Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Correspondence Concerning the Augmentation of Blessed Oil with Unblessed Oils, 18 April 1994.
Many are familiar with the practice of adding water to that water which is already blessed to increase its volume. The question was raised this year if that could be done in the case of holy oils which are obtained at the Chrism Mass. A search for the answer by the particular diocese led to discovering a “lacuna” in the law. The chancellor of the diocese in question reported that “what precipitated the question was the practice of some of our clergy of adding unblessed oil to the holy oils so as to fill the larger glass decanters that they would display in their parishes. Their rationale for this practice was the claim that you could add unblessed oil to increase the volume of holy oil. This practice was remedied the following Holy Thursday by asking those priests who needed a larger amount of oil to notify us and we increased the volume of oil blessed at the Chrism Mass.” What follows here is the letter of the diocesan bishop to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
February 28, 1994
I write concerning a practice among a few of our priests in regard to the oils blessed by me at the Chrism Mass.
When these priests return to their parishes, they place the blessed oils in larger glass receptacles and immediately add unblessed oil to increase the volume. They base this practice on canon 724, §2 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. However, the commentators of canon 847 of the 1983 Code seem to imply that this practice of adding unblessed oil is suppressed. In my investigation, I have not found this practice permitted in any currently approved liturgical books.
I present the following questions to the Congregation:
1. Is canon 734, §2 of the 1917 code suppressed?
2. If the practice is lawful, what are the conditions when unblessed oil may be added to the blessed oil?
Your response will help to resolve the questions raised by this practice.
Thank you for your assistance and consideration of this matter.
With every best wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Cardinal Antonio Maria Javierre Ortas
The Congregation for Divine Worship and
the Discipline of the Sacraments
10 Piazza Pio XII
00193 Rome, Italy
The following response was received in English:
Rome, April 18, 1994
In response to your request of February 28, 1994, regarding the blessed oils, I bring the following to your attention:
While canon 734, §2 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law is indeed suppressed, the spirit of the law is not suppressed. Therefore, in case of true necessity only, a priest may increase the volume of the blessed oils by adding unblessed oil to them. It would be an abuse however, if this practice became routine for the sake of expedience or convenience.
I hope that you find this information helpful.
With every good wish and fraternal regard, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Gerald M Agnelo
RRAO (1996): 9-10.