ASK FATHER: Blessing of olive oil and incense

olive-oilFrom a reader…


Hello Father, I would like to start occasionally using incense at home for my private devotions as well as lighting a couple oil vigil lamps by icons hanging on my walls. Do you have any blessings for these two items (incense and olive oil) that I can print off and bring to my Priest to use to bless these items for me?

We Catholics bless all sorts of things for our daily use.

Or we used to.

You can check out the traditional Rituale Romanum for many blessings of even quite ordinary things.  The nice folks at St. John Cantius put the Rituale on line so you can (and you could have) look things up on your own.

That said, I do like the prayers for the blessing of oil.   As in the case of water and salt… such basic elements… the priest first addressed the oil personally, with the “you” form in the second person.  He exorcises it, thus tearing it away from the foul clutches of the prince of this world and his evil cohorts, if they’ve gotten their clutches on it – the agents of the Devil are known even to curse foods in the production, transport and sales stages … yes… it’s true – say your prayers before eating.  Then he blesses it, transferring it to the King of all things.

Let’s have a look.  This, friends, is a super Catholic prayer!


P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

God’s creature, oil, I cast out the demon from you by God the Father + almighty, who made heaven and earth and sea, and all that they contain. Let the adversary’s power, the devil’s legions, and all Satan’s attacks and machinations be dispelled and driven afar from this creature, oil. Let it bring health in body and mind to all who use it, in the name of God + the Father almighty, and of our Lord Jesus + Christ, His Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, as well as in the love of the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.

All: Amen.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Lord God almighty, before whom the hosts of angels stand in awe, and whose heavenly service we acknowledge; may it please you to regard favorably and to bless + and hallow + this creature, oil, which by your power has been pressed from the juice of olives. You have ordained it for anointing the sick, so that, when they are made well, they may give thanks to you, the living and true God. Grant, we pray, that those who will use this oil, which we are blessing + in your name, may be delivered from all suffering, all infirmity, and all wiles of the enemy. Let it be a means of averting any kind of adversity from man, made in your image and redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, so that he may never again suffer the sting of the ancient serpent; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It is sprinkled with holy water.

I almost always use Latin when I bless things, because the Devil hates it.  Also, I always use only the older Rituale Romanum.

For incense, there is the one on Epiphany for Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, but the priest can always use the


This form may be used by any priest for the blessing of anything that does not have its own special blessing in the Roman Ritual.

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, whose word suffices to make all things holy, pour out your blessing + on this object (these objects); and grant that anyone who uses it (them) with grateful heart and in keeping with your law and will, may receive from you, its (their) Maker, health in body and protection of soul by calling on your holy name; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

It (they) is (are) sprinkled with holy water.


Pastors of parishes (and lay people too) would do well to get a calendar for a year or more and write down dates which have special blessings for things.  For example, wine on the Feast of St. John the Apostle, candles on St. Blaise along with bread, wine, water and fruit,  bonfires on the Vigil of the Nativity of John the Baptist, herbs on Assumption, seeds and seedlings on Nativity of Mary.  We have blessings for places and machines and people, especially in important moments such as when women are pregnant or after they have had a baby (alive or stillborn).   There are special blessings for infants and small children, when alone or in groups, when healthy or ill. Pilgrims can receive a special blessing before they set out.   There are even deprecatory prayers against things such as pests (rats and bugs, not liberals) and storms and diseases and floods.

On the flood point, I once mentioned here that a bishop go to bless a river about to break dikes in a flood stage and to use older Rituale.  I was later told that he did and the river subsided.  I myself once was watching TV coverage of a terrible storm with tornadoes tracking directly at my house.  I got out the Ritual and went through the Litany with the prayers against a storm and then watched on the TV at the storm split and went around north and south of where I lived as the weather man said how strange it was.

Holy Church gives us these things so that they will be used when we need them.

We should have a greater awareness of sacramentals and blessings and priests should talk about them more.  You all can help be asking for things to be blessed.  It may be that Father doesn’t know how to do things like this, so make it easy for him.  Get him books, for example.


Are you looking for a gift for a new priest (or an older priest)?

Get him a set of Weller’s translation (with the Latin) of the traditional Roman Ritual.


If you want your priests to do things, make sure they have the tools, such as books or fine vestments, etc.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Hidden One says:

    These are awesome.

    What would be the best way to go about the blessing of oil not “pressed from the juice of olives’? Should the priest use the generic blessing, omit the reference to olives, or do something else instead?

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for this!

    I once tried to go shopping for a thurible to use at home, and contacted what I took to be a ‘traditional’ supplier – and got quite a blast (as I remember it) to the effect that layfolk were not allowed to burn incense at home!

    (Was I missing some technical distinction – i.e., between a thurible and some other kind of more stationary incense burner, or was I simply being misdirected?)

  3. Michelle F says:

    Venerator Sti Lot,

    The supplier who told you that laymen are not allowed to burn incense at home probably had Numbers chapter 16 in mind.

    Numbers chapter 16 tells the story of the Rebellion of Core (spelled Korah in Protestant Bibles), who challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron, the men whom God Himself had chosen and set over the people. Core contended that all of God’s people are holy, and therefore all of God’s people are equally qualified to burn incense and offer sacrifice to God (a claim that should sound familiar to 21st century Catholics). It was a direct challenge to the ministerial priesthood.

    Moses replied to the challenge by setting up a contest between Aaron and Core and his followers:

    “And speaking to Core and all the multitude, he said: In the morning the Lord will make known who belong to him, and the holy he will join to himself: and whom he shall choose, they shall approach to him. Do this therefore: Take every man of you your censers, thou Core, and all thy company. And putting fire in them to morrow, put incense upon it before the Lord: and whomsoever he shall choose, the same shall be holy: you take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.” (Num. 16:5-7)

    Core and his followers are killed by the Lord:

    “And a fire coming out from the Lord, destroyed the two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense.” (Num. 16:35)

    This didn’t sit well with the Israelites:

    “The following day all the multitude of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying: You have killed the people of the Lord. And when there arose a sedition, and the tumult increased, Moses and Aaron fled to the tabernacle of the covenant.” (Num. 16:41-43)

    So the Lord made short work of them as well:

    “And the number of them that were slain was fourteen thousand and seven hundred men, besides them that had perished in the sedition of Core.” (Num. 16:49)

    I know that laymen in the Eastern Orthodox Churches burn incense before icons in their homes as part of their prayers, and I know they seem to get away with it, but I also know what this chapter of the Book of Numbers says about unauthorized people burning incense to the Lord, so I (layman and female) have no intention of ever trying it myself.

  4. lmgilbert says:

    “We should have a greater awareness of sacramentals and blessings and priests should talk about them more. ”

    About thirty years ago a guest of ours mentioned that once she had done something, I am not sure what at this point, with those red Sacred Heart badges in reference to a pornography outlet in her home town. Did she bury them on the property, put them in the magazine racks? sorry, I am just not sure. Anyway, the place burned down.

    Well, with this lesson in mind and full of fiery hope I got a bunch of those mass produced St. Benedict medals, had them blessed, and put them in the racks of the local magazine store which had a great quantity of pornography behind the counter. Shortly, maybe a few months if that, the place was sold to a good Catholic, who jettisoned all the pornography and made many other pleasant improvements including as I recall a couple of lines of Christian greeting cards.

    For anyone similarly inclined Amazon has the above mentioned medals in bulk for $12.98 per 50


  5. iPadre says:

    I agree who heartedly – the devil hates Latin.

    Isn’t it required to use the Latin if you use this version. Not that anyone would want to use the Book of Non-Blessing.

  6. iamlucky13 says:

    I’ve been curious for a while: what is the practical effect of an exorcism on an inanimate object like oil or holy water?

    Is it a way of dedicating an object as not to be used for evil purposes, similar to the way that consecration is a dedication of an object only to be used for holy purposes? Is there also some supernatural effect, such as granting extra graces for the user/owner to resist temptation?

  7. momoften says:

    Thanks, perfect gift idea for an upcoming ordination….!!!!!

  8. Healingrose1202 says:

    About a year ago, my aunt passed away. When sprinkling the casket with holy water at the cemetery, it quickly ran out. (Like many Catholics, we have a large extended family.) I couldn’t believe what happened next. The priest took a random bottle of “natural spring water” and poured it directly into the aspergillum. He looked a little lost as one of the funeral directors looked on. The priest basically made the sign of the cross over it, screwed it make together, and gave a little shrug as he handed it back to the funeral director to hand over to another member of the family so they could continue to sprinkle “holy water” on the casket. It seemed a little odd to me at the time, but I didn’t fully understand until more recently.

    I am looking forward to taking the initiative to have things properly blessed in Latin in the older Rituale. I was also going to ask my parish priest for a blessing and enrollment in Latin in the Brown Scapular Confraternity. I’m a little rusty and limited on proper Latin pronunciation, although many priests might be as well.

    Is reasonable to seek out a priest in a different parish who is known to be familiar with the older Latin prayers and blessings?

  9. un-ionized says:

    Michelle, What is described there is a type of the ordeal and bears no relation to whether anyone can burn incense at home. The Orthodox “get away with it” because they are doing nothing wrong.

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  11. SpesUnica says:

    Re: Ordination Gifts, I really like this little edition
    ( )

    which is sort of the “best of both worlds” for the revised rites. It contains most of the “Little Green Book” for sick calls, but with a selection from the BoB, and is smaller and more attractive than the LGB. Latin-English on facing pages.

    I have the three-volume Weller. I usually opt to use the English translation when I am with a group because 1) my Latin is so-so, 2) it’s never been with a group who would understand the Latin and 3) the Scriptural language of the older blessings is so beautiful and meaningful that I want people to be able to hear it. I know that those aren’t approved English translations, but the BoB has for the most part ushered in an era of not using *any formula at all* for blessings, so it seems light-years ahead of that. If there was something like the equivalent of a hand-missal for the RR, with side-by-side for folks, or if there would be a large, planned, public blessing and worship aids could be distributed so people could follow along (like at most Latin Masses), then the comprehension worry would be for the most part alleviated. I don’t know if I can imagine a whole congregation toting Weller around.

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Michelle F and un-ionized,

    Thank you! I once read a translation of (I think) a fairly early Syriac source which almost in passing as the most ordinary thing in the world mentioned Our Lady’s domestic use use of incense, and I’ve read something else which suggested on the basis of later Jewish practice that incense was very likely customarily used at domestic Passover and Chaburah meals (and so, probably, at the Last Supper).

  13. Michelle F says:


    Thank you for your comment. I have wondered whether the key to what happened in Numbers chapter 16 vs. Orthodox use of incense at home was that what the Bible describes really pertains to formal, public worship, and the notion “we’re all holy so we don’t need priests,” and not to private, devotional use by people who recognize the need for a separate, ordained priesthood. I haven’t looked into it because I’ve never felt the need to incorporate the use of incense into my devotions.

  14. Michelle F says:

    Venerator Sti Lot,

    Thank you for the additional information. The belief that Our Lady used incense is interesting!

  15. Imrahil says:

    I think where the text above has “and may He also be with you”, it is sort of a misspelling and rather intended to mean “and with your spirit”.

    Just saying…

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