ANOINTING OF THE SICK
“Any one of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”
(James 5: 14-15)
The Sacrament of Anointing of the sick, formerly called “Extreme Unction”, is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last Sacraments one will receive. Like all the sacraments, holy anointing was instituted by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry.
The anointing of the sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude (CCC 1520). These graces flow from the atoning death of Jesus Christ, for “this was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases’” (Matt. 8:17).
What Are The Effects Of The Sacrament?
“The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of penance; the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul; the preparation for passing over to eternal life” (CCC 1532).
Does a person have to be dying to receive this sacrament? No.
The Catechism says, “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only, who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (CCC 1514).
The Last Rites
The act known as the Last Rites in the Catholic Church does not constitute a distinct sacrament in itself. It is rather a set of sacraments given to people who are extremely ill and believed to be near death. These are the sacraments of Anointing of the Sick (which, in spite of not being reserved for the dying, is sometimes mistakenly supposed to be what is meant by “the Last Rites”), Penance and the Eucharist.
The Last Rites are meant to prepare the dying person’s soul for death, by providing absolution for sins by penance, sacramental grace and prayers for the relief of suffering through anointing, and the final administration of the Eucharist, known as “Viaticum,” which is Latin for “provision for the journey.”
Arranging an Anointing Of The Sick
We are pleased to administer the Sacrament of the Sick to those in need. Please call the Parish Office if any members of your family or any parishioner is in need, whether at home or in one of the many local nursing homes or hospitals.