Anointing the Sick
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick gives strength and support and can be administered to anyone struggling with an illness.
Who may Receive?
Anointing, or known sometimes by it's "old-school" names of Extreme Unction or Last Rites is normally thought of as administered at time of one's death. The current, more modern name has been used since the Second Vatican Council, and has been broadened to offer healing and comfort to those suffering from illness that may not lead to immediate death. Speaking about a wider implementation of this sacrament, Pope Paul VI advocated for “a wider availability of the sacrament and to extend it—within reasonable limits—even beyond cases of mortal illness."
Anointing of the Sick is, ideally, to be administered in a communal celebration, the Mass. At Nativity, we periodically hold special Anointing/Healing Masses on Saturday mornings.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that when the sick are anointed they should be "assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community, which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through their prayers and fraternal attention" (1516). "Like all the sacraments the Anointing of the Sick is a liturgical and communal celebration…It is very fitting to celebrate it within the Eucharist" (1517).
The healing that occurs in this sacrament is not necessarily physical healing. While we believe that physical healing can occur through the great power of God, the grace infused through this special sacrament is spiritual in nature and our reminder that God is eternally present with us during our human suffering, and/or end of life.
The priest blesses the oil of anointing and asks God to "send the power of your Holy Spirit, the Consoler, into this precious oil. Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction." (Pastoral Care of the Sick, #123)
Anointing of the Sick consists essentially of the priest anointing of the forehead and hands of the sick person (in the Roman Rite) or of other parts of the body (in the Eastern rite). The priest's liturgical prayer combines with the act of anointing as he asks God for the special grace of this sacrament to flow to the ones receiving it.