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Anointing of the Sick: the Yoga of Bodily Healing

Jesus healingChapter Six of Yoga of the Sacraments

“He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:2). There is no such thing as a purely material phenomenon; nothing can exist in this world unless it has a counterpart, a substratum, in the astral and causal worlds. A complete and viable religion deals with all human phenomena, for everything, including sickness, has metaphysical roots. It is very clear from the Gospels that sickness is rooted in spiritual disharmony and conflict, that it is a result of “sin.” So much so that after healing a man Jesus told him: “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (John 5:14).

On another occasion: “Behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house” (Matthew 9:2-7).

This being so, healing has always been a significant aspect of living Christianity.

Yogic Anointing of the Sick

Invocation and exhortation

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick begins, like all Sacraments, with an invocation of the Trinity, the priest saying:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Because holy water has both exorcistic and healing properties, the priest touches the forehead of the patient with holy water and sprinkles his surroundings to expel any negative energies or entities that may be causing or aggravating his illness.

Then the following is read by the priest or an assistant:

Hear the words of the Apostle James: 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. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:14-16).

Confiteor/confession and absolution

Since, as already said, illness has roots in negativity or sin, the sick person recites the confiteor from the Mass:

O Lord, thou hast created man to be immortal and made him to be an image of thine own eternity; yet often we forget the glory of our heritage and wander from the path which leads to righteousness. But thou, O Lord, hast made us for thyself and our hearts are ever restless till they find their rest in thee. Look with the eyes of thy love upon my manifold imperfections and pardon all my shortcomings, that I may be filled with the brightness of the everlasting light and become the unspotted mirror of thy power and the image of thy goodness; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If, however the ill person feels troubled in conscience regarding any matter, since it may be an obstacle to his cure, or even the cause of his affliction, he may make a confession of it. If the patient is very weak, or not fully conscious, the confiteor may be said on his behalf by the priest or another, or it suffices that he make a mental act of aspiration. Whichever form his confession may take–simple recitation of the confiteor or a special confession–at its conclusion the priest absolves and blesses him, saying:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power on earth to his Church to absolve all those that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him, of his tender compassion forgive thee thine offenses; and by his authority committed unto me Iabsolve thee from all thy sins. In the name of the Father,and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The King of Love and Fountain of all goodness restore unto thee the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and give thee grace to continue in the same, that thou mayest inherit the kingdom of heaven and be made like unto his own pure and glorious image. R: Amen.

Again I want to point out that in earlier English usage “forgive” meant to disregard or cancel something out. Each one of us is to be a conscious co-worker with God in our journey to deification, and it is the Holy Spirit who is the evolver and sanctifier of those who seek spiritual perfection. But sin puts us out of phase or sync with the Holy Spirit and we become hindered in spirit and also hinder the Holy Spirit from working her work in us. We need to be restored to our former condition of unhindered communication with God, “the King of Love and Fountain of all goodness” and empowered to continue in that state in order to gain the kingdom and become “His own pure and glorious image.” That is why Saint Paul said: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20, 21).

Preparatory prayer

To ready the person for the anointing, the priest prays, saying:

O Lord, who hast given unto man bodily health and vigor wherewith to serve thee, we pray thee to free thy servant from his sickness so far as may be expedient for him, and by the might of thyblessing to restore unto him full health, both outwardly in his body and inwardly in his soul; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first part affirms the truth that our perfection is part of the divine plan, even though we have strayed from that original intention for us. Further, bodily health and vigor have one purpose: the service and realization of God.

The second part reveals the realistic understanding that it is not always better for a person to be healthy and whole. Sometimes the karmas must manifest so a lesson can be learned. Also, limitations and even confinement are sometimes necessary for the protection of the person. For example, people who have the habit from previous lives of running and bouncing around, hyperactive and engrossed in personal influence and gain, may need to be handicapped or ill so they will have to sit still and hopefully turn within and become spiritually aware. It is my observation that people are often physically inhibited so they will not misuse an aspect of their body-mind complex. Every mentally inhibited person I have met has been of exceptional intelligence, and their inhibition protects them from misusing their intelligence as they did in previous lives and thereby harming themselves and others. The same is true of physical inhibition: the denial of full function keeps them from misusing it and creating misery for themselves and others.

The third part reminds us that bodily healing is not sufficient–otherwise the illness will occur again. We need spiritual healing of mind and heart, for that is where the roots of sickness are to be found. Many times I have heard healers denounced as frauds because people who were healed by them had a recurrence of the problem or even died of it. The real situation was that the disease, but not the cause of the disease, was removed from them–the affliction was a symptom of their inner conflicts and disharmonies. So the problem was again manifested in their bodies, never having left their minds. Karma is totally in the mind: if the mind is not changed the karma will remain and may even compound itself. This is why it is so necessary for people to know and understand the inseparable truths of karma and reincarnation.

The anointing

Now the person is ready for the anointing. Taking upon his thumb some of the Oil of the Sick, the priest anoints the patient in the form of a cross upon the forehead, saying:

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and invoking the help of the holy Archangel Raphael, Ianoint thee with oil, that thou mayest gain refreshment, both of soul and body. Amen.

This simple sentence tells us a great deal. First, that in the person of the priest Jesus himself is the healer. This is possible through the profound linkage of the priest with Jesus at his ordination. (See The Science of the Sacraments to understand how this can be.) Second, within the spiritual kingdom that is the Church, healing is specially under the aegis of the Archangel Raphael and his assisting angels. (Bishop Leadbeater explains this very well.) So when the priest comes to administer this Sacrament, he does not come alone: Christ and his angels are present at this moment. Third, true healing consists of empowerment of the soul and body, an actual renewal, so the original pattern of health can be restored and manifested.

The wellsprings of life on all levels of the human being are those centers of power known to the yogis as chakras. Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater were very conversant with these aspects of our physical, astral and causal bodies (Bishop Leadbeater wrote a book on the subject) and incorporated their knowledge in this ritual. They directed that now the priest should anoint the seven major chakras, either directly touching them with the holy oil, or making the sign of the Cross in the auric space near them. In this way the centers are energized, healed, and corrected in their function for the subsequent maintenance of the person’s health.

The priest then says to the one anointed, omitting the words in brackets if they do not apply:

As with this visible oil thy body is outwardly anointed, so may our heavenly Father, almighty God, grant of his infinite goodness that thy soul inwardly may be anointed with the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of strength, relief and gladness. And [howsoever his goodness shall dispose of thee, whether this world still detain thee in the flesh or the future receive thee out of the body,] may he so replenish thee with the spirit of his wisdom and strengthen thee with his mighty power, that thou mayest persevere in the way of holiness and ever serve him joyfully in the course he hath appointed for thee; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Once more it is affirmed that our health is meant to be employed in our search for Christhood.

The priest then blesses the person, saying:

Christ, the Son of God, look down upon thine affliction and heal thee of all thine infirmities. May the Light of his Love enfold thee forever.

Merely being free from physical suffering is not enough for the initiate of Christ. Therefore he aspires to be empowered that henceforth he may persevere in the way of holiness and ever serve him joyfully in the course that he has appointed for him–and all through Christ the Lord.

Final blessing

The rite is now complete, so the priest gives a final blessing, saying:

Unto God’s gracious love and protection we commit thee; the Lordbless thee and keep thee; the Lord make his Face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up the light of his Countenance upon thee and give thee his peace, now and for evermore. Amen.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

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