Friday, March 11, 2016

Bishop’s Note: March 10th, 2016 Spiritual Disciplines – Renewal of Vows

Bishop Eric Menees

Today as you read your Bishop’s Note, the clergy of the diocese and I will be gathering in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents to pray together, celebrate Holy Communion together, AND to renew our Ordinal Vows – those vows we took at our ordination. We will recommit ourselves to God and one another, under authority, to dedicate ourselves to the prayer, study, and faithful preaching of the Word of God and the administration of the sacraments, in order to bring people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

I have to tell you what an honor it is for me to serve with these men and women, your priests and deacons.  They so freely give of themselves in the service of the Lord and in loving God’s people – I am daily amazed and blessed to be counted their bishop.

In addition to our renewal of vows, I will bless the Holy Oils that we use in the church. Below is an explanation on those oils and their uses.  
I pray you all a truly blessed Lent.

The Three Blessed Oils Used in the Early Christian Churches, East and West Intended for Printing with The Holy Week Rites Olive oil is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments on numerous occasions. Besides its benefits as both a food and a cooking oil, it was valued for its soothing and soaking properties, such as in salves for bruises and as the binder for perfumes and medicines. It became the sign of having the power of God being poured upon a prophet or a king (Samuel anointing David to be King over Israel), as well as the power of God entering into the body of a sick person (Epistle of James).

The early Christians used blessed olive oil for three different purposes. Oil was blessed by a bishop to be used for the expulsion of evil, for the healing of the sick, and for the bestowal of the Holy Spirit.  The Oil of Exorcism was used to expel the Devil or his minions in someone who was possessed or oppressed and in need of release from spiritual bondage. It was also used for those who were preparing to be baptized (Catechumens) to both keep them safe from the wiles of the Devil and just before they were baptized to ensure that they totally belonged to Christ. In the ancient baptismal liturgy the bishop asks the candidates to renounce the Devil and all his works and then were anointed with the Oil of Exorcism before they entered the baptismal pool. This is why this same oil is also known as the Oil of Catechumens.

The oil blessed by a bishop for the purposes of physical healing was called the Oil of Unction (Healing). Its original purpose was lost in the later medieval Church when it came to be seen as a preparation for death in what were called the Last Rites. Its misuse at the time of the Reformation was the reason that the Reformers eliminated it as a “superstition.”

The bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon an individual for their empowerment for ministry within the Church was the foundational reason for the Oil of Chrism. The bishop blessed this oil for those who had been baptized to represent that God now bestowed upon them the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It was also used in the ordination rites for presbyters and bishops, to empower them with the spiritual gifts appropriate to their functions in the Church. [Taken from:]

Catechism Questions: 256 - 259
256. Why did God give the Ten Commandments?
God’s holy Law is a light to show me his character, a mirror to show me myself, a tutor to lead me to Christ, and a guide to help me love God and others as I should. (Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Psalms 19; 119:97-104; Romans 7:7-12; 13:8-10; Galatians 3:19-26; James 1:21-25; 2:8-13)

257. When did God give the Ten Commandments?
After saving his people Israel from slavery in Egypt through the Ten Plagues, the Passover sacrifice, and crossing of the Red Sea, God gave them the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai as covenant obligations. (Exodus 6:1-8; 13:3; 14:26-31; 19:1-6; 20:1-2; Deuteronomy 5:1-5)

258. How did God give the Ten Commandments?
God gave them to Moses audibly and awesomely, from the midst of the cloud, thus revealing his holiness, and afterward writing them on stone tablets. (Exodus 19; 32:15-16)

259. How should you understand the Commandments?

There are four guiding principles: though stated negatively, each commandment calls for positive action, forbids whatever hinders its keeping, calls for loving, God-glorifying obedience, and requires that I urge others to be governed by it, as I am myself.

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