Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

Priests and Bishops are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick.

The anointing of the sick is administered to bring spiritual and even physical strength during an illness, especially near the time of death. It is most likely one of the last sacraments one will receive. A sacrament is an outward sign established by Jesus Christ to confer inward grace. In more basic terms, it is a rite that is performed to convey God's grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Like all the sacraments, holy anointing was instituted by Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry. The Catechism explains, "This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. (Catechism of the Catholic Church - CCC 1511)

The anointing of the sick conveys several graces and imparts gifts of strengthening in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement, and temptation, and conveys peace and fortitude (CCC 1520).

"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" (CCC 1532).

Does a person have to be dying to receive this sacrament? No. The Catechism says, "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" (CCC 1514).

Sign: the laying on of hands by a priest or bishop, and anointing with blessed oil. The oil must come from olive or another plant. Normally the oil is blessed by the bishop at the yearly Chrism Mass, but may also be blessed by any priest for a given ceremony.

Combined Rites: Reconciliation, Anointing and Eucharist: The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick may be given in various circumstances and in a variety of combinations with other Sacraments. In a home or hospital visit, it may be combined with the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, and reception of the Eucharist. By itself, it may be given to a person no longer conscious. The Sacrament may also be offered communally as part of a Mass in which healing is central to the prayers of the community.

At our Parish of St. Isidore, the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is offered at scheduled healing Masses, by individual requests, and during the Lenten Holy Week.

For more information on this subject please visit our Chalkboard page, specifically question #2.