Consecrating Oil

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In Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B, it states the following regarding consecrated oil.

One or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders must consecrate olive oil before it is used to anoint the sick or afflicted. No other oil may be used.

There is no mention about whether it should be extra virgin, virgin, or plain ol’ olive oil. Yet there seems to be a tendency?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùperhaps tradition?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùfor Latter-day Saints to exclusively use extra virgin olive oil.

Why is that?

49 thoughts on “Consecrating Oil

  1. Ok I have never read or been taught about this specifacly but maybe it is just a desire to use the best and most pure for a sacred ordinance. Or maybe it is like when the children Israel always sacraficed the firstling of the flock.

    If I am not mistaken extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press of the olives. I once had a really neat instituite class that likend the atonement to the pressing of olive oil. I wish I could remember more of it now. The instructor talked about how Gethsamane if I remember right means place of the press. There is a lot of symbolisim you can find there about the olive oil and the suffering of the Savior and the blood he said.

    Anyway everything I just said may be pretty obvious but it is just my thoughts on the subject.

    Heather.

  2. There are plenty of definitive statements that pure olive oil must be used. I think that many people get confused about the difference between pure and virgin. I know many people on my mission struggled with the difference.

    I would imagine that people would prefer that extra-virgin not be used if they really thought about it, because it smells allot more.

  3. Because maybe you can’t get extra-virgin where you are. The point is not to get bogged down in the minutiae of oil grades; the point is not to use the cut-rate stuff for the Lord.

  4. “The point is not to get bogged down in the minutiae of oil grades”

    Which is my point as well. So, why is it that we bog ourselves down with it? Why is it such a big deal to use extra virgin olive oil to those performing the ordinance, yet the instructions for performing the ordinance make no mention of the grade to use?

  5. Because the principle is more broadly taught: The Lord gets the good stuff. The firstlings of the flock. It’s like all these other conversations which won’t die around the bloggernacle: It has nothing to do with the color of your shirt when using your priesthood, it has everything to do with doing what YOU think encompasses respect for the Lord. And that means not trying to use your priesthood on the cheap.

  6. When I’m doing the Lord’s work, I’m consecrating my performance to the Lord. Whether He “gets” the oil is immaterial; it’s not like He actually “got” the lamb, either. The principle is still, Don’t skimp on the sacred.

  7. “Whether He ‘gets’ the oil is immaterial”

    Oh. I must have misunderstood your previous comment of “the Lord gets the good stuff.” Sorry.

    “Don’t skimp on the sacred.”

    So, why is it our chapels are so drab? Why is the Book of Mormon printed on such cheap paper? Why is temple clothing made of low quality materials? Etc.

    Has anyone else been successful at finding anything in the Gospel Library on the Church’s website about extra virgin olive oil? I cannot for the life of me find a single article in any magazine or manual regarding extra virgin olive oil let alone whether it should be used.

  8. I just found this in the Family Guidebook.

    “One man (or more) who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood consecrates pure olive oil for its holy purpose of anointing the sick or afflicted.”

    Not sure why the priesthood manual leaves out the word ‘pure’; particularly since DBP is newer.

    Anyhow, I find this interesting since there is a difference between extra virgin and pure. Olive oil that is graded pure is refined olive oil with some extra virgin grade oil added to it. Apparently, in the States it sometimes labelled as simply “olive oil”.

  9. What makes you certain that ‘pure’ in the Family Guidebook (it doesn’t appear in the priesthood manual) generically refers to any olive oil not mixed with other grades rather than specifically referring to the grade?

    Is it possible that when they original started to use the term ‘pure’, they referred to the actual grade and out of ignorance, we have assumed ‘pure’ means the absolute best (i.e. extra virgin)?

  10. >”Don’t skimp on the sacred.”

    >So, why is it our chapels are so >drab? Why is the Book of Mormon >printed on such cheap paper? Why >is temple clothing made of low >quality materials? Etc.

    The chapels may be simple but no one could describe the temples– the houses of the Lord– as “drab.” I don’t know anything about temple clothing (yet!) so I can’t answer that one but as for the Book of Mormon I believe it’s because the message contained therein is more important than the vessel.

    That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about our church, that we put feeding God’s sheep first. My husband is Catholic and I occasionally attend services with him. The churches are always beautiful but I look at the gold leaf and the stained glass and I can’t help but wonder how many needy people the money could have fed and sheltered.

  11. Is there a tendency (tradition) to exclusively use extra virgin olive oil?

    My involvement with consecrating olive oil is limited to only five or six wards, but never has the question arisen. I know specifically the last two quorums used ordinary olive oil. I’ve never hear any dialogue about the issue before reading your blog post and the associated comments.

    How much insight do you have into this tradition?

  12. “Is there a tendency (tradition) to exclusively use extra virgin olive oil?”

    There is in the eight wards in three provinces in which I’ve lived. It was also common practise among missionaries in my mission, and every ward in my mission that I covered (over 100) where it was brought up used extra virgin olive oil. In fact, until reading your comment I have never known of a single ward that used anything but extra virgin olive oil.

  13. Sounds like you have a wider perspective than I have; interesting custom.

    I’m positive of the two wards mentioned as I have the original bottle. My ward used part of the bottle, then most of what remained was given to another ward in our stake. Perhaps we should issue a recall and replace it with extra-virign…grin.

    Any recommendations?

  14. Extra virgin oil is not required. The earliest annointing where done with perfumed oils. The earliest mention of pure that I found was Elder Widtsoe, qouting Joseph F. Smith (turn of the century) (emphasis added):

    “Olive oil is consecrated before it is used to anoint the sick. A good grade of pure olive oil should be secured, and those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood should set it apart for its holy purposes.”

    McConkie echoed this in his Mormon Doctrine:

    “A good grade of pure olive oil should be used, and after it has been consecrated, it should not be commingled with any ointments or used indiscriminately.”

    The reality is that oils were not official graded until the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. So any use of pure before that was a qualitative assertion of the oils purity, i.e., not cut with other oils.

    The assertion that extra virgin oil must be ussed is a great example of cultural over-belief.

  15. We still have our original bottle of consecrated oil that has the date of January 29th 1978 written on it. That was the day the bottle was bought and Elder Wilf Linfield consecrated it for us. It has gone through 27 years worth of blessings in our family. It has lifted some members of our family literally off their death beds. It does not smell when opened. It is NOT the oil that actually blesses the person getting the blessing. It is the faith of the person receiving and giving the blessing that blesses the sick.

    The Lord doesn’t give a hoot (IMHO) whether we use light, regular, pure, extra, virgin, glass or plastic bottled, dark or clear bottled, imported from Italy, bought at the corner Safeway or lent from a neighbor. He just cares that the Priesthood holder that gives the blessing uses his Priesthood powers wisely and uses his faith that this will work.

    When we joined the church there weren’t all these varieties of olive oil… there was plain old pure olive oil. Is someone now going to tell me that this bottle that we still use to this day is invalid? That our past and current blessings that have been given are for naught cause we aren’t using the new and improved version?

    If gospel principles have changed I want to know it is coming from the current Prophet’s mouth and the words are coming from direct revelation from the Lord not from the words of whoever is the current author on the best sellers book list.

  16. Kim this is from your Dad as he doesn’t know how to get on your site himself so is posting here:

    Some one said that the Catholic church goes to great expense in their buildings. Well as a contractor the church expects us to use only top grade building materials to build all church buildings so we can meet the high standards set by the First Presidency. Any thing less is not acceptable. As for the oil you can even use penzoil for blessing the sick as long as it is consecrated. It does not have to be olive oil. The reason olive oil was used was because it didn’t go bad, had very little impurities in it and needed none or little maintance for storage and was readily available in the times of the Bible. Please see your email inbox for research that I found for this but was too extensive to post here. You can shorten it for your use to post.
    Dad

  17. Wow, I’m relived, as I’m thinking that based on the comments of smiles, a recall of our quorums pure, but not extra virgin, consecrated olive oil will be not necessary.

  18. Actually, Dad, it does have to be olive oil.

    “One or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders must consecrate olive oil before it is used to anoint the sick or afflicted. No other oil may be used.” (Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part B)

    Regarding the materials the Church uses to build their buildings, I am not saying that they are shabby. I am saying that compared to the temples, the meetinghouses are very plain.

    If we’re not supposed to skimp on the sacred, why should the Lord’s house not have more?

  19. Well, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard anyone bloviating on and on about the grade of the oil before. Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life.

  20. Whenever I see “extra virgin” on an olive oil bottle, I think of taking a spare female human sacrifice up the side of the volcano, just in case. You know–an extra virgin. :)

  21. How can an olive be virgin anyways…and certianly to be “extra” virgin seems odd. I can see however how an olive can be “pure. IT’S an OLIVE people.

    Hehe.
    K.

  22. Oil extracted from the olive through mechanical means only is graded as Extra-Virgin or Virgin, depending on the acidity. (Lower acidity = better flavor = higher price = Extra)

    Refined olive oil has been extracted from the fruit through chemical means (The remains of mechanical extraction can be subsequently processed to extract Refined olive oil). Solvents, such as other oils, or hot water, can be used in the chemical extraction. Pressed oil that has been chemically treated to reduce acidity is also graded as Refined Olive Oil.

    What is labelled or graded as “Pure” olive oil, ironically, is a blend of Virgin and Refined oils.

    In p.44 the 1996 printing of Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, the instructions for consecrating oil include “Olive oil must be consecrated before it is used to annoint the sick. A good grade of pure olive oil should be secured, and those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood should consecrate it for its holy purpose. No other type of oil should be used.”

  23. Interesting to read #20. I’m trying to figure out how the oil has lasted that long without going bad. Olive oil is resistant to spoilage but it certainly isn’t immune from it. That’s why I’m always chagrined when a family, or a quorum, decides to consecrate some huge container of oil all at once. I generally put a small amount into the container I will actually use when I bless the sick, and consecrate only that much at a time. Using rancid oil to bless the sick is just plain impolite.

    Re: #22, I hope no one will try to consecrate or use Pennzoil, or any other type of motor oil, which obviously isn’t olive oil and would go against both the symbolism of the olive press (Gethsemane) and, more importantly, against the explicit instructions of those who hold the keys to these ordinances.

  24. I think there are 2 unrelated things at work here:

    1) A trend in correlation and simplification of instruction, facilitating translation of the essential aspects of ordinances and adoption accross cultures (perhaps liberated of cultural assumptions or baggage?)

    2) Recent gourmet food trends, making a wide selection of olive oil products and grades readily available.

    Despite the lack of current guidance on a grade or quality of olive oil to consecrate, the organizational inertia of having previous guidance on the matter contributes to a continuing practice.

    I think it may be a fusion tradition, with Extra Virgin Olive Oil now readily available, and people recalling recalling “good grade” from at least 20 years in official instruction, and many more in prominent opinion.

    However, in my experience, the olive oil available from LDS Distribution is usually yellow, not green. (More likely “pure” than virgin).

  25. ltbugaf it hasn’t gone bad cause it was consecrated :-> Honestly I swear you open it and it smells exactly like my other bottle of EVOO that I use for my cooking and every day usage. It’s a special bottle and I will be very sad when we finally finish it. It has blessed 3 generations of our family.

  26. It’s not my place to tell Sally she’s wrong. Maybe this IS a small and simple miracle that bolsters her faith. She’s not saying that ALL consecrated oil is protected from spoilage by consecration; she’s saying HER consecrated oil is. Maybe so. Not all cruses of oil and flour that feed a prophet last indefinitely, but I know of one that did. Not all metal plates are preserved without blemish but I know of some that have been.

    My consecrated oil has gone rancid, and Sally’s hasn’t. I leave it up to her, and her own faith, to decide whether the reason is divine.

  27. Kim you said consecrating the oil doesn’t change the properties so that’s not why it hasn’t gone bad… would you agree that consecrating oil is a prayer? A prayer just like you give for blessing of food, the sick, sacrament etc? If praying to “bless” the oil can’t change the properties of the actual oil then how do you explain how the fish and bread’s properties got changed when Christ blessed that on that fateful day where He fed throngs of people? A prayer/blessing is a prayer is a prayer is a prayer. If that prayer could change the properties of the fish why couldn’t it have changed the properties of my oil?

  28. You don’t bless it when you consecrate. It’s nothing more than setting it apart for the purpose of giving blessings. All prayers are not the same. There is certainly a difference between the sacrament prayer and the prayer that starts a meeting. Similarly, there is a difference between a prayer to consecrate oil and a prayer to heal the sick.

    Here are the instructions for consecrating oil:

    1. Holds an open container of olive oil.
    2. Addresses our Heavenly Father.
    3. States that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
    4. Consecrates the oil (not the container) and sets it apart for anointing the sick and afflicted.
    5. Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
  29. I do know how oil is consecrated.. I wasn’t born yesterday.. it’s just terminology when I said a prayer is a prayer is a prayer. I do realize that there is a difference between blessing the Sacrament, giving a Patriarchal blessing, consecrating oil, blessing the food on your dinner plate, family prayer, blessing for the comfort of the sick etc.. what the common demoninator though is you are asking Heavenly Father for something.

    And as long as I get sick this particular bottle of oil won’t be going bad on me. We will run out of that oil before it goes bad.

    And it isn’t my imagination that says the oil isn’t bad.. every single Bishop and or home teachers and or missionary Elders that have been here to help with blessings have all checked it and all shake their heads and they continue to still come and say oh it can’t be good and they check it again from the last time.

    Why is it still good after 27 1/2 years? I have no idea. Probably from the same faith that allowed me to lay my hands on my childrens’ heads when they were growing up and they were sick, raising them from their sick beds. I never had to use the oil not that I would have been able to and I would never have.. but with my faith in the power of prayer it worked. I won’t question it. Sometimes you just have to stop questioning why or find a reason for it to deny it and just accept that it is.

  30. “Consecrate” means to make sacred. The word contains at least some connotation of changing or transforming a thing. I’m not as sure as you are, Kim, that a consecration contains no element of blessing.

  31. “Why is it still good after 27 1/2 years? I have no idea. Probably from the same faith that allowed me to lay my hands on my childrens’ heads when they were growing up and they were sick, raising them from their sick beds.”

    It may very well be your faith that has prevented it from spoiling.

  32. This is an interesting discussion. I’m nearly 30 years old, I’ve grown up in Utah, served a mission and never once heard anyone suggest that we only use extra virgin olive oil. In fact, I was actually looking at the differences between the different olive oil grades because we always buy EVOO (as Rachel Ray would say) for cooking and I wondered if that was the pure stuff we can consecrate.

  33. This discussion is about as interesting as the question of did Adam have a belly button? In otherwords, so long as olive oil is used, the grade is not important.

    Remember, this is a spiritual blessing, anointing, and consecration. The physical atributes of the oil do not change that.

    If the focus becomes the oil then the power of the blessing is lost.

    To give another perspective, ompare this to a baptism where the biggest concern is the temperature of the water.

  34. Which was the point of the post, Bryan. Thanks for bringing the discussion back to that.

    I would, however, assert that whether Adam has a belly button is more important than the grade of olive oil.

  35. Sorry to side-track this discussion but I here in Mexico where I currently live everybody (Bishops, Stake Presidents etc) seem to think that oil can only be consecrated (1) in sacrament meeting (2) on fast sunday and (3) with the bishop present and participating in the ordinance.

    I have lived in 8 states in the US and I have lived in Brazil and I have never come across this concept before. Before ranting at what appears to be excess ceremony and “looking beyond the mark” I have decided to investigate and see if I can discover where this idea came from (I have already heard this declared as gospel truth by 8 bishops and 3 stake presidents). I cannot find anything on this in any of the church manuals nor in any general conference talk. In fact I specifically recall under the direction of my mission president using Elders Quorum to teach members how to consecrate oil and encouraging them to do this in their home.

    Does requiring members to request their oil be consecrated by the bishop during sacrament meeting seem as wierd to the rest of you?

    1. I sure do.

      Even if someone was to preside over it, it would be the quorum presidents (EQP for elders and stake president for high priests).

      But, the handbook listed in the original post mentions nothing of presiding over the ordinance.

  36. Hi Akrad,

    The blessing of consecrating oil is something any worthy m.-priesthood holder can do himself. There is no requirement to have it performed in sacrament meeting by the Bishop.

    That being said, the Bishop and Stk Pres. are the presiding priesthood authority. If they feel it necessary to perform the blessing in this way, we are to be obedient and follow their council. There is nothing that says we cannot ask them questions and seek their guidance on why they feel it is necessary to do so.

    :o)

  37. Actually, the presiding authority is the quorum president, not the bishop. The elders quorum president for elders and the stake president for high priests.

  38. Kim and Bryan:

    Thank you so much for your insights. I suspected the same thing and I wanted to get some feedback before posting this additional piece of information I came across.

    Although I have never found this practice condoned, suggested or even mentioned in any official (or unofficial) LDS publication or guidebook I did find it mentioned on newadvent (a Catholic website).

    I don’t know how it became so widespread among LDS stakes here in Mexico City or why the Stake Presidents and Bishops I have mentioned my concerns to are so certain that they are doing it the right way and the way it has always been done. I think somebody (or somebodies) with experience in the Catholic Church simply brought this practice over with them.

    Of course as an elders quorum president I cannot override a bishop or a stake president. I have expressed my concerns but apparently their way of doing things is pretty widespread down here and the weight of tradition obviated actually consulting official church guidebooks.

    I don’t know if this is something that should be cleared up by someone higher up or if I should just let it ride. I do occasionally encounter members of the local area presidency and a casual conversation with them about this should either alert them to a problem, set my mind at ease or both.

    Thank you,

  39. Of course as an elders quorum president I cannot override a bishop or a stake president.

    Actually, when it comes to presiding over your quorum, you do override your bishop. You have the keys to preside over your quorum; he does not. Given the stake president gave you your keys, that’s an entirely different story.

  40. I think you are right Kim. I am probably justified in correcting this at the EQ level but sacrament meeting is a different issue.

    The larger problem (various stakes thinking that this is the right way to do things) I think needs to be addressed from higher up.

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