Anointing of the Sick

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

Anointing of the Sick has five 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 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 to ask God for the cure of a Catholic who is ill through abuses, mental disorders, alcoholism or drug addiction. A patient may  receive the sacrament prior or during surgery.

Catholics may receive the sacrament individually or collectively at home, during mass, in a hospital, institution, or battlefield.  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 participated on an Anointing the Sick. The priest said prayers, read a Scripture passage, then he placed his hands on the moribund head and prayed silently. Finally, he made the sign of the cross with holy oil on the moribund forehead and palms. The event took less than 10 minutes.

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

The Catholic Church follows Jesus’ concern for the sick.   Healing was essential to the  apostles’ mission: “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 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, Eucharist and Anointing of the Sick, in this order, are the last sacraments administered to a moribund. The last Communion is called Viaticum. If the moribund is unable to confess, absolution is given conditionally to contrition.  Priests or  bishops can administer Penance and Anointing of the Sick, and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist may administer Viaticum.

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