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Holy Unction (Holy Oil)


The Church is concerned not only for the curing of the soul but also for the curing of man's entire being. The Apostle James orders that the presbyters must pray over the sick and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord; the prayer said in faith will cure the sick: "the Lord will forgive him and if he has committed sins they will be forgiven him: (James 5, 13-15). 

The chief significance of this Mystery is the prayer for the health of the body. It does not replace the Mystery of Confession. The Church connects these two sacraments in the same manner that the Apostle St. James does when he exhorts: "Confess your transgres­sion one to another and pray for one another that you may be forgiven" (James 5, 16). This confession must not be considered as something apart from the gathering or synaxis of the Church. In the Church synaxis, within the framework of the Sacrament of Holy Unction, the prayer of the entire Church is united with that of the presbyters. 

The sacrament of Holy Unction expresses and reveals the love and affection of the entire Church for that member of hers who is bodily sick. During the Holy Mystery the Church prays for complete cure, so that the sick member may be given back to her "unharmed and whole" so that he may please God and execute His holy will, as it is stated in one of the prayers of the sacrament that states: 

"...We beseech thee, Ο our God, that thou wilt direct thy mercy upon this Oil, and upon all who shall be anointed therewith in thy Name; that it may be effectual unto the healing of their souls and bodies, and unto cleansing, and unto the putting away of every infirmity, and disease, and malady, and every defilement both of body and spirit. Yea, Lord, send down from heaven thy healing might; touch the body, quench the fever: soothe the pangs, and banish every hidden ail­ment. Be thou the physician of thy servant, N. Raise him up from his bed of sickness, and from his couch of suffering, and from his bed of wasting disease, whole and perfectly restored to health, grant him to thy Church working those thing pleasing unto thee and executing thy will. For thy property it is to show mercy and to save us, Ο our God; and unto thee do we ascribe glory, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen". 

Also most moving is that prayer that asks: "...fill his mouth with praise; open his lips that he may glorify thy holy Name; stretch forth his hand to the performance of thy statutes. Guide his feet aright in the way of thy Gospel, strengthening all his members and his thoughts, by thy grace..." 

The result of the intercession is not due to men but to divine love and divine will. And this love is not always expressed in accordance with man's subjective thought or his limited will. This means that the faithful, cannot force God's grace to work cures according to their own desires, instead of according to the depth of the richness of God's love. All those who promise healing in the name of Christ, and indeed put forth these healings as proof of the "truths" that they teach, prove that they do not possess God's spirit. The "signs" which they produce have another source and must be inter­preted differently. The Apostle Paul, who sought from Christ the healing of his body, received the answer: "My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor. 12,9).

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