The Church makes use of three holy oils: the oil of the sick, the oil of the catechumens and the holy chrism oil. The first two are blessed, and the bishop consecrates the third, ordinarily during the annual Chrism Mass. Each has a distinctive purpose in the Church.
Oil of the Sick
The oil of the sick, which is pure olive oil, is used for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. While ideally celebrated with the community during the Mass for the anointing of the sick, this sacrament can be administered any time and in any place. The priest lays hands on the sick or elderly person, says special prayers and anoints the person by placing oil in the form of a cross on the forehead and hands.
Through this sacrament, God gives the sick person grace and strength to bear the illness or infirmity. In addition, many Catholics have witnessed the power of this anointing to bring spiritual, emotional and even physical healing.
Oil of the Catechumens
Both adults and infants prior to baptism are anointed with the oil of the catechumens, which is also pure olive oil.
Holy Chrism Oil
The third oil, holy chrism oil, is olive oil mixed with balsam. The oil symbolizes strength, and the fragrant balsam represents the “aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:15). Anointing with chrism oil signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is used to consecrate someone or something to God’s service.
Each year we witness the use of the holy chrism when young people are confirmed, and at the Easter Vigil when adults are confirmed after baptism. Chrism oil is also part of the baptismal rite.
Holy chrism oil is used as well during the ordination of a priest (the Sacrament of Holy Orders) and the consecration of a bishop. It is the anointing used in the consecration of a church and the blessing of an altar and the vessels used at Mass.
The Chrism Mass
Each year the local bishop blesses enough new oils for every parish during the Chrism Mass. The holy oils are then transported to individual parishes, where they are available for use during that year. Though the bishop cannot be physically present at every baptism or confirmation in his diocese, he can be symbolically present through the holy oils he blesses.
Glory and Praise Prayer - Healing of the sick
Lord, your word says that when we are sick, we should call the elders of the church to pray and anoint us with oil in your name. Father, we are setting this oil apart so that it can be used to anoint the sick in our congregation. Let your healing power rest upon it so that when we use it for your glory. The sick will be healed, and your name will be praised. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Anointing with the Sacred Chrism - Baptism
The celebrant says: God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into His holy people. He now anoints you with the Chrism of Salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of His Body, sharing everlasting life, Amen.
Then the celebrant anoints the child of the crown of the head with the sacred chrism.
Anointing with with the Sacred Chrism - Confirmation
The Bishop dips the tip of the thumb of his right hand in the Chrism and, with the thumb, makes the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of the one to be confirmed, as he says: N., be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
The newly confirmed replies: Amen.
The Bishop adds: Peace be with you.
The newly confirmed: And with your spirit.