The Holy Unction Service on Holy Wednesday



Miracles from the mystery of the Holy Unction, from Orthodoxia News Agency

At Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, when the new brotherhood arrived, there were some very old monks which were already living at the monastery. In time, the old monks became sick one by one, mostly because of their age. The new brotherhood took care of them with love, however the old monks were very ill for a long time, tormenting themselves and the others.

After a a while, one of the caregivers, exhausted, prayed to Mother of God to help him. Suddenly, enlightened by the Holy Theotokos, one of the old monks came to him and asked "It seems that you have a problem. Can I help?" The young monk responded "Well, I am very exhausted trying to help the old sick monks and, besides that, anything we do doesn’t yield any results".

Then the old monk responded "Perform the mystery of the Holy Unction. Your human power isn’t enough. If you celebrate the mystery of the Holy Unction then the Holy Spirit, the comforter, will come and comfort everyone: some will heal and some will die, according to God’s will. Nobody will be tormented anymore".

Truly this is what happened and happens to this day. When the Holy Unction service is celebrated for someone especially, with faith and humility, the problems are solved through the Grace of God. 

Sickness in the human nature is often related to sin, for this reason the prayers of the Sacrament of Holy Unction refer to healing of the sick and remittance of sins. This is the purpose of this Sacrament, bodily healing of the sick and forgiveness of sins. This is possible when there has been preparation of the person through true repentance and confession. 

The Sacrament of Holy Unction is a sacrament of faith (James 5:14-15). It is meant for any sick person and is always celebrated in the hope that it will bring healing. While this certainly is the desired effect, it is not the indispensable condition of the Sacrament. The essential purpose of the sacrament is to allow the person to share in the victory of Christ and to raise him into the realm of God's Kingdom. It communicates spiritual power so that the trials of sickness may be borne with courage, hope and fortitude.

The solemn celebration of the Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday serves to remind us of Christ's power to forgive and liberate the conscience of personal and collective sin. Thus, it helps emphasize the glorious expectation of Pascha: the resurrection, redemption and sanctification of all life. In addition, it helps us to realize how fragile human life really is and how dependent we are on God; if our life is to have any true meaning.

Based on the Bible, the efficacy of Holy Unction is universally valid, if the necessary faith, humbleness and prayer exist. Amen. 

If you wish to have the names of your living orthodox brethren commemorated please send them to us, holy oil will be mailed to you, with which you can anoint yourselves. 


The complete bilingual service of the Holy Unction