Anointing of the Sick

THE SACRAMENT OF THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK

(Often referred to as "Extreme Unction" or "Last Rites")

 

"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).

The parish offers Annointing of the Sick after all weekend Masses including Saturday evening.  Anyone in need of receiving the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at their home or on another date than offered should please call 210-416-4516.  Requests should be made by the person needing the sacrament or by a close family member. We are here to serve you at any time.

While it's true the Anointing of the Sick is one of the ways the Church helps prepare us for death, it's much more than that.  It's a celebration of Jesus' promise that we will have life and have it abundantly.  It's the sign of Christ's healing presence in the world.

Anyone, regardless of age, can receive the sacrament if his or her health is seriously impaired.  It can be received more than once if the original illness gets worse or if another serious sickness is diagnosed.  A person who has not been baptized, however, cannot receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  This sacramental anointing may not be given by anyone except a priest. A priest may administer the sacrament in a variety of ways.  The following will explain this:

 

INSTITUTED BY CHRIST

Our mission as Church is to do what Jesus did.  And on nearly every page of the Gospels we read of Jesus' concern for the sick.  Healing was essential to the mission of the disciples: "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).  In the New Testament St. James writes, "Is anyone among you sick?  He should summon the presbyters [those who have authority] of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up.  If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14-15).

The words St. James wrote are still true today.  The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is our way of continuing the healing work Jesus began 2,000 years ago.  You may ask yourself, "Does that mean people who receive the Sacrament of the Sick are really going to get well, even if they have something serious like cancer? 

 

HEALING

While we can say that healing always occurs during the anointing, it isn't always the kind of healing we may expect.  One may continue to be physically ill, but God also gives us His word that healing will take place on one level or another.  God alone knows what kind of healing the sick need most: that a wound be healed; that a fear turn to confidence; that loneliness be embraced by the support of a praying community; that confusion in the face of all the whys-why me, why suffering, why now-turn to insight.  God may know we need to come to a greater awareness of the divine and may choose to heal some area of our spirit or emotions instead of our body.  We may be strengthened in the Holy Spirit against anxiety, discouragement and temptation, and receive peace and fortitude to endure our suffering.

We should also remember the sacrament complements medical treatment; it doesn't replace it.  Just because someone gets better with the help of surgery or modern medications doesn't mean the sacrament didn't play a part in the healing.  God uses the skill of doctors and nurses as well as modern medical techniques to restore health.

 

ANOINTING WITH OUR PARISH COMMUNITY

The Second Vatican Council helped move anointing away from only being a private service, back toward a community-based one.  People with significant illnesses can be anointed in the church.  Persons with the disease of alcoholism or persons suffering from other addictions can be anointed.  So can those who suffer from various mental disorders.  The anxiety before exploratory surgery to determine if cancer is present is a situation in which Christ's power can be invoked in the sacrament.  In these cases the person does not have to wait until the illness is so great that he or she is in the hospital or institutionalized to celebrate the sacrament.  The Anointing of the Sick may be celebrated in the context of the family and the parish community.  In this way the sick person has a better opportunity to appreciate the prayers and symbols of the rite with the worshiping community.

 

ANOINTING IN THE HOME OR THE HOSPITAL

The rite begins with the Sign of the Cross with blessed water which reminds us of our Baptismal promise to die with Christ so that we might rise to new life with Him.

  1. The readings from Scripture are adapted to the condition of the sick person. The priest prays and assures the sick person of the prayers of the parish and invites the sick person to pray for the needs of his or her fellow parishioners.
  2. The priest imposes hands on the head of the one to be anointed and anoints the forehead and palms of the sick person.
  3. The priest prays for the sick person and invites all present to pray The Lord's Prayer.
  4. Holy Communion may be received at this time.
  5. The priest then blesses the sick person and all present.

Anointing of the Sick is the way we as Catholics call on the healing and restoring power of Jesus when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable.  It's a way we can gain the strength to bear suffering with patience and dignity.  And it's a way of reminding ourselves that no matter what happens in life or death, Jesus will be there beside us and the people we love.