Anointing of the Sick

 

The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick may contribute to the cure of patients or to prepare them to move from this world to eternal life. The Holy Spirit renews confidence and Faith of the patient in God and strengthens the patient against temptations, discouragement, despair and anguish at the thought and the struggle of death.

Anointing of the Sick has five main 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 Suffering 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; the entire Catholic Church asks God to lighten sufferings, forgive sins, and bring a moribund to eternal salvation.

Anointing of the sick may be received several times by any mature Catholic who is sick or in danger by reason of illness or old age, and the sacrament can also be administered to ask God for the cure of a Catholic that is ill through abuses, mental disorders, alcoholism or drug addiction. A patient may also receive the sacrament prior or during surgery.

Catholics may receive the sacrament individually or collectively in the same ceremony, at home, in a hospital or institution, in church, in a battlefield or during the mass. The anointing oil is generally olive oil blessed by a bishop on Holy Thursday. “Send the power of your Holy Spirit, the Consoler, into this precious oil. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction.”

I have acknowledged the bounty and the Grace in the Anointing of the Sick. The priest said a few prayers and read a Scripture passage. Then he placed his hands on the moribund’s head and prayed silently. Finally, he took out some holy oil and rubbed a little on the moribund’s forehead and palms. The whole event took less than 10 minutes.

Prayer and anointing with oil are the essential to the sacrament. Ministers consider time availability, patient condition and individual desire before the ceremony. They may distribute Communion to the sick and to Catholics present at the ceremony, and end the service with a simple prayer and a general blessing.

The mission of the Catholic Church is to follow Jesus’ concern for the sick. Healing was essential to the mission of the apostles: “He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two … they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” (Mark 6:7-13)

The Second Vatican Council placed the sacrament again in the context of collective prayer and compassion.

• The sacrament is a community celebration;
• Sickness involves more than bodily illness;
• Anointing heals us through Faith.

Penance, Anointing of the Sick and Eucharist are the last sacraments administered to a moribund. The last Communion is known as Viaticum, food for the journey. The order of administration of the rites is Penance, then Anointing and finally Viaticum. If the moribund is physically unable to confess, absolution is given conditionally to contrition.  Only a priest or a bishop can administer the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick, but an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion may administer Viaticum.

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