Thursday, June 28, 2012

Olive Oil in Religion

The olive tree shown above is located in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is said this is where Jesus went to pray.

KM: As I was reviewing notes for my Horticulture final, I kept in mind my last blog topic. I wanted to go out with a bang and do something that interested me beyond researching a plant. Growing up Catholic, with most formal meals, or in special cases, we would often pull out a goblet and fill it with red wine, along with a vile of oil. I never put too much thought into the oil that was in the container, but I knew it had been blessed. After another quick look through my notes, and connecting what Dr. Lombardini had previously taught us, I realized it was more than likely a form of olive oil. We learned that olive oil is often used in many religions and cultures. At first, this was a strange and distant thought because I had only ever imagined consuming olive oil orally. Though, I know that my family has used it several times to bless each other. It is said that 1400 years ago, Muhammad advised his followers to use this to anoint their bodies and to apply it topically. It is also commonly used when Christians receive their first baptism. I easily related to these first two ideas, because my family has often gone around the table, using the oil to mark the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads to “bless” each other in a spiritual connection to God. However, I never knew that kings of the Greeks and Jews also used it on the athletes who have won competition to anoint them. Also in our notes, it is said that under Extreme Unction, olive oil can be used on dead people to increase health for the soul and in hopes of the body. These two ideas were new to me, and fun to learn because I never would have expected olive oil to be used in anything other than our cooking we do at home.

Learning all off this was not only an educational experience. Because my family has used this oil so many times and for so long, I really enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding of what the oil we used to bless each other is. I understand the process of how it was made, where it comes from, and various purposes. I believe that the next time we use this oil, I will have a greater appreciation knowing that it isn’t just any oil blessed, but one that has been used for centuries for various purposes.

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