Field Trip Anyone?

Many thanks to one of our distance DRE’s for sharing the great idea she’ll be using with her catechists for the February lesson on the Sacrament of the Sick:

This month’s Family Formation lesson calls for each catechist to have a small vial of Holy Oil and to bless each student with that oil.  We are going to adapt this a bit and instead have a small “field trip” to see the Ambry where our holy oils are kept here at St. Patrick’s.  You may do this at any point in your lesson but it would seem to fit in best on pg. 5 for K-3 (right before “Act it Out!”) and on pg. 6 for grades 4-5 (right after “Anointing with Oil”).

Tell your students that you are going to see where we keep the blessed oils here at St. Patrick’s and remind them that Jesus is in the Tabernacle so we need to be extra respectful in the Church.

Bring everyone to the Church and genuflect.

Walk them over to the Ambry and show them the blessed oils.  As a Catechist, you may open the door and take them out to help the children to smell each oil but please do not let the children touch the oils or their containers.  Remind the children that it is not common for the laity to remove the oils from the Ambry but that this is a special moment of instruction.

Help them to see that each bottle is etched with some letters.  These signify which oil is in this vessel.

OI is the Oil of the Infirm (“Oleum Infirmorum”) which is used during the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  You may bring this down for the children to smell.  Does it smell familiar?  This is olive oil.

SC is the Sacred Chrism (“Sacrum Chrism”) and is “used in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, as well as blessing tower bells and baptismal water and for consecrating churches, altars, chalices, and patens” (The Catholic Source Book, pg. 319).  Allow the children to smell this as well.  Does it smell different that the Oil of the Infirm?  That is because balsam oil has been added to it, giving it a sweet and pleasant smell.  This alludes to “Saint Paul’s “odor of life” or “aroma of holiness” metaphor in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16” (Ibid).

OS is the Holy Oil or “Olea Sancta”, sometimes called the Oil of the Saints or the “Oleum Catechumenorum” referring to the Oil of the Catechumens.  It is “used during the prayer of exorcism and anointing when a catechumen (one seeking membership in the Catholic Church) is initiated, whence the name” (Ibid). The children may notice that this smells exactly like the Oil of the Infirm, it is also Olive Oil.

Please remember to genuflect when your class leaves the Church.

Here is some more information on Holy Oils:

Holy Oils are Sacramentals blessed by a bishop. There are three kinds: oil of catechumens, holy chrism, and oil of the sick. The first and third are pure olive oil. Chrism has in the oil a mixture of balm or balsam. In 1970, the Congregation for Divine Worship declared that, if necessary, the holy oils may be from any plant and not only from olives. (This was because some places did not have ready access to olive oil.) The holy oils are symbols of spiritual nourishment and the light of grace. They are used in the public administration of baptism, confirmation, and anointing of the sick. The blessing of the holy oils normally takes place on Holy Thursday by a bishop at a cathedral church. After distribution locally they are kept in locked boxes in the ambry. Unused oils, a year later, are burned in the sanctuary lamp (or may be buried in the ground).  From

There are three kinds of sacred oils, all of which signify the work of the Holy Spirit and symbolize it in that oil “serves to sweeten, to strengthen, to render supple” (Catholic Encyclopedia). The three holy oils are:
·    The Oil of Catechumens (“Oleum Catechumenorum” or “Oleum Sanctum”) used in Baptism along with water, in the consecration of churches, in the blessing of Altars, in the ordination of priests, and, sometimes, in the crowning of Catholic kings and queens.
·    The Holy Chrism (“Sanctum Chrisma”) or “Oil of Gladness,” which is olive oil mixed with a small amount of balm or balsam. It is used in Confirmation, Baptism, in the consecration of a Bishop, the consecration of a various things such as churches, chalices, patens, and bells.
·    The Oil of the Sick (“Oleum Infirmorum”), which is used in Unction
The blessing of oils is performed by the Bishop of each diocese on Holy Thursday in the diocese’s cathedral during a “Chrism Mass.” The oils are kept in metal or glass bottles called “chrismatories,” “chrismals,” or “ampullae.”  These vessels are then stored in a cabinet called an “ambry,” which is usually fixed to the wall of the sanctuary. Priests also have a portable “oilstock” which has a section for each of the three holy oils.

Explore posts in the same categories: Catechist's Corner, DRE & Faith Formation Coordinators

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