Here's to a Holy Oil Change!

By Marc Massery

When Mary Valek of Albany, New York, found out her good friend Heidi Black, also of Albany, had been diagnosed with Stage 2 cervical cancer, she took her to a place she knew would bring her comfort and healing — the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

After their pilgrimage, every day from July through September of 2018, Heidi underwent radiation treatment. She also endured chemotherapy once a week and five internal radiation treatments. “I had a tumor about 5 centimeters. It was scary,” Heidi said.

Knowing how much peace Heidi had found on the grounds of the Shrine, Mary obtained two bottles of St. Faustina holy oil for her to use during her treatment. Since 2010, the Marian Fathers have made the oil available as a blessed sacramental.

The bottles contain cold-pressed olive oil with a faint scent of jasmine. The Marian Fathers bless the oil, pray over it, and touch the container to a first-class relic of St. Faustina (part of her bone) as well as to a relic of the True Cross.

“It came with a prayer, a little booklet. You just put [the oil] on while you say the prayer, and you call on St. Faustina to intervene on your behalf,” Heidi said. “I kept the oil by my bedside. Even when I was really sick because of the chemo, the scent of the jasmine also helped me to feel better. I don’t know if it was the scent that helped me or the combination of the scent and the blessing.” 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says sacramentals like these are instituted “for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, states of life, and the use of many things helpful to man” (1668).

“I just could feel the sacredness of that moment when I was praying to St. Faustina,” Heidi said.

Thankfully, after many months of daily treatment — and daily prayer blessing herself with the oil — Heidi’s tumor disappeared. “There’s a lot to say for science,” Heidi said. “But there’s a lot to say for faith, too.”

Another healing
Prior to that, someone Mary knew less — her work associate’s wife, Lori Burt of Poestenskill, New York — was also diagnosed with cancer. A chest X-ray had revealed a carcinoid tumor in Lori’s lung that couldn’t be medically treated. So, Mary brought some St. Faustina holy oil to her, too.

“Mary was a stranger to me, and I hadn’t met her until I was in the hospital,” Lori said. “I thanked her for all she had done for me, her prayers included. I truly believe she was Heaven-sent.”

Mary believes God tasked her with being a liaison of His healing. She’s been giving out sacramentals like St. Faustina holy oil for many years. 

“I guess when you’re in that predicament of having a life-threatening illness, you put your faith in God, and you believe, and I believe the oil facilitates that,” Mary said. 

In the days leading up to her surgery, Lori started putting the oil on her chest where she believed the tumor was. “I had to have the upper portion of my lung removed,” Lori said. “Which is a small price to pay considering you could lose your life.”

During the surgery, doctors discovered that the cancer wasn’t as advanced as they had suspected, so they deemed the surgery a success. “I do believe that without the oil and the prayers of others, I wouldn’t have been so fortunate,” Lori said. 

“[Heidi and Lori] both used the oil,” Mary added. “They both healed. [Their healing] definitely had to do with the oil, there’s no doubt about it.” 

“I would recommend anyone who is facing a health challenge like that to visit the Shrine and get some oil. I think they ask for a small donation for it, and you just can’t put a price on miracles,” Heidi said. “So, I am really thankful for the Marian Fathers and the Shrine.” 

Saint Faustina oil is available to pilgrims who visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. You can also call 1-800-462-7426 to request oil. A donation of $5.25 is suggested to cover shipping and handling.  

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