Q. 1. What is the purpose of blessed oil. Is it the same as Chrism Oil?
A. 1. First of all, it is important to point out that Blessed Oil is not the same as Holy Oils (Chrism). The oil of Catechumens, the oil of the Sick, and the Sacred Chrism are called "Holy Oils." These are used in the administration of the Sacraments.
Blessed Oil is a Sacramental that can be used by lay persons for personal use. It is forbidden for a lay person to use Blessed Oil to anoint one or more persons. When using Blessed Oil as a Sacramental, the lay person has an obligation to make it clear to those present that he is not administering a Sacrament, such being limited to a Bishop or priest. This is to ensure that there will be no confusion in the usage of the Sacramental.
It should be noted that Jesus instituted the Sacraments; the Catholic Church instituted the Sacramentals. Another difference is that the Sacraments are said to work by the direct power of Christ, while a Sacramental obtains grace or power by the prayers of the Church. The purpose of all Sacramentals is to help people grow in faith. In essence, they are contact points that represent Catholic faith.
The usage of Blessed Oil by lay people is an ancient custom of the Catholic Church. It can be used when praying for the sick as long as a clear distinction is being made between the Sacrament of the sick and Sacramental use of the blessed oil. In this particular usage, the Blessed Oil as a Sacramental is no different than the usage of blessed salt, palms, ashes, etc.
Many of the Catholic Basilicas, Cathedral and Shrines located throughout the world at holy sites of pilgrimages provide Blessed Oil as a means of obtaining God's grace for the healing of the sick. Blessed Oil, sometime incorrectly called "Holy Oil," can be obtained for a donation at places such as Lourdes (France), Fatima (Portugal), La Salette (France), Sainte Anne de Beaupré (Quebec, Canada), etc...
Blessed Oil, a Sacramental like holy water, helps the faithful to grow in his spiritual life and increases his devotion to the Catholic faith. Blessed Oil can be used in the same way as Holy Water. It can be used to bless oneself or another person, to make the sign of the cross from oil above doorposts and windows and other ways similar to the usage of Holy Water. It can be used as a healing balm and/or a protection against evil.
Blessed Oil should not be associated with superstitions such as the Blessed Oil having a magical power in itself. Blessed Oil is a symbol of God's grace at work through the faith of the believer. Such faith must be Jesus-centered, as was the faith of the blind man in John 9; he had faith in Jesus, not in the mud and spittle used by Jesus to heal him.