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. It is a rite that is performed to convey God's grace to the recipient, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The effects of the Sacraments
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that 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.
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).
The components of the Sacrament
The Sacrament of Anointing is part of the Liturgy of Anointing which is normally preceded by Introductory Rites (including sprinkling with Holy Water), Penitential Rite and Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of Anointing then proceeds with:
- A Litany, to impore God for His assistance;
- The Laying on of the hands;
- Blessing (or Prayer over) the oil;
The Priest then proceeds with the Sacrament itself:
- Anointment of the forehead: Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen
- Anointment of the hands: May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen.
The Sacrament is followed by additional prayers, including the Lord's Prayer, and if appropriate, can be followed by the receiving of Holy Communion.
How to Schedule a Sacrament of Anointing
If you would like to receive the Sacrament of Anointing, please contact the Parish Secretary. If you, or one of your loved ones, is gravely ill and nearing death, we urge to contact the Parish as early as possible, as Priests are usually unable to answer calls on short notice.