Anointing of the Sick
Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters 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. James 5:13-15a.
What is the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick? At a Sunday Mass:
In the past people would picture a priest standing by himself at the bedside of a dying person. Now many Catholics would picture the parish gathered for Sunday Mass with 30 or so people - some visibly ill, some apparently healthy – coming up the aisle to be anointed, some with their spouses or caregivers who are anointed, too. It is one of the Sacraments of Healing.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that when the sick are anointed they should be surrounded by family and friends, really the whole parish if possible, so they have a better opportunity to appreciate the prayers of the whole community for their recovery. Vatican II changed the prayers accompanying the anointing to reemphasize its healing character. The emphasis has returned to prayers for recovery of physical, mental or spiritual health. It isn’t supposed to take the place of the Sacrament of Penance, (Reconciliation or Confession) which is the other Sacrament of Healing.
Who should receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick?
Besides those who are ill, who are about to undergo surgery or are suffering from a diagnosed mental illness, persons with the disease of alcoholism or persons suffering from other addictions should be anointed. The actions of one addicted member can cause serious physical, mental and spiritual illness in other members of the family. The spouse or the principal caregiver of the person who is seriously ill who is affected by the illness or parents whose child is dying, along with other family members should all come forward to be anointed to receive the prayers and support of the parish community.
If you have any questions regarding anointing, please consult our priests, our deacon or call Jeanne Gaffney, Pastoral Associate at 779-0542.
Anointing of the Sick - At Home, Hospital or Convalescent Facility:
Sacraments are signs of our union with others in the Church, and so the family of those who are to be anointed, their friends and others involved in their care should be invited to participate in the Sacrament of Anointing. There are three elements – prayer, laying on of hands and anointing with oil – which are the essence of the sacrament. What else happens depends on how much time is available, the condition of the patient and individual desire. The priest may distribute Communion to the person being anointed and anyone else who wants to receive. Finally, he may end the service with a simple prayer and blessing.
The Rite begins with the Sign of the Cross with holy water which reminds us of our baptismal promise to die with Christ so that we might rise to new life with him. The penitential rite takes place before the readings from Scripture that are adapted to the condition of the patient. A priest prays a litany in response. Then the priest lays his hands on the head of the person in silence. This is an ancient sign of calling upon the Holy Spirit to heal and save. The priest takes the Oil of the Sick and while anointing the patient’s forehead says “Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.” All answer “Amen”.
While anointing the hands, the priest says “May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” Again, all answer “Amen.” The priest may anoint other parts of the body which may be affected by pain or injury in silence.
If you or someone you know is in need of the anointing, please call the parish office and request to receive it. Please do not follow the wrongful practice of delaying the reception of the sacrament until very near death or when the patient has lost full possession of his or her faculties. In this way the person will be able to receive the sacrament with full faith, devotion and awareness of the support of the prayers of the parish community.