So Fr. Iggy was sick this past week. In the Orthodox Church we of course seek regular medical care for our illnesses, count many doctors and nurses amongst our saints, and believe that we ought to care for both the body and the soul. In addition, we have Holy Unction as one of our Mysteries/ sacraments, and count it as every bit as important as the other Holy Mysteries, e.g., Holy Communion, Confession, Matrimony, etc. Because the actual service of Holy Unction is served only during Holy Week, and usually only in larger parishes who can bring together the seven(!) priests required, we rarely get to see it. For a neat article on this, click here.
But, Father, what if we’re sick NOW?! This is why we have oils available for anointing at the parish - not the same as we make and anoint with during Holy Week (a mixture of oil and wine, accompanied by several blessings) - but oils nonetheless. Usually these are taken from the lampadas that burn over the relics of various saints, e.g., St. John Maximovitch, or St. Luke the Surgeon, both of which we have at the parish. The anointing is less about where the oil comes from and much more about how we approach the notion of anointing itself - we believe that God visits us through His saints, and that the olive as a symbol was given to Noah (recalling your baptism), and that we can be healed by anointing ourselves and each other with this oil.
As I wrap up this writing, a typika has been celebrated at the parish, and I’m on the mend; now I’ll head to the church and anoint myself with oil - as always, I humbly ask your prayers.