The Mystery of Healing

Oil, Anointing, and the Unity of the Local Church


by Fr. David G. Bissias


Paperback (October 2008)

ISBN: 1-933275-27-7

Price: $19.95 + S&H (USD)


The primary purpose in this book is to make a coherent argument regarding the liturgical life of the Church. The main focus is pastoral and practical, not purely theoretical or academic. The problem concerns the ceremony of Holy Unction that Greek Orthodox Christians, among other Orthodox (but not all), observe during Holy Week. At this ceremony, it is common for some clergy to distribute a portion the “Holy Oil” of anointing to those they have already anointed for their later use or the anointing of others who did not attend the service. While common, this distribution is not “regular” in Greek practice and does not appear in the ceremony’s rubrics (at least in the standard service books). This book discusses the question as to whether this is an appropriate practice. In its broader context, the problem raises still more questions regarding the normative understanding of Orthodox sacramental theology (Chs. 1, 3–4, 6), the meaning of Holy Oil itself (Ch. 2), the purpose for celebrating Holy Unction as a corporate ceremony during Holy Week (Ch. 5), and even the issue of liturgical uniformity within a local Church (Ch. 7).



Father David G. Bissias was born in Chicago, IL, and raised in suburban Elmhurst while attending the Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church of Westchester, IL. Later, he was encouraged to pursue his priestly vocation by Rev. Father Jon Magoulias, his spiritual father and mentor.

Graduating from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (1993), he was ordained a deacon at the hand of Bishop (now Metropolitan) Iakovos of Chicago on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, 1994. First serving as the Bishop's deacon, he was ordained a presbyter later the same year and assigned as the Associate Pastor of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Milwaukee, WI. In 1996, he was assigned as the Parish Priest of the Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Hammond, IN, where he continues to serve today.

In addition to his parish ministry, Father David has served as a member of the Metropolis Council and the Bishop's Task Force on AIDS, both since 1999. In 2004, he was named Special Administrative Assistant to His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago for special projects and communications, while representing His Eminence at various theological and interfaith events. He has lectured and spoken on various subjects of the Orthodox Faith in a wide range of settings. He resides in Munster, IN, with his wife and children.