It has been very gratifying to be part of Oil Vault. We have heard so many stories of people giving priesthood blessing and think it is great people are always looking for opportunities to bless others. It has also been interesting to hear some of the questions people have in relation to priesthood blessing. While this is far from an extensive list, here are some of the top questions and our attempt to provide answers.
Does consecrated oil have to be extra virgin olive oil?
The only requirement stated in the church handbook is that the oil must be 100% olive oil, i.e. no blends. Other qualities between the types of olive oil such as whether it is olive oil, virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, and so forth are not important.
One quality you may want to consider is that olive oil degrades over time and can spoil. If you use a keychain olive oil you may want to periodically replace the oil. If you carry an oil vault, they last at least 2 years. There is not a specific requirement to replace olive oil if it has spoiled, but I figure I would rather give a blessing to someone where the oil does not smell or has not turned a different color.
How long has the use of consecrated oil been a part of the ordinance blessing the sick?
The use of consecrated oil to bless the sick and afflicted is mentioned throughout the bible. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 21:10-12 mentions the anointing oil that was placed on the head by the High Priest. In the New Testament, Mark 6:13 states, “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” James 5:14 also states, “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
The story of the good Samaritan is also a great example of the use of oil. Luke 10:34 states, “And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we continue using consecrated oil just as they had during the Old and New Testament times.
Why is it preferred, if possible, that two Priesthood holders perform a blessing of the sick?
The blessing of the sick is a two-part ordinance normally accomplished by two or more Melchizedek priesthood holders. There are several ordinances where two or more people typically perform the ordinance.
The sacrament is also an ordinance that could be performed by a single Melchizedek priesthood holder. However, the Lord has directed that a deacon passes, a teacher prepares, and a priest blesses the sacrament. Additionally, the blessing of the sacrament is also two parts: the bread and the water. One priest could easily bless both the bread and water. Yet, we have two priests to bless the sacrament.
The ordinance of the blessing of the sick is a two-part ordinance, where one priesthood holder anoints and the other priesthood holder seals the anointing. The Church Handbook of Instructions does require that the anointing and the sealing must be performed by two Melchizedek priesthood holders. By allowing multiple priesthood holders to participate, it gives more than one Melchizedek priesthood holder the opportunity to bless the life of a fellow brother or sister. The handbook also recognizes the circumstances of life which may present an opportunity when we are the only Melchizedek priesthood holder around to anoint and seal a blessing. At these times a single priesthood holder can perform the blessing.
Why are people anointed with oil when they receive a priesthood blessing?
This question is best answered by an article in the March 2010 Ensign, an excerpt of which is provided below:
The scriptures frequently refer to anointing, often associated with the healing of the sick. For example, in Mark 6:13 we read that the Apostles “anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” And in James 5:14 we read: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
To anoint means to apply oil or ointment to a person’s head or body. In ancient times this was done for various reasons. Sometimes it was a sign of hospitality or of routine grooming. Those who were sick or injured were anointed with oil or ointment as medicine. But anointing was also done for sacred reasons. For example, holy anointing oil was used under the Law of Moses (see Exodus 40:15). Prophets anointed priests and kings, and the sick were anointed with oil as part of the procedure of healing by faith and by the laying on of hands.
In the Church today, olive oil that has been consecrated (blessed by Melchizedek Priesthood holders) for sacred purposes is used in various sacred ceremonies, including administration to the sick. “Although the scriptures do not specifically so state, we may confidently assume that anointing with oil has been part of true, revealed religion ever since the gospel was first introduced on this earth to Adam.”
Why is olive oil used rather than some other type of oil? This is never stated specifically in the scriptures, although New Testament parables use oil as a symbol of both healing and light (see Matthew 25:1-3 and Luke 10:34). The olive branch is often used as a symbol of peace, and the olive tree is used in scripture as a symbol of the house of Israel (see Jacob 5). Olive oil can also symbolize the Savior’s Atonement, since the bitter olive, when crushed, provides oil that is sweet.
Anointing with oil has always been part of true, revealed religion.
Hopefully, this answers a few questions people have had. We welcome additional input, feedback, correction, and other questions from everyone. We are all continuing to learn the gospel and it is all about sharing our knowledge with each other.