The Mystery of Healing: Oil, Anointing, and the Unity of the Local Church
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The primary purpose in this book is to make a coherent argument regarding the liturgical life of the Church. The main focus is pastoral and practical, not purely theoretical or academic. The problem concerns the ceremony of Holy Unction that Greek Orthodox Christians, among other Orthodox (but not all), observe during Holy Week. At this ceremony, it is common for some clergy to distribute a portion the “Holy Oil” of anointing to those they have already anointed for their later use or the anointing of others who did not attend the service. While common, this distribution is not “regular” in Greek practice and does not appear in the ceremony’s rubrics (at least in the standard service books). This book discusses the question as to whether this is an appropriate practice. In its broader context, the problem raises still more questions regarding the normative understanding of Orthodox sacramental theology (Chs. 1, 3–4, 6), the meaning of Holy Oil itself (Ch. 2), the purpose for celebrating Holy Unction as a corporate ceremony during Holy Week (Ch. 5), and even the issue of liturgical uniformity within a local Church (Ch. 7).