Anointing of the SIck
“Are there sick people among you? Let them send for the priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick persons. If they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.” James 5:14-15
Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of healing for those who are seriously ill, face major surgery, are weakened by advanced age, or are preparing for death.
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 person suffering from a serious illness
- The Sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after the anointing but becomes ill once again, or if, during the same illness, the person's condition becomes more serious.
- A person may be anointed before surgery when a dangerous illness is a reason for the intervention. Surgery to treat an illness is usually considered serious if it requires general anesthesia.
- Moreover, old people may be anointed if they are in weak condition even though no dangerous illness is present.
- Sick children may be anointed if they have sufficient use of reason to be comforted by this sacrament. . . .
How often can I receive the Anointing of the Sick?
The short answer: as often as necessary. If a person recovers from an illness, then falls sick with the same illness, he may be anointed. Also, if a person’s condition becomes more serious, he may be anointed.
Who can administer the Anointing of the Sick?
Bishops and priests are ministers of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
What is the ritual of the Anointing of the Sick?
After a brief introduction, penitential rite, and Liturgy of the Word, the priest lays his hands upon the head of the sick person. He then anoints the forehead and hands of the sick person using the blessed Oil of the Sick. As he anoints the sick person, the priest prays, "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up." In an emergency situation, the priest may proceed directly to the anointing itself.
For those who are about to depart from this life, the Church normally offers Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist as Viaticum (food for the journey) given at the end of life. These are "the sacraments that prepare for our heavenly homeland" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1525).
These rites are highly valued by Catholics as powerful aids to a good death. Since Holy Communion is the effective sign of Christ's Paschal Mystery, it becomes for the recipient the opportunity to unite his or her own suffering and death to that of Christ with the hope of life eternal with him. The special words proper to Viaticum are: "May the Lord Jesus protect you and lead you to everlasting life. Amen."