Monday, 24 April 2006

The Mystery of Unction

On Wednesday of Holy Week, in the evening, the Mystery of Unction (Greek: Euchelaio) is celebrated. There is no particular reason why this mystery should be celebrated as part of the liturgical cycle, and no one, not even experts in liturgy, seems to know how it entered into the liturgical cycle of Easter. That being said, there is no reason for anyone to avoid attending the Mystery at Easter. It is a great mystery, for the healing of body and soul and for the forgiveness of sins. It does not replace confession, but supplements it, especially in cases where there is bodily illness, or, even, for that matter, psychological or spiritual illness. It does not work mechanically, so as to replace, say, three pills and one injection, but in common with all the Mysteries, it works mystagogically. That means that our participation in the Mystery is an encounter in the Holy Spirit with the mercy of God the Father. Hence, we do not approach the Mystery of Unction mechanically, but as an encounter with our Father who is in the Heavens, who knows what is to our profit. That, again, is not to suggest that we should not pray for the healing of our body, soul and mind, but it is to say that we encounter God in a relationship of spiritual love. The Mystery of Unction is especially powerful when we have made a good confession, one which frees us from those actions which estrange us from God.

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