Anointing with oil has been and continues to be a part of the Catholic tradition, going back to the time of Jesus. The gospels recount how Jesus Himself was anointed. Oil has been used to consecrate kings, popes, bishops and priests, to heal the body and spirit, and to prepare the believer for the journey home to the Father. Anointing with oil is used within the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. However, anointing is not limited to the Sacraments. Like holy water, oil is a sacramental. It is an encounter with the Lord.
The custom of anointing with oil is part of the devotional tradition of St. Anthony of Padua. Special Anthonian oil incorporates blessed lilies into olive oil. It is believed that St. Anthony's oil wards off the attacks of evil spirits; gives strength to withstand temptations against purity; heals the body; and brings the peace and grace of the Spirit of God.
Fr. Matthew Swizdor, OFM Conv., a confrere of the friars at the Companions of St. Anthony, continued the ministry of St. Anthony throughout his life. He anointed and provided blessed oil to people who sought healing. God used Fr. Matthew as an efficacious instrument of healing. Even after his death, people continue to ask for the oil he had blessed.
With a soft-spoken voice he delivered a power filled message. He proclaimed the many manifestations of God's loving presence among us. His deepest desire was for people to have a deep and abiding personal relationship with God. Countless numbers flocked to him in person, by telephone and through the mail to be remembered in his prayers, especially for spiritual and physical healing.
At his funeral "A Last Prayer", which was found on his desk, was read. This prayer captures Fr. Matthew's God-given ministry:
We wish to continue the ministry of St. Anthony and Fr. Matthew by bringing people closer to Jesus. New oil has been blessed by incorporating lilies that adorned the relic chapel of St. Anthony at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, MD. To this oil, we have added oil which had been blessed by Fr. Matthew himself.
The prayers of the friars and the prayer-partners of the Companions of St. Anthony accompany this oil. We entrust the prayers of those who use this oil to the care of confreres, our beloved St. Anthony of Padua and Father Matthew Swizdor.
To use the blessed oil:
With a drop of the oil on your fingers, anoint yourself or another person in the Name of Jesus while reciting the following recommended prayer:
"Anoint me/Anoint ___________________, O Lord
with your healing grace, and make me/you
whole in mind, body and soul, through the
power of your holy Name, Amen."
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