Much of the transformation worked by the Christian Sacraments is done by the absorption of divine powers (energies) into the various bodies of those aspiring to be disciples of the Master Jesus. In every spiritual system we find intermediaries which serve to link the divine worlds with the mundane. Acting as transformers to step down powers which in their original forms the human body and mind could not cope with or assimilate, they enable that assimilation and adjustment without which no one could be an initiate while embodied in this material world. These intermediaries can be human beings specially empowered and constituted by the Sacrament of Holy Orders or actual blessed or consecrated physical elements
The body is seventy-five percent water, which is why water is one of the intermediaries in the first Sacrament, Baptism. The human body also consists of fat (oil), so consecrated oil is another intermediary, especially in the New Birth Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
According to the visionary stigmatist Anna Catherine Emmerich, on Holy Thursday evening the Lord Jesus not only instituted the holy Mass, he also instructed the disciples in administration of the other Sacraments, explaining to them the three kinds of holy oils they should use and showing them how to consecrate them. Consequently, a bishop consecrates the holy oils at Mass in the morning of Holy Thursday.
Yogic Consecration of Holy Oils
The traditional rituals of consecration are extremely elaborate and very long. Knowing the strength of divine power with which a bishop has been imbued at his consecration, Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater formulated rites that would employ this empowerment to the full so there was no need for the old, complex procedures that in many instances were mostly superstition and liturgical drama. As Bishop Leadbeater wrote in The Science of the Sacraments: “If he understands his business and uses his opportunities, every Bishop ought to be a veritable radiating sun, a lighthouse amid the stormy sea of life, a battery charged with almost unlimited power for good, so that he may be a fountain of strength, of love and of peace, and his mere presence may itself be a benediction.”
After O Come, All Ye Faithful has been sung, the bishop is seated at a table placed before the altar. Four containers are placed on the table: three of olive oil for Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and Holy Chrism, and one of balsam for use in the Chrism. Balsam is a broad category including any fragrant resinous substance exuded by a tree or ligneous plant. In the West it is the practice to use powdered frankincense (olibanum) as the balsam.
The bishop exorcises the four containers simultaneously, saying:
In the Name of God, I exorcise all influences of evil, that they may be cast out from this oil and balsam which we are about to dedicate to His service, in the power of the ✠ Father, and of the ✠ Son, and of the Holy ✠ Spirit. R: Amen.
Oil of the Sick
The container that is to be consecrated as Oil of the Sick is placed before the bishop and the others are taken off the table but kept nearby.
The bishop consecrates the Oil of the Sick, saying:
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and invoking the assistance of the holy Archangel Raphael, I ✠ consecrate and ✠ hallow this oil for the healing of the sick; may the blessing of the Great Physician rest thereupon, that it may give refreshment and peace alike to soul and body. R: Amen.
Now the oil is infused with the healing powers of Christ, the same powers which healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. Wherever this oil is used, there healing angels will be present to assist in the name of Christ and the Archangel Raphael.
It is interesting that this formula of consecration is echoed in the words spoken by a priest in the ritual of Anointing of the Sick.
Oil of Catechumens
The oil to become Oil of Catechumens is now placed before the bishop, who consecrates it, saying:
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I ✠ consecrate and ✠ hallow this oil, that it may serve for the cleansing and safeguarding of those who receive the holy rite of Baptism or consecration to the Order of the Priesthood. R: Amen.
Now the powers of purification and protection are infused in the oil. In the ordination of priests the hands of the ordinand are anointed with this oil to purify them and impart to them the power to purify by expelling all negative influences by their touch or by the sign of the Cross made by them.
Now we have come to the apex of the sacred ritual: the consecration of Holy Chrism, the vehicle of the Holy Spirit.
The container of balsam is placed before the bishop who consecrates it, saying:
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I ✠ consecrate and ✠ hallow this balsam, that everything touched therewith may burn with His purity, before Whose splendor the Angels veil their faces. R: Amen.
From henceforth this balsam is an intermediary for the Living Fire that is the Holy Spirit.
The oil for the Chrism is placed before the bishop. Beginning the consecration, he says:
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I ✠ consecrate and ✠ hallow this oil, now set apart for the making of Holy Chrism, that it may bestow upon those who receive it of the fulness of spiritual strength. R: Amen.
The Power of the Holy Spirit, the fulness of spiritual strength, will dwell in the Chrism and will be imparted to whoever or whatever is anointed with it.
Continuing and completing the consecration, the bishop mixes the balsam and Chrism and prays, with his hands extended over the mixture:
O Lord Jesus Christ, the Fountain of all goodness, who dost pour down Thy gifts abundantly upon men, and for their strengthening, dost hallow and set apart these earthly things as a channel of Thy marvelous power, send forth, we pray Thee, Thy ✠ blessing upon this Holy Chrism, that whatsoever persons or things shall be anointed therewith may receive of the fulness of spiritual consecration. Let Thy heavenly blessing descend upon those who are signed by this Chrism with the sign of Thy holy service, that, guarding well their spiritual heritage, they may shed around them the fragrance of a godly life, O Thou great Shepherd and Ruler of the souls of men, to Whom be honor and glory for evermore. R: Amen.
This prayer ensures that we will have a correct perspective on the awesome ritual that has just taken place as well as all Sacraments. Their purpose is to strengthen us. We are not sinners and aliens to holiness and God, but we have become weakened. Being prodigals that have wandered from our home, “getting and spending we lay waste our powers” as Wordsworth said. We do not need to be changed into something else, but we do need to be “reborn” in the sense of being renewed and restored. We need the fulness of spiritual consecration so we can find the Way and pursue it unto the end–in God.
Note that the sign of the Cross is said to be the sign of holy service to God, not death or sacrifice for sins. It is the sign of higher life in God. Those who guard well their spiritual heritage, drawing upon it as the well of life, will “shine as lights in the world.” For although Jesus said: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), he also said: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The abundant life which Jesus came to give us (John 10:10) is sealed by the Holy Chrism in Confirmation. Those who use that grace of empowerment surely “are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” we receive in that Sacrament (II Corinthians 3:18).
When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection: “he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). Remembering this, the bishop breathes three times in the form of a cross over the Chrism. Then each priest present also breathes over it in the form of a cross, for both bishops and priests are the representatives of the Holy Spirit in the world as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (I Corinthians 4:1).
The Chrism is then also taken away and the Mass proceeds as usual. Just before the final blessing the bishop speaks to the priests about the necessity to keep the holy oils as a precious trust in a manner befitting their great worth.
In this way once more the direct blessing of Christ has been given to the world in fulfillment of his assurance: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
Next in Yoga of the Sacraments: Holy Orders