The Odor and Oil of Sanctity

After the school Mass this morning I was showing the second graders all the stuff we use for a baptism, and I opened the aumbry and showed them the holy oils. Just the slightest touch of the holy oil canister with sacred chrism leaves a fragrance on your hands. I’m walking back across the church campus thinking that this is what it should be like to be ordained, confirmed and baptized. The oil of gladness touches you and you bear a fragrance of Christ, and even the slightest contact with you should leave a pleasant odor of sweetness. This should be a waft of heaven, a glimpse of glory in this world– a little hint of the world to come.

So it is with grace. God’s grace is overflowing to us. It’s like a river. If only we opened ourselves up to the grace that is there. It would enter our lives like the holy oil. Oil is such a powerful and good symbol.  It heals, it lubricates, it penetrates and loosens what is rusted and old and hard to move. It goes down deep and goes through most anything. I’m always amazed how my holy oil stocks–despite being made of impermeable metals–still leak. The oil gets through. It penetrates. It wins.

I think it is like grace. Or like water in a mountain stream. It flows downhill and eventually overcomes any obstacle. Should the cataract encounter a boulder it simply goes around it, over it under it and over it. In fact the encounter with the boulder makes the water come alive. It dashes and splashes it dances and comes alive in the light, and finally it goes around or over the boulder, and eventually, given enough time and enough water the boulder will be eroded by the water. The water, like the oil will win.

So let it be for the obstacles we face, the obstacles we are. Let grace like the oil penetrate. Let grace like the water overcome, until all that separates me from God–my hard heart-a boulder if ever there was one–is broken down, eroded and washed away

  • shanaofs

    Ages ago, I mentioned to a priest friend of ours that whenever I smell the fragrance of holy oils, I imagined that was what it would be like to be received into the arms of Jesus.

    During Holy Week of that year, he called me to the church and asked me to bring my four volume Breviary with me. He had taken the empty bottle of balsam from the Bishop after he scented and consecrated the holy oils, and Father poured droplets of what was left of the balsam on the inside cover of my books. Whenever I open them to pray, that lovely scent wafts out and reminds me of the end of the race.

  • Mark Ferris

    Beautiful Father!


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