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Oil, Holy 

The use of oil was rejected by many churches at the time of the Reformation. The 1549 BCP included a post-baptismal anointing, but this anointing was not present in the 1552 Prayer Book. The 1549 Prayer Book allowed the use of oil if the sick person desired to be anointed. But the 1549 BCP did not provide a form for setting apart the oil for this use. This use of oil was also eliminated in the 1552 BCP. The 1928 BCP restored the practice of anointing. It provided a form for "Unction of the Sick." The 1928 Prayer Book did not provide a form for blessing the oil, and it allowed no use of oil in addition to the anointing of the sick. The 1979 BCP includes the rite of chrismation at baptism (p. 308). The Prayer Book directs that the bishop or priest will mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of the newly baptized person, using chrism if desired (BCP, p. 308). The Prayer Book Catechism states that unction is the rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God's grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body (BCP, p. 861). The Prayer Book service for Ministration to the Sick includes Part I, ministry of the word, Part II, laying on of hands and anointing, and Part III, Holy Communion (BCP, pp. 453-457). If the sick person is to be anointed, the priest dips a thumb in the holy oil and makes the sign of the cross on the sick person's forehead (BCP, p. 456). In cases of necessity, a deacon or lay person may perform the anointing with oil blessed by a bishop or priest. The BOS also provides a form for a Public Service of Healing. At this service the celebrant lays hands on the people, and may anoint the people with oil of the sick. Olive oil may be one of the gifts presented to the new minister at the Celebration of a New Ministry. When the oil is presented, the new minister is urged to be among the members of the congregation "as a healer and reconciler" (BCP, p. 561). 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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