Anointing of the Sick - Do You Need It Now?
If you have questions about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, you are not alone. How do you request it for yourself or a loved one? When is it needed? What is it supposed to do. And why isn’t it called “Last Rites” anymore? You will find the answers to these and many others on this page and also within this PDF document. First...
How to Request Anointing of the Sick
Call the Parish Office (619-582-3716)
Your relationship to the sick person
Ask for a sick visit or an appointment at the church
If it is a sick visit:
What’s the address?
What is the phone number there?
Is it at home or a medical facility?
Is the sick person conscious and able to communicate?
Is death imminent?
If you or a loved one are planning for surgery and/or time in the hospital, we ask that you contact the Parish Office in advance to arrange for a sick visit. This will enable the community to pray with and for you, as well as set up a visit by our pastor.
The pastor is available always for celebrating the Anointing of the Sick, as well as Reconciliation (Penance/Confession).
Please remember, it is best to plan ahead for these visits and not wait until the last minute.
When Is It Needed?
Anointing of the Sick is for all whose mortality is of critical concern.
Obviously, this would include those who are suffering a life-threatening circumstance (being in a critical care unit in a hospital because of an accident or disease; or on learning of an acute diagnosis which may lead to death, such as a cancer or cardiac diagnosis); but also those who are going under general anesthetic (be it hospitalization or day-treatment center), and those who are of such age that dead may reasonably be anticipated.
This is one of the two Sacraments of Healing in the Catholic Church. The other one is Confession (also known as Penance or Reconciliation).
What Is Anointing of the Sick Supposed to Do?
The hoped-for effect of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is that, if it be God’s Will, the person be physically healed of illness.
And even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s Gifts of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness or the frailty of old age.
Why Isn't It Called “Last Rites” Anymore?
The Rite of Anointing of the Sick – the Pastoral Care of the Sick tells us there is no need to wait until a person is at the point of death to receive the sacrament. A careful judgment about the serious nature of the illness is sufficient.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, this sacrament was called Extreme Unction (meaning, “final anointing”). With many seeing the sacrament as a petition for a miracle healing, rather than an experience of the loving Embrace of God’s Mercy and Love, the name spoke to why it was administered only to those on the point of death. Peter Lombard of the 12th century is the first writer known to have used the term. As the “last” anointing (following baptism, confirmation, and even holy orders), the connection to death was the focus.
This is why the name of the sacrament is so important! The Anointing of the Sick is administered by a bishop or priest when the sick have reason to fear/anticipate ‘danger of death’ due to sickness or old age [Code of Canon Law, 1004). This justified fear, this anticipation of the proximate danger of death is the foundation, the condition, for the celebration of this sacrament.
“It 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.”[Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1512]. The minister (bishop or priest) uses oleum infirmorum (the Oil of the Sick – olive oil or another pure plant oil blessed by a bishop) to anoint the person’s forehead and perhaps other parts of the body (such as the hands) while reciting certain prayers.
The grace of the sacrament is comfort, peace, courage, and even forgiveness of sins, reminding the sick of God's Love for them, and His Promise of healing (in this world and the Kingdom that is to come!)
Excerpts from the Rite of the Anointing of the Sick (the INTRODUCTION)
...Christ has borne our weakness and endured our suffering.
...PRIEST: “My dear friends, we are gathered here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Who is present among us. As the gospels relate, the sick came to Him for healing; moreover, He loves us so much that He died for our sake. Through the apostle James, He has commanded us: ‘Are there any who are sick 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; and the prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.’
Let us therefore commend our sick brother/sister (Name of the one receiving the Sacrament) to the grace and power of Christ, that he may save him/her and raise him/her up.”