“Is any among you sick? Let him call for the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (Jas 5:14-15).
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has as its purpose the conferral of a special grace on the Christian experiencing the difficulties inherent in the condition of grave illness or old age. In the Church’s Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, through the ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal them from sin – and sometimes even from physical ailment. His cures were signs of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. The core message of his healing tells us of his plan to conquer sin and death by his dying and rising.
The Rite of Anointing tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the Sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient.
When the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped-for effect is that, if it be God’s will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age. Read More from USCCB.ORG
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.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 1520-1523)
Can a person who has died be anointed?
No. The Church teaches that the Sacrament is for the living, and does not permit the anointing of anyone who has already died. However, there are many other beautiful prayers and rituals in the official Rite of the Church for those who have already died.
Can a deacon or layperson anoint?
No. Only a priest can administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, especially as part of the ritual includes the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance). However, if a priest is not available, please remember that Anointing of the Sick is not required nor absolutely necessary for a peaceful death. Other pastoral ministers or chaplains, who are properly trained and appointed, can provide prayers and non-sacramental rites appropriate to the time of death.
How often can I receive the Sacrament?
The Anointing of the Sick is not a Sacrament that is meant to be received often. Once received, it may be repeated if the sick person recovers after being anointed and then falls ill again, or if during the same illness, the person’s condition becomes more serious. Some people think that the more often they receive the Sacrament, the more effective it will be. This is not the case.
How to I arrange to be anointed?
Please contact the parish office if you or someone in your family is in need or the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.