While perusing the text of the Missale Romanum 2002, thinking of next year’s Triduum, I came across something interesting in paragraph 48 of the Easter Vigil. After the elect renounce Satan, it says:
Si unctio cum oleo catechumenorum adultorum facta non sit antea, inter ritus immediate preparatios, fit hoc momento.
If the anointing of adults with the oil of catechumens is not done earlier, among the immediate preparatory rites, it is done at this point.
Just to make sure this was not something I had missed in the past, I looked back at the current Sacramentary, as well as the RCIA, and, sure enough, there is no provision for a pre-baptismal anointing at the Vigil.
The rubric in the 2002 Missal not only permits but seemingly requires that this take place at the Vigil if it is not among “ritus immediate preparatios” — which I presume refers to the rites done in many places on Holy Saturday morning. I take this to mean that even if anointing was done earlier, during the catechumenate, it should be be repeated on the day of baptism, either at the preparation rites earlier in the day or at the Vigil. It is interesting to note that the current edition of the RCIA does not include the anointing of catechumens among the preparatory rites of Holy Saturday. So this amounts to a change not just to the Easter Vigil, but to the RCIA.
In my experience, anointing with the oil of catechumens is rarely done, which I think is a shame, since it is an extremely ancient part of the Western baptismal rite, with its own meaning, distinct from the post-baptismal anointing, of strengthening the catechumen for spiritual combat. Also, its placement between the renunciations of evil and the profession of faith might help underscore the dramatic nature of this turning (not to the degree that the Eastern practice of spitting at the devil does, but every little bit helps).
The 2002 Missal mentions no verbal formula to accompany the anointing, but I presume the formula found in the RCIA would be used: “We anoint you with the oil of salvation in the name of Christ our Savior. May he strengthen you with his power, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.”