Presentation of Oils

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: What is the role of the Deacon during the Presentation of Oils during the Holy Thursday Mass? 

In our parish six lay persons carry the oils in procession and present/show them to the priest and congregation. The text states that the Presenter of the Oil says the name of the oil and the priest says a prayer. There is no mention of the role of the deacon at this time. Can you give me guidance on this? Does the deacon need to stand beside the priest or could he go to stand by the ambry (which is visible in the sanctuary) ready to receive the oil when a server brings it there? Does he need to say the words of presentation or could/should the lay person say them?   And, does the priest need to take the oils or touch them at any point? I hope this all makes sense. 

Also, I really miss having the presentation take place during the Introductory Rites on Holy Thursday. It seems out of place during the Preparation Rite.

Thanks so much for your blog. It is a great resource, thanks to you.


A: The Holy See confirmed a ceremony for the reception of oils in 1989 that still appears in some resources both in the United States where I live and accessible in Australia where you live.

However, that ritual predates the third edition of the Roman Missal. All the missal says at 15 for the Chrism Mass is this: “The reception of the Holy Oils may take place in individual parishes either before the celebration of the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper or at another time that seems more appropriate.”

So you have more freedom than you may realize in how to do this. 
There is no mention of the deacon, so you may use him as you see fit. I see no problem with the deacon setting the oils in the ambry that is visible in your sanctuary. It is not necessary for him to announce the oil. The layperson carrying the vessel may do that. 

To me, it would make sense for the priest to receive the oils because he is the presider. But again, the instruction from the missal is pretty vague. The “reception” may be as simple as somebody opening the door to the parish office when a visitor delivers the oils that afternoon.

You may receive the oils in the church before the mass begins or as part of the introductory rites.

The reason that they were first included in the preparation of the gifts on Holy Thursday is that that is how they are handled in the chrism mass itself. But they are no longer gifts of the people to the church, which you would expect in the procession of the gifts. They are, in a sense, gifts of the bishop to the parishes. They have less significance there.

I’ve treated this in my book Glory in the Cross.