Anointing of the Sick
Traditionally referred to as Extreme
Unction or Last Rites, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the
Sick was previously most commonly administered to the dying, for
the remission of sins and the provision of spiritual strength
and health. In modern times, however, its use has been expanded
to all who are gravely ill or are about to undergo a serious
operation, and the Church stresses a secondary effect of the
sacrament: to help a person recover his health. Like Confession
and Holy Communion the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
can be repeated as often as is necessary.
Who May Receive the Sacrament?
Following this biblical understanding, the Catechism of the
Catholic Church notes that: 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."
The Effects of the Sacrament
Received in faith and in a state of grace,
the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick provides the
recipient with a number of graces, including the fortitude to
resist temptation in the face of death, when he is weakest; a
union with the Passion of Christ, which makes his suffering
holy; and the grace to prepare for death, so that he may meet
God in hope rather than in fear. If the recipient was not able
to receive the Sacrament of Confession, Anointing also provides
forgiveness of sins. And, if it will aid in the salvation of his
soul, Anointing may restore the recipient's health.
Anointing of the Sick Complements Confession
Since Reconciliation is the sacrament by which
God intends our mortal sins to be forgiven, a sick person who
has mortal sins to confess must receive the sacrament of Penance
before he receives the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
However, it is a comfort to know that Anointing of the Sick does
forgive mortal sin also if the critically ill person is unable
to receive the sacrament of Penance.
If you know any parishioner who is in the
hospital sick or having surgery then please contact the Minister to the Sick and