The Sacrament Of The Anointing Of The Sick


Anointing Of The Sick

When a Catholic is very sick, the Church anoints the person with oil in a special ritual of healing called Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament is administered both to those at the point of death and for any of the faithful who were seriously ill and in danger of death. It is a ritual of healing appropriate not only for physical but also for mental and spiritual sickness.

This sacrament is administered by anointing the person with blessed oil, accompanied by prayer. Only a priest can validly administer it. It can be received by any baptised person who has reached the age of reason and is on account of sickness or age in danger of death. Its effect is the strengthening of the soul, often of the body as well, and in the necessary conditions remission of sins. This rite is one way in which the Church continues the healing ministry of Jesus. The healing offered by this anointing is forgiveness of sins, hope and inner peace, sometimes physical healing, and an assurance of God's steadfast care, even in death.

In the past, this sacrament was often kept strictly for those close to death. Hence its previous names, remembered by many, as Extreme Unction or The Last Rites. In more recent years the Church has encouraged greater use of this sacrament for illness which is not necessarily life-threatening. As with all the sacraments, this anointing has significance for the whole Church. It reminds us of our call to wholeness and our call to be a sign of salvation to the world. Wherever there is brokenness, we are to be instruments of Christ's healing touch.


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