Anointing of the Sick is the second sacrament of healing. In it, a priest anoints the sick with oil blessed specifically for that purpose. The anointing of the sick can be administered to any member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger by reason of illness or old age. A new illness or a worsening of health enables a person to receive the sacrament a further time.
*"Roman Catholic Church."
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Anointing of the Sick may be administered at any time to the seriously ill and the elderly. Contact the parish office. A communal celebration of the sacrament is held annually and is announced in the church bulletin.
Anointing of the Sick
by Fr. William Saunders
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick confers the particular healing gift of the Holy Spirit: Through this grace, the whole person is healed. He is strengthened to face the condition of infirmity or old age with courage and peace of heart, to trust in the will of the Lord, to resist the temptations of the devil, and to overcome anxiety over death. Sins are forgiven and any penance is completed. A person receives the strength to unite himself more closely to the passion of our Lord, atoning for his own sins as well as for those of all of the faithful. This sacrament also prepares us to depart from this life with courage and in the hope of seeing our Lord face to face. Finally, the sacrament may also convey a physical healing in accord with God’s will. (C.f. Catechism, No. 1520-23).
Let us pause here to consider two important points. First, if a person is conscious, that person should be encouraged to make a good confession prior to receiving the anointing of the sick. If a person is unconscious, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick does convey forgiveness of sin, but presupposes that the person would have wanted to make a good confession, is sorry for sin and wants forgiveness. If a person—whether conscious or not—has a hardened heart and does not have any sense of repentance or any desire to be forgiven, he impedes the healing graces of the sacrament. God respects the free will of the person. catholicexchange.com—Fr. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and a professor of catechetics
We must remember that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is not simply a “Last Rites” sacrament. Anyone who is prudently judged seriously ill should be anointed. A person may be anointed before serious surgery. The elderly may be anointed to help alleviate the burden and anxiety of old age. Those who have lost consciousness or the use of reason should also be anointed if they would have asked for the sacrament if they had been able to do so. Usually, a person only receives the sacrament once during an illness, but may receive it again if his condition deteriorates.
While the sacrament should not be restricted to “point of death” cases alone, we should not trivialize it either. Also, one should not wait to the last minute to have a loved one anointed. Once I was called in the middle of the night to anoint a dying person. Afterwards I was talking with the family, and I discovered the person had been in the hospital more than a week. By delaying, the person could have died without the benefit of the sacrament. If a person dies, the priest cannot anoint the dead body from which the soul has already departed; rather, he would offer the prayers for the dead.
In all, Christ has given the Church a beautiful sacrament for the healing of body and soul. We must be mindful of our duty to insure that our loved ones have the benefit of this sacrament, especially as they prepare to leave this life to be joined to our Lord.