My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
PRAYER OF ANOINTING (MYSTERY [SACRAMENT] OF HOLY OIL)
"O Holy Father, Physician of souls and bodies, Who did send
Thine only – Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to heal every
infirmity and deliver from death: Heal Thou, also, Thy servants
from the ill of body and soul which do hinder them, and quicken
them, by Thy grace; through the prayers of our Most Holy Lady,
the Birthgiver of God, and Ever-Virgin Mary; through the
intercessions of the honorable bodiless Powers of Heaven the
might of the Precious and Lifegiving Cross…"
In the General Epistle of James, the most familiar reading from this letter (5:10-17) occurs in the Mystery (Sacrament) of healing (oil, or Efchelaion [Holy Unction]. Saint James the first bishop of Jerusalem writes: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters (priests) of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."
The Gospel of Luke 4:18-19 reveals the prophecy concerning the promised Messiah, that the Father would send His Son "to heal the brokenhearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind." [see Isaiah 61:1]. The earthly Ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was one of countless healing miracles "of all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matthew 4:23). When Saint John the Baptist "had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: ‘The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead, are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them…" (Matthew 11:3-5). Prophet Isaiah predicted that the coming of the Messiah the blind would "see," the "lame walk, lepers would be cleansed," the "deaf" would "hear" (Luke 7:22). Our Savior Jesus Christ fulfills the prophecies of Prophet Isaiah, bearing the fruit which only the Messiah can produce. Furthermore, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ healed darkened hearts, souls, and minds as He freed people from demon possession.
The Holy Apostles continued in God’s work of healing as well, attributing their miracles to the Risen and Ascended Jesus Christ. "JESUS THE CHRIST HEALS YOU," the Holy Apostle Peter told the newly healed man. The Holy Apostle Paul attributed healing as a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9). Furthermore, the New Testament foundations were established for the healing διακονία (ministry) of the Mysteriaki Zoe (Sacrament life) of the Church (James 5:14-15).
The Church is Christ Himself and therefore the healing miracles have always and will always continue to take place within our Holy Orthodox Church. Our Great Benefactor, Savior, and Physician of our souls and bodies said very clearly, ‘He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father" (John 14:12). Saint Irenaeus, a second-century Holy Father wrote: "Some drive out devils… some have foreknowledge of the future…other heal the sick through the laying on of hands… and even the dead have been raised yo before now and have remained with us for many years." The sacred writings of the holy Fathers consistently reveal constant miracles within the Holy Church.
As a priest of five decades, I have witnessed numerous miracles attributed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to the Mother of God, and to the Saints of our Church. Even physicians who participated in the effort to save the life of their patients attest to the miracles of God for there is no other explanation. It was not their professional ability, it was not science or medicines that healed and saved the sick man, woman, or child but the healing grace of God. When a young man’s mother was quick to thank the doctor for her son’s healing, the doctor, a person of faith, pointed to a small holy icon of Christ next to his bed and said to her, ‘it wasn’t me but He in who is shown in that icon who restored your son to life’. It is most important to remember always that our faith is a living faith and our God is the Living God.
The Church was created by our Lord Jesus Christ for the therapeutic needs of the faithful. The Holy Church receives all those who are ill, those who have been injured spiritually and physically, and who suffer from all harmful passions and sins and by the grace of the Holy Spirit heals and restores them back to health. We all understand of course that our body sooner or later will die and be buried. The soul which is immortal needs spiritual cleansing and healing before the bodily death takes place and so free it from all infirmity and suffering. The holy Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians points out the various illnesses that plague humanity such as, "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries…" (Galatians 5:19-21). Do you see why we believe that the Church is a place of healing, a hospital and that it is through the Holy Church that one can be healed spiritually and physically? We are not in the church simply to observe an ancient Christian ritual but to be healed by the Physician of our souls and bodies and leave the church restored and cured.
The Orthodox priest is a first-responder. He is ready day and night to run to the one who is injured, ill, suffering, in danger, and yes, even one who is dying. The medicines for those spiritually and physically ill that he brings are the sacraments of the Church i.e., Holy Eucharist, Holy Unction, Holy Confession, and prayer. He invokes the Almighty God, the Theotokos, and Saints to come to the person’s aid and heal him or her. The purpose of the Mystery of Efchelaion (Holy Unction) is for healing and forgiveness.
Prayer of the Holy Oil
O Lord Who, in Thy mercies and bounties, heals
the disorders of our souls and bodies; Do Thou,
the same Master, sanctify this Oil, that it may be
effectual for those who shall be anointed therewith,
unto the healing, and unto relief from every passion,
every malady of the flesh and of the spirit, and every
ill, and that therein may be glorified Thy Most Holy
Name, of the Father, and fo the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit, now and ever, and to the Ages of Ages. Amen.
Oil signified Grace, joy, softening, and a bringing to life. The anointment of the sick with oil was done by the Holy Apostles, as we see in Mark 6:13: They "anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them." This sacrament is conducted on the sick who are capable of receiving it consciously and participating in prayer themselves. Holy Unction may be performed both at the church and home where the sick person is. The Mystery of Holy Unction is usually preceded by the Mystery of Repentance/Confession and is usually concluded with the Mystery of Holy Communion.
The priest or priests present while anointing the believer says, "O Holy Father, Physician of souls and bodies, Who did send Thine Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who heals every infirmity and delivers from death: Heal also Thy servant (Christian name)." The whole Church entreats Him, the Most Merciful One, to grant to the infirm remission of sins and to purify his/her conscience from every evil defilement.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George