After the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, the Church possesses nothing more sacred than the Holy Oils used in the administration of certain of the sacraments and in certain other functions of religion. It must, therefore, prove interesting and instructive to treat of the Holy Oils; for whether they are used in elevating a bishop or a priest to his sacred dignity, in consecrating an altar, a chalice, or a bell, or in blessing a baptismal font, they always conduce either directly or indirectly to the spiritual benefit of the individual Christian. Yet here, as with regard to the Missal, the Ritual, and the Breviary, the opportunities afforded the people for obtaining full and accurate information are limited.
It is to be remarked that wherever the word oil is used in the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers, or the liturgy of the Church, olive oil is meant. It is pre-eminently oil. The olive and the cedar were the most important trees of the East; and the inhabitants of those countries being an imaginative people, both of these trees were extensively used in supplying writers and speakers with rhetorical figures. A glance at the Scriptures will be sufficient to establish this fact. The latter tree was the symbol of majesty and strength; the former, of fecundity, utility, beauty, and perennial life.1 The first symbolical use of the olive in sacred history was that of the branch brought to Noe by the dove, as the emblem of peace, after the waters of the deluge had subsided; and from that time the olive-branch has been regarded in art and literature as the emblem of peace, as the palm has been of victory. The time of pressing oil as well as wine was a season of festivity among the Orientals.
The natural uses of oil, in contradistinction to its mystical uses, are: for food, for light, for medicine, and for anointing, with a view of increasing beauty or strength. Of the first three uses nothing need be said; they are known and admitted by all; the last named, too, is almost as well known. Not only those who wished to improve their appearance used oil upon their hair, to which Our Saviour alludes when He says, “When thou fastest, anoint thy head,” but the athletes of classic times anointed their bodies to strengthen them for the contests in which they were to engage. In the mystic sense, oil is the symbol of grace and charity, of mercy and alms, of spiritual consolation and joy.1 But how, it may be asked, did oil come to have a mystic signification? And the answer to this question is the more important and necessary as we live in a material age, when all things are judged by the testimony of the senses. We of this age, and especially of the Western World, are rot naturally so imaginative as the Orientals, and, as a consequence, the mystic signification of anything will not be so likely to impress us, even if brought to our notice, as it would them; while we would seldom dream of seeking a mystic signification, although it would be their first study. It was natural for the early Christians to attach symbolical meanings to many of the sacred functions of religion, and this for three reasons. In the first place, it was in harmony with the genius of the people themselves; again, it was taught them by the example of those of the Jewish Dispensation whom they regarded as their fathers both in the flesh and in the faith; and, finally, it was in a measure necessary, since they worshipped an invisible God, in whose service they were constrained to make use of visible creatures to aid them in giving expression to their faith and devotion. They recognized the work of the hand of God in the visible world, and learned from it to make use of that creation to express their homage and to solicit His aid. The Church, then, adopted mystic significations both on account of their appropriateness and from necessity; and she could not have found in all creation anything better calculated than oil, by its nature and its various uses, to become a symbolical exponent of her feelings and desires.
The first person who used oil in the worship of God of which any record is preserved was Jacob, who, when he was fleeing into Mesopotamia from his brother Esau, as related in the 29th chapter of the Book of Genesis, slept one night in the open air, and was favored by God with the vision of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, upon which angels were ascending and descending, while the Almighty rested on the top. Filled with a holy fear, on awakening he set up the stone upon which his head had rested during the night, and poured oil upon it as a memorial of the vision with which he had been favored.
When the Mosaic law was promulgated, the use of oil was prescribed for the fourfold purpose of anointing priests, prophets, and kings, and the sacred vessels and vestments used in the service of religion. The 29th chapter of the Book of Exodus prescribes the manner in which Aaron and his sons, their vestments, the altar of incense and holocausts, and the sacred vessels were to be consecrated. Numerous passages of the Old Testament show that oil was used in the consecration of kings, who were commonly said to be “anointed” kings. And that it was used in setting aside persons for the prophetic office is seen from III. Kings, xix. 16, not to mention other passages.
The only places in which the use of oil for religious purposes is mentioned in the New Testament are in the Gospel of St. Mark and the Epistle of St. James. The former relates how Our Saviour sent His apostles two and two throughout Judea and Galilee to teach the people and to heal the sick; and it is said of them that they “anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” This anointing was not, however, the administration of a sacrament, both because the sacraments were not as yet instituted, and also because the apostles were not then priests, and priests only can administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction; but, as the Council of Trent3 teaches, the ceremony performed by them foreshadowed that sacrament. The reference to oil in the administration of the sacrament of Extreme Unction made by St. James (v. 14) is the only one found in the Scriptures of its use in connection with the ritual of the New Law.
It is not the intention to enter in this place into an inquiry as to the early use of oil in the various rites and sacraments in which it is now employed, nor when or how it came to be so used, but rather to take it as we find it, and, after speaking of the way in which it is consecrated and kept, to treat of its present uses, and the lessons they are calculated to teach us.
Three kinds of oil are used in the ritual of the Church; or, to speak more correctly, there is only one kind, but it is blessed for three different purposes, and is called in the language of the Church by three different names: the Oil of Catechumens, Holy Chrism, and the Oil of the Sick. The first of these, which is simply olive oil, derives its name from its being used principally in the ceremony of baptism to anoint the catechumens—that is, those who are undergoing instruction preparatory to being baptized—before the infusion of water changes them from catechumens to Christians. The second is composed of a mixture of olive oil and balsam, or balm, and derives its name from its being used to anoint; chrism being derived from the Greek word chrisma, which means anything smeared or spread on. Mystically it signifies the fulness of grace; and our divine Saviour, being anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, is by pre-eminence the Anointed, and hence His name Christ.4 The balsam used in Holy Chrism is a kind of odoriferous resin which exudes from a tree that grows in Judea and Arabia. This species was always used in the West till the sixteenth century, when Popes Paul III. and Pius IV. permitted the use of a better kind brought from the West Indies. The Oil of the Sick is so named from its principal use being to anoint the sick in the sacrament of Extreme Unction.
With regard to the time when the oils are consecrated, and the person by whom the solemn ceremony is performed, it is to be remarked that they are consecrated by bishops only, and that the ceremony takes place during Mass on Holy Thursday. The consecration of the oils during the Mass dates from the earliest times, and St. Basil attributes the origin of it to apostolic tradition. In the Western, or Latin, Church it was always performed by the bishops, but in the Eastern Church it was reserved to the patriarchs, who consecrated the oils for their entire patriarchates. At first the oils were blessed on any day at Mass; but in a letter of Pope Leo the Great to the Emperor of the same name, in the synod of Toledo, in the year 490, Holy Thursday was permanently fixed as the day upon which the ceremony must take place. France did not, however, adopt this ruling until the Council of Meaux, in 845. Barry thus accounts for the selection of Holy Thursday as the day upon which the consecration should take place: “It was customary among the Jews for guests invited to a banquet to anoint themselves with oil. From this we may understand why the Church consecrates her oils in the last week of Lent. Two spiritual banquets are preparing. Many that were without the pale of truth are to be brought into it by baptism during Easter time, and made to sit down with the children of the household at the banquet of Christ’s holy faith. The Holy Ghost, too, is getting ready a feast of sevenfold gifts and twelve precious fruits of holiness. For the happy guests called to these two divine banquets Mother Church prepares the fragrant oils of gladness wherewith they may be anointed.”5
The ceremony of the blessing of the oils is very interesting and impressive, and the time and manner are indicative of the reverence with which the Church regards them and requires her children to treat them. Besides the sacred ministers necessary to assist the bishop, as at every solemn Pontifical Mass, there must be seven subdeacons, seven deacons, and twelve priests, each clothed in the vestments of his order; or rather, as it almost universally happens, so many of the neighboring priests vested as subdeacons, deacons, and priests; for it is seldom that so many subdeacons and deacons are found in any of our dioceses at the same time. In places where it is impossible to have so large a number of the reverend clergy assist, the Holy See permits a bishop to consecrate the oils with a smaller number. For the ceremony a table is placed in the sanctuary, between the foot of the altar steps and the communion rail, with a white cover, a book-stand, and a number of candles on it, and with seats placed by it so as to face the altar. When the bishop, who must celebrate the Holy Sacrifice himself, comes to the part of the Mass immediately before the Pater Noster, he leaves the altar and goes to the table, where he seats himself with his ministers. The assistant priest then calls out in an audible tone, in Latin, of course, “The Oil of the Sick!” Immediately one of the subdeacons, with an acolyte at each hand, goes to the sacristy where the oil is, and carries the vessel containing it to the bishop. The latter then reads an exorcism and recites a prayer over it, which constitute the blessing of this oil. It is then taken back to the sacristy in the same manner in which it was brought; and the Mass proceeds till the bishop has communicated and received the ablutions. He then returns with his ministers to the table, and seats himself; and the assistant priest calls for the other oils with the words, “The Oil for the Holy Chrism,” and “The Oil of Catechumens.” These are brought to the bishop with greater ceremony than was the Oil of the Sick—partly, it may be because they are destined to serve more important purposes; and partly, perhaps, because the manner in which the Oil of the Sick is brought and blessed typifies the silence of death. A subdeacon with a processional cross, an acolyte at either hand, carrying a lighted candle, and the censer-bearer, leading the procession, are followed by the seven subdeacons, the seven deacons, and the twelve priests, who proceed to the sacristy, where one of the subdeacons takes the little vessel containing the balsam, while two of the deacons take those containing the oils—the latter vessels being covered with veils. Forming a procession they return to the sanctuary, chanting an appropriate hymn. On arriving all take their places, except those who hold the vessels, who stand at a convenient distance from the table, where they deliver up the vessels as the ceremony proceeds. The bishop first blesses the balsam with three prayers, mixing it in the meantime with some of the oil from that which is to be, after consecration, the Holy Chrism. The bishop, and, after him, the twelve priests then breathe over the vessel of oil three times in the form of a cross, but say nothing, while the vessel is still covered, except the top, with the veil. This done, the bishop reads an exorcism, and then sings a very beautiful preface, at the conclusion of which he puts into the oil the mixture of balsam, reciting at the same time an appropriate prayer. He next sings thrice, raising his voice a tone each time, the words Ave, Sanctum Chrisma!—”Hail, Holy Chrism!”—and kisses the lip of the vessel, in which he is followed by the twelve priests, who go in turn to the foot of the altar, genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament, and turning toward the vessel of oil on the table, repeat the same words thrice, raising their voices and genuflecting to the vessel each time.
At the conclusion of this ceremony the vessel is set aside, its blessing being concluded, and that containing the Oil of Catechumens is taken from the deacon and presented to the bishop. The blessing of this oil begins with the bishop and, after him, the twelve priests breathing on it thrice in the form of a cross, after which the bishop reads over it an exorcism and a prayer. He then sings thrice, as he did over the Holy Chrism, Ave, Sanctum Oleum!—”Hail, Holy Oil!”—and kisses the lip of the vessel; and the same is done by the twelve priests. With this ends the blessing of the oils, and they are taken back to the sacristy in procession as they were brought out, with the chanting of a hymn, the bishop returning in the meantime to the altar to finish Mass. This brief account affords but a faint idea of the solemnity of the ceremony, and the beauty and expressiveness of the prayers that accompany it.
The holy oils must be blessed every year, and it is not permitted to mix any of the oil of the previous year with what has been newly consecrated. What, then, is done with it? It is burned in the sanctuary lamp, if there is enough for that purpose; but if not, it must be burned in some other way. As soon as possible, and generally on Holy Thursday, immediately after the conclusion of the Mass, the clergy of the diocese, as far as possible, procure their supply of the new oils for the ensuing year, which they keep in three small vessels, that must be of some substantial and proper material for the reception of so holy an article, and which must be duly marked to prevent mistakes afterward in the use of the oils. They should be kept in a receptacle in the wall of the sanctuary, at the side of the main altar; but if for a sufficient reason this cannot be done, they must be kept in some other becoming place under lock and key, but not with the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. As much as may be necessary for present use is kept by the priest in the oil-stocks—a small cylindrical vessel, which screws apart, forming three little compartments, one for each of the oils, which are absorbed in cotton, the whole being enclosed in a leathern case convenient for carrying.
It is to be remarked with regard to the numerous anointings with the Holy Oils in the administration of sacraments or the conferring of blessings that they are always performed with the thumb of the right hand. And first, of anointings in the administration of sacraments. Of such as are performed by a bishop, there are those that take place in the consecration of a bishop; the first of which is that of the tonsure, or top of the head, which is performed early in the ceremony and with holy chrism, the officiating prelate reciting at the same time these words over the bishop-elect: “May thy head be anointed and consecrated with celestial benediction in the pontifical order: In the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Peace be to thee.” It may be remarked, once for all, that whenever, in performing any unction, the word “bless,” “sanctify,” or “consecrate” occurs, as a rule the sign of the cross is made, whether it be a bishop or a priest who is officiating; and that, when the anointing is followed by the name of the three Divine Persons, as above, a bishop makes the sign of the cross with his hand on or over the person or article blessed, at the mention of each of the Divine Persons, while a priest makes it but once for all three Persons. Later on in the ceremony of consecration is the anointing of the hands of the bishop-elect with holy chrism, the consecrating prelate saying the while, “May these hands be anointed with the consecrated oil and the chrism of salvation; as Samuel anointed David king and prophet, so may they be anointed and consecrated: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, making the holy sign of the cross of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath redeemed us from death, and led us to the kingdom of heaven,” etc. These are the only unctions in the consecration of a bishop.
There is but one unction in the ordination of a priest, which is that of the inside of his hands with the Oil of Catechumens, to consecrate them for the conferring of blessings, as the words used express, and for touching the Most Blessed Sacrament. While anointing the hands the bishop says: “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this unction and our bless ing. Amen.” And joining them together palm to palm, and making the sign of the cross over them, he continues: “That whatsoever they bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified: In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” By virtue of this consecration the priest is empowered not only to touch and handle what is most holy, even the sacred Body of Jesus Christ in the Adorable Sacrament, but also to bless any proper article by merely making the sign of the cross over it.
Another sacrament in the administration of which the bishop uses the holy oils is Confirmation. While conferring this sacrament he makes the sign of the cross with holy chrism on the forehead of each one confirmed, saying at the same time: N., I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The bishop anoints the forehead of the person confirmed, that he may become a valiant soldier of Christ, carrying before him, as it were, in the face of the world, the sign of Him under whose standard he has enlisted and is doing battle, in imitation of those whom St. John saw in the Apocalypse (vi. 3), who were marked with the sign of the Son of man, in contradistinction to those who bore the mark of the infernal beast (xix. 20); and in imitation of the courageous Apostle of the Gentiles, who gloried in the cross of Christ.6
Of the sacraments administered by a priest, there are two in which the holy oils are used—Baptism and Extreme Unction. In Baptism there are two unctions, the former of which takes place before the pouring of the water, when the priest anoints the person with the Oil of Catechumens, first on the breast and then on the back between the shoulders, saying while performing the ceremony, “I anoint thee with the oil of salvation in Christ Jesus Our Lord, that thou mayest have eternal life. Amen.” These unctions, like all the other ceremonies of the Church, have a mystic signification, and one which should be very interesting to us, since every one of us has had this ceremony performed for him, and that, too, at a time when he was incapable of receiving an explanation of it. The baptized person, as an athlete of Jesus Christ, in entering on the struggle for faith and piety, is anointed.7 By the anointing on the breast the Christian is reminded that he should carry Christ in his heart by faith, love, and the frequent remembrance of His holy presence, and, like St. Paul, should desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. The anointing between the shoulders reminds him that he must be prepared to carry the cross, according to the words of Christ: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”8 Another anointing takes place immediately after the pouring of the water, and this time with holy chrism, in the form of a cross, on the top of the head. While performing it the priest says: “May Almighty God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has regenerated thee by water and the Holy Ghost, and who has granted thee the pardon of all thy sins, Himself anoint thee with the chrism of salvation, in the same Jesus Christ Our Lord, unto life everlasting. Amen.” Allusion is here made to the words of Our Saviour to Nicodemus: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”9 Regarding this unction the “Catechism of the Council of Trent” remarks: “The person being now baptized, the priest anoints with chrism the crown of his head, to give him to understand that from that day he is united as a member to Christ, his head, and engrafted on His body, and that therefore is he called a Christian from Christ, but Christ from chrism.”10 O’Kane gives the following explanation of this unction: “With respect to the unction with chrism after baptism, we may observe that in the beginning the bishop was usually the minister of baptism, and he signed the neophytes on the forehead with chrism immediately after baptizing them, so that the chrism used by the bishop was in reality for the sacrament of Confirmation. The vertical unction by priests was introduced, according to Bellarmine, to supply in some way for this when the bishop was absent, and when, consequently, confirmation could not be immediately conferred as usual. It is said to have been instituted by Pope Sylvester I. Innocent I., in a letter regarding this matter, says that priests may anoint those whom they baptize with chrism blessed by the bishop; but they must not apply it to the forehead, as this is reserved to bishops. From the ‘Sacramentary’ of St. Gregory it appears that the vertical unction was applied by priests even when the bishop was present and confirmed the neophytes immediately after. The same may be also inferred from the ‘Sacramentary’ of St. Gelasius. . . . It is to be applied even by the bishop when he baptizes, though he may confer the sacrament of Confirmation immediately after.”11 Another unction performed by a priest is in Extreme Unction, a sacrament which derives its name from its being the last anointing the Christian receives before departing this life. In the administration of this sacrament the priest, after the sprinkling of holy water, with the customary prayer, recites two other prayers; then one of the persons present says the Confiteor, and the priest recites a third prayer, after which he anoints each sense and the hands and feet with the oil of the sick, in the form of a cross, pronouncing at each the prayer: “Through this holy unction and of His most tender mercy, may the Lord pardon thee whatsoever sins thou hast committed by [here the sense is named]. Amen.”
So much for the use of the oils in the administration of the sacraments. The thoughtful and devout reader cannot but recognize the important part which they play, whether they affect the Christian directly, as in Baptism, Confirmation, and Extreme Unction, or indirectly, as in the consecration of a bishop and the ordination of a priest, in Holy Orders. If we turn to their uses apart from the sacraments, we shall find that they are only of less importance then these, but are still of immense benefit to the faithful.
I shall not pause to speak of the use of the holy oils in the consecration of kings and queens, both because it does not affect us, and also because in these unhappy times it is seldom or never that rulers ascend their thrones with the solemn ceremonies prescribed by the Church.
Foremost among the blessings of inanimate objects in which the holy oils are used must be placed that of an altar or an altar-stone. As there is but slight different between these two, mention will be made only of an altar From the nature and dignity of the Divine Victim offered in sacrifice in the New Law, we are prepared to expect a more solemn consecration of our altars than of those of the Jewish Dispensation, upon which the sacrifice of animals or of inanimate things was offered. Yet even those altars were consecrated with great ceremony. From the beginning of the Christian era great attention was paid to whatever related to the altar. But during the ages of persecution and before the Christians were permitted to build churches, little attention, as a rule, could be devoted to the material and location of altars. The faithful were then compelled by stern necessity to do the best they could, and await happier days. But when freedom began to be enjoyed, disciplinary laws were enacted, and a new order of things was inaugurated. Churches were built, generally with the altar to the east—which is called in liturgical language the orientation of churches, as Christ is called “the Orient from on high,” who, like the sun rising in the east, diffused the light of truth on those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. The altar was then required to be of stone; and if not the whole altar, at least the table of it must be of stone. But for the convenience of missionaries who had frequently to offer the Holy Sacrifice outside a church, as well as for churches too poor to afford an entire stone altar, an altar-stone, large enough to place the chalice and host upon, was and still is permitted.
Five crosses, one near each corner and one in the centre, are cut in the altar-table; and in front of the one in the centre is also cut a little cavity, called the “confession” or “sepulchre,” into which the relics of martyrs are placed at the time of consecration. The ceremony of consecrating an altar is very long, and is one of the functions reserved to a bishop, or to a priest having special faculties from him. It consists of the recitation of prayers and psalms, and the performance of ceremonies, such as signing with the cross, sprinkling with holy water, blessed especially for that purpose, incensing, etc. But we are concerned only with the anointings, of which there is a considerable number. In the course of the blessing the bishop anoints the interior of the four corners of the sepulchre with holy chrism, before depositing the relics in it, repeating at each unction the words: “May this sepulchre be consecrated and sanctified: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Peace be to this house.” After the placing of the relics in the sepulchre and the recitation of a psalm, he takes the diminutive stone that is to cover the sepulchre, and, while signing it with holy chrism in the form of a cross, he says: “May this table (or stone) be consecrated and sanctified with this unction and the blessing of God: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Peace be to thee.” When the cover of the sepulchre has been put in its place, and cemented there, he again signs it with holy chrism with the words: “May this altar be signed and sanctified: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Peace be to thee.” Proceeding with the ceremony, he anoints with the Oil of Catechumens the five crosses cut in the altar, repeating at each unction the formula: “May this stone be sanctified and consecrated, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in honor of God and of the glorious Virgin Mary, and of all the saints, to the name and memory of St. N. Peace be to thee.” Soon the bishop anoints the same places with the Oil of Catechumens in the same manner and with the same form of words. As the ceremony proceeds he repeats the anointings, but this time with Holy Chrism, with the same ceremony and form of words as before. Having intoned an antiphon, those in attendance recite a psalm while he pours Oil of Catechumens and holy chrism on the altar, and anoints its entire surface. A number of prayers follows, after which the bishop forms with Holy Chrism a cross at each corner of the altar-table, at the points where it rests on the sub-structure, as it were joining them together; and during each unction he repeats the words: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” With this ends the anointings of the altar.
The altar is now ready for the offering of the Adorable Sacrifice. But vessels must also be consecrated for its use, and this, too, by a bishop; for in them are to rest the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ. The ceremony of consecrating these is short. The paten, or small plate upon which the Sacred Host is placed, is first consecrated with three short prayers, and while the bishop makes the sign of the cross on its inner surface with Holy Chrism, and afterward anoints the entire in side, he repeats the words: “Vouchsafe, O Lord God! to consecrate and sanctify this paten by this unction and our blessing, in Jesus Christ Our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God forever and ever. Amen.” The chalice is then consecrated with the same number of prayers, and is anointed in the interior, first in the form of a cross, and afterward in the whole interior surface, the bishop reciting the while the same form as in the case of the paten, only substituting the word chalice for paten.
But it is not enough to have an altar upon which sacrifice is to be offered, and the vessels necessary for its use; there should also be a means of calling the people to assist at the Holy Sacrifice, and the more so as this assisting is of obligation. Hence from the beginning of our era various means were employed, but all have long since given place to bells, which will be treated of in another essay.
“Unless a man be born again of water and of the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;”12 nor, as a preliminary step to that, can he enter into the Church, which is the kingdom of God upon earth. But that the water by which he is to be regenerated may be fitted for so holy a purpose, it should first receive the blessing of the Church. For this a very beautiful and appropriate ceremony is arranged to be performed by priests, in every church that has a baptismal font, on Holy Saturday and the eve of Pentecost, immediately before Mass, because on those days the baptism of the catechumens took place in the primitive Church. A shorter form of blessing, that can be performed at any time, is arranged for the use of priests in missionary countries; but as it is special, we shall not pause to speak of it. The blessing for the days named consists of two short prayers and a beautiful preface, interspersed with a number of ceremonies; and toward the end of it the oils are mingled with the water in the following manner. The Oil of Catechumens is first poured into the water in the form of a cross, the priest at the same time saying: “May this font be sanctified and fructified with the oil of salvation, for those regenerated out of it, unto everlasting life.” After this he pours in the Holy Chrism, also in the form of a cross, reciting the words, “May the infusion of the chrism of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost the Paraclete be effected in the name of the Most Holy Trinity.” Next, taking in each hand one of the small vessels containing the oils, he pours them together thrice into the font in the form of a cross, saying: “May the mingling of the chrism of salvation and the oil of unction and the water of baptism be at the same time effected. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” With this ends the ceremony, and with the mingling of the oils with the water by the priest ends the blessing of the font, and the employment of the holy oils in the functions of religion. In all these uses the reader has seen how holy Mother Church manifests her solicitude for the spiritual welfare of her devoted children. Whatever she does must, after the honor and glory of God, redound to their advantage. Our gratitude to her should increase with our increased knowledge.
1 Psalms ii. 10; cxxvii. 3; Osee, xiv. 7.
2 Cornelius à Lapide, vol. vi. p. 117.
3 Session xiv., chapter i., de Extrema Unctione.
4 Isaias, lxi. 1; St. Luke, iv. 18; Acts, x. 38.
5 “The Sacramentals,” pp. 114, 115.
6 Galations, vi. 14.
7 Cornelius à Lapide, vol. xviii. p. 334.
8 St. Matthew xvi. 24.
9 St. John iii. 5.
10 Part ii., chapter ii., No. 73.
11 Notes on the Rubrics of the Roman Ritual, No. 248.
12 St. John iii. 5.