Another underutilized prayer of the catechumenate period involves the use of oil of catechumens. Unlike the exorcisms, blessings, or word services, one does need an ordained cleric, a priest or deacon to lawfully celebrate this rite. Let’s read:
98. During the period of the catechumenate, a rite of anointing the catechumens, through the use of the oil of catechumens, may be celebrated wherever this seems beneficial or desirable. The presiding celebrant for such a first anointing of the catechumens is a priest or a deacon.
99. Care is to be taken that the catechumens understand the significance of the anointing with oil. The anointing with oil symbolizes their need for God’s help and strength so that, undettered by the bonds of the past and overcoming the opposition of the devil, they will forthrightly take the step of professing their faith and will hold fast to it unfalteringly throughout their lives.
The standing question among some catechumenate directors and liturgists is that tricky “first” anointing. Does this mean that a priest or deacon anoints the “first” time, but a lay person may anoint subsequently? In the parallel practice of infant anointing, the ritual is optional for the priest or deacon, but is prescribed to be omitted when a lay person baptizes.
Understandably, an anointing of catechumens should be preceded by appropriate catechesis, as well as a personal commitment by the newcomers to rely more deeply on God.