My oleum infirmorum stock broke. Thanks be to God.

To the left is my now broken oleum infirmorum (oil of the sick) stock. I have no idea how old it is. I think it was already a lifetime old when I was gifted it as a young deacon getting ready to be ordained a priest also a lifetime ago. It’s got really a lot of history to it; it could tell many end of life dramatic stories of God’s good grace all over this world on so many continents in so many countries. This was a nostalgic moment for me.

The new cotton and oleum infirmorum from this year’s Chrism Mass just weeks ago was transferred from the broken stock to the “new” old stock pictured on the right. I’m guessing that this “new” old stock I had on hand is from the late 1800s or early 1900s. I think I inherited it from a priest in my first assignment as a deacon waaaay back in the day. He had been a priest for some 60 years already. I have no idea of its long history and, it looks like, heavy usage. I’m eager to begin adding to its saga of dramatic stories of God’s good grace who knows where in this world from now on as I myself get older and it will go to some other priest as time goes on.

I’ve also been gifted stocks or bought stocks other than these, always but always a total disappointment. Mere trinkets. You get what you pay for. If it’s in a “sick-call set” it’s always useless, with junk metal flaking off in chunks when you try to screw off the cap the first time. And then there’s no room for the cotton or oil, and there’s certainly no all-important hinged-ring on the bottom (also important for grip in screwing off the cap). The hinged ring is for the priest holding his sacramental ritual book and the opened stock upright in one hand while he’s anointing the Lord’s suffering soul with his other hand.

You can hardly get these older style stocks with plenty of room for cotton and oil inside and a hinged-ring, and made from at least brass. Yes, brass is also a junk-metal, but it can be plated and it’s really, really, really strong, and that’s what’s needed more than the gold. Nothing works like brass. Not gold. Not silver. Not alumini[!]um. Nothing else. That’s my constant, continuous experience. I remember a pewter stock with a hinged ring. That broke off in like the first use. Sigh.

Older style stocks are mostly unavailable, are on forever-back-order, etc. I’m happy for the inheritance of two O.I. stocks from ages past. I’m thinking that making these things is a lost art whilst insane-liberal-unbelieving priests invalidly delegate Last Rites to be given by whoever the EMHC happens to be, sending them out with weird glass jars with huge corks with surely coconut or cbd oil, maybe essence of aroma therapy oil, you know, while they all sip effete elitist leftist lattes while also handing out the white cookie thingies… Grrr. That’s not my Church. And that’s not a straw man story. I’ve been an assistant priest in many parishes in past decades right around the world where those were the circumstances of [not] pastoral care, so that I took over all the Communion Calls because people were not getting Confession and the Last Rites, even if they thought they were because that’s what the heretics told them.

Anyway, I’m guessing this other stock will make it to it’s second century mark before it quits. I think I myself will have received the Last Rites (please God) and die in the Lord’s good graces (hopefully) long before this other stock pictured on the right breaks down. There are good priests in my diocese.

Reminder: Call the priest for Last Rites before someone dies! You can’t receive a sacrament after you’re dead. It is a terrible thing not to call the priest when someone is dying and needs the last rights.

Instruction: Some parts of some cultures, particularly Italian and Latino in my experience, will absolutely not call a priest for Last Rites until someone has died because, as they tell me, we can’t call a priest for Last Rites when someone is living, because then they’ll die. Aaarrrrgghh! It’s not infrequent that I’ll get “the call” days after someone has passed away. This, even though I frequently instruct about calling the priest right away while the person is still alive.

Lemme tell you, I can’t even begin to tell you all the miracles that have happened because of this sacrament, saving the person’s soul, but then also at times bodily life in this world if that’s what the Lord wants. This can often give the person some reprieve to do more for the Lord in this world before they definitively are on their way to the good Lord Jesus.

By the way, this is NOT an advertisement for anyone to get me another stock! No! I’m going to do a deep clean on the broken stock (they both need an outside clean-up) and I’m gonna fix it. I know how to do these things. It would be a just-in-case stock if the new old one also breaks. So I’m nostalgic.

  • “But Father George! Father George! This just shows how extremist you are! The laity have been handing out – what did you call it? – communion, for a long time, and we have oil too! You have a broken oil stock?! That proves you’re superstitious: “The priest has to do it!” And you think the laity can’t provide that sacrament?! What do we men and womxn have to do, get ordained?”

smh. My response to that is to admit that I’m really hard on such things as oil stocks as I give them a terrible work-out in the field, all the time, thanks be to God.


Filed under Liturgy, Priesthood

8 responses to “My oleum infirmorum stock broke. Thanks be to God.

  1. sanfelipe007


  2. Monica Harris

    “I’m thinking that making these things is a lost art whilst insane-liberal-unbelieving priests invalidly delegate Last Rites to be given by whoever the EMHC happens to be, sending them out with weird glass jars with huge corks with surely coconut or cbd oil, maybe essence of aroma therapy oil, you know, while they all sip effete elitist leftist lattes while also handing out the white cookie thingies…”

    Oy Vey. There is going to be a Reckoning. Cbd oil?

    • Father George David Byers

      In other words, any nice oil you have. Your special oil. If you’re “pious”, it might be “Saint Anthony Oil”, perhaps from an oil lamp where he’s entombed, etc. No matter. Last Rites or an Absolution or the Consecrations at Holy Mass can only be done by a validly ordained priest. Somewhere in the Medjugorje “apparitions”, the “apparition” instructs the kids that not all priests can work miracles, so they (the kids) are to use the Holy Oil on sick people while reciting 7 Paters 7 Aves 7 Glorias. Wait. What? More parallel sacraments mocking real sacraments and priests? Holy Oil? Like what? So, I was a bit sarcastic with the CBD oil, but not as incisive as I should have been, such as in this comment. The worst parish was in Australia in my own experience. The pastor was really, really, really upset with me for letting people know that there are fake sacraments and real sacraments.

  3. Aussie Mum

    Re: “I can’t even begin to tell you all the miracles that have happened because of this sacrament”. I think I am alive today because or one such miracle.
    I was dying in the intensive care unit a little under a decade ago, struggling to breathe even on extremely high flow oxygen as infection raged and fluid filled my lungs. The night staff expected me to go that night. I asked for a priest. They said they called him but the night wore on, he didn’t come and they refused to call another saying he was the only one they ever called. It didn’t make sense that they would call that priest because he was not from the city parish nearest the hospital but a suburban parish a little further out, and unlike the priests of the city parish he was the sole priest in his parish and an old modernist unlikely to stir from home of a night. Eventually I remembered my mobile phone. Slowly suffocating and attached to my bed by tubes, I somehow managed to reach one arm to the bedside table, take the mobile phone from my bag and called a friend, telling her where I was and asking her to call a priest from our local city for me as I did not have the presbytery phone number committed to memory as I did hers. She arrived at the ICU a short time later with one of the local priests. It was then around midnight and the staff were not happy but let them in. After Father administered Extreme Unction and he and my friend left, I was reprimanded for the phone-call I had made and my phone confiscated. But it didn’t matter for the crisis began to resolve that night after Father anointed me. From that time on I improved bit by bit until I was well enough to be moved to a general ward several days later, and able to return home several days after that provided I was accompanied by a carer … and so I survived which seems to have been a miracle thanks to a kind priest getting out of his bed in the middle of the night to bring the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.

  4. sanfelipe007

    Thanks be to God, Mum!

  5. Joisy Goil

    After reading Aussie Mum’s story I felt I too should share my experience with the sacrament of Extreme Unction.

    Twenty four years ago I had a sudden attack of what I thought was food poisoning. It was so severe that instead of heading home but we went to the nearest hospital. (we had been visiting family several states away).

    The EM doctor told me I had pancreatitis and it could kill me – he also added. ” I see on your record that you are Catholic would you like to see a priest?”

    Who in their right mind would say no if their Doctor suggested having a priest attend you? Not me for sure. So, the priest heard me confession and administered the sacrament of Extreme Unction.

    I was in the hospital for five days before they would operate on me because my pancreas had become so toxic and infected. I was in an induced coma and do not recall very much of those five days. After the surgery I remained in the hospital another 5 days before being released. My siblings and children all traveled to visit me because me they did not think I was going to make it.

    But the sacrament healed me and when I went to my personal doctor for follow up care he was amazed that I recovered so quickly. Thank you Abba, Jesu and Holy Spirit.

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