The St. Therese Blessed Oil is a sacramental like holy water it is not the Holy Oil used in the Catholic Church’s Sacraments. (A sacramental is an object, a prayer,etc. that helps us grow in our spiritual life and increases our devotion to our faith.)
In using sacramentals, as lay people we should not confuse this oil with the Church’s holy oil that is conferred only by a priest in the Anointing of the Sick. It is for personal use and never sold.
But why? Oil has been a significant substance in the bible, even being mentioned in the book of Jeremiah as among the lord’s blessings beside the grain and the wine. It was mentioned when the prophet Jeremiah himself foretold the gifts God would bestow upon his people. The Good Shepherd included oil in the provisions of his anointing, saying “You anoint my head with oil.” In the book of Psalms.
Oil has been used throughout the bible for a number of purposes—all implying that oil is a material bordering on holy. Oil was used in cooking and baking the loaves to be offered in sacrifice, a tradition observed in the book of exodus. Oil was often mixed with perfumes and used to make oneself more beautiful and attractive like in the story of Ruth, daughter of Elgon and Naomi. As such it was also used to honor guests. Anointing them with perfumed oil was a sign of great honor and respect, as well as a way of offering refreshment after a journey. Perhaps for this same reason it was often referred to as an “oil of gladness,” bringing joy to the heart.
Versatile, Oil has three uses: Firstly, Oil was used together with the laying on of hands because it signified becoming a sharer in the anointing of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In the course of time this came to be called the Sacrament of Confirmation, and the oil used was called “chrism”.
Secondly, to this anointing there was later added a pre-baptismal anointing to prepare catechumens for baptism. This oil came to be called the “oil of catechumens”. A third oil mentioned in the letter of James is the “oil of the sick”. Until at least the 9th century lay people as well as clergy could use oil in praying for the sick. The first oil, chrism, is also used in baptism, when for some reason, confirmation does not follow immediately, and it is used as well in the ordination of bishops and priests.
The use of oil has been a Christian tradition, so to speak. Moses had instructed the populace to create healing oils, and oils used to bless tents and priests. The disciples of Christ himself used oil as an instrument of his healing, and this practice has been carried on in the days of the early church.
Moreover, oil is what fuels lamps, which create light. Ergo, it can be said that oil is the fuel on which the light of the lord thrives.
For everyday Christians, oil can be used as an instrument for healing, protection, and blessing. It is used in times of distress and joy. Commonly spread when tracing the cross on one’s forehead or on an area of pain in the body, Oil has become a symbol of faith and healing, of the fullness and wholesome feeling of having the light of Jesus in our life. Jesus, the ‘Anointed One’, has given us, his followers known as Christians, the opportunity to be like the chosen tribe of Asher. He gives us this Oil, this symbol of anointment, as a mark of pride for us, and we must, therefore, learn about, live with, and love the Blessed Oil.
Blessed Oil should not be associated with superstitions such as the Blessed Oil having a magical power in itself. Blessed Oil is a symbol of God’s grace at work through the faith of the believer. Such faith must be Jesus-centered, as was the faith of the blind man in John 9; he had faith in Jesus, not in the mud and spittle used by Jesus to heal him.