Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefit, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the Pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.
O Holy Father, Physician of our souls and bodies, have mercy, forgive and save Your servant (name).
At the beginning of our study, we discussed that in the Bible, oil was used as a sign of reconciliation, chosen-ness and healing. As the service of Holy Unction is completed, it is now time for us to be anointed for the same three reasons. When we are anointed, the priest will pray for these three things. He prays to God to have mercy on us. The word in Greek is “Eleison.” In other words, we are praying for God to heal what is spiritually infirm in us according to His mercy.
The priest anoints us so that we can be forgiven, in Greek “Sinhorison”. This forgiveness allows us to again be reconciled with God.
The priest then prays “and save Your servant”. It is important that the words “Your servant” are used. We aren’t just praying for God to “save (your name).” Because we are more than names. We are God’s chosen people. We are to see ourselves as His servant. He sees us as His children.
It is also significant that our name is used in this sacrament. In the eyes of God, our name is all that distinguishes us from others. We don’t approach and offer our name and our resume, i.e. Joe the doctor, homeowner, husband, father, well-to-do philanthropist, etc. We offer only our name, the name we were given at our baptism. At baptism, we had all sin wiped clean and at the moment we emerged from the baptismal font, we were spotless and pure. Using our name in the context of Holy Unction and the other sacraments reminds us of the state of our souls at baptism. The sacraments help heal the wounded soul and restore it to that state.
Where we are anointed it also significant. We are anointed on our senses. We are anointed on our forehead, to anoint our minds. We are rational people. Our faith is rational, not superstitious. Faith is a choice. Love is a choice. Hate is a choice. Sin is a choice. We use our brains to make our choices. Every brain is wounded because every brain makes bad choices. We anoint our brains to bring healing to them, and to pray that they make good choices.
We are anointed on our chin, right under our mouths. The part of our body that gets us into the most trouble is our mouth. We can use our mouths to build up people or to destroy them. We can use our mouth to praise God or to say words of anger. The sin we probably all commit the most is gossip, and we do this with our mouths. We are anointed under our mouths with the prayer that they might be controlled and used to honor God and build up one another. Our mouths are used to cause wounds to others. Through anointing, we pray that they are healed to become instruments of love.
We are anointed on our cheeks, under our eyes. Ninety percent of what we take in comes through our sense of sight. Our eyes can be used to see beauty, like nature. Our eyes also take in filthy things, like violent movies and pornographic images. No, not everyone reading this message sits at the computer looking at porn. We don’t have to. We’ve been conditioned through commercials on TV, billboards around town and magazines at the check-out counter at the grocery store to see explicit images. We don’t have to go looking for them. The combination of violence and sexual explicitness that we are surrounded with have affected our eyes, which affect our minds, which affect our choices. We need our eyes to be anointed with the prayer that they will be used to see value in others, as well as the beauty of God’s creation. And that what we see will affect how we think, which will affect what we do. We pray that Holy Unction will bring healing to our eyes that have been wounded by the things we’ve seen.
We are anointed on the top and bottom of our hands. Our hands are what we use to do things. We can raise a fist against someone in anger. Or we can lift a hand to help someone. I remember when our son was very young, we used to say “hands are for helping, not for hurting.” That choice to help or hurt with our hands is not something we outgrow once we turn five. That choice and that challenge is there throughout our lives. We are anointed on the hands with the prayer that we use them to help others. We pray that the healing oil of Holy Unction will heal our wounded hands, that the hands use to wound others will be hands that can serve others.
The whole body works in concert together. The eyes see, the mind makes choices based on what the eyes see. The mouth and the hands execute the decisions of the mind. Because of our sinful state, the whole body is broken. Those wounds may not show up on an X-ray or during a doctor’s examination. However, they show up every day in our sinful nature. The idea of being healed in both body and soul through the anointing with Holy Unction is that through this sacrament, healing may come upon the parts of our bodies that we use most to sin. And in bringing healing to our sinful parts, we will strengthen and heal our souls as well.
Regard the prayers of your suppliants, O Immaculate one, ceasing the fierce tumult within us, releasing us from all anguish. For you alone we have as a secure and firm anchor, and have acquired your protection; may we not be ashamed, O Lady, when we call upon you. Hasten to the petitions of those, who faithfully cry out: “Hail, O Lady, the help of all; the joy and shelter, and salvation of our souls.”
Guard what you see. Make prayerful and thoughtful decisions. Use your mouth to speak good things. Use your hands to help.