointing is done at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

You folks have said that there is an anointing on special feasts, but nobody has said what it signifies. Does anyone know? How can a person benefit if they receive a blessing about which they have no information? When RC’s are blessed with candles at their throat on the feast of St. Blase, we know what it means. When we receive ashes at the beginning of lent, likewise, we know the meaning. Etc.

On the eves of solemn feasts in the Byzantine Rite, there are special hymns of intercessory prayer at Vespers, and the priest blesses bread, wheat, wine, and oil, with the following prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ our God, you blessed the five loaves in the wilderness
and fed the five thousand. Likewise bless these loaves, wheat, wine, and
oil, and multiply them in this city and through your whole world. Sanctify
your faithful who will partake of them, for you yourself bless and sanctify
all things, O Christ our God, and we give glory to you with your eternal
Father and your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and

At Matins (or after the Divine Liturgy) the faithful are anointed with the oil, which is not a sacrament but a sacramental; it signifies spiritual joy, and our being conformed to Christ (think priest, prophet, and king, all of whom are anointed).

EWTN cribbed the following article, which is actually from a leaflet from the Byzantine Seminary Press:

Question about anointing

In the Roman Rite, the priest sprinkles us with holy water at the beginning of solemn liturgies which reminds us of and strengthens our baptismal grace. Would this be the same thing except in regards to chrismation?

So now we have to understand something spiritual for it to be beneficial to us? :confused: Where do you guys think this stuff up? Sounds like a Baptist condemning infant Baptism. :eek:

It’s a lovely little church. Sadly when the big factory shut down, people moved away and now there are <10 elderly parishioners remaining. They were so excited when I (I’m 21) decided to start attending. :slight_smile:

This is all really interesting everyone, thank you!

As to it being a key…I’m not 100% sure that it actually was one. The priest has a very thick accent and I think he was making some joke before hand about oiling up the gate to heaven that St. Peter watches :smiley:

Everyone else just kinda new what was going on :o

That wasn’t the question. :stuck_out_tongue:

A blunt stylus or a brush can be used. The stylus, when used, typically has a cross on one end, and a ball-shaped tip, 2mm to 5mm across.

How gnostic of you :p.

In all seriousness that’s a very untrue statement that you need to cognize your blessings. I don’t always acknowledge every move I make as a blessing, but it is. God’s infinite generous to dispense mercies is not somehow contingent on human cognition; that would somehow limit God to our own understand of His works.

This goes for any blessing that is given by a priest to anyone for any purpose. Do infants not benefit from baptism or those dying (who perhaps have never heard of it) are anointed? Even a child who does not understand the consumption of the host still is spiritually nourished. And quite frankly, I don’t understand any of those either, but they were all dispensed through the mercy of God and that is the only source and condition (I wouldn’t even say belief in the blessing is a necessary element for its efficaciousness).

Anyway, this sounds like a very nice ritual. Does anyone know if it’s only specifically Slavic or generally Byzantine? I assume the key relates to the church Paul built and Peter keeps the keys of?

It’s anointing not chrismation, chrismation is what the Latins call confirmation.

Further more, the priest uses blessed oil, not Holy Chrism.

It is a Feastal Blessing, what more do you want?

As a long time Catechist in a Latin parish, let me assure you that this is not the case. There are many Catholics, usually cradle Catholics, who are quite unfamiliar with a lot of what is going on in Mass and in various blessings. We have active practicing Catholics coming in as sponsors etc. and in the course of the year and a half or so of the Catechumenate they are continually expressing their amazement at all the things they are learning themselves which they never knew. :slight_smile: It’s often one of the things they later say was great about being a sponsor.

Usually we would say that the prayers give us the teaching, although of course there are other opportunities to talk about whatever has gone on. I believe all of us East and West if we are sincely engaging in the services have more revealed to us all the time. This is all part of our own theosis/divinization. :slight_smile:

You can read about the Vigil service here.

Here are the prayers the priest prays over the bread, oil, wine, wheat, which are included in that article:

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who didst bless the five loaves and didst therewith feed the five thousand: Do Thou, the same Lord, bless these loaves, wheat, wine and oil; and multiply them in this holy habitation, and in all the world; and sanctify all the faithful who shall partake of them. For it is Thou, O Christ our God, Who dost bless and sanctify all things; and unto Thee we ascribe glory: with the Father Who hath no beginning, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-crating Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

(I usually see the priest kiss the bread as well.)

I hope that helps.

Last week, after the akathist to St. John the Wonderworker was chanted before his holy relics we were all anointed by the Bishop, well he anointed the first group and then another priest took over, which is typical there, There was no blessing of the oil done then because we were anointed with the oil from the lampada that burns over St John’s incorrupt body there in the Cathedral, considered already blest by virtue of it being in the lamp with his holy relics. Such lampada oil is another means by which in the East an oil is considered blest.

This little girl seems quite intent on listening to the blessing Father is giving her before he traces a Cross on her forehead with the oil. :slight_smile:

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