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Prophets were also sometimes anointed 1 Kings ; 1 Chronicles ; Psalm Earlier, God identifies himself to Jacob by reminding him of the sacred pillar that Jacob anointed at Bethel : "I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. The anointing of the high priest conveyed a particular holiness upon him, which he must be extremely careful not to defile:.


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Both Saul and David were anointed as king by the prophet Samuel:. Anointing a king was equivalent to crowning him in terms of authority. In fact, a crown was not required 1 Samuel ; 2 Samuel , etc. Oil was used also for medicinal purposes. It was applied to the sick, and also to wounds Psalms ; Isaiah It was also the custom of the Jews to anoint themselves with oil, as a means of spiritually refreshing themselves or invigorating their bodies Deuteronomy ; Ruth ; 2 Samuel ; Psalms , etc. The Hellenes had similar customs. This tradition is continued among the Arabs to the present day and may be compared to the custom of many modern people to give themselves various types of oil-based skin treatments.

The expression, "anoint the shield" Isaiah , refers to the custom of rubbing oil on the leather of the shield so as to make it supple and fit for use in war. The terms " Messiah " and " Christ " are English and Greek versions of the Hebrew Mashiach , meaning "anointed one," originally referring to the Messiah's position as an anointed Davidic king who would restore the ideal of the Israelite monarchy centered on God's law. Christians particularly emphasize the idea of the "anointed one" as referring to the promised Messiah in various biblical verses such as Psalm and Daniel The word Christ , which is now used as though it were a surname, is actually a title derived from the Greek Christos , meaning "anointed," and constituting a Greek version of the his title Jesus "the Messiah.

However, in Christianity, Jesus is understood to be "anointed" not by any physical substance or human agency, such as a priest or prophet , but by virtue of his predestined messiahship. In Luke Jesus indicates a prophetic anointing directly by God: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.


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  • Nevertheless, the Gospels do state that Jesus was physically "anointed" by an anonymous woman who is interpreted by some as Mary Magdalene in Luke 7, and later by Mary of Bethany, shortly prior to his death John Jesus' female disciples are described as intending to anoint Jesus' body after his death when they discovered his empty tomb Mark The Apostle Paul speaks of God's anointing on himself and his companions Timothy and Silas: "He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

    The New Testament also records that the disciples applied used oil during exorcisms and healings Mark In early Christian churches, sick people were also anointed: "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

    The Holy Spirit in the Sacraments

    Catholic and Orthodox churches incorporate anointing into the sacrament of baptism , as do some Protestant churches. In Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox usage, anointing is part of the sacrament of anointing of the sick in Orthodox terminology the mystery of unction. Consecrated oil is also used in confirmation, and holy orders , as well as in exorcisms.

    Usually olive oil is used, but another vegetable oil may be used. It is blessed by the bishop of the diocese at the Chrism Mass celebrated on Holy Thursday or on a day close to it. The Orthodox routinely administer unction not only for physical ailments, but for spiritual ills as well, and the faithful may request unction at will. It is normal for everyone to receive unction during Holy Week.

    Anointing with oil is used in Pentecostal churches for healing the sick and also for consecration or ordination of pastors and elders. The word "anointing" is also frequently used by Pentecostal Christians to refer to the power of God or the Spirit of God residing in a Christian.

    While the Byzantine emperors from Justinian I onward considered themselves anointed by God, in Christian Europe, the Merovingian monarchy was the first known to anoint the king in a coronation ceremony that was designed to epitomize the Catholic Church's conferring a religious sanction of the monarch's divine right to rule. The French Kings adopted the fleur-de-lis as a baptismal symbol of purity on the conversion of the Frankish King Clovis I to the Christian religion in To further enhance its mystique, a legend sprang up that a vial of oil descended from Heaven to anoint and sanctify Clovis as king.

    In the Byzantine Empire , the ecclesiastical rite of anointing the emperor by the patriarch of Constantinople was incorporated in the twelfth century.

    Beliefs and practices

    This was caused by many factors, such as the large-scale conversions of European peoples, the cultural discontinuity resulting from the dissolution of the Roman empire, the problem of the difference in languages, a poorly educated clergy in the medieval period, and some other characteristics of Western traditions in church organization and theology. In the practice of the sacraments as received from the early church, there were some modifications. In the initiation, which was almost always conferred on children in the medieval period, baptism, confirmation, and first participation in the Eucharist were separated.

    The custom grew up of baptizing not by immersion but by pouring water over the forehead of the child. Confirmation, being the prerogative of the bishop, might be considerably delayed, and Communion was delayed out of a sense that infants might "desecrate" the holy. The Eucharist became something that the priest did; the people had little part in it and little understanding of it. Its symbolism had become rather obscure and overlaid with additions and the Latin language , which had been adopted because it was the vernacular in the West in earlier centuries, was retained long after ordinary people no longer understood it.

    Communion by the laity became rare at this time, and even then it was restricted to the bread alone, the priest being the only one who received from the cup. Many ordinary Christians sought their real inspiration and forms of worship outside the liturgy of the Eucharist and the sacraments, and thus a great variety of other devotional practices arose.


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    • As in the East, the old solemn and public form of reconciliation gave way to a far more private one embodied in a conversation between penitent and priest. This had originated in a tradition of voluntary individual spiritual guidance given by a wise and spiritual person who was not necessarily a priest.

      Anointing - New World Encyclopedia

      However, by the thirteenth century it had become obligatory for all people to confess, at least once a year, "all their grave sins" to their own parish priest, and the ceremony was constructed rather like a judicial procedure. By a subtle shift of usage in the twelfth century, the prayer that God might forgive had become a declaration that the priest forgave by the power the church had vested in him. There were also some changes in the other sacraments. The anointing of the sick became, in effect, the sacrament of the dying.

      Ordination was restricted not only to men, but to celibate men, and the consent of the faithful was not sought, even as a ritual formality. Effectively, the ranks of the clergy were reduced to two: bishop and priest. Men were ordained to the other ranks deacon, subdeacon, minor orders only as an intermediate step to the priesthood. There seems to have been no obligatory religious ritual for a marriage until the eleventh century, although there was a custom of celebrating a Eucharist at which a canopy was placed over the bride and groom and a special blessing was pronounced.

      After the eleventh century, weddings were performed at the church door with the priest as witness and were followed by a Eucharist at which the marriage was blessed. Essential to the ceremony was the exchange of consent by the couple. A ring was blessed and given to the bride. The Western theology of the sacraments is heavily indebted to Augustine, bishop of Hippo d. Key ideas in Scholastic teaching are concerned with the validity, the necessity, and the efficacy or causality of the sacraments.